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.

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.

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.

Tenancy was essential to the feudal hierarchy; a lord would own land and the tenants became 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.

The tenancy will come to an end automatically when the fixed term runs out, or, in the case of a tenancy that ends on the happening of an event, when the event occurs. It is also possible for a tenant, either expressly or impliedly, to give up the tenancy to the landlord. This process is known as a surrender of the lease. A tenancy may also come to an end when and if the tenant accepts a buyout agreement from their landlord. The landlord is able to offer to buy the property back from their tenant for a negotiated price as long as the deal is agreed upon by both parties.

A tenancy at sufferance (sometimes called a holdover tenancy) is created when a tenant wrongfully holds over past the end of the duration period of the tenancy (for example, a tenant who stays past the expiration of his or her lease). In this case, the landlord can hold over the tenant to a new tenancy, and collect rent for the period the tenant has held over.

The landlord may also be able to impose a new lease on the holdover tenant. For a residential tenancy, such new tenancy lasts month to month. For a commercial tenancy of more than a year, the new tenancy is year to year; otherwise, the tenancy lasts for the same length of time as the duration under the original lease. In either case, the landlord can charge a higher rent, if the landlord, before the expiration of the original lease, has notified the tenant of the increase.

In some jurisdictions, the tenant has a legal right to remain in occupation of the premises after the end of a lease unless the landlord complies with a formal process to dispossess the tenant of the property. For example, in England and Wales, a business tenant has a right to continue occupying their demise after the end of their lease under the provisions of sections 2428 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (unless these provisions were formally excluded by agreement before the lease was completed). At the end of their lease they need do nothing but continue payment of rent at the previous level and uphold all other relevant covenants such as to keep the building in good repair. They cannot be evicted unless the landlord serves a formal notice to end the tenancy and successfully opposes the grant of the new lease to which the tenant has an automatic right. Even this can only be done under prescribed circumstances, for example the landlord's desire to occupy the premises himself or to demolish and redevelop the building.

 

 


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