Tenancy – the possession or occupancy of real or personal property by right or title


1. The possession or occupancy of land under a lease; a leasehold interest in real estate.

2. The period of such possession or occupancy.  See ESTATE (1).

3. The possession of real or personal property by right or title, especially under a conveying instrument such as a deed or will. [1]

1. The occupancy of a tenant.  Possession under right or title.
     A tenancy exists where one has let real estate to another, to hold of him as landlord.  When duly created and the tenant put into possession, he is the owner of an estate for the time being, and has all the usual rights and remedies to defend his possession.  But a tenancy does not necessarily imply a right to complete and exclusive possession; it may be created with implied or express permission of a right to possession on the part of the landlord, for all purposes not inconsistent with the privileges granted o the tenant.  Morill v Mackman, 24 Mich 279.
     See cotenancy; entire tenancy; general tenancy; joint tenancy; privy; re-entry; tenant; use and occupation. [2]

1. The right to hold and occupy realty or personality by virtue of owning an interest in it.

2. Possession of realty under a lease; the relationship existing between a landlord or lessor and a tenant or lessee.
     See cotenancy; joint tenancy.

3. A term for the interest a tenant has under a lease. [3]

Related Terms:

occupancy – the act of taking possession of something that has no apparent owner (such as abandoned property) so as to acquire legal ownership.

possession – the detention or use of a physical thing with the intent to hold it as one’s own.

Various Forms of Tenancy:

cotenancy – a tenancy with two or more cotenants who both have the right of undivided possession of the property as a whole.

  • joint tenancy – an estate held by two more more persons jointly, with equal rights to share in its enjoyment during their lives, and having as its distinguishing feature the right of survivorship.
  • tenancy in common – a tenancy by two or more persons, in equal or unequal undivided shares, each person having an equal right to possess the whole property but no right of survivorship.

entire tenancy. (17c) A tenancy possessed by one person, as opposed to a joint or common tenancy. See estate by entirety under ESTATE (1).

> general tenancy. (18c) A tenancy that is not of fixed duration under the parties’ agreement.



, life tenancy. See life estate under ESTATE (1).

periodic tenancy. (1891) A tenancy that automatically continues for successive periods -usu. month to month or year to year -unless terminated at the end of a period by notice. 0 A typical example is a month-tomonth apartment lease. This type of tenancy originated through court rulings that, when the lessor received a

periodic rent, the lease could not be terminatt d wn H reasonable notice. Also termed tenancy from I’m: to period; periodic estate; estate from period town“?! (more specif.) month-to-month tenancy (or e (an: year-to-year tenancy (or estate); week-to week term,” (or estate). y

> several tenancy. (17c) A tenancy that is separate a ( , held jointly with another person.

> tenancy at suil’erance. (18c) A tenancy arising w a person who has been in lawful possession of prop. Wrongfully remains as a holdover after his or her in ,. is has expired. 0 A tenancy at sufferance takes the for of either a tenancy at will or a periodic tenancy. Also termed holdover tenancy; estate at saferance, Sec


“A tenancy at sufferance arises where a tenant, hat rg entered upon land under a valid tenancy, holds over wrthoyt the landlord’s assent or dissent. Such a tenant differs from a trespasser in that his original entry was lawful, and from a tenant at will in that his tenancy exists without the land. lord’s assent. No rent, as such, is payable, but the tenant is liable to pay compensation for his use and occupation of the land. The tenancy may be determined [i.e., terminated] at any time, and may be converted into a yearly or other periodic tenancy in the usual way, e.g., if rent is paid and accepted with reference to a year in circumstances where the parties intended there to be a tenancy.” Robert E. Megarry & M.P. Thompson, A Manual of the Law of Real Property 319 (6th ed. 1993).

> tenancy attendant on the inheritance. (1999) A tenancy for a term that is vested in a trustee in trust for the owner of the inheritance. 0 The tenancy is a form of personal property to the trustee. Also termed tenancy attendant on an inheritance; term attendant on the inheritance.

r tenancy at will. (17c) A tenancy in which the tenant holds possession with the landlord’s consent but without fixed terms (as for duration or rent); specif., a tenancy that is terminable at the will of either the transferor or the transferee and that has no designated period of duration. 0 Such a tenancy may be terminated by either party upon fair notice. Also termed at-will tenancy; estate at will.

> tenancy by the curtesy. See CURTESY.

p tenancy by the entirety (en-tI-ar-tee). See estate by entirety under ESTATE (1).

“Tenancy by the entireties is a form of joint tenancy. It resembles joint tenancy in that upon the death of either husband or wife the survivor automatically acquires title to the share of the deceased spouse. Like a joint tenancy, also, it is necessary for the creation of a tenancy by the entireties that the husband and wife acquire title by the same deed or will.” Robert Kratovil, Real Estate Law 198 (6th ed. 1974). ‘

“Where [tenancy by the entirety] is recognized, it may exist only between a husband and a wife. It resembles, in most respects, the joint tenancy. The only major difference is that a tenant by the entirety may not destroy the other spouse’s right of survivorship by transferring his or her interest to another. Whether a tenant by the entirety may transfer any interest to a third party -for example, the right of present possession or the contingent right of survivorship is a matter on which the states differ. Most take the view that no interest may be transferred. The husband and wife may, of course, together convey their estate to a third person. If they both wish to convert their tenancy into a tenancy in common or a joint tenancy, they may do 50. Upon the death of a tenant by the entirety, no interest passes, in theory, to the surviving spouse. As was true of the joint tenancy, the survivor’s ownership is thought simply to expand to absorb the relinquished ownership of the decedent.” Thomas F. Bergin & Paul G. Haskell, Preface to Estates in Land and Future Interests 55 (2d ed. 1984).

“A tenancy by the entireties could exist in any estate, whether in fee, for life, for years or otherwise. The nature of the tenancy was virtually that of an unseverable joint tenancy; neither husband nor wife could dispose of any interest in the land without the concurrence of the other, nor could one of them cause a forfeiture of the land. The unity of husband and wife was regarded as so complete that they were said to be seised ‘per tout et non per mle,’ the survivor being entitled to the whole of the land by force of the original limitation, discharged of the other’s right to participate, and not, as in the case of oint tenancy, by virtue of survivorship on the death of t e other tenant. Unlike joint tenants, neither tenant was regarded as having any potential share in the land; ‘between husband and wife there are no moieties.” Robert E. Megarry & P.V. Baker, A Manual of the Law of Real Property 232-33 (4th ed. 1969)

(qgipstwg Marquis of Winchester’s Case, 3 Co. Rep. 1a, 5a ( .

v tenancy by the rod. See COPYHOLD. r tenancy by the verge. See COPYHOLD.

v tenancy for a term. (17c) A tenancy Whose duration is known in years, weeks, or days from the moment of its creation. Also termed tenancy for a period; tenancy

for years; term for years; term of years; estate for a term; estate for years; lease for years.

> tenancy from period to period. See periodic tenancy.

> tenancy in coparcenary. See COPARCENARY. > tenancy in fee. See FEE SIMPLE.

b tenancy in gross. (1860) A tenancy for a term that is outstanding that is, one that is unattached to or disconnected from the estate or inheritance, such as

one that is in the hands of some third party having no interest in the inheritance.

> tenancy in tail. See FEE TAIL.

b tenancy par la verge. See COPYHOLD.

b year-to-year tenancy. See periodic tenancy. tenancy agreement. See LEASE.

teIlant, n. (14c) 1. Someone who holds or possesses lands or tenements by any kind of right or title. See TENANCY.

b copyhold tenant. See customary tenant. ‘

> Customary tenant. (16c) A tenant holding by the custom

of the manor. 0 Over time, customary tenants became known as copyhold tenants. See COPYHOLD.

“The lord has a court; in that court the tenant in villeinv age, even though he be personally unfree, appears as no mere tenant at will, but as holding permanently, often heritably, on fairly definite terms. He is a customary tenant, customarius, consuetudinarius; he holds according to the custom of the manor. . . . Then gradually . . . [dleallngs with villein tenements are set forth upon the rolls of the lord’s court; the villein tenement is conceived to be holden ‘by roll of court,’ or even ‘by copy of court roll,’ and the mode of conveyance serves to mark off the most beneficial of villeinholds from the most onerous of freeholds . . . . In Henry lll’s time this process which secured for the tenant in villeinage a written, a registered title, and gave him the name of ‘copyholder,’ was but beginning . . . . ’ 2 Frederick Pollock & Frederic W. Maitland, The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward! 361, 375 (2d ed. 1899).

bdominant tenant. (1808) The person who holds a dominant estate and therefore benefits from an easement. Cf. servient tenant.

b holdover tenant. (1880) Someone who remains in possession of real property after a previous tenancy (esp. one under a lease) expires, thus giving rise to a tenancy at sufferance. Sometimes shortened to holdover: See tenancy at saferance under TENANCY.

b hypothetical tenant. See HYPOTHETICAL TENANT.

> illusory tenant. (1984) l. A iictitious person who, as the landlord’s alter ego, subleases an apartment to permit the landlord to circumvent rent-law regulations. 2. A tenant whose business is to sublease rent-controlled apartments.

r joint tenant. See joint tenancy under TENANCY. > life tenant. See LIFE TENANT.

b particular tenant. A tenant of a limited estate taken out of a fee. See particular estate under ESTATE (1).

> prime tenant. (1942) A commercial or professional tenant with an established reputation that leases substantial, and usu. the most preferred, space in a commercial development. 0 A prime tenant is important in securing construction financing and in attracting other

desirable tenants.

> quasi-tenant. (18c) A sublessee that the new tenant or reversioner allows to hold over.

> servient tenant. (1827) The person who holds a servient estate and is therefore burdened by an easement. Cf.

dominant tenant.

> statutory tenant. (1881) Someone who is legally entitled to remain on property after the tenancy expires.

> tenant at sufferance. (17c) A tenant who has been in lawful possession of property and wrongfully remains as a holdover after the tenant’s interest has expired. 0 The tenant may become either a tenant at will or a periodic tenant. Also termed permissive tenant. See tenancy at will; periodic tenancy.

“0f Estates at Sufferance. -A tenant at sufferance is one that comes into the possession of land by lawful title, but holdeth over by wrong, after the determination of his interest. He has only a naked possession, and no estate which he can transfer or transmit, or which is capable of enlargement by release; for he stands in no privity to his landlord, nor is he entitled to notice to quit; and, independent of statute, he is not liable to pay any rent. He holds by the laches of the landlord, who may enter, and put an end to the tenancy when he pleases; but before entry he cannot maintain an action of trespass against the tenant by sufferance.” 4 James Kent, Commentaries on American Law § 3, at 117 (Charles M. Barnes ed., 13th ed. 1884).

tenant by elcgit. See ELBOIT.

> tenant by the curtesy. (15c) A life tenant who receives the estate from his deceased wife by whom he has had legitimate children. 0 ‘Ihe children hold the remainder interest. See CU RTBSY.

v» tenant by the verge. See COPYHOLDER.

b tenant for a term. (18c) A tenant whose tenancy is for a dehned number of years, months, weeks, or days, set when the tenancy is created. -Also termed tenant for a period.

b tenant for life. See LIFE TENANT.

b tenant in chief. (17c) Hist. Someone who held land

directly of the king. –Also termed tenant in capite. See IN CAPITE.

> tenant in common. (16c) One of two or more tenants who hold the same land by unity of possession but by separate and distinct titles, with each person having an equal right to possess the whole property but no right of survivorship. See tenancy in common under TENANCY.

> tenant in demesne (di-mayn or di-meen). (17c) A feudal tenant who holds land of, and owes services to, a tenant in service. Cf. tenant in service.

b tenant in dower. (15c) A life tenant who is entitled to hold and use one-third of all the real property owned by her deceased husband. See DOWER.

> tenant in fee. (16c) The owner of land held in fee. -Also termed tenant in fee simple.

“A tenant in fee simple is [one who owns] lands, tenements, or hereditaments, to hold to him and his heirs forever; generally, absolutely, and simply, without mentioning what heirs, but referring that to his own pleasure, or to the disposition of the law. An estate in fee simple is an estate of inheritance without condition, belonging to the owner, and alienable by him or transmissible to his heirs absolutely and simply; it is an estate or interest in land of one holding absolute and exclusive control and dominion over it, no matter how acquired.” 31 C.J.S. Estates 5 11, at 27 (1996).

r tenant in service. (17c) A feudal tenant who grants an estate to another (a tenant in demesne) and is therefore entitled to services from the latter. Cf. tenant in

demesne. > undertenant. See SUBLESSEE.

> week-to-week tenancy. See periodic tenancy.

2. Someone who pays rent for the temporary use and occupation of another’s land under a lease or similar arrangement. See LESSEE. 3. Archaic. The defendant in a real action (the plaintiff being called a demandant). See real action under ACTION (4).

tenantable repair. (17c) A repair that will render premises fit for present habitation. See HABITABILITY.

tenantlike, adj. (1812) In accordance with the rights and obligations of a tenant, as in matters of repairs, waste, etc.

tenant paravail. (17c) Archaic. A tenant’s tenant; a sublessor.

tenant par la verge. See COPYHOLDER.

tenant-right. (16c) English law. A tenant’s right, upon termination of the tenancy, to payment for unexhausted improvements made on the holding. 0 This right is governed by the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1986.

tenantry. 17c) A body or group of tenants.

Tenant’s fixture – see fixture


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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