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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Feb 4, 2015

The legal term for a tenant who occupies a rental property with the landlord’s consent and who makes rent payments without a written lease is called a tenant-at-will.  If you are a tenant-a-will, there are some dangers that may not be present with a formal lease in place. While an unorthodox living arrangement like this can have its benefits, it could turn out awful for you.

Some landlords don’t use written agreements — they just have a conversation with you, take your check and let you move in. While oral promises can be legally binding, it can be difficult if not impossible to prove them to a judge if you end up agreeing to something orally and then one of the parties doesn’t come through, for example, if the landlord agrees to reduce the rent in exchange for landscape maintenance.

Another common problem with this type of arrangement occurs when the landlord wants you out of the residence quickly.  There are some laws that require them to give at least 7 days notice, even with a verbal agreement,  but that’s still not very much notice to find other living arrangements.  Having a lease in place, even if it’s a month-to-month lease, protects both the tenant and the landlord, and as a tenant, you’re less committed than you would be with a year-long lease and can move when necessary.  In that case, both parties are required to give at least a 30-day notice before terminating the arrangement.

Things can get sticky pretty quickly with an unscrupulous landlord, and often, the rules favor the property owners.   If you are on the verge of forming a tenant-at-will relationship, know your rights, and talk to your prospective landlord about a written month-to-month lease instead.  If you have a problem with a current situation that may justify a formal complaint, consult an experienced landlord tenant attorney today to determine your rights and the best course of action for you.