Leasehold estates held by tenants

Four types of leasehold estates exist and can be held by tenants. The interests are classified by the length of their term:

  • a fixed-term tenancy, simply known as a lease and legally called an estate for years;
  • a periodic tenancy, usually referred to as a rental;
  • a tenancy-at-will, also known as an estate at will; and
  • a tenancy-at-sufferance, commonly called a holdover tenancy.

A fixed-term tenancy lasts for a specific length of time as stated in a lease agreement

entered into by a landlord and tenant. On expiration of the lease term, the tenant’s right of possession automatically terminates unless it is extended or renewed by another agreement, such as an option agreement. [See RPI Form 550]

Periodic tenancies also last for a specific length of time, such as a week or a month. Under a periodic tenancy, the landlord and tenant agree to automatic successive rental periods of the same length of time, such as in a month-to-month tenancy, until terminated by notice by either the landlord or the tenant. [See RPI Form 551]

In a tenancy-at-will the tenant has the right to possess a property with the consent of the fee owner. Tenancies-at-will can be terminated at any time by an advance notice from either the landlord or the tenant or as set by agreement. Tenancies-at-will do not have a fixed duration, are usually not in writing and a rent obligation generally does not exist.

A tenancy-at-sufferance

occurs when a tenant retains possession of the rented premises after the tenancy granted terminates.