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If I never signed a lease agreement can I be evicted?

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If I never signed a lease agreement can I be evicted?

Postby kullerocks » Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:56 pm

I currently rent an apartment in Los Angeles, CA. The manner through which I became a tenant of my apartment building is somewhat strange. At the time of my move, I was looking for something I could rent on a monthly lease. I found my apartment through a newspaper ad and made an appointment with who I thought was the resident manager to take a look at it. He showed me the apartment and explained that I could rent on a monthly basis with no lease agreement if I gave him first month's rent plus one month's security deposit. Since this was exactly what I was looking for, I moved in later that day.

After a few days at my new apartment, a man I had never seen before introduced himself to me as the resident manager and asked me who I was. I explained to him that I had just moved into one of the units that had been rented to me by another man who also claimed to be the resident manager. Apparently he was not who he said he was. The man I rented the apartment from had actually been a previous tenant who had moved out of his apartment and then illegally subleted it to me, pocketing all the money I gave him. Once we figured this out, the actual resident manager was nice enough not only to allow me stay in the unit, but also to keep the original terms that I had agreed upon and did not require me to sign a 1 -year lease (or anything else).

During the month of march my finances grew tight and I was unable to pay April's rent on the 1st of the month as expected. I spoke with him about this earlier in the month and he said it was ok but to get it to him asap. However, I just don't have it yet and I received a 3-day notice on my door yesterday. Can I be evicted without ever having signed any type of lease agreement? Is there anyway I can be held accountable for the unpaid rent or could I theoretically remain here until ordered to vacate without paying the balance for that time period?
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Postby TenantNet » Sat Apr 14, 2007 3:41 pm

We're not experts in California law, but the laws are somewhat similar in various parts of the country. Nevertheless, you should get a local legal opinion.

Can you be evicted? Yes. By whom? A court. Are you a tenant? From what you've said, yes. You do not need a lease to be a tenant, or to enter into a landlord-tenant relationship. Forget what happened when you first moved in. On the LL's discovery of the deception, they allowed you to stay ... on the same terms, which means you must pay rent unless there are reasons not to pay rent (i.e., like no heat or no hot water). You don't indicate other problems of such severity that would abate the rent.

Granted, things can get tight and maybe you just need some time. If that's the case, then go for that. Eventually they will either get you out or get an order for the rent.
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Postby Iddabiddy35 » Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:13 am

I just want to comment that your whole senario doesn't sound right to me - I would not advise anyone to move into any apartment on a MTM basis without a lease in hand. Can you get such a lease from the 'real' property manager? If not, I would move fast!
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Postby cestmoi123 » Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:37 am

Iddabiddy, MTM is a very common situation outside of NYC. Nothing really unusual, and not nearly as much of a problem in places with normal rental markets (i.e. vacancies), since rents are already at market.

OP, basically, if you don't pay within the 3 days, the LL can file an unlawful detainer suit. You'd have about 5 days to respond, and the hearing would be 2-3 weeks after your response (if you don't respond, summary judgment for the LL). At that point, an eviction order would be issued, and you'd have about 5 days to leave before the marshal or sheriff evicts you.

Postby kullerocks » Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:07 am

Thanks to everyone who responded to my post. I had assumed that since there was no lease agreement, ultimately I couldn't be held accountable for the payment. Apparently this isn't the case. After reading your replies, I did some research into California law and found out that a verbal lease agreement is just as binding as one that is written, provided that the duration of the verbal agreement is less than 12 months.
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Postby Iddabiddy35 » Tue Apr 24, 2007 7:32 am

Hello Cestmoi123 - I have a friend who is currently renting in Arizona on a MTM agreement but she signed a lease which states all the terms etc..I was just concerned that this tenant in California had signed NOTHING - no MTM agreement which I felt was unusual.
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