Landlord/Tenant Law: Types of Tenancies

There are several forms of landlord tenant relationships, which are listed below. The most common, however, are “month-to-month” and “fixed term.”

  • At will: A tenancy at will exists when either the landlord or the tenant has the right to terminate the lease at will and at any time. The tenancy at will isn’t common anymore because it offers no stability to either the tenant or the landlord. Notice of termination is required to terminate a tenancy at will. Some states may require a minimum of one-month notice of termination even for a tenancy at will.
  • Month-to-month: A periodic tenancy is one for a repeated period of time that has no specific termination date. The most common example is a month-to-month lease. This tenancy is automatically renewed from period to period and can only be terminated by proper notice from the landlord or the tenant. Proper notice is usually required to be at least one period under the lease. For example, for a month-to-month lease, at least one-month notice of termination is normally required.
  • Fixed term: A fixed-term tenancy is created by a lease for a fixed period of time and with a definite termination date. It can be for more or less than a year. Examples are a six-month or a one-year lease. No notice of termination is typically required unless specified by the lease agreement. A tenancy for years automatically terminates upon expiration of the lease, unless the landlord and tenant have agreed to extend the lease. The typical residential lease is for a fixed term and may provide that the lease will be automatically extended for a similar fixed period unless notice of termination is given one to three months before expiration of the lease.
  • At sufferance: A tenancy at sufferance, or holdover tenancy, exists when the tenant fails or refuses to vacate after the expiration of the lease. In such a case, the landlord may treat the tenant as a trespasser and seek eviction or may choose to hold the tenant to a new tenancy under the old lease.