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Is it possible to enforce a verbal contract in a landlord-tenant relationship?

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2022 | Contract Disputes

Many people enter into verbal contracts when renting a house or apartment. While this is true, you may wonder what rights you have to enforce this contract if a potential breach occurs. 

In Maryland, a verbal agreement is just as binding and therefore enforceable as one that is written. The key is for the oral agreement to have all the elements required for a valid contract. 

What is considered a valid contract?

For a contract to be considered valid it must contain the following elements:

  • An offer
  • Acceptance of the offer
  • Consideration (something that each party is giving up in exchange)
  • Mutual asset

As long as nothing bars the enforcement of that contract (such as proof one party wasn’t legally capable of assenting to the deal for some reason), the contract can stand.

Proving the terms of an oral contract in court

If you take your dispute to court or even seek alternative dispute methods, the judge or another party may look for elements related to fraud that will show the agreement is invalid. For example, did the landlord in some way misrepresent the offer that was made? Or was the tenant attempting to take advantage of the situation?

It’s worth mentioning that oral contracts are harder to enforce because they often turn into cases of “he said, she said.” Because of this, making sure the terms are in writing is recommended. 

Protecting your rights in a landlord-tenant relationship

If you want to protect your rights in a landlord-tenant relationship, it’s a good idea to put the terms of a contract in writing. This is going to ensure that if there is a breach or another issue, you have a document that backs up what you have claimed. 

Experienced legal guidance can help you protect the legal rights that you have, and you may be able to head off any major problems.