Even when it seems like the subject matter is personal, such as renting a residence, Business Law 101 states that you still really do need a contract. I recently encountered an unfortunate example.
I was contacted by a gentleman who recently moved to Las Vegas and rented a residence. The landlord refused to enter into a lease and wanted to proceed only on a month-to-month basis. Red flag! Seriously . . . what landlord in this economy does not want the security of a long-term lease. The answer is a landlord that is unscrupulous and looking to take advantage of an unsuspecting tenant.
Within a few weeks after the tenant moved in, the landlord demanded a 25% rent increase. Expecting that the tenant would be hard-pressed to object after spending a significant amount of time, effort, energy and money to move, the landlord sought to take advantage, knowing that it would be a serious hardship to move again in such a short period of time.
The people with whom you deal, personally, commercially and professionally, will give you a variety of reasons why you don’t need a written agreement with them. Be afraid . . . be very afraid. People who deal with each other honestly are not afraid of putting those agreements in writing.