A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee (user) to pay the lessor (owner) for use of an asset. The narrower term rental agreement can be used to describe a lease in which the asset is tangible property. Language used is that the user rents the land or goods let or rented out by the owner. The verb to lease is less precise as it can refer to either of these actions. Examples of a lease for intangible property are use of a computer program (similar to a license, but with different provisions), or use of a radio frequency (such as a contract with a cell-phone provider).
The term rental agreement is also sometimes used to describe a periodic lease agreement (most often a month-to-month lease) internationally and in some regions of the United States. The narrower term ‘tenancy’ describes a lease in which the tangible property is land (including at any vertical section such as airspace, storey of building or mine). A premium is an amount paid by the tenant for the lease to be granted or to secure the former tenant’s lease, often in order to secure a low rent, in long leases termed a ground rent. For parts of buildings it is most common for users to pay also by collateral contract, or by the same contract, a service charge which is normally an express list of services in a lease to minimise disputes over service charges. A gross lease or tenancy stipulates a rent that is for the global amount due including all service charges.
The lease will either provide specific provisions regarding the responsibilities and rights of the lessee and lessor, or there will be automatic provisions as a result of local law. In general, by paying the negotiated fee to the lessor, the lessee (also called a tenant) has possession and use (the rental) of the leased property to the exclusion of the lessor and all others except with the invitation of the tenant. The most common form of real property lease is a residential rental agreement between landlord and tenant. As the relationship between the tenant and the landlord is called a tenancy, this term generally is also used for informal and shorter leases. The right to possession by the tenant is sometimes called a leasehold interest. A lease can be for a fixed period of time (called the term of the lease). A lease may be terminated sooner than its end date by:
Break/Cancellation (this depends upon the terms of the lease)
A negotiated deed of Surrender or Yielding Up.
By operation of statute (rare)
A lease should be contrasted to a license, which may entitle a person (called a licensee) to use property, but which is subject to termination at the will of the owner of the property (called the licensor). An example of a licensor/licensee relationship is a parking lot owner and a person who parks a vehicle in the parking lot. A license may be seen in the form of a ticket to a baseball game or a verbal permission to sleep a few days on a sofa. The difference is that if there is a term (end time), a degree of privacy suggestive of exclusive possession of a clearly defined part, practised ongoing, recurrent payments, a lack of right to terminate save for misconduct or nonpayment, these factors tend toward a lease; by contrast, a one-time entrance onto someone else’s property is probably a license. The seminal difference between a lease and a license is that a lease generally provides for regular periodic payments during its term and a specific ending date. If a contract has no ending date then it may be in the form of a perpetual license and still not be a lease.