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 This is why many forward-thinking landlords now offer 24-hour maintenance helplines and apps for customers to manage their tenancy and report issues. Vuyo Radebe, Quartz, "Millennials are calling BS on the benefits of owning a home," 27 Aug. 2019 Ron Marshall, chief executive officer of Claire's Stores Inc., specifically cited co-tenancy clauses as an issue during a June 2017 conference call. Lauren Coleman-lochner And Eliza Ronalds-hannon, chicagotribune.com, "Mall tenants had an out when giants like Macy's left. Now landlords bar the door," 9 July 2018 The firm can go from lease-signing to tenancy in four months; old-fashioned landlords take six months to a year. The Economist, "Big corporates’ quest to be hip is helping WeWork," 12 July 2018 Landlords are now routinely pushing to chisel away co-tenancy provisions when leases come up for renewal, said Ivan Friedman, head of RCS Real Estate Advisors, a New York consulting firm. Lauren Coleman-lochner And Eliza Ronalds-hannon, chicagotribune.com, "Mall tenants had an out when giants like Macy's left. Now landlords bar the door," 9 July 2018 Much of that is due to Ruth Wilson’s tough, traumatized performance as Alice, an itinerant sheep shearer who returns home to claim tenancy of the family farm. Clio Barnard, New York Times, "Review: A ‘Dark River’ of Abuse Separates a Brother and Sister from Their Inheritance," 28 June 2018 Before its launch in 1987, landlords and brokers held most of the information for such things as commercial rents, building tenancies and occupancy rates. Keiko Morris, WSJ, "VTS Plans Tool to Help Commercial Real Estate Clients Track Market Trends," 18 June 2018 On May 31, Zentella delivered a check to Gill for $1,800 in an effort to establish tenancy. Otis R. Taylor Jr., San Francisco Chronicle, "To bank, it’s a debt cleared up; to woman, it’s a home lost," 7 June 2018 Tottenham have to inform the FA of their intentions to renew their tenancy at Wembley, and the club have been given an extension (until 6pm BST on Friday 15 June) to complete this process. SI.com, "Tottenham to Start 2018/19 Season at Wembley Amid Fears That New Stadium Will Not Be Ready in Time," 13 June 2018

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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Statistics for tenancy

Last Updated

31 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for tenancy

The first known use of tenancy was in 1590

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More Definitions for tenancy

joint tenancy


Financial Definition of joint tenancy

What It Is

Joint tenancy is an arrangement in which two or more individuals occupy a property. Participating tenants each share equally in the rights and responsibilities related to the property.

How It Works

If multiple individuals rent or purchase a property for work or living, each tenant carries joint and several liability in connection with the property. This means that each tenant potentially carries full responsibility for the property in the absence of his or her cohabitants.

For example, suppose two friends, Bob and Jack, rent an apartment together to reduce living expenses. As joint tenants, Bob and Jack are each responsible for paying rent and applicable utilities for the apartment. If Jack leaves without notice and becomes unreachable, any lapse in payments falls solely on Bob.

Why It Matters

Under joint tenancy, all property rights and responsibilities transfer directly to the remaining tenants in the event that one of the tenants dies or becomes unavailable. If the joint tenants own the property, this transfer occurs without probate.

Source: Investing Answers

tenancy at will


Financial Definition of tenancy at will

What It Is

Tenancy at will is a legal term describing an arrangement whereby a tenant occupies a piece of property with the permission of the property owner.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe is a bachelor trying to make it in Hollywood. He meets Bob Smith, who is a celebrity with a big house. Mr. Smith has a guesthouse that he's willing to let John Doe stay in for "a while." John Doe is a tenant at will, meaning he's there for as long as Mr. Smith lets him stay -- there is no definite rental period or even a regular rent schedule.

If either party wants to change the deal, they can do so, though giving reasonable notice is usually warranted. Though our example is with unrelated parties, tenancy at will commonly occurs among family members.

Tenancy at will usually terminates when the owner of the property dies, the tenant dies or the owner sells the property.

Why It Matters

Landlords can terminate a tenancy at will anytime, which means that tenants are often better served by having a written lease that sets the expectations for how long the tenant can stay and what the rent payment will be, if any.

The advantage of tenancy at will, however, is that both parties have tremendous flexibility to change the arrangement quickly without breaking a contract.

Source: Investing Answers


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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More from Merriam-Webster on tenancy

Spanish Central: Translation of tenancy

Nglish: Translation of tenancy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tenancy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tenancy

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