Do not be so happy to have found a place that you can afford to rent that you forget basic rules of renting.
#1. GET IT IN WRITING
#2. BE EDUCATED ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS
#3. TAKE CARE OF IT
#4. ACT IN GOOD FAITH
#5. KNOW WHERE TO GO FOR HELP
This morning a client called to say she and her son are renting a room in a house for $300 a month but now the owners are requiring $400 or she must move out.
She feels like she is over a barrel especially because she neglected to obey rule #1. GET IT IN WRITING.
She does not have a written agreement showing that she has the legal right to live in the residence. This also means she has no written proof of what her rent is, when it is due, whom she pays, and the condition of the space before she moved in.
In the absence of a lease, their tenancy is presumed to be on a month-to-month basis.
Per the Dept. of Consumer Affairs “In an oral rental agreement, you and the landlord agree orally (not in writing) that you will rent the rental unit. In addition, you agree to pay a specified rent for a specified period of time – for example, a week or a month. This kind of rental agreement is legally binding on both you and the landlord, even though it is not in writing.”
“When you don’t have a written lease and have been paying rent monthly, most states will declare that you have a month-to-month rental agreement. A landlord can terminate a month-to-month rental on 20-30 days notice. However, each state has different laws regarding what type of notice is necessary: usually it has to be written notice delivered to the tenant. Then the landlord has to wait 30 days until you are illegally holding over before she can start eviction proceedings. The landlord can’t lock the house until a court grants her a writ of restitution and the sheriff evicts you. Even then, she can’t keep your stuff unless you owe her money. If she tries, you get to sue her for conversion/theft.”