I am working on a project where I need to be able to distinguish between one who is offering something for rent, and one who is renting from someone. The phrases used need to be short and concise.

The context is not real estate thus commonly suggested alternatives like landlord or tenant do not fit.

I was thinking maybe rentee could work, thinking it followed the same style as employer versus employee, for example. Some quick googling, however, seems to indicate that rentee is not a valid word, but some people do occasionally use it.

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    Following the same format as employee, a rentee would be someone who is being rented? :) – Emil Aug 3 '15 at 13:26
  • A good follow-up question would be to ask what to call the not-landlord. I believe lender is still appropriate, though I have mainly heard that term in a financial context. – David K Aug 3 '15 at 13:54
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    The rentee is the apartment. The lessee is the one who offers it for rent. – Lee Daniel Crocker Aug 3 '15 at 19:35
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    @Lee Daniel Crocker: The lessee is the person using the property, the tenant. The lessor is the person offering the property for rent, the landlord. – Dan Barron Aug 4 '15 at 15:13

"er/ee" and used to describe the person or thing doing something, and the person or thing it is done to. So, for example, an "employer" is someone who employs people, and an "employee" is someone who is employed".

This doesn't work the way you want with "rent". A "renter" who would be someone who rents something, and a "rentee" would be someone who is rented. But we don't normally rent people -- unless you're talking about charging for temporary use of a slave. We rent objects. If, say, we have a rental agreement for a car, I'd think the "rentee" is the car, not either party.

As to substance, I believe @alephzero has the best answer: You call the parties the "owner" and the "renter".

  • The trick with rent is that its meaning is ambiguous; someone who borrows a car rents it, and the person who lends the car also rents it. It may be better to think of -er as representing a giving party and -ee as a receiving party, e.g. an adviser offers advice, an advisee accepts advice; a licensor grants a license, a licensee takes a license. If we treat rent as an agreed amount of money paid for use of a space (as indeed is its first definition in the dictionaries I checked), renter / rentee works fine. – choster Aug 3 '15 at 16:29
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    @choster True that "renter" is ambiguous in the way you describe. Perhaps if you think of it in a certain way, renter/rentee makes sense. But the problem is that most people DON'T think of it that way in this case, and so most people would be confused by it. In some contexts you could say, "this is how I will use these words" and people would get it. Personally I think it's better to just use different words to avoid confusion. – Jay Aug 3 '15 at 18:22
  • The relation to employee/employer I had in mind was one offering a job vs one receiving a job. I believe that usage of the terms is commonly understood, even if not their strict definition. – kicken Aug 3 '15 at 21:10
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    +1, but note that "-ee" does sometimes denote someone who does something: "attendee", "standee", "retiree", etc. – ruakh Aug 4 '15 at 1:03
  • @ruakh Interesting point. Yes, the meaning does appear to be slightly different there. – Jay Aug 4 '15 at 3:56

Rentee is a rare formal term whose more common 'form' is lessee:

  • One who rents (property, etc.).



  • n. the person renting property under a written lease from the owner (lessor). He/she/it is the tenant and the lessor is the landlord.

(The Free Dicrionary )

Ngram: rentee vs lessee.

Renter and tenant are more common terms,

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    +1. The reason this works is because the owner is leasing the property to the lessee. It makes far less sense to say the lessee is leasing the property from the owner (though the expression does exist) so it is clear what the relationship is. With renter, the expressions rent to and rent from make equal sense, hence the ambiguity. – Level River St Aug 3 '15 at 11:57
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    Yes, the lessee offers the house (or car, or tool, or whatever) for rent. The renter then rents it. The rentee is the house. – Lee Daniel Crocker Aug 3 '15 at 19:34
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    @LeeDanielCrocker the Lessor offers the item for rent. They offer to lease the item. The lessee is the person who it is leased to. – Level River St Aug 3 '15 at 21:52
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    "Rentee" is not recognized by the authoritative, extensive dictionary OED. – zylstra Dec 18 '15 at 3:12

I think a reasonable distinction between the two parties involved would be "the owner" and "the renter". See for example https://www.pandadoc.com/free-car-rental-agreement-template.

In a specific agreement, "owner" would probably be replaced by owner's legal name, i.e. "Avis" in http://www.avis.co.uk/dms/avis/rentalAgreement/UK/en_GB/avis-uk-rental-agreement-terms-conditions.pdf.

I'm not a lawyer, but "lease" and "rental" are not quite the same thing. See http://www.allbusiness.com/whats-the-difference-between-a-rental-agreement-and-a-lease-for-a-rental-property-4099-1.html for example.


I think you do not need it when the dictionary has the word renter.

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 8th edition

renter BrE / rentə(r) / NAmE / rentər / noun
1 a person who rents sth house buyers and renters

© Oxford University Press, 2010

Why doesn't the word tenant match?

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    But the OP is looking to distinguish renting to and renting from -- both have the agent renter. I rent something to you; I'm a renter. You rent something from me; you're a renter. Tenant generally only applies to real estate -- it doesn't apply to renting cars, for example. – Andrew Leach Aug 3 '15 at 8:41
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    @TurkanAlisoy To answer your question about tenant: that word applies specifically to renting space to live or conduct business in. Someone who rents an appliance, for example, would not be called a tenant. – talrnu Aug 3 '15 at 12:23

The pair of words you are looking for are lessor and lessee. The lessee is the one who rents the property. According to Investopedia, the property does not have to be real estate, nor does it even need to be tangible.

DEFINITION of 'Lessor' The owner of an asset that is leased under an agreement to the lessee.... The leased asset can either be tangible property such as a home, office, car or computer, or intangible property like a trademark or brand name.

(From Investopedia)

Lessor and lessee are used in rental contracts, and they are short (albeit formal) terms.

  • Note that, as per alephzero's answer, lease and rent are not the same thing. If the asset is not being leased, then lessor/lessee are probably not appropriate terms. – Dan Henderson Aug 3 '15 at 17:55
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    I would agree that lease and rent are different terms. But the mechanism and the parties are the same. alephzero's last link makes a distinction based on the term. Again I agree: If you rent a car, it is for days or possibly weeks. If you lease a car it is for months and possibly years. But I disagree that the terms lessor and lessee are not appropriate, @DanHenderson. You'll find lessor and lessee and both rental agreements and leases. You won't find rentee on one and lessee on the other. You'll find lessee on both. – rajah9 Aug 3 '15 at 18:10

Not a term, but possible solution.

If you are doing a document or other project result that would be read from beginning to end (or has otherwise reasonable starting point for all users), it would be possible to define the terms in the beginning of the document. Instead of using renter and rentee, used terms might be for example owner and customer, with the definition in the beginning of the document stating clearly that for the rest of the document, term Owner will be used for people who are renting out stuff and term Customer will be used for persons who rent stuff from Owners.

Obviously there might be business related reasons exact terms Owner and Customer are not usable, but you might find other suitable terms related to the actual business.

(While I do think that from language point of view stating "define a new word" is not optimal solution, I somehow got the impression that this might be needed in info and/or contract papers where unambiguousness if often more important than most elegant use of language.)


I found this ambiguous also while preparing advertising projects, so after reading this here went to dictionary.com and realized the fundamental sense, so the renter is bi-directional noun form, as genitive for the provider or accusative case for given/taker determined by role either, but principality renter is the owner with holding rights who uses property by payment of rent, either way.

renter [ ren-ter ] noun "a person or organization that holds, or has the use of, property by payment of rent"

And, so the rentee term should be used more as both business information evolving together with the common culture. Regards

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    But the owner doesn't pay rent. – Hot Licks Nov 12 at 2:58
  • okay, but is using property by the means of rent payments. – Nikola Nick Pantic Nov 12 at 3:17
  • No, the owner is the one receiving the rent. – Hot Licks Nov 12 at 3:18
  • Basically, your answer makes no sense. – Hot Licks Nov 12 at 3:23

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