Friday, June 3, 2011
At-will tenancy and holdover tenants – What is the meaning of these legal terms in landlord-tenant law?
HOLDOVER TENANCY DEFINED: What makes a person who rents property a holdover tenant? A tenant who continues to occupy the premises after expiration of a lease is a holdover tenant. Gym-N-I Playgrounds, Inc. v. Snider, 220 S.W.3d 905, 908 (Tex. 2007). We look at the lease itself to determine whether the terms of the lease continue in the event of a holdover tenancy. Bockelmann v. Marynick, 788 S.W.2d 569, 571-72 (Tex. 1990). A holdover tenant is presumed to be bound by covenants that were binding on him during the term of the lease. Barragan v. Munoz, 525 S.W.2d 559, 561 (Tex. Civ. App.--El Paso 1975, no writ). Even when the lease does not contain a holdover provision, if the tenant remains in possession and rent continues to be accepted by the landlord, the terms of the expired lease are presumed to continue unless there is an agreement to the contrary. Id. at 562; see also Carrasco v. Stewart, 224 S.W.3d 363, 368 (Tex. App.--El Paso 2006, no pet.). TENANT AT WILL VS. TENANT AT SUFFERANCE: What is the difference? When no new lease is formed and a tenant continues in possession of land covered by a prior lease, that tenant is either a tenant at will or a tenant at sufferance. See Bockelmann, 788 S.W.2d at 571; ICM Mortgage Corp. v. Jacob, 902 S.W.2d 527, 530 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1994, writ denied). A tenant at will is one who is in lawful possession of premises by permission of the owner or landlord and for no fixed duration. See Fandey v. Lee, 880 S.W.2d 164, 169 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1994, writ denied); Virani v. Syal, 836 S.W.2d 749, 751-52 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1992, writ denied); Black's Law Dictionary 1604 (9th ed. 2009). A tenant at sufferance is a person who has been in lawful possession of property but who wrongfully remains as a holdover after his right to possession has expired. See ICM Mortgage, 902 S.W.2d at 530; Black's Law Dictionary 1604 (9th ed. 2009). "A tenant at will, in contrast to a tenant at sufferance, possesses the property with the owner's consent." ICM Mortgage, 902 S.W.2d at 530. TENANCY AT WILL ANALOGOUS TO EMPLOYMENT AT WILL: Terminable by either party [lessor or lessee] A tenancy at will is terminable at the will of either party upon fair notice. See ICM Mortgage, 902 S.W.2d at 530; Black's Law Dictionary 1604 (9th ed. 2009). LEASE DEFINED A "lease" for real property is an agreement by which a person owning property grants to another the right to use and occupy the property for a specified period of time in exchange for a periodic payment of a stipulated price, which is usually referred to as rent. Franklin v. Jackson, 847 S.W.2d 306, 308 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1992, writ denied); Black's Law Dictionary 970 (9th ed. 2009). SOURCE: Austin Court of Appeals - 03-09-00713-CV – 6/3/11 (Agreement required periodic payments in the form of monthly payments from [ party ] to [ party ] in the amount of $989.44. The term of the Agreement was thirty-six months. In the Agreement, the parties referred to [ party ] as the "Lessor" and [ party ] as the "Lessee." Thus, the Agreement met all the elements of a lease. See Franklin, 847 S.W.2d at 308; Black's Law Dictionary 970 (9th ed. 2009)). RELATED LEGAL TERMS: landlord-tenant, residential / commercial lease, rent, eviction, right to possession, forcible entry and detainer