Your tenant's contracted out lease has expired, but they want to stay on at the premises. So you set about negotiating new terms for a new, contracted out lease.
Put under scrutiny, the nature of their occupation whilst the negotiations are in hand is a notoriously grey area. Are they holding over as allowed for by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954? Are they a tenant at will? Could they have accrued a periodic tenancy? At worst, could they have acquired security of tenure?
It's a common conundrum that landlords and tenants face.
This week, the Court of Appeal (Barclays Wealth Trustees (Jersey) and anor v Erimus Housing Limited  EWCA Civ 303) has given the position some clarity, adding weight to the existing authorities - and found the tenant in that instance enjoyed no more than a tenancy at will. Critical to the Court's decision was the fact that the parties were in negotiations for a new lease, had not sought to put in place an intermediate contract whilst negotiations were in and and - importantly - did not intend for the new lease to have protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. The tenant's decision to leave before the new lease was completed was indicative of its intention and a further reason to infer a tenancy at will.
Situations akin to this will continue to arise where the tenant will be found to have a periodic tenancy. The status of negotiations, the passage of time, and the need for an intermediate contract will all be important factors in assessing the tenant's status.