Can my old landlord sue me for back rent if we had a verbal agreement that I would work for her instead of paying the full rent?

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Can my old landlord sue me for back rent if we had a verbal agreement that I would work for her instead of paying the full rent?

Asked on November 26, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An oral (or verbal) agreement is generally enforceable; and also, it is legal to pay "rent" in whole or part by working for the landlord (many buildering supers do this). Therefore, what you describe is an enforceable agreement, and if you honored your obligations (i.e. did the work you were supposed to). So legally, it may be that she cannot sue you; practically, however, the problem may be proving the existence and terms of the agreement, especially if 1) she testifies to the contrary, and/or 2) there is anything in writing to the contrary. So if there was a written lease, for example, saying the rent was (for example) $800 a month and you then made made an oral agreement to pay $600/month and do work for her, if she testifies there was no such agreement, it may be difficult to overcome the evidence of the written lease.


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