Can You Give a Tenant a Notice to Vacate if He Has No Lease?

Failure to pay rent is a legitimate reason for eviction.
Failure to pay rent is a legitimate reason for eviction. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Lease agreements specify the length of time the tenant may live at a property, the amount of rent she is to pay per month and any other clauses that protect the landlord and tenant. Without a formal, written lease, you are responsible for treating the tenant in accordance with state renter's laws. If your tenant does not leave after you give an eviction notice, contact your county sheriff.

Verbal Lease

Most leases are drafted into a written contract that both the tenant and landlord sign before the tenant moves into the property. However, verbal agreements are still considered contractual agreements in many states, meaning that you must follow your state's laws regarding eviction. If you do not have a written or a verbal lease, your tenant is still on your property because you gave him reason to believe he could live there. In any case, follow your state's rental laws to avoid legal disputes.

Minimum Notice

Most states require landlords to provide a minimum notice to tenants before eviction. The length of time varies by state but usually is approximately 30 days before the tenant must leave the premises. For instance, if you gave your tenant notice to leave on Oct. 1, the tenant would have to have everything out of your property by Oct. 31. Even though you have no lease with the tenant, give the notification in writing. Notification laws are intended to protect the tenant from hasty evictions that could result in temporary homelessness.

Eviction Reason

In addition to the minimum eviction notification requirement, many states require that the landlord provide a reason for the eviction. The reasons landlords can give for eviction may be restricted, depending on the rental laws of the state. For instance, if your tenant does not pay rent for multiple, consecutive months, you can use that as a reason for eviction. Provide your eviction reason in writing, even though you do not have a written lease with the tenant.

Court Issues

Even if you follow state laws regarding renter's rights, your tenant might still take you to a civil court for wrongful eviction because you do not have a written lease. The lack of a lease technically benefits both you and your tenant because nothing can be proven to the court. The evidence is essentially your word against that of the tenant. If you are taken to court, show the judge the copies of the eviction notice and honestly describe the verbal terms of the original lease.

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