What is a Land Lease?

It's common for rental buildings like apartments or office complexes in urban centers to be developed on leased land.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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A land lease is a type of financial arrangement in which the ground under a structure is leased, rather than sold to the builder, meaning that the land and the structure are owned independently. There are several reasons to enter such a contract, but it occurs most commonly when a real estate investor wishes to retain a piece of land, but not necessarily put energy into developing it. In this instance, the investor might work with a developer to create a land lease contract, allowing the developer to build a structure and rent or sell it, with the understanding that the land is leased and does not come with the building. This type of arrangement is more common in urban areas, and is often associated with cooperatives or tenant-owned buildings.

Generally, the contract for a land lease runs for at least 50 years. If the lease is near termination, the land owner is usually willing to renew it, providing that the building has been profitable and well maintained, although the amount of rent will likely increase, as the property value will have increased as well. The terms of a land lease usually require that the property be developed in some way, and that rents for the land are paid monthly or quarterly into the accounts of the landlord.


For people renting space in a structure on leased land, the terms of the lease arrangement are usually not very important. It becomes more of an issue when consumers wish to buy a condominium or apartment on this type of property, because it does have an impact on the quality of the investment. If the lease is about to run out, it may be difficult to find a financial institution willing to lend money, for example. However, if the lease does not expire until well into the future, buying a structure on a land lease can be a sound investment, because the building is usually significantly cheaper than neighboring real estate because of the unique situation.

Some national militaries also use land lease arrangements, either leasing former military property to developers or leasing land in other nations to establish base stations. In the instance of a military leasing its own land, the land is commonly leased to a city, rather than a developer, with the understanding that the military may take the land back at a later junction, or sell the land to the city at a low cost if the land is no longer strategically useful. When the military leases land in other areas, it does so to establish temporary bases, although usually a long lease term is negotiated.


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Post 16

Thanks for all the great advice. I need to find condos to stay in for a while until we can get a real house.

Post 15

What are the laws for seasonal camping grounds?

Post 14

@anon18445: Your father in law can give you the land but keep its mineral rights. That way you don't have to pay monthly, and he still owns everything (and has the right to sell) everything that comes out of the ground.

Post 13

I need some lucrative land lease ideas for rocky, thin soil in Middle Tennessee. It is located in an agricultural residential area but it is possible for me to get my land rezoned for commercial purposes. Please help.

Post 10

My brother has land, and i need to develop it into construction houses and sell them. but i don't have money to pay him for the land. how can i negotiate with him.

Post 9

I would like to buy a condo for cash and it has a land lease for 27 years. i am 58. is it safe to buy or should i look at others?

Post 8

is it true that when the lease contract expires, and i don't want to renew it for the price of the landlord doubles up, the building that i built in his land will be transferred to him and i don't have the right to demolish it? even if i already consumed a lot of money for the development of the building? Please reply.

Post 7

I have a big piece of land that i inherited from my grandparent and would like to lease it to agricultural developers. how would I go about doing that?

Post 6

I own property that I have allowed my ex- mother-in-law to hold a lifetime lease on because she has a trailer on it. She has now moved to a government assisted apartment and says she cannot sell it to me or anything because she will mess up her living arrangements. Can she at least put my name on this title so that I can rent this out without messing up her living arrangements.

Post 5

I am trying to refinance a condominium that has a separate land lease not covered by the HOA. Do most mortgages require land leases that extend beyond the term of the mortgage? If so, by how many years?

Post 4

Theoretically, if I own 1 acre of land is there a limit to how many people I can lease a portion of the land to. And do these leases have to be recorded with a governmental agency (i.e. Registry of Deeds)

Post 3

my father in law is "giving" us 4.5 acres on which we are building our home. He won't transfer it in our name since there's an oil well on the property which he makes money monthly from. He wants to do a land lease instead. He says we will get the land anyway when he passes. Im not sure I trust the situation. He says his friend who is an attorney says a land lease is a great idea. It might be good for him, but my gut is telling me no way. Any thoughts?

Post 2

what can happen to the home when land lease term expires?

Post 1

On a land lease can i lease just an old house on 3 acres.

So not to be liable for the old house.

i have a deed on the property owned clear and free.

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