Legal Definition and Related Resources of Tenant

Meaning of Tenant

One who holds, uses or enjoys the property of another with his consent or by his permission or letting. In a narrower but more popular sense, a lessee . In order to constitute a tenant in the sense of a lessee, he must be in possession under a lease , written or oral, express or implied . Simon v j Kirkpatrick, 141 S.C. 251, 139 S.E. 614. However, it has been held in some jurisdictions that actual entry by a tenant is not necessary to perfect his interest as a tenant. See Ewert v Robinson, (C. A.8) 289 F. 740. A tenant is to be distinguished from a licensee in that a licensee is allowed to use the land of the licensor only in a certain way, while in all other respects, the land remains under the control and in the possession of the licensor. While the relationship of landlord and tenant implies the transmission of an estate or interest from the landlord to the tenant, a license does not create an estate or interest in property to which it relates but merely conveys a privilege in the use of the property and makes an act lawful without which it would be unlawful . See Baseball Pub. Co. v I Bruton, 302 Mass. 54, 18 N.E.2d362. The term has also been defined as one who holds or possesses lands or tenements by any kind of right or title , whether in fee. for life, for years, at will or otherwise . urban Investment and development Co. v MauÂrice L. Rothschild & Co., 323 N.E.2d 588, 25 Ill.App.3d 546.

Tenant Alternative Definition

(Lat. eneo, tenere, to hold). One who holds or possesses lands or tenements by any kind of title, either in fee, for life, for years, or at will. In a popular sense, he is one who has the temporary use and occupation of lands or tenements which belong to another, the duration and other terms of whose occupation are usually defined by an agreement called a “lease,” while the parties thereto are placed in the relation of landlord and tenant. 5 Man. & G. 54; Bouv. Inst. Index. Tenants in Common. Such as hold lands and tenements by several and distinct titles, arid not by a joint title, but occupy in common, the only unity recognized between them being that of possession. They are accountable to each other for the profits of the estate; and if one of them turns another out of possession, an action of ejectment will lie against him. They may also have reciprocal actions of waste against each other. 2 Bl. Comm. 191. See “Estate in Common;” 7 Cruise, Dig.; Bac. Abr. “Joint Tenants, and Tenants in Common;” Comyn, Dig. “Abatement” (E 10, P 6), “Chancery” (3 V 4), “Devise” (N 8), “Estates” (K 8, R 2) ; 1 Vern. 353; Archb. Civ. PI. 53, 73. Tenant by the Curtesy. A species of life tenant who, on the death of his vriie. seised of an estate of inheritance, after having issue by her which is capable of in-, heriting her estate, holds her lands for the period of his own life. After the birth of such a child, the tenant is called “tenant by the curtesy initiate” (Co. Litt. 29a; ‘ 2 Bl. Comm. 126) ; but to consummate the tenancy four things are requisite: lawful marriage, actual seizin of the wife, issue capable of inheriting, and death of the wife. The first three without the last constitute tenancy by the curtesy initiate. The husband’s estate is initiate on issue had, and consummate on the death of the wife. 142 111. 393; 4 Kent’s Com. pp. 28-30; 44 111. 68; 128 111. 102. See “Curtesy.” Tenant in Dower. Another species of life tenant, occurring where the husband of a woman is seised of an estate of inheritance, and dies, and the wife thereby becomes entitled to hold the third part of all the lands and tenements of which he was seised at any time during the coverture to her own use, for the term of her natural life. See “Dower;” 2 Bl. Comm. 129; Comyn, Dig. “Dower” (A). Tenant of the Demesne. One who is tenant of a mesne lord; as, where A. is tenant of B. and C. of A.; B. is the lord, A. the mesne lord, and 0. the tenant of the demesne. Hammond, N. P. 392, 393, Tenant in Fee. Under the feudal law.. one who held his lands either immediately or derivatively from the sovereign, in consideration of the military or other services he was bound to perform. If he held directly from the king, he was called a “tenant in fee,” in eapite. With us, the highest estate which a man can have in land has direct reference to his duty to the state, 108 111. App. 10. Prom it he ultimately holds his title, to it he owes fealty and service, and if he fails in his allegiance to it, or dies without heirs upon whom this duty may devolve, his lands revert to the state under which he held. Subject to this qualification, however, a tenant in fee has an absolute unconditional ownership in land, which, upon his death, vests in his heirs, 122 111. 328; and hence he enjoys what is called an “estate of inheritance.” See “Estates”; 2 Bl. Comm. 81; Litt. §1; Plowd. 555. Joint Tenants. Two or more persons to whom lands or tenements have been granted to hold in fee simple, for life, for years, or at will. In order to constitute an estate in joint tenancy, the tenants thereof must have one and the same interest, arising by the same conveyance, commencing at the same time, and held by one and the same undivided possession. 2 Bl’. Comm. 180. The principal incident to this estate is the right of survivorship, by which, upon the death of one joint tenant, the entire tenancy remains to the surviving cotenant, and not to the heirs or other representatives of the deceased, the last survivor taking the whole estate. It is an estate which can only be created by the acts of the parties, and never by operation of law. Co. Litt. 184b; 2 Cruise, Dig. 43; 4 Kent. Comm. 358; 2 Bl. Comm. 179; 7 Cruise, Dig. “Joint Tenancy;” Prest. Est. Tenant for Life. One who has a freehold interest in lands, the duration of which is confined to the life or lives of some particular person or persons, or to the happening or not happening of some uncertain event. 1 Cruise, Dig. 76. When he holds the estate by the life of another, he is usually called tenant pur autre vie. 2 Bl. Comm. 120; Comyn, Dig. “Estates” (P 1). See “Estate for Life;” “Emblements.” Tenant by the Manner. One who has a less estate than a fee in land, which remains in the reversioner. He is so calle
d because in avowries and other pleadings it is specially shown in what manner he is tenant of the land, in contradistinction to the veray tenant, who is called simply “tenant.” See “Veray.” Tenant by the Marital Right. At common law, by virtue of the marriage alone, and without the birth of issue, the husband was seized of an estate, during coverture, in the lands held by his wife in fee. He is said to have been seized of the freehold jure uxoris. He took the rents and profits during the joint lives of himself and his wife. This estate was ended by the death of the wife or the death of the husband. It is a freehold estate in the husband, since it must continue during their joint lives, and it may by possibility last during his life. It was liable to be sold on execution against the husband. 142 111. 393; 2 Kent, Comm. 130. Tenant paravall. The tenant of a tenant. He is so called because he has the avails or profits of the land. Tenant In Severalty. He who holds lands and tenements in his own right only, without any other person being joined or connected with him in point of interest during his estate therein. 2 Bl. Comm. 179. Tenant at Sufferance. He who comes into possession by a lawful demise, but after his term is ended continues the possession wrongfully by holding over. He has only a naked possession, stands in no privity to the landlord, and may, consequently, be removed without notice to quit. Co. Litt. 57b; 2 Leon. 46; 3 Leon. 153; 1 Johns. Gas. (N. Y.) 123; 4 Johns. (N. Y.) 150, 312; 5 Johns. (N. Y.) 128. Tenant In Tall. One who holds an estate in fee, which by the instrument creating it is limited to some particular heirs, exclusive of others; as, to the heirs of “his body,” or to the heirs, “male or female,” of his body. The whole system of entailment, rendering estates unalienable, is so directly opposed to the spirit of our republican institutions as to have become very nearly extinct in the United States. Most of the states, at an early period of our independence, passed laws declaring such estates to be estates in fee simple, or provided that the tenant and the remainderman might join in conveying the land in fee simple. In New Hampshire, Chancellor Kent says, entails may still be created; while in some of the states they have not been expressly abolished by statute, but in practice they are now almost unknown. See “Entail;” 2 Bl. .Comm. 113. Tenant at Will. One who holds rent free by permission of the owner, or where he enters under an agreement to purchase, or for a lease, but has not paid rent; or one who is placed on land without a term prescribed, or without any terms or rent reserved, but as a mere occupier. 184 111, 337. Formerly all leases for uncertain periods were considered to be tenancies at will merely; but in modern times they are construed into tenancies from year to year; and, in fact, the general language of the books now is that the former species of tenancy cannot exist without an express agreement to that eflfect. 8 Cow. (N. Y.) 75; 4 Ired. (N. C.) 291; 3 Dana (Ky.) 66; 12 Mass. 325; 23 Wend. (N. Y.) 616; 12 N. Y, 346. The great criterion by which to distinguish between tenancies from year to year and at will is the payment or reservation of rent. 5 Bing. 361; 2 Esp. 718. A tenancy at- will must always be at the will of either party, and such a tenant may be ejected at any time, and without notice; but as soon as he once pays rent, he becomes tenant from year to year. 1 Watts & S. (Pa.) 90; Tayl. Landl. & Ten. §56; Co. Litt. 55; 2 Lilly, Reg. 555; 2 Bl. Comm. 145. See Comyn. Dig. “Estates” (H 1); 12 Mass. 325; 17 Mass. 282; 1 Johns. Cas. (N. Y.) 33; 2 Caines Cas. (N. Y.) 314; 2 Caines (N. Y.) 169; 9 Johns. (N. Y.) 13, 235, 331. A tenant holding over is not a tenant at will unless he holds over by the express or implied consent of his landlord. 40 Mich. 283. Tenant for Years. He to whom another has let lands, tenements, or hereditaments for a certain number of years, agreed upon between them, and the tenant enters thereon. Before entry, he has only an inchoate right, which is called an interesse termini; and it is of the essence of this estate that its commencement as well as its termination be fixed and determined, so that the lapse of time limited for its duration will, ipso facto, determine the tenancy; if otherwise, the occupant will be tenant from year to year, or at will, according to circumstances. See “Lease;” Tayl. Landl. & Ten. § 54; 2 Bl. Comm. 140. Tenant from Year to Year. Where lands or tenements have been let without any particular limitation for the duration of the tenancy; hence any general occupation with permission, whether a tenant is holding over after the expiration of a lease for years, or otherwise, becomes a tenancy from year to year. 3 Burrows, 1609; 1 Term R. 163; 3 East, 451; 8 Barn. & C. 478; 9 Johns. (N. Y.) 330; 3 Zab. (N. J.) 311. The principal feature of this tenancy is that it is not determinable even at the end of the current year, unless a reasonable notice to quit is served by the party intending to dissolve the tenancy upon the other. 4 Cow. (N. Y.) 349; 3 Hill (N. Y.) 547; 11 Wend. (N. Y.) 616; 8 Term R. 3; 5 Bing. 185.

Synonyms of Tenant


  • border
  • conductor
  • dweller
  • holder
  • householder
  • incola
  • inhabitant
  • inquilinus
  • landholder
  • landowner
  • leaseholder
  • lessee
  • lodger
  • occupant
  • occupier
  • one holding land of another
  • oneoccupyinganother’sland
  • one occupying real property
  • one using real property
  • owner
  • paying guest
  • possessor
  • proprietor
  • rent payer
  • renter
  • resident
  • Associated Concepts: disorderly tenant
  • eviction
  • holdover tenant
  • joint tenant
  • life tenant
  • objectionable tenant
  • subtenant
  • tenant at sufferance
  • tenant at will
  • tenant by the entirety
  • tenant for a fixed term
  • tenant from month to month
  • tenant in common
  • tenant per autre vie

Related Entries of Tenant in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Tenant in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Tenant in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Tenant in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Tenant in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

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Mentioned in these terms

Abandon, Agricultural Labor, Attorn, Attornment, Cesse, Chief, Tenant In, Commendation, Constructive Eviction, Contingent Remainder, Convivium, Copyhold, Cornage, Curtesy, Demise, Disparagement, Emblements, Entail, Escheat, Estate For Life Or Life Estate, Estate In Expectancy, Estate In Tail After Possibility Of Issue Extinct:, Eviction, Fealty, Forfeiture, Free Man, Heriot, , Homage, Homage Ancestral, Impeachment Of Waste, Joint Tenancy, Lease, Lodger, Lyef-yield, Non-tenure, Notice To Quit, Open Mine Rule, Privies, Privity, Recovery, Rep-silver, Respite, Servage, Service, Several, Socage, Tenancy At Sufferance, Suit Of Court, Surrender, Survivorship, , Tenancy, Tenant At Sufferance, Tenant By The Curtesy, Tenant In Tail After Possibility Of Issue Extinct, Tenure.


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Tenant in the Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims

French tenant, holding: Latin tenere, to hold. In its largest sense, any one who holds lands, whatever the nature or extent of his interest. Coles v. Marquand, 2 Hill. 449 (1842). One who holds lands by any kind of title, whether for years, for life, or in fee. Hosford v. Ballard, 39 N.Y. 151 (1808). Almost all realty is supposed to be holden of some superior lord, in consideration of services to be rendered by the possessor. The thing to be held is styled the tenement, the possessor thereof the tenant, and the manner of possession a tenure, or tenacy. 2 Bl. Com. 59.

Note: This legal definition of Tenant in the Dictionary of Law (English and American Jurisprudence) is from 1893.

English Spanish Translation of Tenant

Inquilinos: Tenedor (D. Reales)

Find other English to Spanish translations from the Pocket Spanish English Legal Dictionary (print and online), the English to Spanish to English dictionaries (like Tenant) and the Word reference legal translator.


See Also

  • Law Dictionaries.
  • Landlord and Tenant.
  • Tenant’s fixtures in Law Enforcement

    Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of tenant’s fixtures.


    See Also

    • Law Enforcement Officer
    • Police
    • Law Enforcement Agency

    Further Reading

    Tenant in Law Enforcement

    Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of tenant.


    See Also

    • Law Enforcement Officer
    • Police
    • Law Enforcement Agency

    Further Reading

    Concept of Tenant in the context of Real Property

    Alternatives definitions of Tenant: (1) A holder of property under a lease or other rental agreement. (2) Originally, one who had the right to possession, irrespective of the title interest.

    Concept of Tenant in the context of Real Property

    Alternatives definitions of Tenant: (1) A holder of property under a lease or other rental agreement. (2) Originally, one who had the right to possession, irrespective of the title interest.



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