Residential Leases and the Tenancies Created
A lease is defined as a contract by which a landlord transfers to a tenant a leasehold interest in property. The leasehold interest is a possessory right to the quiet enjoyment of habitable premises. The lease agreement sets out the rights and duties of the landlord and the tenant during the lease period.
Tenancy for Years
The terms of the lease may set out the specific start and end date of the tenancy. In such case, a tenancy for years is created, even if the duration is for a shorter period. The identifying factor of a tenancy of years is the fixed, identifiable period. For example, the fixed period can be as stated as straightforwardly as "from January 1, 1932 through December 31, 1932," or as vaguely as "from the date of the lease until the tenant's next birthday." Either way, it is clear when the lease begins and ends. A tenancy for years ends when the end date is reached.
A periodic tenancy continues from time to time until one party gives a notice of termination. A good example is a month-to-month lease. A periodic tenancy can be created by a written lease agreement or by operation of law. In either case, a notice of termination is required to end the tenancy.
Tenancy at Will
When the lease does not state a specific end date, a tenancy at will is created. Either the landlord or the tenant may end this kind of tenancy at will. Although, strictly speaking, notice is not required under a tenancy at will, most jurisdictions have statutes that require the landlord to give notice to the tenant.
Tenancy at Sufferance (Holdover)
If a tenant wrongfully continues to possess the premises after the landlord has ended the tenancy or the tenancy has terminated by its own terms, the continuing possession of the premises is called a tenancy at sufferance. The tenancy at sufferance is commonly known as a holdover tenancy. When a holdover occurs, the tenant possesses the premises at the sufferance of the landlord. The landlord has a choice of either evicting the tenant or holding him to another term. The latter is a particularly harsh remedy if the lease term had been for a period of years, so some states have enacted laws that create a periodic tenancy from the holdover.
Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.