Difference between to let and to rent

< Previous | Next >

CalmSharp

Member
dutch
Hi there,

I would like to know if there is a difference between to let and to rent?

As far as I remember from school classes, which were supposed to be British English, to rent means that the owner offers usage of a room (or something else) to someone (this person is then called a renter)

The person who uses the room is then letting it. This is what I remember from school class English, but I'm not sure and I can't find anything about it online or in a dictionairy.

Maybe someone of you can tell the answer?
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The verbs are essentially the same in that they both mean to pay money to someone for the use of something [usually a house or similar.] However, the nuance is a little different. To let is of a higher register and is more discreet.

    To let disguises the idea of paying money for accommodation: it mainly implies the permission to use something [almost] as if it were your own. "He let the house to his aunt." The speaker would use the verb "to let" as it might be considered impolite to speak of charging money.

    To rent
    - implies the payment of rent.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    They aren't essentially the same. If you let a house, a flat or a room, you are the owner. If you want a simple way to understand it (and that's how the meaning arose) you let (allow) somebody to live in the house/flat/room in return for money. "Rent" can be used both ways. You can rent a room to somebody or you can rent a room from somebody.

    There's no difference in register. The verb "to let" is used routinely in BE with reference to renting property. It's advertised as "property to let" and the transactions are arranged by "letting agents".

    You say you were told "The person who uses the room is then letting it." You were told wrong. The person who uses the room is then either renting it or leasing it. It's the property owner who is letting it.
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I would say that the distinction is much more straightforward. They are mirror terms:

    "Let" is what the owner of a property does when they allow someone else to use it in return for money ("rent" as noun).

    "Rent" (as verb) is what someone does when paying someone else for the use of their property.

    You could use "rent" as a substitute for "let" I suppose, but I would be much more likely to say "rent out" in that case.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Hmm…

    He rents the house at a fair price
    He lets the house at a fair price

    From the above, we cannot tell if he is the owner or tenant.

    It is possible to say:

    He rents out the house at a fair price
    He lets out the house at a fair price

    And now we know that he is the owner.

    We would be fairly sure that he was the owner if we said:

    He rents the houses at a fair price.
    He lets the houses at a fair price.
    I would say that the distinction is much more straightforward. They are mirror terms:

    "Let" is what the owner of a property does when they allow someone else to use it in return for money ("rent" as noun).

    "Rent" (as verb) is what someone does when paying someone else for the use of their property.

    You could use "rent" as a substitute for "let" I suppose, but I would be much more likely to say "rent out" in that case.
    You seem to have contradicted yourself... can you clarify?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Note that "to let" is not used in AE.

    That spares us the problem of dealing with those who paint an 'i' in between the words on "To let" signs.;)
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The verbs are essentially the same in that they both mean to pay money to someone for the use of something [usually a house or similar.] However, the nuance is a little different. To let is of a higher register and is more discreet.

    To let disguises the idea of paying money for accommodation: it mainly implies the permission to use something [almost] as if it were your own. "He let the house to his aunt." The speaker would use the verb "to let" as it might be considered impolite to speak of charging money.

    To rent
    - implies the payment of rent.
    I disagree. If I "rent" somewhere, I'm the one doing the paying. If I "let" somewhere I'm the one getting paid. There's no disguise or subtlety in my experience. What other verb would you use if you were not trying to disguise the fact of payment? To "rent", on its own, always means paying someone for use of something. To "rent out" would be a valid alternative to "let".
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    To "rent", on its own, always means paying someone for use of something. .
    Well, the folks at Collins (our dictionary here) aren't quite that restrictive.:)

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    rent /rɛnt/vb
    • (transitive) to grant (a person) the right to use one's property in return for periodic payments
    • (transitive) to occupy or use (property) in return for periodic payments
    • (intransitive) often followed by at: to be let or rented (for a specified rental)

     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hmm…

    He rents the house at a fair price
    He lets the house at a fair price

    From the above, we cannot tell if he is the owner or tenant.
    But we can! Someone who pays rent does not let anything. The only way to do this is to rent from a landlord and then sub-let to someone else in return for money.
    "In basic terms though, there is no real difference between renting and letting, you merely let to and rent from."
    (http://www.zoopla.co.uk/askme/details/renting/stafford/66879#bmodwESzzwF0ihyp.97)
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Well, the folks at Collins (our dictionary here) aren't quite that restrictive.:)

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    rent /rɛnt/vb
    • (transitive) to grant (a person) the right to use one's property in return for periodic payments
    • (transitive) to occupy or use (property) in return for periodic payments
    • (intransitive) often followed by at: to be let or rented (for a specified rental)


    Well I'm simply saying that's not my usage or experience of usage. If someone said to me "I'm renting that property", I would understand that they are paying someone. If they said "I'm renting it out", or I'm renting it to" someone, that would make the meaning different.
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Hmm…
    You seem to have contradicted yourself... can you clarify?
    No contradiction really. As others have said, the addition of "out" or "to" clarifies and alters the meaning if the verb "rent" is being used as a substitute for "let". You would also need "rent from" in that case to clarify if you actually meant paying someone for use of a property. Using "rent" on its own may be used by some as an all purpose, two way verb with no qualification, but not in my experience precisely because it is ambiguous and a perfectly good verb exists (at least in BE) to describe making property available for others to rent.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    OED:

    rent, v.2
    2. trans. To let (property) for rent or payment; to hire out to someone. Freq. with the person as indirect object. Also in extended use.
    1952 E. Caldwell Sure Hand of God 81 Refuse to rent them another house.

    3. trans. To pay rent for (land, buildings, etc.); to take possession of, hold, occupy, or use, by payment of rent. Also intr.
    1991 A. Chaudhuri Strange & Sublime Addr. (1992) 149 He had been living in a bedsit he had rented as a student.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hmm…

    He rents the house at a fair price
    He lets the house at a fair price

    From the above, we cannot tell if he is the owner or tenant.
    The second sentence is perfectly clear. "He" is the owner. The verb "to let" allows of no other meaning. In the first, without context to the contrary, "He" is almost certainly the tenant. That is, of course, a problem with isolated sentences lacking context.

    PS. Cross-posted. Your OED citations demonstrate the benefit of context. I do agree with you that "from" and "to" are not essential with "rent", but if the context doesn't help (He rents the house at a fair price) they become essential to the meaning.
     
    Last edited:

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    OED:

    rent, v.2
    2. trans. To let (property) for rent or payment; to hire out to someone. Freq. with the person as indirect object. Also in extended use.
    1952 E. Caldwell Sure Hand of God 81 Refuse to rent them another house.

    3. trans. To pay rent for (land, buildings, etc.); to take possession of, hold, occupy, or use, by payment of rent. Also intr.
    1991 A. Chaudhuri Strange & Sublime Addr. (1992) 149 He had been living in a bedsit he had rented as a student.
    Fair enough, but I still think even on those definitions and examples, its usage 2 that needs to be clarified, whereas usage 3 is the default one that carries the meaning I expect. As in the post above, 3 is unambiguous, 2 could be misleading without further signals and context. It's like "lend" and "borrow". Lots of people misuse "borrow" and it could end up having both meanings as normal usage, but then there would similarly be need of some qualification if you actually meant "lend".
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The second sentence is perfectly clear. "He" is the owner. The verb "to let" allows of no other meaning.
    There was a time, not so long ago, when that was true, however:

    Tenant tips (http://www.tenantstips.com/Forums/R...us-to-maintain-the-garden-in-the-house-I-rent
    We let a house in the country side with a fairly large garden.

    There is no lawn mower supplied for us to mow the lawn. The landlord wants us to get a gardener to look after the garden.
    However, to let can now mean "to let out" or "to tenant"
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    There was a time, not so long ago, when that was true, however:

    Tenant tips (http://www.tenantstips.com/Forums/R...us-to-maintain-the-garden-in-the-house-I-rentHowever, to let can now mean "to let out" or "to tenant"
    In other words it does seem to be like "lend" and "borrow", people are starting to use both terms interchangeably and indiscriminately. "To let out" to me would still mean making your property available to a third party for a fee. But here it seems to mean the exact opposite. I haven't heard "to tenant" as a verb. It sounds ugly on first impressions, but there's no logical reason why it shouldn't become a verb like so many nouns before it.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    However, to let can now mean "to let out" or "to tenant"
    No, not to anybody half literate in English. If you search using Google to find illiterates, you will find some. One swallow does not make a summer, and a handful of posts on blogs doesn't change the meanings of words. The post your example comes from contains other errors.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Ah, but it is how the word is used currently, isn't it? Ad hominem doesn't always cut it in language (yes, sometimes it does.) You have already noted that the OED entry for 'rent' has been recently updated but that the one for let is over 100 years old. ;)

    And then we have "House to let" which is understood as "house available to a tenant" rather than "house that someone can rent out to a tenant."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I didn't bother looking in the OED. The Oxford Dictionaries online entry is not over 100 years old, nor is that in Collins.

    Next you'll be telling us that "I could of cried" is grammatical English.
    And then we have "House to let" which is understood as "house available to a tenant" rather than "house that someone can rent out to a tenant."
    Rubbish. It means house to let, with the normal meaning of the verb.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The original question was about the meaning of let. A tenant cannot let property.
    We are not responsible for people who do not understand the difference between rent from and let to.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Next you'll be telling us that "I could of cried" is grammatical English.Rubbish.
    :rolleyes: May I use that later as an example of a strawman argument?
    The original question was about the meaning of let. A tenant cannot let property.
    We are not responsible for people who do not understand the difference between rent from and let to.
    Could I also say "We are not responsible for people who do not understand the difference between rent to and let from."?

    From Google Books:
    Vitale, son of Mosè, lets a house from Prospero Marioui for three years. The house is situated in the Porta S. Pietro quarter of Perugia, parish of S. Paolo. Vitale promises to pay an annual rent of 4 florins and 75 soldi in half-yearly instalments. Mike Yacobehik testified that Turrou had let a room from him twenty years earlier under the name of Leon Petrov. https://books.google.co.uk/books?isbn=0195357752 A Documentary History of the Jews in Italy, E.J. Brill 1994, Source: ASP., Norarile, Mariotto di Giovanni detto Calcina, 479, fol. 43b,

    The Alec Guinness Handbook - Everything you need to know ... https://books.google.co.uk/books?isbn=1488504873 Emily Smith - 2013 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
    In The Ladykillers (1955) a gang of criminals let a room from the elderly Mrs Wilberforce

    The Last Suspect - Page 41 https://books.google.co.uk/books?isbn=157008419X Susan Evans McCloud - 1998 - ‎Snippet view "I am staying with Miss Reid; a friend and I have let rooms from her."


    As Mr Dylan said, "The times they are a-changing."
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    A phrase one often hears in the UK at the moment is buy-to-let, which means buying a house in order to let it to others.

    I have never heard anyone use let from and I don't regard the examples given in the previous post convincing. The meaning does not appear in any dictionary that I know of (for example, in the memidex.com dictionary site, there is no support for this usage). The US dictionaries in this site define let as give (i.e. give someone the use of property).

    Finally, google ngrams do not support let from.
    https://books.google.com/ngrams/gra...;.t1;,let rooms to;,c0;.t1;,let a room to;,c0
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    :rolleyes: May I use that later as an example of a strawman argument?
    No. I'm applying your logic.
    You have found a few examples of "let" being misused. Therefore, you say, the meaning of "let" has changed.
    I can find you thousands of examples of "I could of {past participle}". Therefore, by the same logic, "I could of {past participle}" is a correct new verb form. Indeed, it would appear to have a better claim, by weight of numbers, than your new meaning of "let".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    No. I'm applying your logic.
    I think you believe you are, however, your example substitutes a main verb for a preposition - my examples show a common extension of the use of a verb whose meaning in the past had been imprecisely grasped by many native speakers - the "error" becomes accepted[1] and the 'new' use arises.

    (I posted in a thread a few days back in which "crescendo' had been incorrectly used. As I wrote, I thought "...the battle is lost." and thought of the legend of Knut.)
    You have found a few examples of "let" being misused. Therefore, you say, the meaning of "let" has changed.
    I say the use of 'let' has changed. Language is not set in stone.
    I can find you thousands of examples of "I could of {past participle}". Therefore, by the same logic, "I could of {past participle}" is a correct new verb form.
    You seem to think that it would be as easy for the general verb structure of English to change as it would be for a verb to take on slight variant to the original meaning. An analogy might be "My dinghy tacks on a sixpence, why doesn't your oil-tanker?"
    Indeed, it would appear to have a better claim, by weight of numbers, than your new meaning of "let".
    It is always a mistake to claim that facts are democratic and abide by the rule of majority.


    [1] I accept that you do not.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top