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Building lease

Purpose

Temporary, although quite long-lasting, conveyance of property from owners to building contractors.

Features of building leases

  • 17th-20th centuries
  • various sizes
  • written on parchment, or paper by the nineteenth century
  • usually written in English
  • indenture (wavy top edge)
  • seal

Important words and phrases

Leases were granted by a 'lessor'. The person taking the lease was the 'lessee'.

Building leases look like ordinary leases:

  • They include the phrase 'hath demised granted set and to farm let'. In Latin, the phrase is 'ad firmam dimisi'
  • There will be a rent payable to the lessor at specified times during the year, and sometimes services carried out for the lessor. The words usually used here are 'yielding and paying...'

However, they were normally granted for long periods of time - 99 years, or even more. They were granted from owners to building contractors for a large entry fine, with covenants specifying that the contractor was to build houses on the land on behalf of the owner. The long leases under which many leasehold flats in London and other large cities are still held are a remnant of this practice.

Example

Pl E10/2/3/2 - Agreement for lease of property in Wardour Street, Soho, Middlesex; 12 Jan. 1736/37

Deed Pl E10/2/3/2

View this deed

This document is not the actual building lease, but is an agreement laying out the provisions which it is intended shall be in the lease. The builder John Philips agrees to begin the work of building houses on the land immediately; only when the houses are complete will an official lease of the premises be granted to him. He will then be able to benefit from sub-letting the houses and charging rents on them.

Transcription

Articles of Agreement indented had made concluded and fully agreed upon this Twelfth day of January in the Tenth Year of the Reign of our Soveraign Lord George the Second by the grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and so forth And in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Six Between The Most Noble William Duke of Portland of the one part and John Philips of the Parish of Saint James within the liberty of Westminster in the County of Middlesex Plaisterer of the other part as followeth

That he the said William Duke of Portland for the Consideration of the Costs Charges and Sums of money to be laid out and expended by him the said John Philips his Ex[exut]ors Adm[inistrat]ors and Assignes in the Erecting Newbuilding and compleatly finishing the several Messuages or Tenements hereinafter covenanted and intended to be by him erected and built in and upon the Piece or Parcel of Ground mentioned and described in the Margin hereof And also in Consideration of the Rents and yearly Rents hereinafter mentioned and intended to be reserved for the said Ground Doth Covenant and agree to and with the said John Philips his Ex[ecut]ors Adm[inistrat]ors and Assignes That he the said William Duke of Portland when and so Soon as the said Messuages or Tenements so intended to be built shall be Tyled in and inclosed shall and will at the Request Costs and Charges of the said John Philips Seal and Execute or cause and procure to be made Sealed and Executed unto the said John Philips his Ex[ecut]ors Adm[inistrat]ors and Assignes One or more good sufficient and effectual Lease or Leases in the Law Of All That Piece or Parcel of Ground lying and being in a certain Street called or commonly known by the name of Wardour Street and on the West side of the same Street in the Parish of Saint James within the liberty of Westminster in the county of Middlesex aforesaid containing in Front towards the East on Wardour Street aforesaid Fifty Two Feet and Six Inches of Assize little more or less North Forty five Feet of Assize little more or less West Fifty two Feet and Six Inches of Assize little more or less and South Forty five Feet of Assize little more or less And abutteth East on Wardour Street aforesaid North on Ground let or agreed to be let unto the said John Philips West on Ground belonging to the said Duke and South on Ground leased unto the said John Philips And the said Piece or Parcel of Ground is more particularly described in the Plan or Platform drawn on the Margin of these presents Together with all and every the Messuages or Tenements hereinafter covenanted to be Erected and built And also All Ways Passages Lights Easements Watercourses Profits Commodities Advantages and Appurtenances whatsoever to the said Piece or Parcel of Ground or to the old Messuages or Tenements and Buildings now standing and being thereon and Premisses thereto belonging or in any wise appertaining To Hold the Same unto the Said John Philips his Ex[ecut]ors Adm[inistrat]ors and Assignes from the Feast Day of the Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary now next ensuing the Date of these presents for and during the Time and unto the full End and Term of Sixty Two Years and one half Year from thence next following and fully to be compleat and ended At And under the Rent or Sum of Nine Pounds and Fifteen Shillings of lawful money of Great Britain for the first half year of the said Term payable of the Feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel which shall be in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Seven And at And under the yearly Rent or Sum of Nineteen Pounds and Ten Shillings of like lawful money of Great Britain to be Reserved and made payable Quarterly for and during all the Residue and Remainder of the said Term abovementioned And such Lease or Leases is and are to Contain all the usual Covenants Agreements and Provisos mentioned and inserted in the Building Leases of Houses and Ground in Soho granted by the said Duke or any of his Ancestors And the said John Philips for himself his Heirs Executors Administrators and Assignes doth Covenant promise grant and agree to and with the said William Duke of Portland his Heirs and Assignes by these presents in manner following (That is to Say) That he the said John Philips his Executors Administrators or Assignes or some or one of them at his and their own proper Costs and Charges shall and will on this side and before the Twenty fifth day of March which shall be in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Eight in and upon the said Piece or Parcel of Ground above specifyed Erect Newbuild Tyle in Inclose and compleatly finish fit for Habitation Three good and substantial Brick Messuages or Tenements to extend the whole Front of the said Piece or Parcel of Ground in Wardour Street aforesaid and to Range in a Strait Line with the other new Houses there and all of them to be of such Dimensions and Elevations and of such Scantlings of Timber Brick and Stone as the said Duke his Assignes or Agents shall reasonably Direct (In Case he or they shall think fit to concern themselves therein) Regard being always had to the Place where such intended new Buildings are to be made and erected as foresaid And Also That he the said John Philips his Executors Administrators or Assignes shall and will accept of the said Lease or Leases so to be made as aforesaid and duly Execute a Counterpart or Counterparts thereof And That all Differences happening by and between him the said John Philips his Executors Administrators or Assignes and any other Person or Persons whatsoever touching or concerning any matter or Thing relating to the Buildings to be made and erected on the said Piece or Parcel of Ground shall be referred to and finally determined by the said Duke or by such Person or Persons as he shall nominate or appoint for that purpose To the true Performance of all which Covenants and Agreements abovementioned on either part to be well and truly performed and kept the said Parties do bind themselves their Heirs Executors Adm[inistrat]ors and Assignes either to the other of them in the penal Sum of Three Hundred Pounds of good and lawful money of Great Britain firmly by these presents In Witness whereof the Parties to these presents have hereunto Interchangeably set their hands and Seals the Day and Year first above written

[Signature and seal of 'Portland']

Sealed and Delivered (being first duly Stampt) in the presence of [Signatures of Jno Lucas and John Raymond]

 

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