key money

noun
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of key money

  1. 1 British :  a payment required of a tenant especially of an apartment on taking possession of the key

  2. 2 :  a bribe paid by a prospective tenant in order to obtain housing the key money for an average studio in Paris is in the neighborhood of one thousand dollars — Paul Bowles

There's more!

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!
Already a subscriber? Log in.

Financial Definition of KEY MONEY

key money

What It Is

Key money is money paid to a landlord or property owner in order to reserve a spot as a tenant on the property.

How It Works

Let's say Company XYZ is a restaurant firm that wants to open a location in the new ABC outdoor mall. The mall is under construction, but Company XYZ likes the location and the demographics of the surrounding population, so it writes a $5,000 check to the ABC landlord. This "gets the keys" and reserves a spot for Company XYZ.

Why It Matters

Key money is essentially a security deposit, but in many cases it is a payment to persuade the landlord to rent property to a tenant. For this reason, many people consider key money to be pretty much a bribe.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up key money? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

conspicuously offensive

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!