What is an Estate for Years?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2019
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Also known as an estate for term or a leasehold estate, an estate for years is a type of lease agreement that grants the leaseholder or tenant the right to make use of the property for a specified period of time. Typically, the agreement specifies the exact date that the tenant can take possession of the property, as well as a specific date when the property must be surrendered to the owner. With these types of leases, there is no need for the landlord or property owner to issue any type of notice to vacate the premises, since the end date on the contract serves as the date that the tenant must quit the property or be subject to additional penalties and possible legal action.


The use of an estate for years is normally utilized when a long-term lease agreement is desired. For example, if the tenant plans on remaining in the area for a job assignment for a period of five years, this type of lease agreement would serve several purposes. Typically, the longer term would lock in the amount of the monthly rental that the tenant would tender to the property owner for the duration of the contract. In addition, a lease of this type usually provides very specific provisions regarding the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. In some nations, the typical provisions make it very difficult for either party to quit the lease prior to the expiration date unless very specific circumstances spelled out in the lease agreement take place.

For landlords, an estate for years can also be very beneficial. Assuming that the lease applicant possesses the financial stability and other traits that the landlord finds acceptable, entering into this longer term agreement means that the income generated from the property will be consistent for an extended period of time. This would not necessarily be the case with a one or two-year lease arrangement, in that there is always the chance that the property would stand vacant between tenants. In addition, the provisions of the estate for years will usually require that the tenant covenant to take proper care of the property while it is in his or her possession, a provision that actually aids the landlord in maintaining the property in good condition over the years.

In the event that circumstances require that an estate for years be terminated prior to the expiration date, the two parties will usually attempt to settle the matter amicably. If this proves to be impossible, one or both parties may seek support through the court system in order to resolve the matter. Depending on the nature of the events leading up to the early dissolution of the contract, the courts may help the parties to reach a compromise, or may rule in favor of one party, authorize the early termination of the lease, and order one or both parties to pay expenses associated with the termination and the associated court costs.


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