2020 Georgia Code
Title 44 - Property
Chapter 7 - Landlord and Tenant
Article 1 - In General
§ 44-7-6. Tenancy at Will - Creation When No Time Period Specified

Universal Citation: GA Code § 44-7-6 (2020)

Where no time is specified for the termination of a tenancy, the law construes it to be a tenancy at will.

(Orig. Code 1863, § 2271; Code 1868, § 2264; Code 1873, § 2290; Code 1882, § 2290; Civil Code 1895, § 3132; Civil Code 1910, § 3708; Code 1933, § 61-104; Ga. L. 1952, p. 201, § 1.)

Law reviews.

- For comment on Metzer v. Connally Realty Co., 75 Ga. App. 274, 43 S.E.2d 169 (1947), see 10 Ga. B.J. 229 (1947).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Creation of tenancy at will.

- Tenancies at will in Georgia may be created by express contract, by force of statute, when a contract creating the relationship of landlord and tenant is made in parol for a greater time than one year, or by implication, as for example, if there was no original express contract for a definite term. Stepp v. Richman, 75 Ga. App. 169, 42 S.E.2d 773 (1947).

Creditor won relief from the automatic stay per 11 U.S.C. § 362 to pursue any rights that the creditor had under Georgia law such as those provided in O.C.G.A. §§ 44-7-6 and44-7-7 under which the creditor was entitled to terminate a tenancy at will with sixty days' notice. If, as the debtor argued, the creditor's acceptance of "rent" created a tenancy at will under state law, the existence of a state law right to terminate that tenancy constituted "cause" for relief from stay. In re Nittolo, Bankr. (Bankr. N.D. Ga. Mar. 16, 2012).

Term in dispute.

- Statute is not applicable merely because there is a disagreement over the term of the tenancy. Harris v. Cleghorn, 121 Ga. 314, 48 S.E. 959 (1904); Buice v. McCarty-Johnstone Co., 28 Ga. App. 192, 110 S.E. 503 (1922) (see O.C.G.A. § 44-7-6).

Tenant holding over.

- Provision in a written lease contract conferring upon lessee privilege of renewal of lease for five years at same rental is a covenant to grant an estate, and not a present demise; consequently, upon expiration of original lease, the execution of a new lease is necessary, and the lessee holding over after the expiration of the original lease becomes a tenant at will. Walker v. Brooks Simmons Co., 44 Ga. App. 470, 161 S.E. 659 (1931).

Right of first refusal to re-lease in expired written leases.

- Right of first refusal to re-lease given to a corporation under written leases for nursing home facilities was not a general term or condition of the leases; even assuming there was an extension of the written leases, it terminated, and any lease beyond that time was, at best, an oral agreement for an indefinite period of time, hence unenforceable; because the leases limited the time for the right of first refusal to "during the lease term" and because the corporation was a tenant-at-will after the expiration of the written leases, the corporation could not enforce the right of first refusal contained in the expired leases. Mariner Healthcare, Inc. v. Foster, 280 Ga. App. 406, 634 S.E.2d 162 (2006).

Tenancy at will not created.

- Although the tenant in a dispossessory action argued that the tenant was a tenant at will and entitled to 60 days notice of the termination of the tenant's tenancy under O.C.G.A. § 44-7-7, the tenant admitted that the tenant entered into a 10-year lease and thus was not a tenant at will; in any event, there was no requirement that the lease or the tenancy be terminated before filing a dispossessory action for nonpayment of rent. Siratu v. Diane Inv. Group, 298 Ga. App. 127, 679 S.E.2d 359 (2009).

Term dependent on contingency.

- When the plaintiff agreed orally with the defendant that the plaintiff could occupy a house of the defendant until certain other property was sold by the plaintiff and the duration of the tenancy by its express terms depended upon the happening of the contingency, such an agreement, not naming any term, cannot properly be considered as a lease for years, but created a tenancy at will. Heaton v. Fulton Nat'l Bank, 46 Ga. App. 773, 169 S.E. 216 (1933).

Oral agreement to rent real property that did not specify a date for termination was a tenancy at will and the trial court's judgment ordering two tenants to vacate the property after the landlord gave them 60 days' notice that the landlord was terminating the tenancy was upheld. Gu v. Liu, 262 Ga. App. 443, 585 S.E.2d 740 (2003).

Cited in Smith v. Hightower, 80 Ga. App. 293, 55 S.E.2d 872 (1949); Cooper v. Vaughan, 81 Ga. App. 330, 58 S.E.2d 453 (1950); City Council v. Henry, 92 Ga. App. 408, 88 S.E.2d 576 (1955); Roberts v. Graham, 98 Ga. App. 309, 105 S.E.2d 801 (1958); Pitman v. Griffeth, 131 Ga. App. 489, 206 S.E.2d 115 (1974); Thomas v. Clark, 178 Ga. App. 823, 344 S.E.2d 754 (1986); Williams v. State, 261 Ga. App. 511, 583 S.E.2d 172 (2003).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Rule stated.

- Parties may agree orally or in writing to any manner of termination the parties desire, which manner shall be binding upon the parties; however, if no time is specified for the termination of the lease, the law construes the lease to be a tenancy at will. 1967 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 67-59.

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