Most landlord/tenant issues arise out of a situation where the landlord or tenant engages in conduct that is in violation of one or more of the provisions of the operative lease. However, what happens if there is no formal lease between the landlord and tenant or if there was a lease but it has expired?

A tenancy at will is an arrangement in which there is no definite term of duration and is terminable at the will of either the lessor or the lessee. The parties may create a tenancy at will by written or oral agreement or one may be created by implication of law. These days, it is extremely uncommon for a tenancy at will to be created by agreement as most landlords would simply prepare a lease. However, it is not altogether uncommon for tenancies at will to be created by implication.

There are four circumstances in which this can occur. First, if the landlord and tenant have a lease, but there is no definite time set forth, a tenancy in common is created. Second, if the tenant enters in to possession under an agreement to execute a contract for a specified term but subsequently refuses to sign the lease, a tenancy at will results. Third, if the grantor remains in possession after a conveyance of the premises the result is a tenancy at will. Finally, if the tenant enters under a void (illegal) lease, he or she will have a tenancy at will.

Generally, if you have a tenancy at will, the law presumes that the term of the lease is month to month. Therefore, the laws regarding evictions, terminating the lease and all other landlord/tenant matters are handled as though the lease was month to month. This is important because the law treats month to month leases differently than it does yearly leases. If you believe you are living under a tenancy at will, or are a landlord with a tenant living under a tenancy at will and are seeking some form of legal action against him or her, you should contact an experienced attorney at my Pittsburgh law firm, Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, to review your case.