What Is Tenancy At Will?

Tenancy at will is a type of rental agreement. It allows you and your tenant to enter into a month-to-month tenancy with no strings attached. It also means that either party can terminate this kind of tenancy early with a simple 30 days notice. Discover the ins, outs, perks and drawbacks you need to know as a landlord before entering into this unique type of agreement with your tenants.

May 20, 2022

5 min read


A tenancy at will agreement is an agreement between two parties to lease or rent a property or land, where they agree that the tenancy has no fixed term and the landlord and tenant can end the agreement at any time with 30 days notice. This article will cover what tenancy at will is, how it's different from other forms of tenancy, how it can benefit both parties, and how to terminate tenancy at will.

What Does Tenancy At Will Mean?

Tenancy at will most often occurs following the end of a rental or lease agreement, where terms of a new lease agreement are yet to be agreed on and signed, and neither party has given notice of termination. In this situation, the terms (except the duration) are inherited from the expired lease agreement. This type of tenancy does not have a fixed term, so the landlord can end the tenancy at will at any time typically by giving 30 days notice (or shorter or longer depending on local rental laws). Most commonly, you will see this type of agreement in place between people that already know one another and assume less risk.

What Is The Difference Between Tenancy At Will & Other Forms Of Tenancy?

Before digging deeper into how tenancy at will agreements vary from other forms, it only makes sense to cover the basics of those alternatives for context. One of the most common alternatives you might encounter is periodic tenancy agreements.

With periodic tenancy agreements, the tenant resides on your property for successive periods until he or she decides to move out. They pay you the landlord at certain intervals included within the signed lease. Finally, the tenant must give notice that is either equal to the length of time the tenant stayed at the property or the length of time you and the tenant agree upon.

A fixed tenancy is the other most common alternative in which the landlord and tenant agree that the lease will end on a certain date, typically one year from the date of signing. However, a fixed tenancy agreement can last anywhere from a few months to a decade or more, depending on the goals and relationship of the tenants and landlord.

Obviously, there are a few different kinds of tenancies, and you can use tenancy at will for both commercial and residential property. When you use tenancy at will, it means there’s no official lease in place between your landlord and tenant yet, so they don’t have any legal protection from eviction if something goes wrong. However, if the relationship is working well, this isn't necessarily a bad thing since it allows both parties to move on without any major consequences if they want to break off their agreement after some time has passed (or if one person moves away).

What Are The Perks Of Tenancy At Will?

  • No minimum term: One of the main advantages of a tenancy at will is that there is no minimum term specified. Landlords are free to end the relationship at any time, as long as proper notice has been given. This also works in favor of tenants, who can leave before the lease ends if they want to move or for some other reason (like their landlord is being unreasonable).
  • Easily terminable: A tenant does not need to provide a reason when terminating this type of leasehold. They simply notify the landlord that they want out and move out within 30 days from that date.
  • No court intervention required: While there are some situations where termination may require court intervention (such as if one party isn't abiding by their contractual obligations), these cases are rare enough that they're usually handled outside of court proceedings.

The Legal Breakdown Of Tenancy At Will

If you're a landlord, you may think that tenancy at will is similar to a lease, but it's actually quite different. Tenancy at will is not a lease; it's also not a tenancy at sufferance or periodic tenancy.

Tenancy at will is unique in that neither party can terminate the agreement without cause (or mutual consent), although either party may terminate the relationship with proper notice. In other words: if your tenant decides to move out of your property tomorrow, they don't have to give you any advance notice before leaving—and if for some reason their lease has expired and they haven't given you any notice of intent to leave, then technically speaking the two of you could still be living together on Saturday night!

How To Terminate Tenancy At Will

Of course, there may come a day and time when you wish to terminate the at-will tenancy. At this point, you will find yourself at a fork with two options to consider.

If you are a landlord, the tenancy at will may be terminated by:

  • The landlord issues a notice to quit. You must give 30 days' written notice to terminate your tenant's right to occupy the property.
  • If the tenant has violated any part of their lease agreement or has breached a rule that was put in place by the landlord, then you can give them 14 days' written notice to vacate before filing for eviction.

If you are a tenant and want out of your month-to-month rental agreement, then you would need to give your landlord 30 days' written notice prior to moving out (or more if there is an agreed-upon extension).

If you are particularly concerned about terminating tenancy at will and you have not yet entered into this relationship with your tenant, we can provide you with the peace of mind you crave through our professional-grade reports from TransUnion. Plus you will be able to collect automatic rent payments for even more security. The best way to avoid an ugly eviction is to do your homework on screening upfront. 

How To Know If Tenancy At Will Is Right For You

When you are first starting out as a landlord or property manager, you have a ton on your plate just balancing the everyday tasks of running the business. Trying to decide which type of tenancy is not a cut and dry decision - it is another one of those often tough business choices you will have to make based on your personal circumstances.

Ask yourself how much you trust the tenants to respect and honor the terms of the tenancy-at-will agreement that you would present. Is there any amount of damages you believe they could cause that you couldn’t recover from? Does this type of agreement make sense for you both now and in the long term?

Spend some time reflecting on the different lease agreement options you have and choose the one that is in alignment with your strengths and weaknesses as a landlord and you will be positioning yourself for a successful tenancy.

Share this post


Get thoughts, news, and tips sent straight to your inbox.
By subscribing, you confirm that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.