Without a lease, am I required to give 30 days notice prior to leaving?

I have lived with my friend for approximately the past 3 years. About 10 months ago, we moved to a new house that she purchased telling me that I’d pay $200 a month and that we’d split the utilities 3 ways between herself, myself and her boyfriend. At some point a few months ago, she raised the rent to $325 with no explanation and is now claiming the utilities were to be split in half. The house is also quite dirty, I’ve been taking care of their dogs for months and honestly became quite tired of it. I found a new place to live and told my roommate that I was moving out; I told her about a week before I intended to leave. She is insisting that I pay her next months rent as well as half of the utilities because I did not give her 30 days notice. At first she was insisting I pay for the months after next as well, despite there being no basis for this at all. We never had any type of lease or written agreement at all and as I will not be living there next month, I am all paid up until the end of this month. I have offered to pay a third of the utilities like we had agreed upon but she insists that that is not enough and will be taking me to small claims court. Does she have a leg to stand on?

Asked on August 25, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You had a lease but instead of written one, it was oral. Your lease was formed when you both agreed that you live on the premises for in exchange for your paying rent. In your case you had what is know as a "month-to-month" tenancy. Accordingly, you should have given 30 days notice of you intention to vacate which you did not. Therefore you are responsible for a month's rent but no more.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, she does have a leg to stand on. You are incorrect about not having a lease--you had one. There is always a lease--the agreement under which she agreed to rent to you, and you agreed to pay rent. When there is no written agreement, there is still an oral (unwritten) agreement or understanding. When there is an oral lease, the tenancy is month to month; that means that either side must provide a month's notice prior to terminating or ending it. So without a written lease, you still owed her a month's notice, and so can be held for a month's rent.

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