ten·​an·​cy | \ ˈte-nən(t)-sē How to pronounce tenancy (audio) \
plural tenancies

Definition of tenancy

1 : 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
2 : 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 The total number of landlord-tenant cases filed is 3,143, including termination of tenancy, land contract forfeiture and health hazards cases, according to the court. Nushrat Rahman, Detroit Free Press, "What Detroit court's closure means for landlords and tenants," 19 Nov. 2020 The Times recently published a guide to rental housing that can help you throughout your tenancy. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Looking for a new apartment? Four ways to save money and hassle," 17 Nov. 2020 The state’s moratorium prevents landlords from issuing a notice of termination without cause or doing anything else to interfere with a tenancy based on a tenant’s inability to pay rent. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "Oregon landlords feeling the strain of eviction moratorium: ‘We’re just trying to keep our heads above water’," 12 Nov. 2020 Joint tenancy with right of survivorship avoids probate and offers protection from creditors. Liz Weston, oregonlive, "Liz Weston: Community property states offer tax advantages in home ownership," 1 Nov. 2020 When public funding in San Diego never materialized and NFL owners assured them tenancy in the Kroenke Dome, Spanos and his three siblings decided to move the family business north. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Kroenke Dome impresses as Rams open $5-billion stadium with victory over Cowboys," 13 Sep. 2020 The most common example of an unlawful eviction would be if a landlord files for eviction without giving the tenant a notice terminating tenancy, denying the tenant the opportunity to cure any default or move out. jsonline.com, "New York law helps tenants organize. Just ask the ones who lived 13 months with no gas, and a hot plate for food," 19 Oct. 2020 These include cases involving nonpayment of rent, termination of tenancy and land contract forfeitures. Nushrat Rahman, Detroit Free Press, "State gives Michigan landlords another way to help tenants facing eviction pay back rent," 12 Oct. 2020 Your landlord cannot charge extra rent or pet fees for your ESA, but your landlord may charge you, at the time your tenancy ends, for any damage caused by your dog. Kelly Klein, Star Tribune, "Landlord balks at emotional support animal," 2 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tenancy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tenancy

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tenancy

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

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Time Traveler for tenancy

Time Traveler

The first known use of tenancy was in 1590

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Statistics for tenancy

Last Updated

6 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tenancy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenancy. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for tenancy


How to pronounce tenancy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tenancy

: the right to use another person's property (such as land, a house, etc.) for a short period of time
: the amount of time during which you are allowed to use another person's property
: the state or fact of owning property (such as land, a house, etc.)


ten·​an·​cy | \ ˈte-nən-sē How to pronounce tenancy (audio) \
plural tenancies

Legal Definition of tenancy

1 : the holding of or a mode of holding an estate in property:
a : a form of ownership of property : tenure
b : 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
2 : the period of a tenant's occupancy or possession

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