Both renters and landlords have certain obligations and rights outlined in the lease agreement. The lease agreement outlines things like the amount of rent due, the length of the rental period and the rules and regulations for living on the property. It also outlines the landlord's responsibilities.
A lease is a legally binding document between the renter and the property owner. When a tenant breaks the terms of the lease, it can lead to financial or legal repercussions. One such scenario is when a tenant refuses to move out after the lease period has expired.
A holdover tenant is someone who stays in the rental unit after the lease period has ended. The holdover tenant does not have the landlord's explicit permission to stay on the property but remains anyway.
Some holdover tenants continue to pay rent and others do not. Regardless, the holdover tenant is occupying the apartment after the lease has expired, which violates the lease terms. If the tenant is not paying rent, they're technically trespassing on the property at this point. If the renter is a paying tenant, they need to negotiate new lease terms with the property manager.
You may also hear the term "tenancy at sufferance" when talking about a tenant holdover. Simply put, this refers to the situation when the renter remains on the rented property after the lease expired, without the landlord's consent and without signing a new lease.
You'll also hear the phrase "tenancy at will." A tenancy at will occurs when a tenant occupies a rental unit with the landlord's permission but without signing a lease. Usually, this occurs on a week-to-week basis.
These two situations are opposites of each other. The key thing to note is that a tenancy at sufferance does not have the landlord's permission or approval to stay on the property but they do so anyway. The landlord has not taken any action to evict the tenant.
Some holdover tenants will continue making rent payments even when the lease has expired. If the tenant makes a rent payment, they technically aren't trespassing.
When a landlord accepts further rent payments from a holdover tenant, it's assumed that they're fine to let the tenant stay. While the original lease has expired, the tenant and the landlord can discuss a new lease term, like month-to-month tenancy or a new periodic lease, also known as a periodic tenancy.
As a landlord, if you accept rent payments after the lease ends, it's essential to get a new rental term in place. Otherwise, you may face legal problems. Holdover tenants can legally occupy the apartment if the landlord continues to accept rent payments or holdover rent.
Accepting rent from a holdover tenant is tricky if the landlord wishes to start a legal eviction process. A landlord cannot collect rent and take ongoing rent payments and simultaneously serve an eviction notice. If a landlord takes the monthly rent after the lease has expired and then evicts the tenant, a district court could rule in favor of the tenant for wrongful eviction. The only time a landlord should accept rent after the lease expires is if the tenant owes back rent.
Holdover tenants have certain rights, even if they're violating the terms of the lease. Local and state laws may vary, but generally, a holdover tenant's rights are the following:
A tenant has the right to a safe, clean and habitable space. This means that the landlord needs to maintain the property, regardless of holdover status. All tenants have the legal right to an apartment that's liveable.
A tenant has the right to file a written complaint against the landlord should the landlord fail to maintain the tenant's rights. Even when the tenant fails to leave the property, they still have the legal right to file a formal complaint should the landlord violate their rights as defined by local laws or state laws.
Landlords cannot shut off a holdover tenant's utilities as a way to get them to leave the property. A new tenant and an existing tenant both have the right to utility services.
Whether it's a tenant holdover or a tenant maintaining the lease terms, all renters have the right to receive a written notice before the landlord begins to enter the property. A landlord cannot enter an apartment without prior notice.
If a landlord wants to evict a tenant, the landlord must follow proper procedure and start the eviction proceedings the right way. Landlords do have the right to take legal action, but they still must abide by tenant and landlord rules, including providing a written eviction notice.
We discussed how a holdover tenant has rights. We also want to discuss the rights and options that a landlord has when a tenant's stay has entered the holdover period. Landlords have a few different options to pursue with a tenant holdover.
The first option a landlord has is to negotiate new rental terms with the holdover tenant. This could mean renewing a year-long lease or moving to a month-to-month lease. When you have a holdover tenant who continues to pay rent, it's pretty normal for that to phase into a month-to-month lease. In this case, the tenant can stay in their current space, the landlord can legally collect rent and a legally binding document safeguards both parties.
If the landlord does not wish to continue renting to the holdover tenant, they can start the formal eviction process and a holdover proceeding. The landlord must follow the proper course of action and provide an official notice of eviction that outlines everything the renter needs to know about the next steps.
The holdover tenant can either move out at this point, or the two parties may need to involve the court and have the court rulings determine which party is correct. A tenant may have the grounds to sue for wrongful eviction or the landlord may have the right to sue for trespassing. The holdover proceeding will determine all of this.
A holdover tenant is someone who stays in their apartment after the rental contract expires. A landlord can either negotiate a new rental agreement or take legal action, like eviction, against the tenant. Regardless of the action taken by the landlord, the holdover tenant has basic renter rights the landlord must uphold.
As a renter, it's best to avoid a holdover period, in general, to maintain good credit, a good reputation and avoid legal proceedings.