Select Page

Property I
University of Tennessee School of Law
Stein, Gregory M.

Landlord-Tenant Law
I.                    Four Types of Tenancies
a.       Term of Years
                                                               i.      An estate with a fixed beginning and ending
                                                             ii.      Also applies to leases that you might not now when they will begin, but when they do begin, you know when it will end (i.e. you sign a lease for a building that is not yet completed
                                                            iii.      Does not have to last for a number of years, but only has to have a beginning and ending
                                                           iv.      Since you know the ending date, neither party has to give notice of termination-lease itself serves as notice
                                                             v.      The lease survives even if the parties don’t-interest of the decedent passes to their estate
                                                           vi.      Term of years has a fixed ending, but it can end early upon the happening of some event or condition
b.      Periodic Tenancy
                                                               i.      A lease for a fixed period that automatically renews itself for another period until one of the parties give notice of termination
                                                             ii.      Termination Rules
1.      either party can terminate a periodic tenancy
2.      have to give notice in as far advance as the length of the period
a.       if the lease is month to month, have to give a month’s notice, however the cap is six months
3.      Common Law Rule-the lease has to end at the end of the lease period
4.      TN Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (66-28-512)-a week to week tenancy requires written notice 10 days prior to termination, but doesn’t necessarily end at the end of a period; a month to month tenancy requires 30 days notice and must end at the end of the periodic rental date
                                                            iii.      If one of the parties die, the lease survives even if the party does not
c.       Tenancy at Will
                                                               i.      A tenancy for as long as both parties wish, or will, it to continue
                                                             ii.      It is terminable by either party
                                                            iii.      Tenancy at will ends if one of the parties dies
                                                           iv.      At common law, there is no notice requirement for a tenancy at will
d.      Tenancy at Sufferance
                                                               i.      Classified as a tenancy, even though it really isn’t
                                                             ii.      The landlord doesn’t want you there, but you haven’t trespassed because you entered legally
                                                            iii.      It occurs after a rightful tenant stays after termi

                           ii.      Landlord to tenant from 1/1/2004 to 12/31/2004 without notice
1.      This is a term of years, so neither has to give notice of termination
                                                            iii.      Landlord to tenant month to month beginning 1/1/2004, tenant gives notice 7/17/2004
1.      They can quit paying rent at the end of August
                                                           iv.      Landlord to tenant year to year lease beginning 1/1/2004, tenant gives notice 7/17/2004
1.      They are on the hook until 12/31/2005 (have to give at least 6 months notice and it has to end on the end of a period)
II.                 The Lease
a.       Oftentimes, it is hard to distinguish a lease from other agreements, such as a life estate, license, hotel agreement, etc. Note that even though the word lease is used, this does not, de facto, make it a lease.
                                                               i.      To decide whether an agreement is a lease, courts will look to:
1.      duration
2.      restrictions (for commercial purposes only, this is evidence of a lease)
level of exclusivity (can kick others out of an apartment, for example, but not a parking space [license])