Is a Verbal Tenancy Agreement Legally Binding? Written vs Verbal Tenancy

By Matthew Daines

verbal tenancy agreement

Is a Verbal Tenancy Agreement Legally Binding?

This post was last updated on October 26th, 2021 at 11:34 am

The simple answer is “yes”, a verbal tenancy agreement is as legally binding (reference case: Johnson v. Patry) as a written tenancy agreement, however, we would never advise you enter into one.

What’s the difference between a written and verbal tenancy agreement?

We are often asked this question by our landlords, “Do I really need a written tenancy agreement? As I know the tenants personally, could I not just agree on it verbally?”

In order for a verbal tenancy agreement to exist it must have three essential elements;

  • an offer
  • an acceptance of the offer
  • some payment – known as the legal term consideration

If these three elements exist, then a verbal tenancy agreement can be created. This contract is binding on all parties involved.

There are other elements to consider:

  • Both parties must agree to be legally tied to the tenancy agreement
  • Both parties are capable of making an agreement i.e. not under the age of 18, drunk or a person with a developmental disability.
  • Both parties must be acting freely and not under duress
  • The contract being made cannot be contrary to law

It is advised from a professional perspective that a written tenancy agreement is created to avoid misinterpretation.

By having a well-constructed tenancy agreement which outlines the tenant and landlords’ responsibilities – such as pets not being allowed or no smoking in the property – any deposit disputes further down the line are avoided.

How to avoid creating a verbal tenancy agreement

It is very important to document all communication between a landlord and a tenant.  If a verbal contract is created and a tenant has a problem down the line, they could argue that they never accepted the terms of the contract.

If you are discussing a potential let or renewal of a contract, you be careful not to accidentally create a verbal tenancy agreement.

You can avoid this by using the words ‘Subject to Contract’ on any correspondence relating to potential lets and speaking with prospective tenants.

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About Matthew Daines

As COO of since 2011, Matthew holds a dual role in management and operations. His strategic, focused and goal orientated experience in achieving results within international, high-profile organisations adds to’s continual success and innovation within the private rental sector.

Is a Verbal Tenancy Agreement Legally Binding?
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Is a Verbal Tenancy Agreement Legally Binding?
What is the difference between written and a verbal tenancy agreement? We are often asked this question by our landlords.
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