If I didn’t have a signed lease agreement, can I be held liable for any damages the landlord may say that were caused by me or my family?

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If I didn’t have a signed lease agreement, can I be held liable for any damages the landlord may say that were caused by me or my family?

All agreements, such as monthly rent and time to be paid, was agreed to through txt messages and emails. There was no documentation of previous damage.

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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, even when there is only an oral or verbal lease, a tenant is responsible for all damage to a unit caused by him/herself, his or family (or pets), and his or her guests. (For that matter, *any* person, tenant or not, is legally responsible for the damage she/he does to another's property.) If you dispute that did the damage, you can refuse to pay and force the landlord to sue you, at which point the landlord will have to prove in court that you (or your family) caused the damage--but if the landlord can, you'll have to pay.


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