If a former landlord is claiming that I owe rent and is suing me in small claims court, is this legal when there was no rental agreement?

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If a former landlord is claiming that I owe rent and is suing me in small claims court, is this legal when there was no rental agreement?

Over the course of living there 5 years I never signed any rental agreement or put up a security deposit. Some months I paid cash, which the landlord said helped him because he didn’t have to turn it into the IRS. I moved 10 months ago and now the landlord is now saying I owe unpaid rent.

Asked on June 11, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you are liable for the rent. First, you are incorrect--there is ALWAYS a lease, because by definition, there was some agreement or understanding under which you agreed to pay rent and he agreed to lease you space. If there was nothing in writing, it would have been an oral (also called verbal) lease, but oral leases are enforceable.

Second, if you failed to pay rent for any periods of time when you lived there, the landord may sue you for under both a breach of contract theory (you violated your obligation or agreement to pay) and for "unjust enrichment" (you would be unfairly and illegal enriched to have received a place to live without paying for it).


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