If I didn’t have a lease and left my rental without notice, canI be sued?

UPDATED: Nov 12, 2010

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If I didn’t have a lease and left my rental without notice, canI be sued?

I moved into a rear house in Indiana and although a year lease was given, I never signed it or returned it and it was never asked for. I continued to stay in the rear house and pay rent for a year and 3 months. When I left I did not give notice. Can the owner of that property sue me because I left without notice? He said he would sue me for the term of the lease but the lease had already ended. In addition there was nothing that the owner and I agreed upon after the lease ended. I just continued to pay until I found another place. Do they have a right to sue and if they sued would they win?

Asked on November 12, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract, and oral contracts are enforceable.  However, an oral contract that cannot be performed within 1 year must be in writing.  Additionally, there may or may not have been a legally enforceable contract  in the first place, without more details its hard to determine with any certainty. Therefore, since there was no formal lease in place (or if there was it was no longer enforceable after the first 12 months), you were a month-to-month tenant.  Accordingly, in such a situation a tenant must give a 30-day notice.  If they do not they can be held liable for 1 month's rent.  But only 1 month's rent.  Under state law, your landlord may apply your security deposit to any accrued rent.

Note:  You would also be liable for any damages to the premises that your security deposit did not cover.

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