holdover tenant

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Holdover tenant refers to a renter staying in the property after their lease terminates without signing a new lease. In this situation, the landlord may take steps to remove the tenant from the property or bind the tenant to a new lease.

If the landlord wishes to terminate the lease, they must take actions in a reasonable amount of time after the lease ends. Generally this involves first requesting the tenant to leave, and if the tenant refuses to vacate the property, the landlord may go through local procedures to petition a court to evict the tenant. Importantly, the landlord in this situation should not continue to receive rent from the tenant as this may constitute a renewal of the lease in some jurisdictions. Instead, the landlord may seek damages in the eviction process. 

If the landlord does not want to evict the tenant, courts differ on the options available to the landlord and tenant. In some jurisdictions, the tenant will be treated as if they signed another lease for the same amount of time if they continue to pay rent. In some areas, a holdover tenant will be treated as a tenant at will, allowing the landlord or the tenant to end the tenancy at any time. Given the variety of laws governing holdover tenants, tenants and landlords should pay attention to the specific rules in their jurisdictions as they may unintentionally bind themselves to a new lease without ever signing one. 

[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]