A modest suggestion: When you’re dealing with real estate, eliminated demised from your contracts.

For purposes of real-estate contracts, demise means “to convey by will or lease.” There’s always a simpler word.

The following example is from the contract providing for Jeff Bezos’s acquisition of the Washington Post (discussed in this post):

The Seller shall lease to the Purchaser sufficient office space for the conduct of the Post Business in the Seller’s office buildings located in downtown Washington, D.C. … for a period of two years, with two extension options of six months each exercisable by the Purchaser. … The lease shall provide for an allocation of building parking spaces based on the ratio of the demised premises’ square footage [read of the leased space] to the total square footage in the buildings.

If in the first sentence it’s OK to refer to leasing space, there’s no reason why that shouldn’t work for the subsequent sentence too.


About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

3 thoughts on ““Demised””

  1. While I agree in principle, the verb “demise” is real estate lingo for fitting premises for occupancy. One would have to draft around that usage in a way that would satisfy the brokers, so that one could distinguish between that portion of leased space that was built out by the landlord (or whomever) and other space that might be leased (i.e., paid for) but not specifically built out for occupancy by the tenant.

  2. At least out here in the Denver area, I seldom encounter the words “Demised Premises” together in a lease written within the last 15 years or so. The word “Premises” alone is most commonly used as the defined term for the space covered by the lease, and in granting clauses, “Landlord hereby leases the Premises to Tenant, and Tenant hereby leases the Premises from Landlord,” is considered sufficient.

    I’ve noticed that the verb “hires” is often also used in California lease granting clauses, which seems out of context, but that’s because California’s statutes on leasing (or “hiring,” I guess) use that word.

    Most of my leases are office leases, so I don’t usually have to deal with space that is leased but not partitioned off, like Vance refers to.

    • My experience in Ohio is similar to Tim’s. Leased Premises and Demised Premises, at last, have given way to Premises. It’s still worth defining Premises, though, because leases will make reference to too many different kinds of space: common area, adjoining space, and various areas within the Premises.
      “Demising” still comes up, particularly in retail leases: the Demising Walls separate the Premises from neighboring premises and from common area.
      Given the different kinds of square footage, though, I was suprised by the Washington Post example. I would have expected the ratio of the rentable square footage (with reference to the relevant BOAM standard) of the Premises to the total rentable square footage.


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