Oral Lease: The oral or verbal lease is an agreement that is not written down. Most are simple agreements about the amount of rent and deposit. Oral agreements can have other clauses, such as how long you will live in the apartment, no pets, maintenance of the yard, and so forth. Oral leases have two major problems:
1. If no agreement is made on the length of time you will live in the apartment, the landlord only has to give a 30 day notice to change anything. He or she can give a 30-day notice and raise the rent, tell you to move for no reason, or tell you to get rid of a roommate or pet.
2. People can easily misunderstand the terms of the original agreement or fail to remember exactly what was said. This can create problems and confusion and create a "he-said, she-said" situation with your landlord over exact move-out dates, etc.
The bottom line is that the problems with oral leases outweigh any advantages. If the choice is up to you, it is better to insist on a written lease. If the landlord doesn't have a lease form, you can purchase one for a small sum from an office supply business that sells legal forms, or draw up an agreement in plain English yourself. A quality lawyer can also assist with this matter. As long as the document creates clearly states the agreement in ink and is dated and signed by both you and the landlord, it will be considered to be a binding document.
When is it okay to have an oral lease? When your written lease has expired and the landlord does not ask you to sign a new lease, it is probably okay not to insist on a written lease. You know the landlord and the landlord knows you. It is unlikely that the landlord will raise your rent each month or force you to move for no reason. However, this can still happen.
Month-to-Month Tenancies: This term means that you have not agreed to live in the apartment for any specific length of time. You pay rent monthly, you can give a 30-day notice to move or be given a 30-day notice to move, at any time. Usually month-to-month tenancies are oral, but they can be written.
The law and oral leases: If the oral agreement is month to month and doesn't cover certain things, the law steps in. For instance, the law says you must give one rent period notice if you wish to move, unless you have agreed otherwise. This means, if you pay rent by the month, you must give one month's notice. If there is no agreement to the contrary, you can give this notice on any day of the month. If you give notice on May 11th, then you can move out June 11th. This is called pro-rated rent.