Is a verbal month-to-month rental agreement safe? 9 Answers as of November 20, 2013

Is a verbal month-to-month agreement between landlord and tenant legally binding? I'm planning to move into a rental home, and the landlord says he likes to use a "handshake" agreement and no written contracts. Is this legal, or do I run the risk of having him call one day, and say "get out" with no notice? (Or any other crazy requests) Should I insist on a written month-to-month contract? Or is a "gentleman's agreement" legal, as far as him being required to give 30 or 60 days notice before I'd have to move out? I'd appreciate any input concerning the legality of verbal agreements between landlord and tenant in lieu of a written contract or lease.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Stuart P Gelberg
Stuart P Gelberg | Stuart P Gelberg
Month to month is legal but can be terminated on 30 days notice.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/20/2013
Casler Law Offices PLLC
Casler Law Offices PLLC | Carlton C. Casler
In Arizona, a month-to-month rental agreement is binding. A month-to-month rental agreement can be oral or written; both are enforceable. In either case, both the landlord and tenant must give thirty days advance written notice to terminate tenancy. The applicable statute provides: "The landlord or the tenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by a written notice given to the other at least thirty days prior to the periodic rental date specified in the notice." (See ARS Section 33-1375.B). The phrase "the periodic rental date specified in the notice" means the beginning of the next rental term. If tenancy renews on the first day of each month and rent is due on the first day of the month, then the "periodic rental date" is the first of the month, which would then mean that a thirty day notice would have to be given at lease thirty days prior to the first day of the month. For example, if today is the fifteenth day of the month (any month) and I give a thirty day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy today, then tenancy would terminate at the end of the next month, not at the end of this month and not on the fifteenth of next month. The same is true if I gave a notice on the sixteenth day of the month, the last day of the month, or any day in between tenancy would still terminate at the end of next month. You also have to take into consideration the number of days in the month and the method of service. If you serve the written notice in person, don't count the day of service; if you send notice via certified mail, you will need to add up to five additional days to the thirty day notice (see ARS Section 33-1313 regarding notice).
Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 11/20/2013
Wayne J. Wimer, Inc. P.S.
Wayne J. Wimer, Inc. P.S. | Wayne J. Wimer
It is never advisable to enter into a "handshake" agreement when you are dealing with real property. Have the owner spell out the terms and conditions in writing that you supposedly are agreeing to.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 11/19/2013
Law Office of Rebekah Sass
Law Office of Rebekah Sass | Rebekah Sass
Follow your gut. Yes you need a written contract.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/19/2013
Peters Law, PLLC
Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
It is legal, but it is worth the paper it is written on. Oh wait, it isn't written! This may be a great person. He also may be a scam artist renting you a house he does not own. If he isn't willing to put it in writing, go somewhere else. Bye the bye, an oral agreement would only result in a month-to-month tenancy and he could give you 30 days notice and you would have to leave.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 11/19/2013
    Law Office of Richard Winkler | Richard Winkler
    You do run that risk, but he needs to give you 15 days notice. Unless it is in writing that is all he is obligated to do.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 11/19/2013
    Law Office of Raymond I. Moniak | Raymond Moniak
    While an oral (verbal) agreement is legal, it is not desirable. While the landlord must still provide you with a 3 day notice if you fail to pay rent on time and a 30 day notice to quit for any reason (60 days only if resided over a year), you may miss out on other legal protections a written agreement provides. For example, if your verbal agreement allows you to pay rent on the 15th, the landlord could claim rent is due earlier and press a 3 day notice to pay rent, then at court it is your word against his. I question the motive of the landlord in refusing to give you a written rental agreement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/19/2013
    Dessy & Dessy, a Professional Corporation | Ronald D. Dessy
    Verbal rental agreements covering rental periods of less than 1 year are legal, but not necessarily safe. It seems odd that the landlord would not want a written agreement, and in any event it creates a "he said - she said" risk about what the verbal rental terms were. I would stay away from a landlord wanting a verbal rental agreement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/19/2013
    Batten & Beasley
    Batten & Beasley | Andrew Larson-Wille
    A verbal contract is legal in Minnesota, and if it was a month to month the default required notice would be 30 days. However, you're always safer with a written contract.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/19/2013
Click to View More Answers: