Any Resident who owns an estate can rent part or all of the estate to other Residents. This effectively means that a Resident, including one who's on a basic account, can "buy" parcels on an estate and move in, subject to the covenant of the estate owner.
Specific terminology differs internationally (some call this "leaseholding"), and the semantics of "rent" vs. "buy" aren't so important here as understanding the practical principles. So for convenience, we'll use "rent" from this point onward as it's the most common.
Also, we'll refer to a "Resident estate owner" as a "landlord", because you're effectively paying them as a "tenant". As in: if you rent land on a private estate, this makes you the tenant of a landlord.
There are several reasons why you might want to rent land rather than buy.
- You must have a premium account to buy land on the mainland since mainland tier is part of a Premium account's benefits.
- You can remain at a basic account to rent land on a private estate. This may be preferable if you've found rental land that has a cheaper monthly rate than the Linden tier system and offers other benefits.
If you have a premium account and meet other conditions, you can simultaneously own mainland and rent on private estates. It isn't an "either-or" choice.
Linden Lab offers several Linden Home themes to acquaint you with the variety of what's possible with "themed living" in Second Life.
But that's just a sampler of the spectrum of diversity available here. A landlord may have a lifelong interest and a deep passion for a focused theme. In some cases, they've brought it from their real life as an extension of their identity, and you may be able to strongly relate to those beliefs — which encourages you to be part of the community they're building.
Themes reflect all angles of creativity. To be less abstract, they may involve a certain real-world environment, a fantasy or historical atmosphere, or be specifically tailored to a subculture (goth, furry, steampunk, etc.). If you're into gaming, some of these themes complement roleplaying on the same premises: you could be a cyberpunk courier living across a dystopian skyline, an elite debutante partying it up at your luxury pad, or a seafarin' swashbuckler in search of booty. Over time as Second Life expands, more interests are met and needs are fulfilled. Some tenants graduate to become landlords themselves.
In addition, if you are at least 18 years old, there are adult-themed communities for your discreet pleasures.
If you'd prefer to start from scratch, there's a lot of rental land that's blank and ready to be molded into your vision. What are some advantages over blank mainland? Depending on what the landlord offers, these are some possibilities:
- Greater terraform range - As noted in land limits, most mainland can only be terraformed +/- 4m from its base, which isn't enough to create staggering heights and deep valleys.
- Custom terrain textures - Only the landlord and assistants (estate owner and managers) can change these, but you may be able to request a switch. These affect a lot of what you see, since the ground is often beneath your feet.
- Time of day - It would look odd if a vampires' den was in bright daylight. A landlord can lock the time of day at midnight, then invite tenants who thrive on darkness.
These and more options are shown in the REGION/ESTATE_-_TERRAIN and related controls, and not changeable at-will unless you own or manage an estate.
Some landlords go beyond a financial relationship: they or specially-chosen Residents (estate managers) interact with their tenants frequently, host events, and expand the community based on your feedback. This sort of intimate empowerment to affect change can be very appealing.
That's not all: themed communities may offer on-location stores and other amenities as a convenience. For example, if you rent land in a medieval village, it makes sense to find a shop selling knight's armor and period dresses — and if there's a supernatural aspect, magic wands. If you continue up the street, there could be a banquet hall for dances, a monastery for meditation, and other dwellings used for social events so you can meet-and-greet your likeminded neighbors. This adds to the overall theme and immersion of the community and can add substantial value to your experience.
On the mainland, you can't negotiate your Linden tier fees. Also, if you wanted to make your parcel a tiny bit larger, it's really hard do that: neighbors may be nice but not typically welcoming of subdividing and selling only a sliver of their parcel.
But a sympathetic landlord may hear your pleas. Just like you might with a real-life landlord, you can try negotiating a better deal: perhaps you'll pay a bigger L$ sum upfront covering several months of rent. Or you can explain what your budget is and the landlord will try to connect you with a parcel that meets what you can afford.
The basic process of renting land on an estate is the same as buying on the mainland: unless another arrangement has been made, in the About Land window's GENERAl tab, click the Buy Land button to proceed with your purchase.
However the billing relationship is very different than on the mainland:
- If you buy land on the mainland, your billing relationship is with Linden Lab and dependent on the tier system on the Land Use Fees page.
- If you rent land on a private estate, your billing relationship is with another Resident — your landlord — and is dependent on their covenant.
|Undeveloped land on...||Developed land on...|
|the mainland||a private estate||the mainland||a private estate|
Is there a pre-built house or store ready for you to move into?
|No; build-it-yourself||No; build-it-yourself||Yes; ask landlord about special features||Yes; ask landlord about special features|
|Terraform range||Usually +/- 4 m||Depends; up to +/- 100 m||Depends; usually +/- 4 m or blocked||Depends; up to +/- 100 m|
|Custom terrain textures and environment settings?||No||Maybe; ask landlord||No||Unlikely since land is already themed; ask landlord|
Land usage rules
The TOS always applies
|Mainland policies, also ask landlord||Landlord'scovenant||Mainland policies, also ask landlord||Landlord's covenant|
Do you "buy" a parcel to rent it?
Buying a parcel shows you as the owner inABOUT LAND
|No, you pay a rent box or similar device||Yes, but landlord can reclaim it at their discretion||No, you pay a rent box or similar device||Yes, but landlord can reclaim it at their discretion|
You can use the Viewer's search tool:
Enter a keyword like
vampirein the search bar on the upper-right of the Viewer window and press Enter ↵.
- In the FIND window that opens, click the Land Sales tab.
- Next to Category, choose For Sale - Estate and edit the other fields as-needed.
- Click a listing to view more details, then click Teleport to travel there in seconds.
- The Second Life Wiki has a list of landlords compiled by Residents. If you're a landlord, feel free to add yours! Some land companies have their own websites which can make it easier to browse offerings and get connected.
- Second Life Marketplace has categories for mainland parcels and private islands for sale.
To tell if you are on a private estate:
- Choose World > Place Profile > About Land.
- Click the GENERAL tab.
- Look for the Type field. It will say either "Mainland," "Linden Homes," or "Estate/Full Region".
Caveat emptor — buyer beware! This isn't meant to scare you, but encourage you to be assertive when looking for rental land. Just as there are all kinds of people in the world, there are all kinds of landlords with individual styles, some of which may mesh better with you depending the personalities involved. With that in mind:
When renting land on a private estate, the "owner" in ABOUT LAND - GENERAL shows your name, but the landlord reserves the right to change that at any time. This means they can reclaim the land and offer it to someone else on a whim. Linden Lab doesn't mediate if your landlord is hostile.
If you have a consistently great relationship with your landlord, you don't have to worry about getting kicked out. But if you find yourself getting into quarrels, you may want to consider relocating. Hopefully you've done your homework to minimize getting into such a situation.
The covenant is the terms and conditions of rental land, always shown in ABOUT LAND - COVENANT. In other words, what you can and can't do if you rent this land. For example, there may be a dress code of how avatars should appear to match the theme. Covenants often include a code of conduct in addition to Linden Lab's Community Standards. Some rules that apply on the mainland may not apply on an estate. For example, a landlord could decree "Combat is allowed for all!", then make their land a constant warzone where no one could be accused of "griefing with weapons" because it's part of the theme.
A landlord can change the covenant at any time, but shouldn't do so without notifying tenants first or even more considerate, soliciting their input. (Similar to how you wouldn't like it if your cell phone provider changed your contract in a detrimental way without notice.) The last-modified date of a covenant is always shown.
Like any successful business, a landlord should be able to point to delighted customers. Renting land from someone may feel more confident if you have friends who've rented from that landlord before and have good things to say about the experience, as well as downsides that aren't major causes for concern but nevertheless good to know.
It helps to ask because a little research can save you lots of troubles in the future.
Before buying, be sure to ask:
- How much is rent?
- Is it paid in L$ or US$?
- How often is it paid? Monthly or otherwise?
- How do I pay it? Methods range from "pay the landlord directly" to "pay a scripted box" to "payment form on a website". Savvy landlords figure out ways to manage this with minimum overhead so miscommunication is minimized.
- Can payment be automated? Just like in the real world, this can be really convenient and assures as long as you have funds, you won't be delinquent.
You may have heard that some Residents offer land for rent on the mainland, which works differently in some regards. One big difference is that you don't do the act of buying a parcel (which shows you as the parcel owner in ABOUT LAND - GENERAL as described above). instead, you might be offered to join a group which gives you the permission to place objects on a designated parcel with your group tag.
This arrangement is common in many mainland malls, where stalls are rented out (and there may be advertisements for such an arrangement). A similar pattern can be found in cottages, hotels, and other destinations.
Remember that the above, for simplicity's sake, describes some of the many possibilities that exist and continue to grow. Consult specific situations to get accurate details.
To find out who owns a parcel of land:
- Stand on or hover above the land parcel, then go to World > About Land. The About Land window opens.
- Click the General tab.
- Locate the listing for Owner.
- If a Resident is listed as the owner, click Profile to view the Resident's profile.
- If (Group Owned) is listed as the owner, the land belongs to a group. Click Info to view the group's information. Owners of a group will be listed in bold text.
Residents buying or renting parcels on Private Regions and Estates are subject to the covenant that governs the land they're renting. If you rent land that's in a Private Region, you're not paying Linden Lab -- you're paying the Estate owner. The way in which the Estate owner sets up payments and what they charge is entirely up to them. Understand that by renting from another Resident, you run the risk that this Resident may decide to leave Second Life, without refunding anything you may have paid them. Linden Lab is not party to any agreement the two of you may have, however, if you wish to pursue this matter outside of Second Life, please know that Linden Lab cooperates fully with any real-world justice officials or law enforcement agencies credentialed with appropriate civil or criminal jurisdiction.