The Importance of Putting Your Lease in Writing

As a general rule, it is always a good idea to put any kind of legal agreement in writing. This rule applies to all types of rental contracts, including short-term lease agreements.

However, California law does permit oral (also known as verbal) rental contracts for agreements lasting one year or less. Specifically, an oral lease is enforceable and legally binding on both the landlord and the tenant as long as it is for a period of one year or less. In most cases, a person enters into an oral lease because he or she agrees to rent from a friend or to rent on a month-to-month basis. Despite the convenience of a verbal rental agreement, they are not without significant drawbacks. Here are some of the downsides of oral leases:

No Protection in a Dispute

Although it’s easy to assume that you don’t need the formality of a written agreement, an oral lease does not protect you in the event of a dispute. Because there is no written proof of the agreement between the tenant and the landlord or property owner, there are no terms to enforce against either party.

More Prone to Disputes

Because they lack clearly defined terms and obligations, oral lease agreements make both sides vulnerable to disputes, which can lead to costly litigation in certain situations.

Although state law permits short-term oral leases, a landlord who enters into a verbal agreement with a tenant must still provide the tenant with a written statement containing the landlord’s name, address, phone number, address for rent payments, and method of payment for rent.

The Landlord Can Back Out on Short Notice

Because oral leases are considered month-to-month tenancies, a landlord who decides he or she no longer wishes to rent to a particular tenant can end the arrangement simply by giving the tenant 30 days’ notice. This leaves the tenant very little time to find a new place to live, make arrangements to move, and take on the cost of relocation.

California Real Estate Law Firm

Call Hoffman Law Group today at (408) 241-9620 to discuss your real estate or property management matter.


This website has been prepared by Hoffman Law Group, APC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.