If I'm renting a home, do I need a lease?
I would say you need and should want one. A lease is a legal document that can offer you protection and rights that you wouldn't have without it, most importantly, how you can and can't be evicted. It can also determine how your security, if applicable, will be used and how and when you will get it back.
Leases can also cover important items such as rent increases, who pays for utilities, it can document the move in condition and what will be consided acceptable wear and tear, whether you can take them to court or must use an arbitrator if you have a problem, the length of your tenancy and whether you can have pets. All of these items can become serious points of contention if not documented properly.
AND just because one is offered, read it and make sure you're protected and it's not just saying YOU and only YOU will be responsible for anything and everything.
Not necessarily. I'm not sure why the owner would not have an agreement in writing. The purpose of putting agreements in"writing" is to be able to enforce agreements in court. Otherwise, it becomes 'he said, she said'.
The landlord is exposing himself to much risk. You can basically vacant the property whenever you want without any risk on your behalf. Of course, your morals and your character (hopefully you live up to your word) is at play. Do the right thing.
At this point, the agreement being oral, it's probably a good idea to live up to your end of the deal. If you need to move out let him know at least 30 days in advance that you need to move out so he has time to find another renter. Put yourself in his shoes. What if you had a rental property and you rented it out to someone and you have and they decide to just move out overnight, it might be a challenge for you to find a replacement for your property right? If you have mortgage payement your credit is at risk...not good.
You will need to decide whether you want a lease agreement or a rental agreement.
A lease agreement has a definite term such as three months, six months, or one year. During this period of time the landlord and the tenant have to abide by the terms of the lease. Rent cannot change nor can the length of the lease change without the consent of both parties. Landlords normally prefer leases over rental agreements as they can lock the tenant in for a given period of time.
Rental agreements are different in that they are normally month to month agreements between two parties. Both parties are able to change the rental agreement when the thirty days are up. These changes may include a change in the amount of rent that is paid, vacating the property, or extending the agreement another month. Landlords that allow rental agreements may have an edge over landlords that require longer term lease agreements as some tenants prefer the freedom of not being locked into a contract for a longer period of time. An example of someone who may prefer a rental agreement is a student in town for only three months for summer school.
Before renting out your property it is good to understand the difference between a lease and rental agreements for the reasons stated above.