Are oral/verbal contracts binding in New Jersey?
Asked Jul 5, 2007, 05:07 PM
In April of this year (2007), I began to search for a new apartment. Shortly after, I was contacted by a friend offering me to look at his apartment as it would be available on June 1st. Since my lease in my old apartment would end in mid June, I thought the timing was just right. My wife and I drove there and fell in love with the apartment. It was a two bedroom apartment, in a good location and closer to work (our original apartment was a one bedroom and much further from work). He made an offer, I counter offered and finally agreed on a price and security deposit. We agreed to split the security deposit and pay it over two months. He would supply hot water, while I would pay for my other utilities. I would stay in the apartment for a minimum of 2 years. Since we were friends, we did not write down the lease, this was a "verbal" contract.
Unfurtunately, due to personal issues (not financial), the landlord decided to put the house up for sale just two weeks after we moved in. He notified me of his plan and assured me that in order to avoid any problems for me, he would make a written lease agreement for the new potential owners to honor.
Since we moved from a one bedroom apartment, we spent about 10K in furnishing the second bedroom and bought many other things for the new apartment. We did this because once again, he assured us that we would be allowed to stay here as originally agreed.
Another week went by (three weeks since we had moved) and the landlord notified me that someone had made an offer for the house, but they did not want any tenants. They would need to entire house.
At first, since we are friends, I thought that perhaps I should look to move, but as I gave the situation a second look, if the closing is done in 6-8 weeks, moving would be impossible that soon. I just started a new job that requires me to spend a lot of time at work and simply do not have the time to go apartment hunting, not do I have the time to phisically move my belongings. I have spend a lot of money on furniture and appliances, thinking I would be here for at least 2 years as agreed.
Unfortunately, since the potential buyers are willing to pay the asking price, the landlord had changed his attitude and expects that I would be a good buddy and move.
Since we do not have a written lease, would my verbal contract be binding in court?
Am I at risk of eviction even thougth I have made only two payments (by check) and on time?
What are my legal rights as a tenant?
Will I spoil the party if the bank loan clears for the new owers?
Do I have a legal ground to stay for the 2 year period?
At this point, I am asuming this friendship is over.
Please help me better understand my rights and options.