The words of limitation are usually some variation of "for 10 years."
A lease is a possessory right.
Types of leasehold estates:
The periodic tenancy is a tenancy that is measured by successive, identical periods of time. A periodic tenancy automatically renews for successive periods, unless one of the parties gives proper notice to terminate the tenancy. If not otherwise specified, the common law generally requires that the party seeking to terminate the tenancy must provide notice at least one period prior to the date of termination, up to a six-month max.
The tenancy at will is a tenancy without a fixed duration and without any defined renewable periods. It lasts as long as both parties wish it to. The common law did not require advance notice to terminate a tenancy at will, but most states have now enacted statutes that require some minimal period of notice to terminate a tenancy at will.
The tenancy at sufferance really is not a tenancy. Rather, it is a label given to the situation that arises when a tenant "holds over" in possession after the lease has expired. A tenancy at sufferance only lasts until the landlord evicts the tenant or the parties agree to create a new tenancy.
Types of lease transfers:
A sublease is when a tenant gives anything less than all of his possessory rights. This then makes the tenant the landlord of the sublessee.
Traditionally, these have allowed the landlord to withhold consent for any reason whatsoever, but a growing minority restricts the landlord to what is commercially reasonable.
Simply withholding consent to obtain an increase in rent is not a reasonable reason unless the landlord experiences some increase in cost.
A statute of frauds is a defense that prevents the enforcement of a land transfer transaction or a lease longer than one year unless there is a signed written memorandum listing the price, parcel, and parties.
Neither a legal description of the property nor the parties' full names are required, only enough to identify them.
Restatement Second of Contracts § 129
Action in Reliance; Specific Performance
A contract for the transfer of an interest in land may be specifically enforced notwithstanding failure to comply with the Statute of Frauds if it is established that the party seeking enforcement, in reasonable reliance on the contract and on the continuing assent of the party against whom enforcement is sought, has so changed his position that injustice can be avoided only by specific enforcement.
Under common law, the landlord has the following duties: (page 440)
- Disclosure of latent defects
- Maintenance of the physical conditions of common areas under the landlord's control
- Contractually agreed repairs
- The physical condition of premises if agreed to be furnished
- The fitness of buildings under construction for the purposes for which the tenant entered into the lease
Covenant of quiet enjoyment is a landlord's promise that neither the landlord, his agents, nor people with superior title will interfere with the tenant's exclusive possession of the land.
If one of these people physically removes the tenant, it is an actual eviction.
It is breached if the landlord, his agent, or a paramount title holder actively interferes with the tenant's possession or if the landlord's inaction if the face of a legal duty to act results in interference.
If this interference is sufficiently serious so as to deprive the tenant of the benefit of his possession and he departs promptly as a consequence, the departure will escalate the breach into a constructive eviction.
A breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment can be through omission or commission.
A warranty of habitability is a covenant by the landlord, implied by law into residential leases, that the landlord will maintain the premises in condition fit for human habitation throughout the duration of the lease.
This warrants that:
- The premises are fit for human habitation.
- The condition of the premises is in accord with the uses reasonably intended by the parties.
- The tenants are not subject to any conditions endangering or detrimental to their life, health, or safety.
A tenant's obligation to pay rent is dependent upon the landlord's compliance with the implied warrant of habitability. A tenant may vacate the premises and terminate the lease or remain in possession and raise habitability as a defense or action respectively.
The English rule is the majority rule.
The American rule provides that a landlord has no implied duty to place the tenant in actual possession as long as the tenant has the legal right to possession.