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Holdover Tenant Laws in Texas

If a tenant in Texas stays past the end date on their lease, a landlord has two options: accept their continued rent payments or evict them.

When a lease is up, many tenants choose to move out. Those who don’t are considered holdover tenants. Landlords in Texas can choose to let holdover tenants stay in the unit—or they can evict them through a forcible detainer action.

Texas considers holdover tenants either “at will” or “at sufferance”

There are two potential outcomes for a Texas tenant who stays in their rental unit past the end date on their lease:1

  • Tenancy at will: If the landlord accepts their continued rent payments, then they’ve created a month-to-month tenancy with the same terms as the original lease.2
  • Tenancy at sufferance: This occurs if the landlord doesn’t accept rent from the holdover tenant and indicates they want the tenant to move out. Landlords can end this type of tenancy at any time through a forcible detainer action.

Texas courts may examine the behavior of the landlord and tenant to determine if there’s a tenancy at will or at sufferance. In a 2019 case, a commercial holdover tenant was deemed to be a tenant at sufferance—despite paying partial rent for the first month after the lease expired.3 That was because the original lease required the tenant to pay double the original rent or late fees to create a valid holdover tenancy.

At-will tenancies can be ended like any month-to-month agreement

Either a tenant or a landlord can end an at-will holdover tenancy with proper notice, just like any month-to-month lease agreement.4 Notice should be in writing and state the date the tenant will move out. Written notice should be delivered in person, by certified mail, or by attaching it to the door. In Texas, unless the original lease agreement says differently, month-to-month tenancies end on whichever day is later:

  • The day stated in the termination notice
  • One month after the date notice is given

If the end date is in the middle of the month, tenants only pay prorated rent for that month.

At-sufferance tenancies are ended with a forcible detainer action

To end an at-sufferance tenancy, a landlord will most likely have to file an eviction lawsuit—also referred to in Texas as a "forcible detainer action." (Under state law, tenants commit a “forcible detainer” if they stay in a unit without a landlord’s permission.5)

However, before filing for eviction, a landlord must give the holdover tenant at least three days’ written notice to vacate the unit.6 The notice period may be more or less if both the landlord and tenant agree to it, usually in the original lease.

The three-day notice to vacate can require the tenant to either leave immediately or by a certain specified date. If, before serving the notice to vacate, the landlord requested unpaid rent from the tenant, the landlord can also include a requirement to either pay rent or leave in the notice.

But if the holdover tenant had a month-to-month agreement, then the situation is a bit different. In this case, the landlord would have to first serve the tenant a termination notice at least a month in advance (as described in the previous section). Then, after a month, they can serve a separate three-day notice to vacate—before finally filing for eviction.

Tenants who stay without permission may owe reasonable rental value

For holdover tenants who stay without the landlord’s permission, Texas courts have found them on the hook for the reasonable rental value of the property during the holdover period.7 This means a landlord could choose to sue a holdover tenant for lost rental income.

[1] Gym-N-I Playgrounds Inc. v. Snider (2007)

[2] Coinmach Corp. v. Aspenwood Apartment Corp. (2013)

[3] Tuttle v. Builes (2019)

[4] Texas Property Code §91.001

[5] Texas Property Code §24.002

[6] Texas Property Code §24.005

[7] Alford III v. Johnston (2005)

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.