Holdover Tenant guide: Everything you need to know

What is a Holdover Tenant?

The term Holdover Tenant is a bit vague, as it can refer to a tenant who remains in the property but does not pay rent, which can result in eviction. The term “holdover tenant” can also refer to a situation where the tenant pays rent, but the lease is not renewed. 

Rent payment aside, holdover tenants can cause some headaches for landlords. Suppose the tenant remains on the property after their lease expires, and you stop accepting rent payments. In some cases, that tenant may no longer be responsible for damages, thus leaving you responsible for any incidents that occurred before they left or were evicted. If you are dealing with a holdover tenant, try to figure out what got them into this situation. They may have trouble finding a new rental that fits their budget, or perhaps they face a layoff or other income interruption and don’t know where to go. Try to resolve the situation before moving forward with an eviction.

Understand the tenant’s rights

Even if a tenant occupies the premises without the landlord’s consent, tenant rights still apply. Failure to comply with these rights can result in a wrongful eviction case against the ower. In addition to notice periods, below are some of the fundamental rights a holdover tenant should have during a holdover period:

  • The right to file a complaint for any safety or health violations;
  • The right to a safe and habitable home;
  • The right to advance notice before the landlord can enter the premises (house);
  • The right to utilities, and more.

Inexperienced landlords should be careful when dealing with a holdover tenant. In fact, several problem tenants will try to undermine the landlord’s case by actively seeking the smallest of violations. A good knowledge of tenant rights is the only way to avoid a wrongful eviction claim. Which a fine or jail time could be imposed by the courts. Different counties in Maryland require different notice requirements. Consider having Maryland Evictions Online process your Tenant Holdover case.

What can happen to a tenant if a Holdover is filed?

There are several things that can happen to your tenant if you decide to file a holdover. 

  • A holdover tenant can be sued and be required to pay damages to their landlord. Also, this usually happens when a new tenant cannot move in because the previous tenant is still there. 
  • Holdover tenant could be liable for similar damages if the tenant is holding up the sale of the property by the landlord. 
  • Tenant can be evicted from the property by the landlord.

How do you deal with holdover tenants?

There are two main possible approaches when it comes to dealing with a holdover tenant:

  • let the tenant stay;
  • or evict the tenant.
  1. Letting a holdover tenant stay. 

If you choose to let a tenant with an expired lease (holdover tenant) stay in your rental, it is crucial to get the tenant to sign a clear, written lease as soon as possible. If you have already received payment from a holdover tenant, the tenant can continue to legally occupy the property. 

It is also crucial to note that if you accept payment from a holdover tenant, the tenant may end up with a month-to-month lease. You should negotiate a new agreement with the holdover tenant as soon as possible so that the situation is clear to both parties.

  1. Treat the holdover tenants as trespassers and evict them.

If you are unable to reach an agreement with a holdover tenant, you may choose to initiate eviction proceedings. Landlord needs to know how to properly serve an eviction notice on your tenant to make the process as easy as possible. Make sure you are prepared to suffer a loss of rental income, as retaining your right to evict a holdover tenant means you cannot accept rent payments in the interim.

How to Avoid Holdover Tenants?

The best way to avoid any type of tenant holdover situation is to clearly define the terms of your lease. This means clearly stating the start and end dates of the lease, as well as when rent is due each month. You can even go so far as to set specific arrival and departure times for your tenants. Being clear about the length (duration) of the lease will protect you if you find yourself in a holdover situation.

In addition, you should include a clause in your lease that clearly states what will occur after the end of the lease. Perhaps you will agree to let the lease turn into a month-to-month lease. This can be helpful if your tenant has not agreed to stay but cannot find a new rental before their scheduled departure date. If a month-to-month lease is not ideal, then you should make it clear that you will refuse to accept any rent payments unless the tenant has signed a new lease.

How do you evict a holdover tenant?

When evicting a holdover tenant, the property owner must treat the tenant as a trespasser who does not have permission to be on the premises and is acting illegally by remaining on the property from the time the lease ends. Contact Maryland Evictions Online to handle the processing of the tenant holdover case against your tenant. For future tenant screening try using Calhoun Properties Group to vet your tenants.

What is a periodic tenancy?

A periodic tenancy is a tenancy that refers to a specific period of time, whether it is weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. They usually occur when a fixed-term lease expires. If the landlord does not renew the lease or give the notice to terminate the lease at the end of the fixed term, the tenant has the right to continue to occupy the property while paying rent. If the homeowner (landlord) continues to accept this rent, then it is a recurring tenancy.