Finding a place to live here in California can sometimes be a challenge. Once you have found a place, it will be necessary to have some kind of rental agreement with the landlord. The decision becomes whether the agreement should be oral or written.
Oral rental agreements are binding here in California and can be useful in some cases. However, if you want to remain in a rental property for an extended period of time, have a pet, or want the landlord to pay for utilities or provide some other service, it would be best to have a written agreement. Whether to sign a periodic rental agreement or a lease depends on the circumstances.
The most significant difference between these agreements is the rent. A lease guarantees that the rent cannot be raised during the rental period. On the other hand, the tenant is responsible for the payment of that rent and the property until the expiration of the lease. Periodic rental agreements are often week-to-week or month-to-month, and the rent can be raised, so long as the tenant is given the appropriate length of notice of the increase. In the alternative, the tenant is required to provide the same amount of notice before vacating the rental unit.
Other issues need to be taken into consideration before signing any rental agreement or entering into an oral agreement. It might be beneficial to discuss the matter with an attorney prior to making a decision. It would be better to understand your rights and responsibilities up front rather than discover them when it is too late.