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What Is Estate at Will?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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An estate at will is a type of lease agreement where the agreement continues indefinitely until either party terminates it. Under the estate at will, the landlord can ask the tenant to move immediately, and the tenant can also move at any time and give notice to end the agreement. There can be some advantages and disadvantages that landlords and tenants may want to consider before taking on an estate at will agreement. Other examples of agreements can include month-to-month arrangements, where either party can terminate with a month's notice, or year-long leases.

A common reason to request an estate at will agreement is a pending sale. A landlord who wants to keep a tenant in a building until the last possible moment can ask for an estate at will lease. Once the landlord sells the property, the tenant must leave, and will receive no notice beforehand. Tenants may be able to negotiate lower rent or other benefits in exchange for the insecurity of their situation, whether they are occupying commercial or residential real estate.

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Tenants can also request this kind of agreement because it may be to their advantage. Some tenants need to move quickly for work or other reasons and may appreciate the flexibility of an estate at will lease. They can occupy the building as long as they need it and leave immediately without penalty in a situation like a work reassignment. For commercial leases, the ability to move quickly to take advantage of other opportunities can also be beneficial, and may be an advantage to the tenant.

The estate at will contract can include a variety of terms. With an at will agreement, for instance, the lease agreement may require at least a week's notice to terminate. The landlord or tenant also has other rights and responsibilities, such as the need to keep the property in good order and a requirement to pay the rent on time or risk penalties such as late fees or a request to leave.

With any lease agreement, it is advisable to read over the terms and conditions carefully. There may be unexpected or hidden clauses that could be a problem in the future. If there are any questions, they should be brought up before signing, along with any requests for modifications. An attorney can assist with this process if the parties are not sure about whether it will meet their needs or have questions they cannot answer.

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