If I sublet my apartmentbut the tenant will not pay his final rent, can I still take him to small claims court if we didn’t sign an agreement?

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If I sublet my apartmentbut the tenant will not pay his final rent, can I still take him to small claims court if we didn’t sign an agreement?

I lived with 3 roommates and moved out of my apartment last summer. My old roommates found someone to sublet the apartment. He did not sign a formal contract but paid rent to one of my roommates. They all stayed a few extra days to move out, thus owing the landlord prorated rent. The landlord took the owed rent out of our security deposit and the person living in my old room was to pay me back. My roommate explained all of this in an email to myself and the person who moved into my old room. This person has refused to pay me the money back. Can I sue without a written contract and only emails.

Asked on February 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you may sue for any rent owed. All contracts and leases, including oral (sometimes called verbal) contracts and leases, are enforceable. Obviously, it is sometimes difficult to prove the terms and conditions--or even the existence--of an oral agreement, but you can do so with testimony (yours and others), emails or other correspondence, evidence of past payment as per the agreement, etc.


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