The Pros & Cons Of Written / Oral Rental Agreements

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on September 29, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Ques. How does it benefit to have a written lease agreement, and are there any advantages to having one?
A professional landlord will never make the mistake of renting out his / her property without a formal written agreement. The chief advantage of putting down rental terms in writing, serves to defend a landlord’s right to hold the tenant responsible for paying rent for the entire duration or term of the lease, even though the tenant may have moved out, much before its expiry.

As well, it works to the advantage of the tenant, in that the landlord cannot raise the rent beyond the amount specified in the lease during its term. Furthermore, most standard lease forms are written up by lawyers working for landlords, or for the real estate industry, and more often than not, seem to be heavily slanted in favour of the landlords.

Ques. What are the advantages of an oral versus a written lease?
An oral agreement or month-to-month agreement works to the advantage of a tenant, in that he / she may terminate the lease, moving out without any further rental liability, simply giving a short notice to the landlord. As a rule, the notice should be the same as the term of the agreement i.e. commonly 30-days. Reports indicate tenants are extremely mobile, with 20% moving each year, therefore, if ease of moving out is an important consideration, an oral or month-to-month agreement works in favour of the tenant.

On the other hand, an oral lease provides landlords an easy way out to quickly terminate a lease giving only a short 30-day notice, if he / she finds the tenant to be an undesirable element, or else, if a landlord wishes to raise the rent, an oral agreement plays in his / her favour allowing him / her to increase the rent after giving due notice, usually 30-days. As well, it is best to remember that in the case of oral agreements; usually there is no requirement for a landlord to provide a valid reason for terminating the agreement, a necessary requisite in most other cases.

Ques. What are the disadvantages, if any, to having a lease in writing?
A written lease is more pro-landlord than tenant, it disadvantages a tenant, as a landlord may write in express provisions that void certain protections the law ordinarily makes provisions for tenants. And, written agreements may not always clearly define a landlord’s responsibilities.

Ques. Are there any disadvantages to having only an oral lease?
Because, there is nothing in writing, the major disadvantage of having only an oral agreement is the possibility of misunderstandings arising between landlord and tenant regarding the conditions of the tenancy.

It is important from both landlord and tenant perspectives to have a clearly defined written rental agreement, if they both wish to go in for a long-term relationship. And, an honest landlord will ensure both tenant and landlord responsibilities get due importance in the lease terms. For short-term renting, oral agreements are better for both landlord and tenant.

However, to avoid expensive litigation, whether you go in for a written or oral agreement, it is important for landlords to screen prospective tenants and employees, weeding out undesirable elements with past evictions or criminal pasts. Visit for tenant screening and background check services.

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