What is an Oral Rental Agreement? (FAQ)
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
If you rent a residence in Montana, this article will help you learn:
- Your rights under an oral rental agreement
- What you can do to enforce your rights.
What is an Oral Rental Agreement?
A rental agreement can be oral or written. It is the same thing as a lease. An oral rental agreement is where you and the landlord agree that you can rent a unit but your agreement is not in writing. An oral rental agreement is still enforceable.
If the landlord lets you move in and accepts your rent payments, then you have an oral rental agreement. You can find the law that says this at Montana Code Annotated (M.C.A.) § 70-24-103(13). Montana Code Annotated are the laws of Montana. The “§” is a symbol that means section. 70 is the Title number. 24 is the Chapter, And, 103 is the Section.
What are My Duties under an Oral Rental Agreement?
You have the same duties as a tenant who has a written rental agreement. For example, you must:
- Pay your rent on time
- Not damage or destroy the property
- Give proper notice if you’re moving out or need repairs.
You must also give your landlord reasonable access to:
- Inspect the unit
- Make necessary or agreed upon repairs or improvements
- Supply necessary or agreed upon services
- Show the unit to potential or actual buyers, lenders, tenants, workers, or contractors.
What are My Rights under an Oral Rental Agreement?
You have the same rights as tenants who have written rental agreements. You have rights to:
- Access and use the rental
- Know the name and address of the property manager and owner
- Fit and habitable housing
- Join a resident association or union
- Sue your landlord in court to enforce your rights
- Defend your rights if the landlord tries to evict you.
If you’re having problems getting your landlord to make repairs, learn more about how to get your landlord to make repairs.
If your landlord is demanding that you move out, you can learn more about how to defend your rights during an eviction.
What are the Landlord’s Duties under an Oral Agreement?
Even though your agreement is not in writing, your landlord must provide you with the same services that landlords provide to tenants with written rental agreements. Under an oral agreement, your landlord must:
- Keep and put the premises in fit and habitable condition
- Provide running water, hot water, heat, and other essential services
- Make repairs.
An oral rental agreement is where you and the landlord agree that you can rent a unit but your agreement is not in writing. If the landlord lets you move in and accepts your rent payments, then you have an oral rental agreement. You have the same rights as tenants who have written rental agreements. An oral rental agreement is still enforceable.
- The State Bar Lawyer Referral Service may provide you with contact information for attorneys who provide the type of assistance you are seeking, for a fee. You can contact the State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at (406) 449-6577 or montanabar.org.
- Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides free civil, non-criminal legal help to eligible clients. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help in Montana.
- If you qualify for help from MLSA, you may be able to get free legal advice from a volunteer attorney by email using Ask Karla.
- Follow this link to download a Notice of Moving Out
- Follow this link to download a legal form to ask your landlord to make repairs
- Follow this link to file an Answer to an Eviction.