Some of us are familiar with that situation where Betty Lou has a cousin whose sister has a place for rent and would be willing to mark down the rental price for family. There is no lease needed for family so you move in feeling pretty good that you are not tide down with a place and when something better comes along, you are good to move along. However; once settled, things do not go so smoothly and before you know it, you are wishing you never would have moved in.
A lease not only protects you as a tenant but it also protects the owners. It protects everyone involved and keeps everyone honest. I have known owners who were in some pretty horrible pickles because they had no lease to back them up. I have seen tenants in the same position. For example, I have some friends who got married and needed to find a place to live in Greenville because that is where they lived. Now, they lived a little ways from Greenville SC so, although finding a place to rent was still expensive and tough, at least it was not as bad as NYC would have been. They felt hopeful and jumped in to finding the perfect place. One of the husband’s childhood friends had a father who owned a single story 2 bedroom home in Anderson but still close to the the interstate and Greenville. It was $500 a month, all inclusive. There was no lease so they could buy a house whenever the time came without being tide down, not to mention, there were no random bills, only the one per month. Two weeks after moving in, their water stopped working. They let the owner know who informed them that the well was running dry and he would not be digging a new one so they would just have to ration the water until then. Another week down the road, it began getting extremely cold for SC. The landlord had not hooked up heat to the house and only had one space heater.. The tenants contacted him only to get met with, “I can bring another space heater.” The space heaters were nowhere near enough heat and the winter was colder than usual. Outside of that, the internet and cable that were promised were also never hooked up to the house. The landlord would not drop the rent price therefore, they had to live with no heat, no water, and none of the promised amenities. Without a lease, there was nothing the tenants could do to remedy the situation. So, only after two months of living there, they were having to search for a new home all over again.
You can see how easy it can be for a landlord or property manager to have no accountability if there is no lease involved. Even if they are friends or family, a lease just keeps everyone honest and gives you as a tenant, the backup you need to make sure you are being treated fairly for your money.