Recovering rent without a lease

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Recovering rent without a lease

I am currently renting out my house and my tenant owes me 1,525 in rent and water bills. The deed for the house is currently in the courts awaiting finishing payments on amount owed for signing over the deeds from the previous owners. I did not have the tenant sign a lease, due to us being friends and me being stupid, but I have text messages with her acknowledging that she owes me money and telling me that she is leaving by December 1. Will I be able to recover the money owed or no without a lease?

Asked on November 16, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can recover rent. 
1) There was a lease: an oral or unwritten one, or the agreement you would rent to her. Oral leases are not binding into the future, since they are month-to-month (either side can cancel on a month's notice), but they are enforceable for time she actually has been there: there was an agreement she could live there in exchange for rent, she did live there, so now she must uphold her end of the bargain and pay.
2) Furthermore, under the theory of "unjust enrichment," someone cannot be unjustly or unfairly enriched by getting the benefit of something she knew she was supposed to pay for without paying; this theory also supports recovering rent for the time she was there.


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