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In Florida, is an Oral Contract Enforceable?

| Jan 15, 2016 | Elder Law, Estate Planning, Family Law, Probate |

When an attorney is asked whether an oral contract in Florida is enforceable, the correct answer is that some, but not all, contracts must be in writing. In other words, some oral contracts are enforceable, others are not.

Like many states, Florida has a “statute of frauds” which states that certain types of contracts must be in writing. Florida’s statute is set forth in Section 725.01 Fla. Stat.

The types of contracts which must be in writing include: 1. an agreement to guarantee another person’s debt; 2. an agreement for the sale of real property; 3. an agreement for the lease of real property for more than one year; 4. an agreement where the performance is for more than one year; and 5. an agreement for the purchase of goods for $500 or more.

So, to show how this works, consider the following: John says to Bob “I’ll agree to sell you my bicycle for $50.” Bob responds, “I’ll purchase your bicycle, here’s my $50.” This constitutes a binding contract even though it is not in writing. John made an offer, Bob accepted and tendered the consideration of $50. Since the item being sold, a bicycle, is a “good” and is for less than $500, the statute of frauds does not apply. Each side must honor the agreement.

On the other hand, if John says to Bob “I’ll sell you my house for $50,000” and Bob responds “I accept your offer” there is no binding contract unless it’s in writing. If John refuses to perform on his offer and Bob sues for breach, Bob will lose because this is a contract for the sale of real property and that must be in writing. 

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