Monday, April 15, 2013

The Challenge of Tenancy at Sufferance

Matt Gray
Dr. Hansz
Real Estate Principles
April 15, 2013
The Challenge of Tenancy at Sufferance
                Who knew you would be legally protected when you overstayed your welcome at a residence you rented? Well, maybe those of you in real estate know plenty about the leasehold estate called tenancy at sufferance. Lessees that remain on a property past the lease terms are now holdover tenants and are not considered to be trespassing. This is the most ridiculous law in real estate and it should truly be changed to protect the lessor.
                This excerpt from best explains tenancy at suffering, “Technically, under the law, you do not have a tenancy because your landlord does not agree to your having possession of the apartment. The law, however, does not consider you to be a trespasser because, at one point in time, your landlord did agree to your renting the apartment”. Imagine borrowing a lawnmower from a neighbor for the afternoon but deciding to just keep it afterward. The neighbor would obviously be upset and would try to repossess the lawnmower. Unfortunately for the neighbor, it was agreed upon that the lawnmower would be lent to you, so now you have a right to possess the lawnmower. We can call this “possession at sufferance”. There is obviously something wrong with this situation.
                Dr. Andrew Hansz mentioned in his Real Estate Principles course at Fresno State that, “You can’t just evict the tenant. You have to give them notice.” I completely understand this argument except that it does not pertain to tenancy at suffering for one primary reason. The contract clearly states the beginning and ending dates of the lease so the lessee was not only notified about the termination date of the contract, the lessee signed the agreement stating that they would be out of the property by that date! Isn't that notice enough? The lessee should become a trespasser immediately after the expiration of the contract and should be punishable by law.
                Government is responsible for protecting the rights and the property of all citizens. There is an argument that everyone has the right to suitable housing but that impedes on the rights of the property owner should the owner not permit the tenant to stay there. In The Founder’s Constitution, James Madison states that, “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort…”. It is the duty of the United States Government to protect the property owner but also their rights of ownership.
                In conclusion, tenancy at sufferance makes no sense because the lessee, who has violated the terms of the contract, is protected as a tenant even though they are truly just trespassing. The lessees received warning regarding the final date of tenancy in the contract and should be considered trespassers punishable by law if they remain on the property beyond that date. Government has the duty to protect property and that includes the rights of property owners. Tenancy at sufferance impedes on the rights of property owners and holdover tenants should simply be considered trespassers.

Works Cited
Diaz, Julian, and J. Andrew. Hansz. "Political and Legal Environments." Real Estate Analysis: Environments and Activities. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub., 2010. 178-79. Print.
"Property: James Madison, Property." Property: James Madison, Property. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.
"Tenants without Leases." - MassLegalHelp. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013.

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