99-year lease was, under historic common law, the longest possible
term of a lease of real property. It is no longer the law in most
common law jurisdictions today, yet 99-year leases continue to be
common as a matter of business practice and conventional wisdom.
Under the traditional American common law doctrine, the 99-year term
was not literal, but merely an arbitrary time span beyond the life
expectancy of any possible lessee or lessor.
William Blackstone states that a lease was formerly limited to 40
years, although much longer leases (for 300 years, or 1000 years) were
in use by the time of Edward III. The 40-year limit was based on
the unreliable text "The Mirror of Justices" (book 2, chapter 27).
In the law of several US states, a
99-year lease will always be the
longest possible contract for realty by statute, but many have enacted
shorter terms and some allow infinite terms.
99-year lease concept has been more common under the civil law
regimes when it comes to concessions of territory: most concessions
last for 99 years.
Rule against perpetuities
Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory
Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory resulted in the
99-year lease of Kowloon,
New Territories to Britain in 1898
^ Mortgage News Daily web site article on a 99-year lease. Accessed 20
^ Cecil Adams, Why are leases made for 99-year terms?, 22 July 1977,
found at The Straight Dope article on 99-year lease. Accessed 20
William Blackstone (1753), Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book
2, Chapter IX "Of estates less than freehold"
^ Law Office of James Kaklamanos web site page on 99-year lease.
Accessed 20 Fe