Landlord and Tenant
A landlord is an owner of real property who agrees to rent all or part of a property to another party, called the tenant, for some period of time. A lease establishes the relationship of landlord and tenant. The lease is both a conveyance of a possessory estate in real property and a contract between the landlord and tenant. The tenant receives a right to legal possession of the property in exchange for valuable consideration (rent) paid to the landlord. A lease typically specifies the duration of the agreement, any terms for extending the agreement and details regarding the payment of rent.

Because a lease acts as both a conveyance and a contract, two sets of rights and duties between the landlord and tenant arise; namely, the rights and duties that exist in regard to traditional property law rules, and those arising because of the contractual promises of the lease. In addition, many states have legislation designed to protect the rights of residential tenants, such as the right to fit housing and privacy, and statutes that protect tenants from acts like illegal discrimination and retaliatory evictions.

Landlord-tenant laws vary depending on location. It is important to check state laws for specific details.

Types of Leases
A non-freehold estate is an interest in real property that is less than a freehold estate. It is created through a lease or rental agreement that can be either written or oral. The landlord maintains ownership of the property, and the tenant has the right to use the property as established in the terms of the lease or rental agreement. Non-freehold estates involve tenants, and they are often referred to as tenancies. There are four types of tenancies:

1. Tenancy for Years
A tenancy for years is a type of lease that specifies a definite term for the agreement, such as one month or one year. The lease terminates automatically at the specified end date without the need for notice by either the landlord or tenant.

2. Tenancy from Period to Period
A tenancy from period to period is a type of lease that specifies a definite initial time but that is automatically renewable unless terminated by either the landlord or tenant. The lease could be from week to week, month to month or year to year, and is renewable indefinitely for a like period of time.

3. Tenancy at Will
A tenancy at will exists at the pleasure of the landlord and tenant. In other words, it is in force until either the landlord or tenant terminates the agreement. In theory, a tenancy at will can be terminated instantly whenever notice is given by either party. In practice, however, landlords typically provide a reasonable amount of time for the tenant to vacate the property.

4. Tenancy at Sufferance
A tenancy at sufferance is never intentionally created and exists as the result of circumstances. This type of non-freehold estate occurs when a tenant remains on a property after a lease has been terminated or the agreement has expired. The only difference between a tenant at sufferance and a trespasser is that the former had at one time a right to occupy the property.

Next: Renters' Guide: Who Rents Property? »



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