Properly classifying the leasehold estate between a landlord and tenant will govern their rights and responsibilities to each other. Further, it will determine how the tenancy will be terminated. There are four types of possessory estates:

1. Tenancy For Years Tenancy Agreement Tenancy Agreement Template

The first type of possessory estate is called a tenancy for years, and is considered the default estate. A tenancy for years will last for an ascertainable amount of time, and will automatically terminate when that lease expires  without notice. For example, if you enter into a lease or rental agreement for 6 months, you have a set, fixed and ascertainable term. And it will automatically terminate when that term expires, and so all the obligations of both sides will subsequently terminate.

2. Periodic Tenancy Tenancy Agreement, Tenancy Agreement Template 

A periodic tenancy  will exists for a set period of time until i terminated by proper notice by either party. In other words, this is also classified as a month-to-month rental agreement. Notably, a key distinction between a tenancy for years and a periodic tenancy, is that in order to terminate a periodic tenancy, one party has to give the other advance and actual notice. Also, advance notice has to be equal to that lease. For example, with regards to a 30-day lease, notice period of 30 days will be required in advance.

3. Tenancy At Will Tenancy Agreement Tenancy Agreement Tenancy Agreement 

A tenancy at will is a lease which remains in effect until terminated by either party, and without notice. If either party dies, the tenancy at will is terminated. Further, the parties must intend to create a tenancy at will. An express intent is a specific term in the signed tenancy agreement that gives either party the “right to terminate at will”. An implied intent refers to the ongoing payment of rent at will.

4. Tenancy At Sufferance Tenancy Agreement Month-Month 

Tenancy Agreement

A tenant’s refusal to vacate the premises after his lease has terminated will result in a tenancy at sufferance. This creates a temporary tenancy, where the terms of the prior lease control, until: 1) the landlord evicts the tenant; 2) the landlord re-leases the property to the tenant; or 3) the tenant voluntarily vacates.  It should be recognized that the time the tenant stays in wrongful possession of the rent, they will still remain liable under the prior terms under the prior agreement.

Therefore, classifying the possessory estate held by the tenant will determine the rights and obligations between the landlord and the tenant. Importantly, it will determine whether notice is required prior to termination, and what recourse will be available to the landlord in the event that the tenant is a hold-over tenant.

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