Tip #2

Always get it in Writing

Written on July 19, 2012 by , updated on June 5, 2014

signature-writingNo matter what, any agreements that you make with a tenant should be put in writing.

This applies to leases, addendums, amendments, and the most basic of promises.

Your rental property is a business, with real money and equity involved – so treat it that way.  

Leases should ALWAYS be a signed written document/contract – no exceptions. For everything else, some sort of signed paper is best, but a thread of emails also works well.

Verbal leases and agreements are valid but difficult to prove in a court of law. If you have to make a verbal agreement, use your phone to record the audio conversation. It’s sad to say that a handshake doesn’t mean as much as it use to.

photo credit: LOSINPUN via cc
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3 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Aidan

    I live w/my boyfriend in a NC townhome he owns. To help with the mortgage, we rented out 1 of 2 spare rooms to a student. We did a Skype interview, and he verbally agreed to the lease terms of staying until the end of school yr (May ’16). He agreed to price of rent in email. I didn’t have him sign a lease right away because the bf/owner was out of town, then we just procrastinated, thinking we had time. Short of 2 months, he sent an email stating he planned to move out in 10 days. We stated that 30 days notice is customary, but we’d be willing for him to leave with just paying the full month’s rent. He moved out 3 days after notice and now says he’ll only pay a prorated amount. His attitude makes me want to sue him for lost rent up to May.

    • Lucas Hall

      You should consider suing the tenant in small claims court. While you can’t hold him to the lease agreement since he never signed it, you can treat him as a month to month tenant. In most states, 30 days notice is required to end a month to month tenancy, but check your state laws to be sure (landlordology.com/state-laws).

      If you took a deposit, you could just withhold the money from that instead of going through a lawsuit.

      Good luck. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Mary

    I made a verbal contract agreement with a couple to rent a house. They have always been late with their payments to other landlords. Then 3 months later I realized a written contract was needed. I gave them a week to overview it and they decided not to sign. The couple are very uncompromising. I then explained to them that I will give them the end of the month to look for another place and they agreed. End of the month is around the corner and they said they are not leaving. What can I do?

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