Yes, generally an oral lease is legal. You have the same rights as a tenant with a written lease. Your landlord can’t refuse to keep your apartment in habitable condition, for instance, because you don’t have a written lease.
In a lot of states, verbal leases that are longer than a year aren’t allowed—so even if your landlord agrees that you’ll be able to stay in the apartment for the next two years, they won’t be bound by that if they decide to kick you out after one. You can live in a rental for longer than a year on an oral lease. But you’ll be considered a month-to-month tenant, rather than a tenant with a fixed-term lease.
But beyond the legality of the situation, you are generally better off having a written lease. It prevents arguments from devolving into a “he said, she said” situation if you ever end up in court. Also, keep in mind that the lease must be signed by both you and your landlord to be considered legally binding. So if you sign it first and send it over to be countersigned, make sure you get the final version with both signatures!
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.
Can’t find your question?
Have a specific question that's not answered in one of our Learn articles? Submit it here and we might be able to create a new article.