What are demised premises in a lease contract?

Last updated: June 2023 | 3 min read

Demised premises meaning

The term demised premises means the space or the property let to a tenant under a lease agreement.

In the context of leasehold property ownership, it means the property owned by the leaseholder.

The word demise comes from the Latin verb dimittere, meaning to send away. Within a legal context it means to transfer an estate, and within the context of a lease, to transfer an interest in real property - land and/or buildings - from a landlord (or freeholder) to a tenant (or leaseholder).

Using the word has an implied operative effect in a lease that the tenant has a right of quiet enjoyment of the property.

The term is used less commonly, particularly in short-term tenancy agreements, because it is seen as legal jargon. It may still appear in business leases, but most modern contracts, whether residential or commercial, are more likely to refer to the 'property', the 'premises' or the 'leased premises' to mean the physical extent of what is rented.

How might demised premises be defined?

The subject of any lease or rental agreement needs to be defined clearly.

Reference to address

This could be done by reference to a property address, such as Flat B, 10 George Close, London, W1 1FG.

But the potential issue with an address alone is that it might not sufficient to describe the property boundaries. There may be additional land, for example.

Reference to title number

If the property is registered at the Land Registry, it may be able to reference the title number. But some properties are not registered.

By redline

Another method might be to define the outline of the property on a plan, usually by colouring the boundary edges in red (a practice known as redlining to architects).

The risks in defining the property by a plan are that the plan covers the property in sufficient detail (for example, over multiple floors in a building) and that the plan gives the correct representation of the property at the time of agreement.

We have mediated arguments arising where the use of a very thick red line obscures on which side of a path a boundary lies; where one marked plan differs to another (supposedly the same property); and where a marked plan in a lease includes property that does not belong to the landlord (and therefore couldn't be let).

Description in words

The last method of identifying a demised premise is to describe it in words. Depending on the complexity of the property, a written description may be lengthy and difficult to interpret. Fixed points such as fence posts may change over time.

Combinations

Because each method has downsides, lawyers tend to use a combination of all of these to describe the demised premises. That way, where one method is weak, another can provide clarity.

Why is defining the demised premises important?

The purpose of a lease (or a tenancy agreement) is to set out in writing out the rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant to each other and in respect of the demised premises.

These rights have value, which is why a tenant agrees to let the premises in the first place.

But you can't define rights if you haven't clearly defined the property to which they relate. Do tenants have a right to park in all parking areas, just some, or none? Who is responsible for carrying out repairs? Are non-structural alterations to internal walls allowed?

There are many reasons why being specific benefits all sides.

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