A tenancy at will is an agreement between a landlord and tenant that allows either party to end the agreement at any time for any reason. Such an agreement gives both parties the flexibility of remaining in the contract at their convenience and leaving the agreement when it suits them. A notice to terminate is the method by which the tenancy at will ends, but an eviction is an entirely different procedure.
A tenancy at will can be covered by a written agreement that simply states that the rental period has no fixed termination date and can be ended by either party at any time, as long as proper notice is given in advance.
The notice to terminate tenancy at will is the document that informs the landlord or tenant that the other party is ending the agreement and the tenant will have to vacate the premises. The notice must be delivered in advance of the termination date; in most states that advance period is set at 30 days.
If the tenant remains on the premises after the date set for moving out, the landlord will have to begin eviction proceedings. To do so, the landlord needs the written agreement that the rental was a tenancy at will. That is why a written agreement is vital to the interests of the landlord and tenant even if there is no definite rental period.
By the law in most states, a tenancy at will can be either oral or written. No particular reason is necessary for either party to submit the notice to terminate. Eviction is the process of forcing a tenant out of the premises pursuant to a court order or writ. States have laws specifying the procedure for eviction if the tenant fails to vacate after receiving a notice to terminate tenancy at will. In Missouri, for example, if a court judgment results in a writ of eviction, the sheriff has seven days to execute the writ. After that, the landlord is free to enter the premises, change the locks and remove the furniture and belongings of the tenant.
Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.