During a discussion regarding the translation of a particular verb in a foreign language, I encountered a situation similar to how the words borrow and lend are the same in many languages. This particular situation was regarding the words lease and let.

In my experience, outside of the real estate business, lease is always used with respect to the lessee, as in, the lessee was leasing an apartment from the lessor, while let is used by the lessor, as in, the lessor let an apartment to a lessee. In other words, you lease from, and let to.

However, it appears that there are some google results that disagree with this, especially regarding terms used in the real estate field. They meant different things for the two terms, which led me to believe I was simply wrong.

So, my question is:

Can you actually lease to someone and can you let from someone?

  • 1
    You definitely can "lease to" someone. However, since "let", in this sense, is not idiomatic in the parts of the US where I've resided over the years (it seems to be an East Coast thing), I can't say whether "let from" is considered "proper".
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 1, 2016 at 17:41
  • 2
    In the UK leasing and letting are different legal arrangements. So you can do either.
    – Chenmunka
    Aug 1, 2016 at 17:44
  • You can certainly lease power tools, for example, in the role of "lessor" or "lessee" (but hardly anyone except a lawyer would use either of those latter terms). But I doubt there's any dialectal / regional / domain-specific context where you could let something that you have the use of (as opposed to letting someone else have the use of it in return for payment). Aug 1, 2016 at 17:56
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    @Chenmunka: Some legal contexts might distinguish leases as "rental" arrangements lasting 7+ years (where letting agreements are normally < 3 years). But since nobody "lets" a contract hire car, say (and those arrangements rarely tie the customer in for 7+ years), I'd say any such distinction is more "domain-specific" than an aspect of English usage as such. Aug 1, 2016 at 18:06
  • @FumbleFingers: Yes, that covers it much more thoroughly than I did.
    – Chenmunka
    Aug 1, 2016 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


In Indian legal context, in real estate field, the word "let" could be used to mean "lease".

To take the example sentence cited by OP, one could very well write:

... the lessor leased an apartment to a lessee


...the lessor let an apartment to a lessee.

However, as pointed out by FumbleFinger, other legal contexts might distinguish "lease" as a rental arrangement lasting for 7+ years and "letting" as a rental agreements normally for <3 years.

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