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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 28810
Experience:  Attorney
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Pls. verify. We have been sending text messages, etc. I told

Customer Question

Pls. verify. We have been sending text messages, etc. I told her the room for rent will be available for 13 months only. I'm afraid in many of my text messages earlier to her, I might have indicated that she can stay until the end of the 13 months. I've
deleted my text and she said she was "compiling", etc. If I knew this will come to this, I would have also saved my text messages. One lawyer said "text messages" are not written contract but I have seen in court TV, Judy or People's Court where both parties
show their text messages to the judge as evidence and the judge accepts it. I'm worried now.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

Text messages can be used as evidence that an oral agreement was created by the parties, and oral agreements are generally enforceable. Usually, you'd need texts from both people showing what they talked about, though, to show there was an agreement. However, California law provides that a lease that is for MORE than one year must be in writing to be enforceable. Cal. Civ. Code, Section 1091. A text message MAY NOT be used to establish that parties entered into a written lease - you also need a separate writing. Section 1624(d). When a lease is invalid because it needed to be in writing and wasn't, then the parties have a month-to-month tenancy.

Any lawyer can subpoena copies of the text messages from the cell phone company if you needed them.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It has not been a year, July to Dec. 2015. Because it has not been a year, are you saying then text messages as well as oral statements are enforceable at this point should I end up evicting her and we end up in court?? Because I don't know why, she's not moving out after oral and text messages and now in writing (30-day notice in writing). She said she's not moving out. I'm guessing it must have something from what I said or texted to her. She said that I said as long as she's in school, she can stay here so she's staying. Am I not allowed to change my mind inspite of the text and oral stated.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

The relevant time period isn't how long she was actually there - it's how long you agreed she was there. An agreement that someone will live in a property for 13 months must be proven by a writing and text messages are not sufficient. A month to month agreement that happens to last 13 months is a valid oral lease that doesn't need to be in writing. In that scenario, text messages are fine to prove that she was renting from you.

There are as many reason for a tenant to refuse to move out as there are tenants in Los Angeles, and most of them have nothing to do with you. It could be as simple as not having the money, not having anywhere to go, liking your house - or even sheer laziness. Now she's just making up laws. You're not a dorm. She doesn't get to to stay as long as she wants because she's in school.

Again, whether you can change your mind depends on what the texts said. If you said, "Sure, you can stay here for 13 months," that's not valid. If you agreed to allow her to stay any time period that is less than a year, the texts are valid and you would not be able to change your mind, but you can evict her as soon as the time period is up if she hasn't left.