ten·​an·​cy ˈte-nən(t)-sē How to pronounce tenancy (audio)
plural tenancies
: a holding of an estate or a mode of holding an estate
specifically : the temporary possession or occupancy of something (such as a house) that belongs to another
: the period of a tenant's occupancy or possession

Examples of tenancy in a Sentence

He was granted tenancy of the farm. During his tenancy, he tried to make as many improvements as he could.
Recent Examples on the Web While known for their bruising rushing attack under the tenancy of (Bill) Clark, the Blazers are expected to evolve their offensive prowess under new offensive coordinator Alex Mortensen, who was the man behind the curtain of the Alabama offense while serving as an analyst in Tuscaloosa. Evan Dudley, al, 28 Aug. 2023 While the city currently protects renters from certain kinds of eviction as part of its Just Cause ordinance, those kick in only after two years of tenancy. Roxana Popescu, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Dec. 2022 The Frick’s tenancy comes to an end soon, and that was the inflection point that allowed the sale to happen. Curbed, 1 June 2023 Woods’ attorney said there was no oral tenancy agreement and gave his own theory about why Herman had taken her dispute to public court instead of resolving it in private arbitration as required by the NDA. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, 17 June 2023 An estate attorney can also help co-buyers understand options for titling the home, such as joint tenancy or tenancy in common. Nerd Wallet, oregonlive, 7 Dec. 2022 Just imagine what else the manse could inspire during your tenancy. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 14 June 2023 The language of tenancy familiar from leases, use and enjoyment, rarely applies to the storage premises, and almost never to what is stored there long-term. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper’s Magazine , 7 Dec. 2021 Caught off guard by the blowup, the county pushed the close of escrow to Dec. 17 and sent its relocation consultant back to the motel to determine whether any occupants had established legal tenancy and were unlawfully evicted and denied relocation payments. Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times, 9 Dec. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tenancy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


ten(ant) entry 1 + -ancy (probably after Anglo-French tenaunce)

First Known Use

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tenancy was in 1590

Dictionary Entries Near tenancy

Cite this Entry

“Tenancy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenancy. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ten·​an·​cy ˈten-ən-sē How to pronounce tenancy (audio)
plural tenancies
: the temporary possession or use of another's property
: the period of such use or possession
: the ownership of property

Legal Definition


ten·​an·​cy ˈte-nən-sē How to pronounce tenancy (audio)
plural tenancies
: the holding of or a mode of holding an estate in property:
: a form of ownership of property : tenure
: the temporary possession or occupancy of property that belongs to another
holdover tenancy
: a tenancy that arises when one remains in possession of property after the expiration of the previous tenancy (as one under a lease), that may be established as a tenancy at will by the recognition of the landlord (as by accepting rent), and that may sometimes be statutorily converted to a periodic tenancy for the same or a different term than that of the original tenancy liable for payment of rent in a holdover tenancy

called also tenancy at sufferance

joint tenancy
: a tenancy in which two or more parties hold equal and simultaneously created interests in the same property and in which title to the entire property is usually to remain with the survivors upon the death of one of the parties and so on to the last survivor a right to sever the joint tenancy see also tenancy by the entirety in this entry compare tenancy in common in this entry
life tenancy
: the tenancy of one with a life estate
also : life estate at estate 1
created a life tenancy for her husband
periodic tenancy \ ˌpir-​ē-​ˈä-​dik-​ \
: a tenancy that is carried forward by specified time periods (as months) without a lease and that may be terminated by the landlord or tenant after giving proper notice
tenancy at sufferance
: holdover tenancy in this entry
tenancy at will
: a tenancy that is terminable at the will of the landlord or tenant provided that applicable statutory requirements for notice are met
tenancy by the entirety
: a tenancy that is shared by spouses who are considered one person in law and have the right of survivorship and that becomes a tenancy in common in the event of divorce property subject to a tenancy by the entirety cannot be encumbered by one tenant acting aloneMays v. Brighton Bank, 832 S.W.2d 347 (1992)

called also tenancy by the entireties

compare estate by the entirety at estate sense 1
tenancy for years
: a tenancy that is for a specified period of time compare tenancy at will in this entry
tenancy in common
: a tenancy in which two or more parties share ownership of property but have no right to each other's interest (as upon the death of another tenant) compare joint tenancy in this entry
tenancy in partnership
: a tenancy that binds partners to the use of partnership property only for partnership purposes and that does not permit the separate assignment by a partner of his or her right to the property
: the period of a tenant's occupancy or possession
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