LEASE, in law, otherwise called a DE MISE, is a conveyance or letting of lands or tenements, in consideration of rent, or other annual recompense made for life, for years, or at will; but always for a less time than the interest of the lessor in the premises; for if it were of the whole in terest, it would be more properly an as signment. Ile that demises or lets, is the lessor ; and he to whom it is demised or let, is the lessee.
A lease may either be made by writ ing or word of mouth, called in law, a lease by parol. The former is most usual; but by the statute of frauds, 29 Charles II. c. 3, all leases of lands, except leases not exceeding three years, must be made in writing, and signed by the parties themselves, or their agents duly authoriz ed, otherwise they dill operate only as leases at will. If a lease is but for half a year, or a quarter, or less time, the lessee is respected as a tenant for years ; a year being the shortest term of which the law, in this case, takes notice ; that is, he is entitled to the general privileges of a tenant for years, and is classed as such, though his term lasts only for the time specified.
To constitute a good lease, there must be a lessor not restrained from making the lease to the extent for which it is granted ; a lessee capable of receiving it; and the interest demised must be a de misable interest, and be sufficiently and properly described. If it is for years, it must have a certain commencement mid determination; it is to have all the usual ceremonies, as sealing, delivery, Etc. ; and there must be an acceptance of the thing demised.
Leases were formerly only to a sort of bailiffs, who tilled the land, and paid a part of the profits to the landlord ; they were for very short terms, and the te nant's estate was little respected in the law. They are now granted for long terms, and are very beneficial in terests.
The following points may be necessary to be specified here concerning leases. First, they must have a certain commence ment and end. Leases for life must not be made to commence at a future day, and there must be a livery of seisin. They must now be stamped as a lease, to be and any form of writing will constitute a lease, provided it contains.
words of present demise, or actual let ting; but if it be only an agreement to let, it conveys no immediate title in law, but only an equitable right to have a lease, or to sue at law for not making one. If a lease is made to one for years, and at the same time to another for a longer time, the last lease is not void, but shall take effect after the first expires. A te nant for life can, in general, only grant a lease to enure during his life ; but some times a power is annexed to such an es tate, to grant leases for a specified time, and under particular limitations, all which must be strictly complied with, or the lease is void ; and instances have hap pened, where building-leases have been set aside, and persons ruined by having granted under-leases. An infant may make a lease ; but may set it aside when he comes of age ; and the Court of Chancery is empowered to grant leases for idiots, lunatics, infants, and married women.
The rent must be reserved to the exe cutor or the heir of the lessor, according as his estate is real or personal. Lessees are bound to repair, unless the contrary is specified ; and although, if the house is burnt by accident, they are not bound to rebuild, yet they must if the fire be by negligence ; and if there is a covenant to pay rent, and a covenant to repair, ex cept in case of fire, yet rent is payable, although the house is not rebuilt by-the landlord. If there is a covenant not to as sign, lease, or under-let, without licence of the landlord, the tenant cannot even grant an under-lease.
Upon a lease at will, six months' no tice to quit must generally be given by either party, to determine on the same day in the year when the lease commenc ed. Leases made by spiritual persons of their church-lands, must be strictly con formable to certain statutes, called the en abling and disabling statutes. The te nant may, at the trial of an ejectment, in sist upon his notice to quit being insuffi cient, although he made no objection when it was served. Sec further Jacob's " Law Dictionary," title Leases.