Leasehold estate

A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to hold land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord. Although a tenant does hold rights to real property, a leasehold estate is typically considered personal property.

Leasehold is a form of land tenure or property tenure where one party buys the right to occupy land or a building for a given length of time. As lease is a legal estate, leasehold estate can be bought and sold on the open market. A leasehold thus differs from a freehold or fee simple where the ownership of a property is purchased outright and thereafter held for an indeterminate length of time, and also differs from a tenancy where a property is let (rented) on a periodic basis such as weekly or monthly.

Until the end of the lease period (often measured in decades or centuries; a 99-year lease is quite common) the leaseholder has the right to remain in occupation as an assured tenant paying an agreed rent to the owner. Terms of the agreement are contained in a lease, which has elements of contract and property law intertwined.

The term estate for years may occasionally be used. This refers to a leasehold estate for any specific period of time (the word "years" is misleading.) An estate for years is not automatically renewed.

Colloquially, "lease" and "leasing" are often a formalization of a longer, specific period as compared with a "rental" that created a tenancy at will, terminable or renewable at the end of a short period.

History

Laws governing landlord-tenant relationships can be found as far back as the Code of Hammurabi. However, the common law of the landlord-tenant relation evolved in England during the Middle Ages. That law still retains many archaic terms and principles pertinent to a feudal social order and an agrarian economy, where land was the primary economic asset and ownership of land was the primary source of rank and status. See also Lord of the Manor.

Modern leasehold estates can take one of four forms – the fixed-term tenancy or tenancy for years, the periodic tenancy, the tenancy at will, and the tenancy at sufferance. Forms no longer used[citation needed] include socage and burgage.

When a landowner allows one or more persons, called "tenants", to use his land in some way for some fixed period of time, the land becomes a leasehold, and the resident (or worker) – landowner relation is called a "tenancy". A tenant pays rent (a form of consideration) to the landowner. The leasehold can include buildings and other improvements to the land. The tenant can do one or more of: farm the leasehold, live on it, or practice a trade on it. Typically, leasehold estates are held by tenants for a specific period of time, such as 99 years.

Tenancy was essential to the feudal hierarchy; a lord would own land and his tenants became his vassals. Leasehold estates can still be Crown land today. For example, in the Australian Capital Territory, all private land "ownerships" are actually leaseholds of Crown land.

In the U.S.A., there are food co-ops that supply tenants with a place to grow their own produce. Rural tenancy is also a common practice. Under a rural tenancy, a person buys a large amount of land and the rural community uses it agriculturally as a source of income.

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