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Legal risks of renting a house without a rental agreement

In the context of a developing real estate market, renting a house is an essential need for many people. However, not everyone pays attention to signing a rental agreement, leading to many unwanted legal risks. Apolo Lawyers will analyze in detail the legal risks that may arise when not signing a rental agreement, to help readers better understand the importance of signing a contract and how to handle it according to legal regulations. In case you need advice, please contact us via email at or Hotline - (+84) 903 419 479 for the best advice and support.

1. What is a Rental Agreement?

1.1. Definition of a Rental Agreement

A rental agreement is a written agreement between the landlord and the tenant regarding the lease and use of a property (house, apartment, room, etc.) for a specific period. In this contract, the terms regarding the rights and obligations of the parties, the rent amount, the lease term, and other conditions related to the use of the leased property are clearly stipulated.

According to Article 472 of the 2015 Civil Code, a property lease contract is an agreement between the parties whereby the lessor delivers the property to the lessee for use for a certain period, and the lessee must pay the rent.

1.2. Basic Contents of a Rental Agreement

A comprehensive and legal rental agreement typically includes the following basic contents:

  • Information about the parties: Including full names, addresses, ID/CCCD numbers, and contact information of the landlord and the tenant.
  • Information about the leased property: Detailed description of the rented house, apartment, or room (address, area, current condition, etc.).
  • Lease term: Clearly stating the lease period (start date and end date).
  • Rent and payment method: Including the monthly rent amount, payment method, and payment schedule (cash, bank transfer, etc.).
  • Security deposit: Regulations on the deposit amount, its purpose, and the conditions for its return.
  • Rights and obligations of the parties: Including terms on property maintenance, property use, responsibility for arising costs (electricity, water, internet, etc.).
  • Terms for contract termination: Regulations on cases of early contract termination, notification obligations, and penalty fees (if any).
  • Dispute resolution: Methods for resolving disputes when conflicts arise between the parties (negotiation, mediation, court, etc.).

1.3. Role of a Rental Agreement

The rental agreement plays a crucial role in protecting the rights and obligations of the parties:

  • Ensuring legal validity: The contract is the legal basis for resolving disputes arising between the parties.
  • Clearly stipulating rights and obligations: Helping the parties understand and properly perform their rights and obligations.
  • Risk prevention: Minimizing unnecessary legal risks and disputes.

According to Articles 472 and 473 of the 2015 Civil Code, rental agreements must comply with the legal provisions regarding the form, content, and validity of the contract. Especially for rental agreements with a term of six months or more, the contract must be in writing and notarized or certified if required by law.

Additionally, Article 121 of the 2014 Housing Law stipulates that a house rental agreement must be made in writing and include essential contents such as the tenant and landlord, description of the house, rent, lease term, payment method, and other agreements.

Legal risks of renting a house without a rental agreementLegal risks of renting a house without a rental agreement

2. Potential Risks When Not Signing a Rental Agreement

When a rental agreement is not signed, both tenants and landlords face various legal and financial risks. These risks can lead to numerous difficulties and disputes, affecting the rights and obligations of both parties. Below are some of the main risks:

2.1. Risks Regarding the Rights and Obligations of the Parties

Rights of tenant Are Not Protected Without a rental agreement, the rights of tenant are not clearly protected. This can lead to situations such as:

Obligations of the Parties Are Not Clearly Defined Without a contract, the obligations of the parties are not clearly defined, easily leading to disputes and conflicts:

  • The landlord can arbitrarily change the rent: The tenant has no legal basis to protect their rights if the landlord arbitrarily increases the rent.
  • No commitment to the rental period: The tenant may be asked to leave at any time without a reasonable cause or prior notice.
  • The tenant may not clearly understand the responsibility for property maintenance: This can result in the property being damaged or deteriorating without timely maintenance.
  • The landlord may demand unreasonable fees: The tenant can be required to pay unclear or previously unagreed fees

2.2. Dispute Resolution Risks

Lack of Evidence to Protect Rights Without a contract, the parties will have difficulty proving their rights when disputes arise:

  • No clear legal basis: Without a contract, the tenant and landlord have no official document to rely on when needing to prove the agreed terms.
  • Difficulty in determining responsibility: Without a contract, the parties cannot easily determine responsibilities of each other regarding agreed obligations such as rent payment, property maintenance, and other terms.

Difficulties in Legal Dispute Resolution When disputes occur without a contract, legal resolution becomes complicated and time-consuming:

  • Extended resolution time: Due to the lack of evidence and legal basis, the dispute resolution process can be prolonged, wasting time and effort for both parties.
  • High legal costs: Resolving disputes without a contract often requires intervention from legal authorities and lawyers, leading to high legal costs.

2.3. Financial Obligation Risks

2.3.1. Unclear Payments Without a contract, the terms regarding payments, including rent, deposits, and arising costs, will not be clearly stipulated, easily causing disputes:

  • Risk of additional costs: The tenant can be required to pay unreasonable or previously unagreed fees.

2.3.2. Difficulty in Enforcing Financial Obligations Without a contract, the tenant may face unclear and unreasonable payment demands from the landlord:

  • Unclear payment terms: Without a contract, the terms regarding payments, including rent, deposits, and arising costs, will not be clearly stipulated, easily causing disputes.

2.4. Risks Regarding Property Use Rights

2.4.1. Sudden Loss of Housing Rights The tenant may lose the right to use the rented house at any time if the landlord decides to reclaim the house without any warning or reasonable cause:

  • Loss of housing rights: Without a contract, the tenant has no legal basis to request continued use of the house.

2.4.2. Impact on Business Operations For those renting a house for business purposes, the sudden loss of housing rights can cause significant economic damage and disrupt business activities:

  • Business difficulties: The sudden loss of housing rights can cause significant economic damage and disrupt business activities.

Legal risks of renting a house without a rental agreementLegal risks of renting a house without a rental agreement

When a rental agreement is not signed in writing, resolving disputes between parties becomes more complex. However, Vietnamese law provides specific regulations for addressing these disputes. Below are the legal provisions and methods for dispute resolution when there is no written rental agreement:

3.1 Principles of Dispute Resolution According to Law

According to the Civil Code and the Housing Law, when disputes arise over rental properties without a written contract, parties should adhere to the following principles:

  • Principle of freedom, voluntary commitment, and agreement: Parties are free to negotiate with each other on terms as long as they do not violate the law and social ethics (Article 3 of the Civil Code 2015).
  • Principle of good faith and honesty: When resolving disputes, parties must act in good faith and honesty (Article 3 of the Civil Code 2015).
  • Principle of protecting legitimate rights and interests of the parties: Dispute resolution must protect the lawful rights and interests of the parties involved in the transaction.

3.2 Methods of Dispute Resolution

3.2.1. Negotiation, Mediation According to Article 202 of the Land Law 2013 and Article 3 of the Civil Code 2015, negotiation and mediation are the first methods encouraged to resolve disputes:

  • Negotiation: Parties can voluntarily reach an agreement to find a common solution, avoiding the need to involve legal authorities.
  • Mediation: If negotiation fails, parties can seek the assistance of a third party (such as a mediator or mediation agency) to facilitate mediation.

3.2.2. Resolution at administrative authorities If negotiation and mediation are unsuccessful, parties can request intervention from competent administrative authorities:

  • Committee of Commune People: According to Article 202 of the Land Law 2013, disputes related to land, including rental disputes, can be resolved at the Committee of Commune People.

3.3. Resolution at court If the above methods are ineffective, parties can initiate a lawsuit at the Court of people to resolve the dispute:

  • Court of people: According to Article 688 of the Civil Code 2015, civil contract disputes, including rental disputes, will be resolved according to civil procedural law.
  • Evidence: Despite the absence of a written contract, parties can use other evidence such as text messages, emails, witness statements, payment receipts, etc., to prove their rights and obligations.

In conclusion, while not having a written rental agreement complicates dispute resolution, Vietnamese law provides clear guidelines and methods to ensure disputes can still be resolved effectively through negotiation, mediation, administrative channels, or the court system. Each method offers a pathway to protect the legitimate rights and interests of both landlords and tenants in rental disputes.

4. Advice for Resolving Disputes

When disputes arise without a written contract, seeking assistance from a lawyer is crucial. A lawyer can help in the following ways:

  • Legal advice: Explain the legal rights and obligations of the parties involved.
  • Evidence preparation: Guide on how to gather and prepare necessary evidence.
  • Legal representation: Participate in negotiation, mediation, or represent parties in court.

4.2. Maintain Relevant Evidence

Even without a contract, preserving relevant evidence related to the rental agreement is crucial. This evidence may include:

  • Rent payment receipts: Documents proving the payment of rent.
  • Text messages, email exchanges: Correspondence between parties regarding rental terms.
  • Witness statements: Testimonies from individuals knowledgeable about the rental agreement and agreements between parties.

Not having a signed rental contract poses legal risks and challenges in dispute resolution. However, with legal regulations and dispute resolution methods as outlined above, parties can still find appropriate solutions to protect their rights and interests.

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