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 Agencies cannot guarantee thatclients will stay during the full leasing period, and so that may mean a month-to-month tenancy, Dabaja said. Nushrat Rahman, Detroit Free Press, 1 Jan. 2022 The landlord may withhold from the security deposit only an amount reasonably necessary to restore the place to its condition at the start of the tenancy, excluding ordinary wear and tear. Kelly Klein, Star Tribune, 19 Feb. 2021 During his ownership, which ended with a sale early last year, tenancy went from mostly retail to a mix with office space as demand shifted. Paula Allen, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Jan. 2022 Ownership of the home and/or proof of tenancy must be verified, to authorize all weatherization work. Susan Dunne, courant.com, 29 Nov. 2021 Davis-Stirling states that joint tenancy (i.e., husband and wife) can both be on a board if elected. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Nov. 2021 One of the companies interviewed stated that an association can no longer have two people who have a joint tenancy to be elected on a board of directors after a nomination. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Nov. 2021 As such, credit rating agencies or future landlords will not be able to view the eviction filing and use it as a basis to reject tenancy or lower their credit score. Ko Lyn Cheang, The Indianapolis Star, 9 Nov. 2021 The Screen Queensland Studios complex will house a sound stage and support facilities, including production offices, construction, wardrobe, and hair and makeup departments, an events space and permanent creative tenancy opportunities. Patrick Frater, Variety, 18 Oct. 2021

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.

See More

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)

Learn More About tenancy

Time Traveler for tenancy

Time Traveler

The first known use of tenancy was in 1590

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near tenancy



tenancy by the rod

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for tenancy

Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tenancy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenancy. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for tenancy



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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!