3.1.1 Scope and Definition
“Lease” under the FDRE lease proclamation 272/2003 has been define as “lease-hold system in which use right of urban land is transferred or held contractually (Art. 2(1). The 1960 Ethiopian civil code under article 2896 on its part defines lease as follows:
The lease of an immovable is a contract whereby one of the parties, the lessor, undertakes to ensure to the other party, the lessee, the use and enjoyment of an immovable, for a specified time and for a consideration fixed in kind or otherwise.
Hence the concept of the word “lease” which is employed in the above laws is one similar to what is coined in the common law as “Leased fee” which means an ownership interest held by a landlord with the rights of use and occupancy transferred by the lease to others. The rights of the lessor (the leased fee owner) and the lessee are specified by contract terms contained within the lease. And “leasehold” means the interest held by the lessee (the tenant or renter) through a lease transferring the rights of use and occupancy for a stated term under certain conditions.
Here the definition and scope of lease provided in the proclamation is different from the scope of the term defined in continental legal system. A typical definition of lease is one given by Planiol which states lease as: “A contract whereby one person engages himself to furnish to another person the temporary enjoyment of a thing for a price proportional to the time.”
The similarity one can find in all the above definitions is that firstly, lease right emanates from contractual agreements. Secondly, the right transferred to the lessee (tenant) is the use and occupancy of the property. Thirdly this interest is transferred for consideration- that the lessee must pay in the form of rent. And fourthly, in both systems lease right provides only personal rights to the lessee, not real rights for the lease right generally may not be sold or mortgaged. The basic difference one can observe from the definitions however Planiol’s definition of lease can encompass movable and immovable, for the word “thing” can connote both movable and immovable. In the common law as well as under the Lease proclamation no. 272/2003 leases are applied to real property or land. A systematic search and analysis of the civil code also shows that the code follows the common law approach.