ESTATE AT SUFFERANCE: Definition and Examples

Image from

An estate at sufferance occurs when a tenant continues to live in a rental property after their lease has expired. 

Landlords and renters often sign a lease agreement that permits the tenant to live in the property for a certain amount of time, however, there are times when the tenant may choose to stay in the home after the lease period has ended.

In this guide, we’ll define estate at sufferance and give examples for better understanding.

What Is Estate At Sufferance?

According to investopedia, estate at sufferance usually arises when a tenant who has lawful possession of a property (for example, a lease) holds over without the owner’s consent. The only difference between a holdover tenant at sufferance and a trespasser is that the tenant entered into possession in a legal manner but has now overstayed his or her rent duration.

Estate at sufferance otherwise known as a tenancy at sufferance is an arrangement that allows a property renter to stay in a property after the lease period has ended but before the landlord requests that the tenant removes the property.

If a tenancy at sufferance occurs, the terms of the original lease must be followed, including the payment of any rents owed. Otherwise, the tenant may be evicted without warning at any moment. 


How Does A Tenancy At Sufferance Work?

Let’s assume a tenant originally entered the property legally under a lease agreement, they can’t legally be removed for trespassing. Because the tenant is still living in the property, the tenant is still responsible for adhering to the terms of the lease after it expires. 

Any extra lease clauses that were included in the original lease agreement must also be followed by the tenant. This includes the landlord’s right to enter the tenant’s rental unit with adequate notice in order to show the apartment to potential tenants. If the tenant breaks any portion of the original lease agreement, including not paying their rent, the landlord can evict the tenant.

Example of Tenancy At Sufferance 

Here’s a clear example of a tenancy at sufferance:

Harry signed a lease for an apartment last year. He’s been hunting for a home, and everything appears to be in order. He’d planned to leave the apartment for a few days. Maybe when he signs the closing papers for his new house. 

The property owner suddenly tells Harry that they are unable to accept his home mortgage. This situation leaves Harry confused as he is unable to finance the new home, and as a result, the contract is terminated. What are your alternatives at this point? Although his lease is only for a few days, he has nowhere else to go.

Harry’s lease contains no provision allowing him to continue occupying the property on a month-to-month basis after the lease expires. If he continues to live in the flat after the lease expires and his landlord does not require him to leave, he is in a tenancy at sufferance.

Recommended: Foreclosed Homes: Guide & Risks In Buying a Foreclosed Homes in 2022

How Can A Tenancy At Sufferance Be Used?

Eviction proceedings are one of the circumstances that might lead to a tenancy of sufferance. This can happen if a tenant’s lease term expires but does not quit the premises, and the landlord plans to lease the space to new tenants. The landlord or property owner may pursue legal action to evict the renter, but the tenant normally remains on the premises and cannot be forcibly removed.

While the eviction process is ongoing, the tenant must oblige with the rental or lease terms. If they fail to pay rent as set by their prior lease terms they could be shut off from the property.

A final decision on an eviction might take anywhere from six months to a year. As long as the renter met their lease term obligations, the property owner would have to accept the tenancy at sufferance throughout that time. 

It’s likely that the landlord will offer to buy the renter out in order to get them to go. This may be a more expensive choice, but it would help to resolve the matter more quickly. Upon acceptance of such a buyout, the tenancy at sufferance would end and the tenant would have to vacate the premises.

Recommended: WHAT IS A PATIO HOME And Why You Should Buy One

What Are The Landlord’s Right In An Estate At Sufferance

During a tenancy at sufferance, a landlord has a few options. They have the option of renewing the lease, evicting the renter, or finding a new one. 

If both the landlord and the tenant are satisfied with their existing living circumstances, the landlord can give the renter the choice of renewing or signing a new lease. When both the renter and the landlord sign the new lease, it becomes legally binding. 

Alternatively, the landlord may decide that the renter must leave the premises. In this situation, the first step would be to send the tenant a notice to vacate. A landlord might be able to skip this step and immediately file with the court for eviction due to the fact that the tenant is occupying the rental illegally. It would depend on individual state law.

A notice to quit must satisfy the following;

  • Be sent via certified mail.
  • Clearly describe the behavior that must be corrected. In this case, the tenant must move out of the rental property regardless.
  • Give the tenant a certain number of days to move out. This is usually determined by state law. 
  • The landlord can file with the court to formally evict the tenant if the tenant doesn’t move out within the allotted time frame.

The renter will be notified of the eviction proceedings by the court. After which, the tenant has the option of either moving out before the court date or appearing in court to present their case or request a delay. 

If a landlord has not signed a new lease with the tenant at sufferance, the landlord has the right to find a new tenant to dwell in the rental property. 

Related Post: Stop Work Order (SWO): All You Need To Know

What Is A Tenant’s Right In Tenancy At Sufferance?

Even if they don’t have the landlord’s consent to be on the property, a tenant on sufferance is still entitled to certain essential rights. This includes the right to privacy as well as the ability to register a complaint about a health or safety hazard on the premises.

Estate At Sufferance Vs. Estate At Will

The essential difference between a tenancy at sufferance and a tenancy at will is that a tenant at will is allowed to stay in the rental property after the initial lease agreement has expired. It’s a question of permission. While a tenancy at sufferance is established when the tenant stays on the property without the permission of the landlord. 

In a tenancy at will, there is usually no written contract or lease agreement between the landlord and the tenant. There are no hard and fast rules that either party must adhere to. Usually, there isn’t a definite termination date. A tenancy at will is a more liberal and typically verbal agreement between the landlord and the tenant, but both sides must still adhere to certain basic norms.

Here are the differences between estate at sufferance and estate at will:

Estate at sufferanceEstate at will
The tenant does not have the landlord’s permission to remain in the unit.The landlord has consented to the tenant living on the property.
A tenancy in sufferance happens after a lease has expired and has not been renewed in writing.A tenancy at will means there’s a verbal agreement.
The terms of the rental relationship continue after the lease has expired.The rental agreement is non-binding and has no specific terms.

What Are The Requirements For Ending Estate At Sufferance?

The party who wants to end the contract must give the other party written notice of their intent to leave. This should be done at least 30 days before the planned move-out date, however, state legislation will dictate the actual time frame.

FAQs On Tenancy At Sufferance

What are the landlord’s options in a tenancy at sufferance?

The landlord can choose to renew the lease, evict the tenant, or find a new tenant.

What is the difference between tenancy at sufferance and tenancy at will?

The major difference between a tenancy at sufferance and a tenancy at will is that the landlord has actually given permission to a tenant at will to live in the rental property after the original lease agreement has ended. While tenancy at sufferance happens without the consent of the landlord.

What is estate at sufferance?

Estate at sufferance usually arises when a tenant who has lawful possession of a property (for example, a lease) holds over without the owner’s consent. 


There are different types of tenancy, with tenancy at sufferance being just one. It’s the timeframe between the expiration of a lease and when the landlord demands that a tenant leave the property.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
Suatters Rights Ohio
Read More

SQUATTERS RIGHTS OHIO: 2022 Complete Guide On Adverse Possession

Table of Contents Hide What is a Squatter?Adverse Possession: What Is It?Unfavorable Possession Factors Under Adverse Possession#1. One-Time Use#2. Present Possession#3. Open and well-known#4. Hostile#5. Constant UseSquatter’s Rights in OhioHow to Keep Squatters Out of Your PropertyLook for signs…