With a verbal agreement, what rights does a landlord have?

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With a verbal agreement, what rights does a landlord have?

I had a verbal agreement with my tenant to pay month-to-month rent; I didn’t charge a security deposit because we agreed that if they broke it they would fix it. They only had a mattress, so I borrowed a bedframe from a family member. I told them to watch it and let me know if they needed pads for the frame so as to not damage the floor. The tenant suddenly moved out without giving me any notice and left his girlfriend to pay for everything. There are damages to my floor and wall which they refuse to pay because it was my frame and there was no signed lease. Is there anything that I can do?

Asked on March 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Oral or verbal leases are enforceable, so if there was an oral agreement that the tenant would pay for damage, you could bring a legal action to enforce the lease and get the tenant to pay. Alterately, even without an agreement on the subject, people are responsible for damage which they negligently (i.e. unreasonably carelessly) or intentionally cause to another's apartment, so you could sue the tenant in negligence for the cost to repair. You do have legal rights, but to enforce them--since there is no security deposit--you will have to sue, which (depending on the extent of the damage) may or may not be worth it economically. In the future, always get a security deposit.


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