Do I Really Need to Sign a Lease with my New Landlord?
Published on:June 17, 2016
Do I Really Need to Sign a Lease with my New Landlord?

It is not uncommon for a renter to come across a great apartment or home for rent, and then discover that the landlord prefers to go on a month-to-month basis without a lease. It sounds like a great deal for the tenant, but it is actually one of the worst ideas you can have. If you are considering taking a property that does not offer a lease contract, then here are some good reasons why you should reconsider that idea.

Paying the Rent

While it is true that not having a lease means that you can leave anytime you want with no repercussions, it also means that you are not afforded the many protections that come with having a lease agreement in effect. For example, your landlord could show up at your doorstep one day demanding $100 more in rent for the month because they decided to raise the rent. If you have no agreement in place, you have no way of fighting the demand and could find yourself homeless by the afternoon.

Recourse for Sudden Eviction

Without a lease agreement, your landlord could show up one day and evict you and you would have no recourse. You can get evicted suddenly with a lease agreement in place as well, but there would be a procedure your landlord would need to follow that would offer you some sort of protection.

In many cases, tenants with lease agreements get 30 days to find a new place before they have to vacate their current premises. Without a lease agreement, you might have 30 minutes to find a new place to live.

Credit for Property Maintenance Duties

Did you and your landlord agree to knock $50 per month off your rent each month during the winter in exchange for you shoveling the walks? If you have a lease agreement in place, then you can expect that $50 discount each month as promised. Without a lease agreement, you may find yourself battling your landlord for your discount after a full month of shoveling the walk.

Acts of Remodeling

Some landlords are very accommodating when it comes to tenants making their rented home feel more personal, while others are very strict. If you have no lease agreement in place, then your landlord could tell you that you can add certain types of personal changes to the rented space, but then hit you with a bill when you move out for removing those touches.

Getting Your Security Deposit Back

Most renters agree that their security deposit should be their money, and should be returned after they move out when they leave no damage behind. But without a lease agreement in place, there is no procedure the landlord must follow when you move out that would trigger the return of your deposit. You could leave your apartment spotless, but the landlord could mail you pictures weeks later instead of your deposit claiming you had trashed the rented living space, and you will not get your deposit back.

A signed lease agreement protects the landlord and tenant from a variety of issues. If you are trying to rent a place to live and the landlord is attempting to avoid a lease agreement, then your best bet is to try another place that does give you the protection an agreement can offer.