What is an Estate for Years? Definition, Tips & 8 Facts

The renter leases real property for a predetermined period of time under an estate for years. The lease has a start date and an expiration date, and its duration is often many years.

What is an Estate for Years?

In real estate law, an estate for years is a sort of leasehold arrangement. A leasehold is an estate status type in which the owner rents the property to an occupant. In the leasehold estate contract, the property owner is referred to as the landlord, while the inhabitant or renter is referred to as the tenant.

What is an Estate for Years?

The estate for years agreement is sometimes referred to as estate for the term since the leasing agreement must have a specified occupancy start and end date.

The estate for years is a rental agreement between tenant and landlord that does not require a notice of departing, as the lease’s expiration date has been predetermined. The lease cannot be cancelled unless one or both parties have violated the conditions of the contract.

Examples of Estates for Years

I have compiled the following samples from my years of experience in real estate and Estate For Years.

My buddy Jonathan Blackburn (name changed for story) inherited property along a major highway in Decatur, Alabama. This property is situated in a prime position with a high volume of traffic and the finest exposure in the city.

His family has had more than fifty offers to purchase the property, but they will never sell it. Lowes Home Improvement (yep, that Lowes) offered to sell them the site in 1995. The family of my pal replied “no” once more.

However, Lowe’s pitched a 50-year long-term lease (Estate For Years)! This lengthy lease provides Lowes with adequate time to realize a return on its investment in the property while allowing my friend’s family to retain ownership rights.

What is an Estate for Years?

When the lease expires in fifty years, my friend’s family will have the option of keeping the building or leasing it back to Lowes! It’s a win-win situation for all parties concerned.

Marcus McGee has a company in Kentucky that erects billboards on interstates throughout the Southeast, which he then rents out to other businesses in the region. As you might expect, placing a billboard is EXPENSIVE, and land on the freeway is always exorbitantly priced.

He chooses to rent a tiny section of the property from the landowner in order to make his first investment as low as feasible (normally just a few square feet are needed). His leases are often for a century!

Similarly to the case with Lowes, this is adequate time for him to receive a return on his investment, given that he is investing a great deal of money into the billboards.

What Do I Need To Know About Estate For Years On My Real Estate Exam?

There will not be many questions on your real estate test about Estate For Years. The last time we performed a survey of our former students, the majority of respondents simply answered two questions, with many reporting no questions at all.

If you can recall the offered real-world examples, you will be able to answer any Estate For Years question correctly. Remember that this is a lease and has nothing to do with actual ownership.

What is the difference between an estate for years and an estate from period to period?

A signed contract with a fixed term that specifies the start and end dates of a year-long tenancy is required for the lease of real property. The estate from period to period does not require a beginning or ending date or a written agreement.

Tenants who will reside on a property for many years might be granted permission to construct on it. Estate from period to period includes of shorter-term agreements and typically limits property improvements.

Seven Common Clauses From Leases

1. Joint and Several Liability

Used often in residential leases, this provision permits the landlord to regard several renters as jointly and severally accountable for upholding the lease’s provisions. In other words, each person shares responsibility with the collective.

What is an Estate for Years?

If there are six roommates sharing the rent and listed on the lease, the landlord just has to serve one or more of them in order to comply with notice requirements.

2. Default

There must be a provision specifying the consequences if either party to the lease breaches the conditions. Additionally, it should specify when a party is regarded in default.

It’s OK to simply mention that a default happens when one party violates the conditions of the lease, but it’s preferable to explain the ways in which an automatic default occurs in order to make the situation crystal apparent.

It would be a “not limited to” provision, implying that violation of any additional clauses not stated would also result in default.

3. Subleasing

Some leases prohibit the sublease. Landlords frequently assert that it is difficult to impossible to enforce, hence they permit it. Subleasing might incur a cost or an increase in rent. It is standard practice in this clause to require a comprehensive application procedure, including a credit and background check, for sublease tenant.

What is an Estate for Years?

4. Late Fees

In order to promote timely rent payments, late fees may be assessed. Check state legislation to learn if particular grace periods or other penalties for late rent payments are mandated.

Clarify when a late charge is assessed and its amount. If this is not specified in the lease, it will be difficult to justify a late charge in court.

5. Severability

This is a crucial clause. Occasionally, when regulations change, a component of a lease may be deemed unlawful. This provision specifies that if one section of a lease is deemed unlawful, the remainder of the contract remains legally binding.

6. Lease Renewal

There are numerous lease renewal provisions in the agreement. The most prevalent are either automatic or manual. Upon the expiration of the renewal date, if automatic renewal is in effect, the tenant will be automatically responsible for another lease term. This places the burden on the tenant to provide early notice and cancel the lease.

Commonly, tenants must provide a certain length of notice if they do not wish to renew a lease that does not renew automatically. There is a monetary penalty if notice is not received by that date, as the landlord has less time to locate a new renter to minimize the vacancy term.

In any case, it is advisable for the landlord to put up internal notifications so that renters may be notified of critical due dates.

7. Use of the Property

Be cautious not to break local discrimination laws. Limiting the number of unit occupants is often the only precautionary measure to take.

You may keep the number undetermined until you know the exact number of inhabitants, so if three individuals move in with your consent, the lease would restrict the number of residents to three. This prevents unwelcome romantic partners or relatives from relocating.

Those are typical lease provisions, but you should always have a lease agreement professionally drafted for your state, as regulations differ and you want to comply with the law.

Length and Requirements of an Estate For Years Leasehold Estate

A leasehold estate is a property that has been owned for a number of years. It is also known as a tenancy for years or a term estate. Since it is a leasehold estate as opposed to a freehold estate, the original owner has often leased the land to someone else for a predetermined length of time.

This is much the same as a tenant leasing an apartment today. In this sort of lease, the property owner specifies a beginning and ending date for a predetermined duration.

What is an Estate for Years?

Therefore, the landowner is not compelled to send a notice to leave at the conclusion of the term. The termination date is the day the renter must vacate the premises. This lease cannot be cancelled prior to the stipulated termination date unless both parties agree. The lease stipulates the landlord’s rights and responsibilities toward the renter.

Estate for Years vs. Estate from Year to Year

As a result of the long-term nature of the leasehold rental arrangement, estate for years is also known as tenancy for years. A year-to-year lease varies from a year-to-year estate arrangement. A year-to-year lease is a sort of periodic tenancy. Periodic tenancy agreements may include week-to-week, month-to-month, or annual rental occupancy agreements. The primary distinctions between the estate from year to year and estate for years agreements are as follows:

  • In periodic tenancy agreements, the lease duration is often substantially shorter.
  • Depending on the jurisdiction, periodic tenancy agreements necessitate a notice of vacancy prior to tenant eviction. The renter must also provide notice (between 7 and 45 days) prior to vacating the premises. Estate-for-years leases do not necessitate a notice.
  • In an estate for years arrangement, a renter is permitted to make improvements to the property. In most circumstances, renters are not permitted to build improvements to a property under a year-to-year lease.
  • In most states, periodic rental agreements are not required to be in writing. Both sides can mutually understand an oral agreement.

The Dangers of a Long-Term Lease, Usufruct v. Estate for Years

Under Georgia law, landlords must consider many issues while establishing a lease. Infrequently considered by landlords is the unforeseen effect of a lengthy lease. This is due to the fact that Georgia classifies leases based on their duration.

A lease for less than five (5) years in Georgia is a usufruct unless the parties agree differently. A lease or lease renewal for more than five years that does not contain wording creating a usufruct is deemed to be an estate for years.

Most people believe a usufruct to be a conventional “lease” for a piece of property. Usufruct establishes a landlord-tenant relationship in which the property owner provides the tenant a restricted right to use and retain the property for a certain time period.

In contrast, an estate does not establish a landlord-tenant relationship because the owner of the property has provided the renter a legal stake in the property. This implies, as long as the property owner’s rights are not violated, a renter with an estate for years interest has the total right to utilize the property.

Furthermore, differentiating between an estate for years and a usufruct is essential for determining appropriate remedies in the event of a lease agreement breach.

In particular, a landlord cannot prevail on a dispossessory action since the dispossessory rules do not apply if a tenant successfully demonstrates that it possesses a long-term estate in the real property. Consequently, it is essential for a landlord to add a phrase in all leases and renewals, regardless of their length, stating that the parties have formed a usufruct.

Contact the experts at Briskin, Cross and Sanford, LLC if you have questions regarding the rights and remedies under your lease, including how to overcome the estate for years presumption.


An estate for years, also known as an estate for term or a leasehold estate, is a form of lease arrangement that allows the lessee or lessee the right to use the property for a specific time period.

Generally, the agreement stipulates the precise day on which the renter can take possession of the property, as well as the date on which the property must be returned to the owner.

With these types of leases, the landlord or property owner is not required to send a notice to leave the premises, since the end date of the contract acts as the date by which the tenant must depart the property or face further fines and possibly legal action.


An Estate For Years only means that the person is leasing the property for a predetermined length of time. The “Estate For Years” lease has a specific beginning date and an end date. As the name suggests, it normally lasts for many years.
What is the major difference between an estate for years and an estate from period to period? The major difference is: in an Estate from Period to Period, the tenant must give notice to vacate whereas in an Estate for Years, there is no need to give any notice. You just studied 100 terms!
Definition: In real estate, one type of leasehold estate is the “estate for years,” or “estate for term.” In this type of lease, there is a defined specific beginning date and an ending date for a specific term.
Categories of estates

estate for years (a term of year absolute or tenancy for years)—lease of any length with specific begin and end date. periodic estate (periodic tenancy)—automatically renewing lease (month to month, week to week) estate at will (tenancy at will)—leasehold for no fixed time or period.

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Pat Moriarty
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