Holdover Tenants [What They Are, Their Rights, Your Options]

If you’re a landlord you may have come across various types of tenants. One of the most problematic ones is holdover tenants. But what is a holdover tenant? Read this article to find out. We will also discuss a holdover tenant’s rights, consequences if you’re such a tenant and what can a landlord do in such a situation. By the end, you’ll be more confident about the topic and make the right decisions.

What Is a Holdover Tenant?

Holdover tenants are tenants who stay on a rented property after the expiration of a lease. They may stay on the property up until the landlord begins to take legal action. Tenants are also commonly referred to as a renter or lessee. Most holdover tenants do not have explicit permission from the landlord to stay.

What Are Holdover Tenants Rights?

As a landlord, you may think that the best option to end tenant holdover is to cut off the utilities or kick them out. Luckily, we’re here to tell you that this would probably be the worst option. Tenants have rights and violating them will only lead to a wrongful nonjudicial eviction case against you. Understanding their rights will help you manage the situation better.

That being said, here are the basic rights holdover tenants have:

  • Right to file a complaint about any safety or health violation
  • Right to a habitable and safe dwelling
  • Right to utility services 
  • Right to receive a notice before the landlord can enter the premises
DID YOU KNOW? Screening a tenant can help you determine if someone is right for your property or not.

What Can Happen to You as a Holdover Tenant? 

If you hold over property as a tenant, there are several negative things that can happen to you. You will not have a lease agreement to protect your rights and the expiration of the lease can be used against you in court. Here are other things that can occur:

  1. You can be sued for money 

The landowner can sue for funds if you hold over. This includes suing you for unpaid rent as well as the ongoing rent for the time you stayed. They can also sue you for damages on the property during your holdover tenancy. Lastly, if the landlord had a new tenant who could not move in because you did not move out, you can be sued for the lost money as well.

Since you will not have a lease agreement to back you up, you could end up paying a lot more than you would have if you had just left the property after the expiration of the lease.

  1. You can be evicted

This should come as an obvious fact that if you hold over, you may be evicted by the landlord at any time. Although the landlord is required to give an eviction notice weeks before, it can show up on your tenant screening and make it difficult for you to look for new places.

  1. You can enter a new periodic lease 

Technically, you can become a holdover tenant on a month-to-month basis if the landlord allows it. If you were initially on a week-to-week basis, the holdover period will also be on a weekly schedule. While this seems like a suitable option, it is always recommended to get a long-term lease if you want to stay for a while.

DID YOU KNOW? Landlords tend to charge more rent on short-term leases as compared to long ones.

Key Takeaways 

  • Holdover tenants are tenants who occupy the property after their lease has expired.
  • Despite this, they have certain rights like the right to utilities or the right to file a complaint against the landlord.
  • A lot of negative things can happen if the tenant refuses to leave after the lease expires.
  • This includes the landlord suing the tenant for money or evicting the tenant. They can form a month-to-month lease but it is not as safe and affordable as a long-term lease.

What Are a Landlord’s Options for Holdover Tenants?

Landlords only have two options when it comes to holdover tenants: either let the tenant stay on a monthly basis or evict the tenant. Let’s discuss both these options in detail.

Letting the Tenant Stay 

The first option is to let the tenant stay and continue accepting payments. Once you accept payments after expiration, it is assumed that you are okay with the paying tenant staying on your property. Most leases have a month-to-month rental clause that begins after the expiration of the lease. If you’re not sure about what happens when the lease ends, talk to a lawyer so that you and the tenant know about the terms of the stay and do not remain in a gray area. Here, you can also sue the tenant if you have any unpaid rent but do not want the tenant to move out.

Evicting the Tenant 

If you do not want your tenant to stay, you can choose to evict them. Although this step is a bit complicated, we do not advise you to evict tenants yourself as they have rights as discussed above. Not following the proper procedure can make the tenant file a harassment case against you.

Here are the steps you must follow if you wish to evict the tenant if the lease has expired and the tenant won’t leave.

  • Talk to the tenant: The first step is to talk to the tenant and inform them of your decision. There is a high chance that the tenant will agree to move out and clear out rental debts if they owe money to you.
  • Do not accept further payments: If you and the tenant have not come to any agreement, it is time to follow the eviction process. Ending a tenancy begins by not accepting any further payments from the tenants. This will make the tenant a trespasser on your property since you’re not collecting any rent. Many tenants leave at this stage, but if the problem continues, follow the steps ahead.
  • Send a written notice: Now that you’ve understood what is holdover rent and stopped accepting it, the next step is to send a notice of termination to the tenant. Many states require this notice to be sent 30-days before the eviction date to allow the tenant to find a new place and vacate the property.
  • Filing a written complaint: If the tenant has still not moved out, you should file a written complaint with the District Court of the place your property is located for a holdover proceeding. You can do this by filing Form DC-DV-080.
  • Follow court procedures: The court will then send summons to you and the tenant for a particular date. If any party fails to appear, the hearing will be shifted to the next week. The court will give you and the holdover tenant a chance to present the cases. If the court is in your favor, the tenant will be asked to leave the property by a particular date. If the tenant still does not leave, you must contact the authorities again. Do not take matters into your own hands and try to forcibly evict the tenant.


Holdover tenants are tenants who stay on your property even after their lease has ended. The landlord can either decide to let the tenant stay or ask them to move out. If a tenant is refusing to leave, the landlord must take the case to the authorities; do not take matters into your own hands. Landlords should follow the proper legal procedure to get the tenant to move out.


How can I evict a holdover tenant?

You must follow the proper court procedure to evict holdover tenants if they’re not leaving on their own. This includes informing the court and following their decision.

Can a landlord accept rent after eviction?

No, the landlord cannot accept rent after eviction unless it is past-due rent or a fine paid by the tenant.

How long does it take to evict a holdover tenant?

Once you know what is a holdover tenant, you can start the eviction process. It usually takes two to three weeks to evict a tenant.


Alex is an IT wizz gone SEO gone fire-juggler. We’re not even joking. When he isn’t researching why one personal loan is better than the other and which piece of hardware you should buy next, he’s rollerblading or selling homes (because he does that, too, the smarty-pants).

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