A less than freehold estate is an estate held by one who rents or leases property. It is also known as a leasehold estate. The key element of a less than freehold estate is the limitation of time. As lease is a legal estate, leasehold estate can be bought and sold on the open market.
Classifications of a less than freehold estate include:
1. An estate for years
2. Periodic tenancy
3. Estate at will
4. Estate at sufferance
1. Estate for years
An estate for years is a leasehold interest in land for a fixed period of time. It is often called a tenancy for years. An example of an estate for years would be a summer rental, as it has a defined beginning and end date. No notice to be terminated is needed, as the end of the lease is established at the conception of the rental. Therefore a lease for 6 months would be an estate for years, and a lease with a given beginning and end date would be an estate for years as well.
2. Periodic tenancy
Periodic tenancy, which is also known as an estate from years to years, is a tenancy that is not bound to a lease with a fixed period like an estate for years. A periodic tenancy follows a period such as month-to-month, week-to-week, or year to year. Proper notice must be given to terminate this lease.
3. Estate at sufferance
An estate at sufferance arises when the tenant wrongfully holds over after the expiration of his term. This is often called a tenancy at sufferance. An example of an estate at sufferance would be a tenant who does not pay rent. In simple terms, the landlord is suffering. This is not a form of trespass, as at one point the tenant had the right to be on the property. The landlord would have to legally evict the tenant when a tenancy at sufferance is created.
4. Estate at will
Estate at will means that it can be ended at any time. An estate at will gives the lessee the right to possession until the estate is terminated by either party; the term of this estate is indefinite. This is not allowed in many states.