Posted 4 years ago
Topic: Breach of Contract
Under Pennsylvania law, a holdover tenant is an
individual who “unjustifiably refuses to surrender possession of a leasehold
premises at the end of the term of the lease.” U.S.
Gypsum Co. v. Schlavo Bros., Inc., 668 F.2d 172, 182 (3d Cir. 1981) (citing
Restatement (Second) of Property, Landlord and Tenant § 14.1 n.1 (1977)). A landlord may sue a holdover tenant for
possession and recovery of damages suffered due to the tenant’s refusal to
surrender the property. See id.
“When a tenant holds over the
landlord has a ‘choice of remedies.’ He
[the landlord] might have looked upon the tenant as a trespasser and summarily
ejected him, or he might have treated him in holding over as a tenant by
sufferance, or he might have regarded the holding over as a continuance under
the terms of the lease.” H. F. D. No. 26, Inc. v. Middletown
Merchandise Mart, 467 F.2d 253, 255 (3d Cir. 1972) (quoting City of Pittsburgh v. Charles Zubik &
Sons, 171 A.2d 776, 778 (Pa.
1961)). “Once a landlord has exercised his choice of
remedies and determined how he plans to treat a holdover tenant, he may not
alter his position.” H.F.D., supra at 256 (citing Emery v. Metzner, 156 A.2d 627, 631(Pa.Super.
A landlord who repossesses rental
property through eviction suspends the tenant’s
obligation to pay rent. Walnut-Juniper
Co. v. McKee, Berger & Mansueto, Inc., 344 A.2d 549, 551 (Pa.Super. 1975). Once a
landlord retakes possession from the lessee tenant, the landlord is precluded
from a claim of holdover tenancy as a matter of law. See Restatement
(Second) of Property, Landlord and Tenant § 1.2 (stating: “[a] landlord-tenant relationship
exists only if the landlord transfers the right to possession of the leased
Although the termination of the
landlord-tenant relationship may restrict a landlord from asserting a claim of
holdover tenancy, a landlord may pursue other legal remedies. For example, a landlord who reclaims
possession of the premises is still entitled to recover damages if the former
tenant leaves behind personal property. See Restatement (Second) of Property, Landlord
and Tenant § 12.3 cmt. l (stating that landlord may recover from tenant cost of
removing and storing personal property left behind, and for any other damages
If you think that you might have a claim—as either a landlord or tenant—for
legal remedies stemming from a landlord-tenant relationship, please contact the
experienced lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green in Philadelphia, who are
licensed to practice law in all courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.