How to Handle a Holdover Tenant

Have you ever had the experience of navigating a holdover tenant?

It seems like there is a myriad of strange and unusual situations landlords can find themselves in with tenants. This includes everything from inherited tenants to even dealing with serial squatters

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Holdover tenants are another tricky situation that might arise if you’re a landlord with rental properties. In this article, we explain what a holdover tenant is and how to handle a holdover tenancy. Typically, this can be either an eviction or a new lease!

What is a holdover tenant?

When a tenant stays in their rental past the expiration date of their lease, they become a “holdover tenant”. 

If a tenant continues to live on the property and pay rent—and the landlord continues to accept the rent payments—the tenant is usually legally allowed to stay there. 

In states like New York, holdover tenants automatically roll into a month-to-month lease that maintains the terms of their previous lease. Usually, as long as the tenants continue to pay rent & their landlord accepts the rental payments.

If the landlord wants to evict the tenant, however, they must follow the New York eviction process.

How long can a tenant stay after the lease expires?

This will depend on the context of the holdover tenancy.

For example, if the tenant’s lease has expired and they are no longer paying rent, they are likely to stay in the property until you serve them with an eviction notice. Even then, if they still refuse to leave the property, they might be able to extend their time in the rental as the eviction process is forced to roll out. Any delays in the proceedings will equally extend how long the renter is able to remain in the unit past their lease expiration.

However, if the tenant continues to pay you rent, and you continue to accept rent from them, the tenant’s lease could (like in the New York example above) turn into a month-to-month lease. Or, you could choose to renew their lease with a new agreement.

If either the landlord or the tenant wants to end their holdover tenancy, usually a 30 day notice is required.

How long does it take to evict a holdover tenant?

How long it takes to evict a holdover tenant will depend on the landlord-tenant laws in your state. In some landlord-friendly states, it will be faster to remove a holdover tenant.

However, some legal processes for evicting a tenant in your state might require you to provide proof of a lapsed lease and a tenant overstaying their welcome. This could take a while to formally evict the renter.

How do I prevent holdover tenants from happening?

Holdover tenants can occur when a landlord forgets to give their tenants 30-days notice to move out. Or, a tenant refuses to leave the property after their lease ends.

If this happens, you’ll want to write an eviction notice and follow the proper procedure in your state for delivering the notice to immediately initiate eviction proceedings.

However, if your tenant pays their rent on time and you’d like to extend a lease with them, you can allow them to stay on a monthly lease. Or, even better, you can write up a new lease document so you can lock them in for another year. This could be an ideal outcome if you don’t have any problems with the current tenants.

Additionally, you can include lease addendums that outline the policies, procedures, and penalties for a holdover tenancy.

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to substitute, replace, or be construed as professional legal advice. It is for referential purposes only and not meant to replace the advice of your legal counsel, representation, or lawyer. Please consult your professional legal representation to ensure you are compliant with any local, state, and/or federal laws.