Tenant Didn’t Move Out at the End of the Lease: What Happens Now?

While many landlords fear that a tenant will leave before the lease expires, it is also common for the tenant to remain in the rental beyond the term of the lease.  This “hold-over” tenancy can present a number of disadvantages for a landlord:

Eviction and other disputes may be governed under special  hold-over tenancy rules rather than the tenancy agreement.

The landlord may lose control of when the tenant moves out and creates a vacancy, which could be at a time when it is difficult to get a new tenant in.

Scheduled maintenance, which is easier to perform in a vacant unit, may have to be postponed.

Restrictions may prevent the landlord from raising the rent during the period of the hold-over, or for a longer time in some cases.

WORST CASE SCENARIO:  The landlord has promised the rental property to someone else, but the existing tenant was not planning to move out.  The landlord could be liable to the new tenant for the costs of housing and storage while waiting for the rental to become available. 

The laws governing hold-over tenancies vary, but in most cases the tenancy becomes a month-to-month arrangement, and subject to those rules.  For instance, the landlord may have to offer 30-days notice to terminate or change the lease terms, and a tenant can give a 30-day notice and move out.  By accepting rent from the tenant after the lease has expired, the landlord may be consenting to a hold-over tenancy.

LANDLORD TIP:  The best course of action is to contact the existing tenant about 60 days before the end of the lease and find out their intentions. 

Having that statement in writing helps if the landlord ends up in a legal dispute with a new tenant over possession of the rental property. 

If the landlord does not like the existing tenant and wants to end the tenancy at the lease term, the landlord may have to take legal steps to re-gain possession, so it’s good to know well in advance what they may be facing.  

On the other hand, if the landlord likes the existing tenant, it may be beneficial to negotiate a new full-term lease or renewal so the landlord is not left to guess when the tenant may decide to give notice and move out.

Another option to consider is having your legal adviser review your standard lease agreeement and if necessary add in any available options for hold-overs.  For instance, are you allowed to increase the rent once the tenancy goes month-to-month?  Can you opt to have the lease renewed for a new term, for instance one year, rather than go month-to-month?

Staying in control is the key to keeping tenancies profitable for the landlord. 

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas February 8, 2011 at 7:35 am

Why give useless advise? Even if you get a notice in writting that the current resident will be moving out 30 or 60 days later, and then they don’t move out … nothing has changed; you are in the same predicament.

Chris February 8, 2011 at 7:56 am

Hi Thomas,
The advantage of getting a notice from the existing tenant regarding their move-out will come up when the landlord has a new tenant expecting to move in. That way the landlord can prove it was reasonable to believe the rental would be vacant. It will also give you extra time for an eviction notice if it comes to that — the important thing is to see what the tenant has in mind before the end of the lease. Thanks for reading. Chris

Rich February 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm

If I am willing to permit a tenant to stay beyond the initial lease period (and I almost always permit that), I don’t renew the lease – they just go month-to-month. This gives both of us some flexibility and there is less paperwork.

Steve February 15, 2011 at 7:23 am

I believe under the “Rental Tenancy Act” (in B.C.) once the lease has finished the rental agreement reverts to month to month. I do the same as Rich but I don’t think I am allowed to extend the one year lease agreement into a second year under the Act.

Rob February 15, 2011 at 11:55 am

Hi Steve,
If you have a fixed term lease with a tenant and it is set to expire, it will revert to a month to month tenancy automaticaly,,,,,, if you do nothing. But you do have the option to renew another fixed term depending on how it was spelled out in the original agreement. You can check this out in the Residential Tenancy Act, part 2, section 13

Steve S. February 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I mean this as nicely as I can, but are all of you guys lazy? Why would just let leases expire and depend on some contrived government act to determine what your lease agreement is with your tenant?

Send out your lease renewals with a stamped envelope and require their response by a time that gives you time to find a replacement. If you don’t get a response then send out a notice that their lease will not be renewed and will terminate on the ending date. If they want to stay they will find you with a lease renewal form, if not then they have been given notice.

Make sure your tenants know what their lease is by writing one out and having them sign a copy. Not by say “so and so act permits your lease to become ______ after it has expired”, that is just lazy and begging for a tenant to say that they misunderstood you.

Roger February 26, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Another consideration, banks often prefer annual leases over month-to-month leases. If you foresee obtaining future credit lending, I’d strongly suggest staying on top of your annual lease agreements. It will be worth your effort.

Erik Mitchell March 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I am an Ontario investor…
When I have that conversation with the tenant I always bring an N11 form with me so they can sign to ensure they will be moving out.
I always bring another lease with me as well. Of course good tenants will be upfront and let you know that they only want a 6 or 8 month lease for whatever reason and so I sign them up for that period of time and revisit 70 days before end of lease again with same documentation. Well of course we don’t do this, we just ensure our PM companies do.

Janelle August 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I have given my tenants a 30 day notice to terminate tenancy and it was signed by one of the tenants (wife). Her husband wan’t home but both are on the lease. The lease expired June 1st , 2011 I didn’t have them sign a new lease, therefore they are on month to month.If the refuse to leave by the date given to them, what is my next step. Do go to the court house with the Notice they sign and file with the court? Then will there be a court date that we have to attend or can the Judge sign a eviction notice and have a Sheriff delivere this to them allowing them so many days to vacate?

Robin October 21, 2011 at 5:48 am

Tenants were notified 9/5/2011 that their lease (6-month) would not be renewed. Owners need the dwelling for themselves. They (tenants) have not paid rent for October and refuse to leave. They were served with a 7-day notice to vacate. They just don’t think they should have to leave.

Bob January 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

what do I need to do now and do to ensure the tenant leaves the property (House) when the lease comes to an end?

Maria February 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I have a question: if a tenant doesn’t want to renew the lease for the following year, how long time notice has to give me , so that I can start looking for a new tenant?
Thank you!

Lisa July 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

My friend’s lease expired July 1, 2012. Back in March, the homeowner expressed a desire for my friend to continue to live there after the lease expired. She was ten days late with July’s rent (this is now past the expiration of the lease) and the owner has indicated that if my friend is going to be late with the rent, then she will just evict her. I thought that there was some leeway for the tenant in rental payments, say 15 days. Also, I was under the impression that since a new lease has not been signed, then the lease reverts to a month to month. If that’s the case 1. How much time does the owner have to give for the tenant to vacate the premises? Also, can the homeowner threaten the tenant with eviction like that without going through court?

Eugene Liu July 14, 2012 at 2:20 am

My tenant usually pay the rent on first or second day maybe the third day of the month.
I’m afraid the tenant not paying the rent once I give them 30 days notice of not renewing the lease.
What if I wait until got the rent then send the tenant a certified letter telling them leaee will not be renewed but give 5 extra days staying in the apt free to meet 30 days notice in advance.
I’d appreciated it if you could let me know the answer.

Chris July 17, 2012 at 6:52 am

Hi Eugene,
As far as the 30-day notice goes, sorry, can’t give a definitive answer on that. It depends on where your property is. In some cases, if the 30-days rolls over the first of the month you have to provide more notice — so you’ll have to read the regulations in your area or consult with an attorney. Regarding your difficulty in collecting rent, one suggestion is to sign up to Report Tenant Pay Habits at http://www.tenantverification.com/report-pay-habits. This gives the tenant incentive to pay the rent by the 3rd day, or they will be reported to a credit reporting agency for late payments. This will affect their ability to secure another rental in the future. Alternatively, if they do pay rent on time, they receive a Certificate of Satisfactory Tenancy showing they are good renters. That way, you won’t need to feel you have to coax tenants into meeting their legal responsibilities under the lease.

Joe August 3, 2012 at 11:01 am

I am the “new tenant” in the above WORST CASE SCENARIO. I am stuck in a hotel while another tenant won’t leave the apartment I was promised. Is anyone liable for the hotel/storage costs I’ve incurred during this period?

Tabitha August 9, 2012 at 2:35 am

How can someone think that there is leeway in paying rent? We do not have leeway when paying the mortgage for the property. You aren’t living with your parents – it is a business in best cases – in other cases when people can’t sell their house and have to rent it – it is a necessity and we can’t afford for people to stop paying rent when they feel like it

Frank September 24, 2012 at 7:48 am

Regarding Chris and Eugene,
Why, while having a tenant living in your building, would you report them to a credit agency showing that they do not pay their rent on time?? This will prevent them from securing another place to live and will force them to stay living in your property. If you want to keep record of all delinquencies and report them AFTER they move out (according to state law), that would be a smarter move in my opinion. There is no incentive to get tenants to pay on time, other than offering a discount for paying early or on time, or implementing a late fee on the 5th or after (according to state law.)

Richard November 16, 2012 at 8:47 am

I don’t think anyone answered the question here. When the fixed term lease ends and the landlord doesn’t want the tenant to continue, does the landlord have the right to kick out the tenant. The tenant is arguing that it automatically goes to month-to-month but I believe that is if the landlord and tenant agree. If they don’t agree, can the landlord tell the tenant to vacate the premises when the term expires. Thank you.

Gary Anderson February 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

In ILL-inois, and many other states, landlords are SCUM! The court treats them like EVIL RICH animals. I had a one year lease with a nice looking couple, who claimed to be earning 106k, yet as soon as they got in, the rent stopped coming, and the complaints began, as a reason to not pay. The court threw out the case twice, and meanwhile the couple ran away. SURE, I may get a judgement from the court, but that’s only IF they have an above the table job, rather than working for cash everywhere. Even then, it turnes out that putting a “brick on their check” for payments has SO MANY exclusions, you end up waiting YEARS and go back to court numerous times. But, I later found out that they had lied on the application, and had indeed done this to other landlords MANY times. Google up “judgement proof” for a laugh. I’m on the hook for the property taxes, gas, and electricity for SIX months!

david February 7, 2013 at 8:17 pm

what if my tenant don’t want to live after 90 days notice and a legal letter !! should i call the police? and i have prufe of late rent please help me thanks

Chris February 13, 2013 at 10:06 am

Hi David,
Sounds like you will need to file for dispute resolution/eviction — probably best to call an attorney to help you out. Sorry to hear you are having problems with your tenant. Chris/TVS

Anthony May 19, 2013 at 5:18 am

My landlord extended the courtesy of offering a lease renewal with a rent increase which is fine, so we agreed and signed stating we (my girlfriend and I wish to renew the lease). A few days later, my landlord and I had an argument (verbal) over some on-going maintenance issues. I then received a letter stating my least WILL NOT renewed. Can he essentially renege on my lease renewal based on a mood issue?

Eduardo rosenfried May 24, 2013 at 9:05 am

My tenant lease expire on 04/03/2013, I want the tenant to move out, what should I do?

Jonh May 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm

After my 1 year lease ends, I got a oral deal with my landlord to stay with the garage to storage my belongs for 30 days, I wrote a check for 30 days and he give me a recipe ( he cash the check). After 6 days my friends call me to advice that he put my things (ALL MY FURNITURE, DOCUMENTS, CLOUDS EVERYTHING) in trash. I was aut of state, My friend call the police and they said after the lease ends he have the rights to do this and verbal deal, copy of the check with recipe is NOTHING. This happens in state of Louisiana.
I wanna sue him but I don’t have money to pay for a lawyer, Do you think he have the rights to make this, he never call me to iver ask to remove the things, after the lease I paid for 30 days and he give me just 6, that is not fair. Any infor helps edy161085@hotmail.com

AP May 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I am the “new tenant” – signed a lease in April to move in to an apartment in mid-June. Earlier today the management company called saying the current tenant – who had committed to moving out on May 31 (today) is out of state and will not be able to move out his items. He is not continuing with a lease but doesn’t know when he will be back to move out. I understand the rental company is in a bind – they don’t have anywhere to put us and legally they can’t go in a remove his things. They can file an injunction (what they told me) but that will take 30 days and doesn’t help us. Any ideas and what are we legally entitled to? Would appreciate any advice as we were set to move (to a brand new area in a different state – we cannot go and visit again to look for other options) in a few short weeks.

AP May 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm

And how can we speed things along so that we can get into the apartment. Or what legal action can we take based on our signed lease to get the current tenant out?

Ron J June 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Question: The renter’s lease is up in August 2013, We want him out on the exact day the lease is up in Ohio –how can this be accomplished? This is a no-payment per month lease, he has damaged the property, thrown out furniture which are valuable antiques.

LiedTo June 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm

We recently signed a lease agreement allowing a couple to move in in June, as soon as we provided the requested updates to the property. My husband and I worked diligently and finished the requested projects within about a week. The couple was notified that the property was ready and that their move in date was set for June 21st. I prorated the amount for June and told them the amount they need to pay. Without a reply, I contacted them again, and they said, “oh we decided to wait until July”. They are under a lease contract, so I feel that they do not have that option. I would like to terminate their Lease, under a “failure to occupy” clause in their LEASE. I feel like they are trouble waiting to happen. Has anyone ever experienced anything like this?

Chris June 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Hi Ron,
It’s really important to speak to a local attorney. It’s hard to say what your rights at this point without knowing local law or what your lease says about renewals. Also, the steps that you take now — i.e. allowing this tenant to remain until August, may have an impact on your rights later — like if he doesn’t move at the end of the lease. You have a lot at stake here, so speak with a landlord attorney and get specific advice. Best of luck with this, Chris

Maureen July 4, 2013 at 2:38 am

My lease expired in April, my landlord basically tried to bully me into signing the lease by threatening I would loose my section 8 and he could evict me for minor wear and tear items in the home. The landlord was caught by different people in my home without my knowledge and also kept changing the terms of the lease during my year lease. On may 17th I gave my landlord 60 days notice he then gave me a 30 day notice on may 20th, in retaliation. The noticed requested I move out by June 30th at 6pm due to the tenancy now being a holdover. I paid mays rent, June’s rent , and julys rent. I have now been served with court papers which I believe we’re improperly served to come to court July 11th. I reside in NY state by the way. I was told by another landlord that since my landlord collected June’s rent the case will be dismissed, because in the letter the said the holdover period began may 20th. Is this true?

Olivia July 15, 2013 at 9:55 am

I have a question… I became an at-will tenant. My land lord never actually contacted me 60-90 days before… also I asked if I could stay for July and August, my lease ended in June of this years. When I asked he never contacted me or asked me any thing, or even confirmed. When I asked him in my letter, I asked… to make sure that he wasn’t renting it to someone else… never did I get a response… Now my mother is sick and I am going to Texas (I live in KY). I will be there four weeks… by the time I get back I will have to move out of my place. I was just going to ask my LL if he would keep my deposit (the same amount as my rent) and let me leave. I did not damage the apartment and even fixed up some of the place… paint, new light fixtures… and I never asked for money or reimbursement. I feel like I can move out, since I am not under a lease… and he never responded or asked me or confirmed I could stay. I am not sure what to do. I am leaving on Monday, July 22 2013, and Won’t be back until August 22nd. To which I’d have to move out.

Lilly July 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm

My tenants gave me 30 day notice. I promised the property to new renters. The old tenants want to stay longer because their new place is not ready yet. What steps should I take legally?

Kim August 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm

My son signed a 6 month lease/$900 per month. Now that the lease is up the landlord wants $950 and a new lease or $1000 month to month! Can they increase it like that?? It’s much more than a 2.5% increase and its only been 6 months I thought they could only raise it every 12 months and only by 2.5%? Also the landlord doesn’t fix any of the issues with the home/yard. Ugh.

Frustrated!

Linda September 17, 2013 at 6:08 pm

My husband signed a lease for two years ending Nov 2014. The landlord sold the house. My husband is deployed. The new landlord gave me a 60 days notice. (EARLY TERMINATION BY LANDLORD) If I decide not to leave the house when the 60 days due, can the landlord evict me?

All monthy payment are paid up to day. I appriciate any advise.
Thanks

Greg September 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm

My mother has been living in a townhome for a year now, and her lease is up. She got a letter to renew the lease for another year last month, and she signed it and sent it to them. At the beginning of this month she was given a letter that they decided to not renew her lease, and she has 30 days to move out. I understand that they want her to move out because she can be a disruption to her neighbors; she has a mental illness and doesn’t deal with neighbors well.
I’m trying to find a house that’s more isolated for her to move into, but need more time than the end of the month. I was wondering what will happen if she doesn’t move by the end of the month? I had spoken to the rental agency, and they said they will consider giving her another month, but nothing has been confirmed yet. What happens if she stays another month? She would still pay her rent as normal, just not move out at the time they want her out. Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks!

linda September 21, 2013 at 7:39 am

I have a tennant scam me out of rent. She is on a three month lease and i want my property back. What kind of legal issues am I facing?

Kathy January 7, 2014 at 7:42 am

Hi, hope someone can help me. I have a tenant from hell….every month there is an excuse as to why rent is not paid on time, and the electric and gas company will not allow her to put utilities in her name because she owes them from other properties. I am in massachusetts and going to court always sides with the tenant here. I am not landlord material and only rented my house because the market dropped and didn’t want to lose the equity I spent 15 years building (I moved into my boyfriend’s home). Well now with the lease set to expire for May 1, 2014, I sent her both by mail and certified mail plus left a copy on the kitchen counter during an “inspection” that I will not be renewing her lease, that she has been in breach of the lease since she moved in (notice to quit sent to her in sept…but she eventually paid the rent due) but has never had utilities changed from me to her. I told her I would be moving back into my home on may 1 and that her last months rent will be applied to April. I also said she can leave sooner if she finds a place and can’t wait to move. I really just want her out. I’m never doing this again NEVER. But I do need my home back (I broke up with boyfriend)…if she doesn’t leave when the lease expires (I won’t take any more money from her after April) can i start to move back in, to force her out? I know she won’t go willingly. Does housing court allow me to file now to make sure she’s out by lease end??? Seeing she has been in breach of lease entire time anyway?? Heeeelllpppp

Leslie Hewitt January 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm

We have a 1 year lease with our tenants that clearly indicates that it does not go month to month at the end. It expires at then end of January 2014. Our tenants indicated that they wanted to stay through February to give them more time to find a new place. I sent an amendment extending the lease though February, which they said they would sign. They have not yet paid the rent for January (though if they have paid a last month’s rent in their deposit) nor have they sent the signed amendment by the deadline.

I plan on sending them a notice to vacate at the end of January, per the lease, but what if they don’t? And we are within the 20 day period since they had given me intention that they were staying.

Jeff January 17, 2014 at 4:35 am

My tenant gave notice to my agent over a month ago stating he would be moving out today (17th). Agent went there today to check out and they have report back to me that tenant hasnt moved out and all the furniture is still in situ. My agent trying to get hold of Tenant as I havent received any rent either which is normally paid in on the 13th. What happens now????????

Natalie January 20, 2014 at 11:15 am

Help!!
My tenant has never paid rent on time they are always 15 to 20 days late, my husband and I finally decided to move back into the home we were renting to them. We gave them a notice as per the tenant board. Stating that they are to move out on March 1 2014. Now this is were it gets complicated …they did pay there last month rent, problem is they told us that they would move on feb 1 2014. So they did not pay the rent for jan that was fine, but now as of today jan 20th they still have not found another place. So they are going to be staying for another month, however they still have not given us any money. We are worried that they will just not pay and only move out on march 1st . What should we do?

Vera January 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I’m a tenant and my lease was ended on December 31 2013. Landlord and my husband negotiated to renew the lease but landlord didn’t bring the new one to us until January 18 2014. He brought it and he left, we didn’t sign it. Accidentally my husband and I found a house and decided to buy it. What should we do now? Our lease doesn’t renew now but we are paying on time. Can we don’t sign the lease and notice our landlord that we wouldn’t renew it and will pay month-to-month? Can you help me?

missy February 16, 2014 at 3:54 pm

im a tenent my lease was up. I was given 30 days to leave because the landlord wants to move in. I am having trouble finding a place.Im a nervous wreak. I dont think thats enough time. This is in ohio.I was never late on rent. Place always clean. I will not be homeless i have kids so if I cant find a place he will have to evict me. It ashame too.

cp March 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Curious, our tenant’s lease is up at the end of May. We don’t plan on renewing the lease. How soon should I notify the tenant so they can look elsewhere? location Michigan, thanks.

JS March 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm

So here’s one for you, although I’m coming at it from the lease non-payer, not the landlord — but it could be interesting info for landlords, if you have an answer:

My wife’s name is on the lease for an apartment where my mother-in-law has been living. We were paying her rent until she could get on her feet, but she apparently has no intention of doing so and has now fully exhausted our patience to pay “just one more month” (while I slide deeper into debt, mind you). We have given the landlord 30 days’ notice as per the lease agreement — but the mother-in-law appears to have no intention whatsoever of moving out unless/until she is evicted.

So what happens? Can the landlord come after us for money, even though we gave the notice? I suppose technically it is us who are violating the terms of the lease, since it’s my wife’s name who is on it, but we have no power to force this woman to move out.

Sandra March 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Have a month to month lease, tenant was always late and full of complaints, gave her 30 days notice, didnt leave never pay, had a court date, what’s next this is a nightmare

Crystal Tippett March 19, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I have been renting from the same landlord for two years two different property’s now she has asked me a month ago if I wanted to renew I said yes we havent done any paper work lease is up 1 of apirl she is saying I have to be out that day now which is 13 days from now but is still askin me for money so does she have to give me longer then 13 days and does it go month to month and if she takes money from me do I still have to move help im from bay city mi I have four very young children and 13 days is to short to find anywhere to go thank you

Suzie March 27, 2014 at 8:07 am

My lease term ends March 31 which I will be out by then, I am required to give a 30 day notice which I did although the property manager claims they never received so now even though I will be out on the first and turn in keys, can they legally rent that to another tenant within that 30 day time period that I am paying for?

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