Allowing renters to rent without signing lease -- good idea?

6 Replies

I am new to the Houston, TX area and have been looking at some private rooms to rent/sublease and some landlords/subleasors don't require signed leases from tenants (just for them to pay month-to-month). I assume this is a tenancy-at-will agreement and that is completely legal.

My questions:

1. What are the downsides to tenancy-at-will agreements?

2. What are the upsides to tenancy-at-will agreements?

3. Do tenants on tenancy-at-will agreements have the same exact rights as tenants who sign leases?

4. Do tenancy-at-will agreements allow tenants more flexibility in what they do in the building? 

I am actually planning on renting a private room in Houston and am not sure if renting on a tenancy-at-will agreement is better for me than having to sign an actual lease. Will a tenancy-at-will give me more freedom and less restrictions with the same tenant rights as if a signed a written lease? Also, do I just write the landlord/subleasor a check with the property address and month on the check as payment? I just don't want to be giving up any rights as a tenant by renting on a tenancy-as

@Samantha Diego If something were to happen how would you prove that you are living there without a lease?

They could kick you out next month as you don't have a guaranteed place to live.

They could take your money then say you were trespassing.

They could double the rent as you have no written rent amount.

Maybe they don't actually have the right to lease the room so they don't want to have any paperwork.

See where I am going with these questions?

You say you are assuming this is perfectly legal .. why are you assuming that .. based on what you are saying I’d guess it’s perfectly illegal . Many people sublet which is often strictly prohibited in the lease . The lease protects you bro ! not having one is crack head dumb . The person could take your rent then call the police and have you thrown out at will .. so many scenarios where you could be screwed in this arrangement

Originally posted by @John Underwood :

@Samantha Diego If something were to happen how would you prove that you are living there without a lease?

They could kick you out next month as you don't have a guaranteed place to live.

They could take your money then say you were trespassing.

They could double the rent as you have no written rent amount.

Maybe they don't actually have the right to lease the room so they don't want to have any paperwork.

See where I am going with these questions?

I know they have to give 30-day notice and I am fine with that. How can they take my money and say I was trespassing? That's not legal. That's a scam and fraudulent act. 

I am seeking a month-to-month rental situation to begin with and I think tenancy at will gives the tenant (not the landlord) even more freedom. Is this correct? 

I rent rooms in a building and I do "rental agreements" which explains the rules, and explains that it is a month to month arrangement. You still are required to give 30 day notices to terminate the agreement, and still have to go through the eviction process. You are also still bound by any month to month ordinances in your area, whether it's in writing or verbal.

You should have something in writing and signed (rules), so in case you evict, you have a based upon which to evict. You can't evict someone for a rule that they didn't know about.

Um, maybe cart before the horse here.  Does your jurisdiction allow you to rent out a room?  Does your lease allow sub-letting?  How many rooms will you be renting?  How many un-related parties can live in a house without violating local statutes?

Even if all the above is legal in your local jurisdiction, I wouldn't rent ANYTHING to ANYONE without a written lease stating the rules and regulations, rent, time due, etc.  

The honeymoon time is always sweet; things can go sideways fast, and if you don't have something in writing (in real estate terms, "statute of frauds") you, my friend, are at the mercy of the tenant and the court.

Word to the wise.

I think I missed the part where this person is entering into rental agreements with the intention of subletting. Sounds confusing and dishonest. Sounds like you are trying to become a landlord without owning any property.