Landlord/Tenant Lease agreement (Or lack there of) I moved into an apartment…

Landlord/Tenant Lease agreement (Or lack there of)
I moved into an apartment complex a few years ago. When my lease was up I went on a month to month. A few months later My girlfriend and I wanted to move into another apartment in the same compled. The owner deducted $125 for cleaning from my deposit and refunded the rest. When we moved into the other apartment, the owner did not have us sign a lease or any other kind of paperwork. He did tell my girlfriend that it was under her name. Now we just gave our landlord 30 days notice that we’re going to move out. He’s mad that we’re moving so soon and is trying to stiff us. He is trying to charge $500 for a paint job (From the last apartment!) and some rug cleaning when we first moved in (it was gross). Can I just not pay the last months rent and tell him to stick it? Can he evict without a written contract? What should I do…

2 thoughts on “Landlord/Tenant Lease agreement (Or lack there of) I moved into an apartment…

  1. Re: Landlord/Tenant Lease agreement (Or lack there of)
    To start off, lack of a written lease does not cut off the landlord’s right to evict any more than it cuts off your right to live there. Oral leases for less than a year are fully valid and enforceable, just more difficult to prove the terms.

    Based on the facts given, it seems as though your landlord is treating you unfairly, and would probably not be able to make the painting, etc. charges stick in small claims court. However, it is better to negotiate and reason with the landlord than to just tell them to ‘stick it’ because you may be sued and/or have derogatory information placed on your credit report. Try to work it out. If that fails, and you have the time and energy to deal with it, prepare to defend yourselves in small claims court.

    Bryan Whipple
    Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law
    P O Box 318
    Tomales, CA 94971-0318

  2. Re: Landlord/Tenant Lease agreement (Or lack there of)
    It’s best to work out a fair deal with the landlord. This will avoid bad credit references and possible litigation. If you cannot talk calmly with the landlord yourself, you should contact a rental housing mediation service if one is available. Many cities have them, as do organizations such as Project Sentinel.

    If you no longer have a deposit with the landlord, there is no justification for withholding rent. Even if the landlord is making unreasonable demands you should fulfill your obligations. One is paying the rent. If you have given a deposit, it is still best not to withhold the last month’s rent. Whether or not you have a written lease, the landlord can give you a 3-day notice to pay or quit and file an eviction action when the 3 days are up. This will make it much harder for you to find a new rental.

    If the landlord unreasonably fails to account for charges to your deposit and send you a refund within 3 weeks, you will have a small claims action for the refund and statutory penalty. Try to negotiate. You have been a long-term tenant and should have some credibility with the landlord.

    Martin Snitow
    Martin S. Snitow Law Corporation
    PO Box 90278
    San Jose, CA 95109-3278

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