Tenancy at Sufferance [What It Is & What It Means]


Real estate is fun and games until a client refuses to stick to the lease agreement and you have no clue what to do about it. Cases of property seizure and late rent payments have soared, especially since COVID-19 was discovered, and landlord stresses have reached high enough to compress diamonds.

What is a tenancy at sufferance? How does it affect property management, and what are the other problems surrounding it? Read on to know more!

What Is Tenancy at Sufferance?

A tenancy at sufferance is a situation where an occupant continues to live in the rental property after the expiration of their contract. This agreement is usually signed by the landholder and inhibitor before the latter can stay in the property. When tenants fail to clear out the residence after their time is up, it shifts to the tenancy at sufferance definition; this is different from a holdover tenancy.

Now that we’ve explained what a tenant is at sufferance, let us clarify any doubts concerning a holdover tenancy. This occurs when a holdover tenant continues to occupy a rental but with permission. These occupants pay regular rental fees to the landlord and stay in the home as legitimate renters.

Despite this, holdover tenancy still falls in a gray area between a legal proprietorship of an entire rental contract and trespassing. However, unlike the whole period deal, a month-to-month is carried on between the owner and the renter.

A holdover tenant vs. tenant at sufferance shows several differences. A holdover tenant, in particular, is someone who has surpassed their original contract and forsaken the consent of the proprietor to occupy the place but has not yet been evicted.

While these two terms may sound alike, the major difference between the two can be summarized with the following points:

  • The holdover renter is likely to have the consent of the owner while occupying the leased residence. On the other hand, the other is most likely occupying the property without proper consent or payment.
  • Holdover tenants usually agree with the owner. On the other hand, tenancy at suffrage is illegal and falls under the same category as trespassing.
  • Holdover tenancy can be considered a temporary relationship between the renter and the landowner where the latter can evict sooner or later. In this case, the owners may have already sent an eviction notice while still waiting to clear the area physically. 
DID YOU KNOW? A tenant at will is a property tenancy where the landlord, tenant, or owner can cancel the lease at any time.

When Does a Regular Tenancy Become a Tenancy at Sufferance?

The idea of renting out properties can be a great source of income for landowners, whether a residential property or commercial property. Often deals made between two parties, the renter and the owner, last for a certain long-term period, and renters are issued an amount to pay. Such payments are usually made monthly or yearly.

The renter is expected to leave the property after their lease terms come to an end. They often receive a 14-week notice to quit before their actual evacuation date so that they have enough time to look for a new place and move out. This is how one may define tenancy at sufferance.

However, exceptional cases where the occupant refuses to vacate after their contract is over is when a land ownership disagreement is created. This term may also apply to cases where the contract has been terminated with a party at fault.

An occupant who wrongly inhabits someone else’s property is classified as an intruder by the court system. So how do you evict a tenant?

A tenant at sufferance eviction can legally be carried out at the proprietor’s request. When the renter loses the owner’s consent to occupy the property when their contract comes to an end but refuses to leave, tenancy sufferance begins.

How can this situation be avoided?

Common causes start when no proper conclusion is drawn in the contract by both parties; a simple method to avoid this would be to spell out any lease clauses. If a situation does arise, here are a few other good methods to deal with it without opting for legal action:

  • Extend the renting period.
  • Make a deal with the renter.
  • With the consent of the property owner, a renter can stay.

When Does a Tenancy at Sufferance Become a Tenancy at Will?

In certain cases where someone occupies a property past the leased period, with the consent of the property owner, it can transit into a tenancy at will. This contract exists until it is terminated by either party and does not have a limited time frame or specified payments.

Also known as an estate at will, it differs from holdover tenancy since the monthly contract is not specified; nor is the payment. This contract does not usually have a written agreement and can be flexible. Usual situations when such a deal is carried out are:

  • When the relationship between the renter and the landholder is not clear-cut or specified.
  • Are of a defective nature
  • When the contract period has expired.
  • When it has been mentioned right in the beginning during the drawing of the contract.

Such a fashion of tenancy commonly occurs when the landowner and the renter are known to each other, share a close bond, or are among family and relatives.

Key Takeaways

  • When a tenant is at sufferance, they continue to occupy the rental property even after the expiration of the agreed lease.
  • A tenant at sufferance and a holdover tenant are two different terms. A holdover tenant is a tenant who does not leave the property even after their lease has ended.
  • A holdover tenancy and tenancy at will can be differentiated through the time limit of their contract, involvement of the landlord, and the manner of payment.
  • Tenancy at will can transition into any other type of tenancy depending upon the two parties.
  • A good way to avoid such a problem is to draw a proper conclusion about what will happen once the lease is up.

Landlord and Tenant Rights in Tenancy Sufferance Cases 

Even when a dispute between the owner and the renter is heated, there are still rules to follow while both come to a conclusion under the law. Some rights are listed below.

Landlord rights Tenant rights
The landlord has the right to evict tenants at suffrage if they disrupt business or hold up prospective tenants after the expiration of their contract. They can also evict them if they hamper the landlord’s business or cause mental distress. Tenants at sufferance still retain some rights.Their legal eviction cannot take place without a thorough check of the contract and scenario. Moreover, they are to rightfully be given a place with a habitable condition and proper wear and tear management.
Landlords are not necessarily required to provide tenants with written notice to vacate until they take some legal action which requires them to provide the tenants with a legal eviction notice. Tenants need to receive at least a 14-day prior notice from the owner asking them to clear the property premises if they go to the court for legal action.
The landlord has the right to make claims against tenants if they fail to comply with their move-out date. Damages during this period can be charged. Tenants at sufferance have the right to defend themselves in court, either to prevent their eviction or to postpone to buy some time to move.
DID YOU KNOW? Your landowner cannot randomly show up for visits! They need to provide you with at least a 24-hour notice before dropping by. If tenants cannot be present for visits, they can nominate a person to go in their place. (Source: Housinghand.co.uk)

Legal Disclaimer: The information in this article has only been provided for information and entertainment purposes. This piece cannot be substituted as legal advice or guidance from an attorney of any kind. However, users can access the site to draw information since no legal relationships will be formulated. 


Housing can be meant to great earnings or renters, depending upon the amount of information you gather about them. Sufferance tenants lean more losses on one side or the other. On the other hand, such cases are not dismissable since these frequently occur all over the world. What is a tenant at sufferance and what are laws surrounding it? After this article, you can answer those yourself.

The best landowners can face challenges and create contracts that tie any loose ends while renting the property to avoid evicting a tenant. Renters are advised to honor their agreement and stick to the deal to avoid large amounts of bills and legal actions against them. You can use some of the top-rated tenant screening services available in the market and save yourself the hassle.


What is an example of tenancy at sufferance?

Here is a tenancy at sufference example: John has rented an apartment in a building that he owns to Juliet, who has lived there for six months.. Juliet is expected to leave the flat once the six-month period is over. However, Juliet continues to stay in the flat even after the time period without John’s consent.

Is tenancy at sufferance trespassing?

Yes, it is considered trespassing in the legal court since the landowner’s consent is not present.

Is there a difference between tenancy at will and tenancy at sufferance?

Yes! The landowner’s consent is not present in the first case, while tenancy at will is conducted with the owner’s full permission. You can always look up legal articles and consult an attorney if you’re looking to do some serious research on what is tenancy at sufferance and other topics surrounding it.


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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