Rental based on percentage of turnover

Q: Is it permissible for the lessor to charge the lessee a rental based on his turnover in the case where they fix a ceiling for the maximum rental and they are both pleased with this type of agreement? Some people say that it is permissible, even though the rental is not fixed. They compare this to the case where one hires a rep to sell one’s merchandise and pays him a commission based on the sales he does. Just as his wage is not fixed, but is determined through his total sales, similarly determining the rental of a leased property through the turnover should be permissible. Is this view correct?


A: The Hanafi mazhab as well as all the other three mazaahib (Maaliki, Shaafi’ee, Hambali) are unanimous upon the fact that the rental in an ijaarah contract (lease contract) must be fixed and agreed upon by both the lessor and the lessee. Therefore, even though the lessor fixes a ceiling limit for the maximum rental and they both agree to this, since the rental is not fixed and will fluctuate according to the turnover the lessee will make, it will not be permissible.

The jurists of all four mazhabs compare the rental of an ijaarah contract to a sale commodity in a sale contract. Just as it is necessary in a sale contract that the price of the sale commodity be fixed at the onset and agreed upon by both parties, and leaving the price unfixed causes the entire sale to be corrupt, similarly it is necessary that the rental be fixed and agreed upon by both parties in an ijaarah contract and leaving it unfixed will cause the ijaarah contract to become corrupt.

Furthermore, the rent that the lessee is charged is in lieu of the area he occupies in the premises of the lessor. It stands to reason that since this area is specific, it should have a specific price attached to it (as the lessee is paying for the specific benefit he receives from that specific piece of land). Basing the rental upon the turnover of the lessee and making it the means of determining the price of the area he has already occupied during the month goes against the dictates of an ijaarah contract. The dictates of an ijaarah contract is that the rental be fixed at the onset and that the lessee know the exact price which he is leasing the premises for. It is for this reason we find that the fuqahaa (jurists) have clearly stated that before one occupies the premises, the price should be fixed between the lessor and the lessee without any type of ambiguity and unclarity.

Apart from this, when this entire agreement is viewed from another angle, it becomes clear that this condition is a form of extortion and oppression upon the lessee. Though the lessee agrees and accepts the condition as he is in need of the premises, however when he sees his turnover increase and is thus forced to pay a higher rent, he will burn from within. In many cases, he will even try to conceal his true turnover from the lessor so that he may be able to escape his oppression. Accepting the condition and agreeing to pay does not mean that he is happy with the condition, as we find that the one who takes an interest bearing loan from the bank in desperation accepts the condition of interest and agrees to pay, yet he is not happy as he understands that this agreement is nothing but oppression. Therefore attaching this type of condition and not fixing the rental only tempts people and encourages them towards dishonesty by concealing their true business figures. If this had to be accepted, then the one who hid his figures from his lessor for the last ten years will have to pay back each cent of the hidden turnover which he did not discharge correctly towards his lessor. Otherwise, he will be sinful in the court of Allah Ta’ala, whereas he knows deep down within his heart that the minimum rental agreed upon for the usage of the premises was paid. He will view the extra fluctuating amount to be like the sales tax and vat levied upon one’s business, where according to one’s increase in turnover, he is obligated to pay extra to the government.

More so, through this type of agreement, the lessor is driven by greed and is trying to demand a partnership in the business of the lessee. In fact, in certain cases the share of the partnership that he is trying to demand turns out to be even more than the share of a partnership of a normal partner, as a normal partner would only share in the profits, whereas the lessor is demanding a share of the entire turnover. Hence this is pure injustice and oppression. Whatever wealth the lessee earns is obtained through his own effort and thus belongs entirely to him. Neither the lessor nor any other person has the right to demand a share in his business.

Some people compare an ijaarah contract to hiring a rep and paying him a commission for the sales he does. They say that just as in the case where one hires a rep to sell his merchandise and both mutually agree that the rep will be paid a 5% commission of all the sales that he does, despite the fact that the rep’s salary is not fixed but is rather commission based, it is permissible in Shari’ah. Similarly, leasing a piece of land and mutually agreeing that the rental will be determined through the turnover the lessee makes should also be permissible.

However, comparing an ijaarah contract (lease contract) to hiring a person to carry out some service is not correct. The reason is that in the case of the ijaarah contract (lease contract), one is charging the lessee a price for the use of the land and since the land is specific, the price should also be fixed. It cannot fluctuate and change in any way.

As far as hiring a rep to sell one’s merchandise is concerned, one is actually paying the rep for his service. Since the exact amount of service which he will render is unknown as it is subject to him selling all the merchandise or some of it, the Fuqahaa have allowed that his wage be stipulated as a percentage based on the service rendered. If he does more service (and sells more goods), he will obviously be entitled to receive more and if he does less service, he will accordingly be entitled to receive a less wage. Hence, we understand that service is something that can increase or decrease. Paying him for his service is not like paying for the use of a specific land which is something that cannot increase or decrease.

This could be further understood through the example of one hiring a car. One is charged according to the mileage one does. Since it is difficult to determine the total mileage which one will do while using the car, stipulating a price for each kilometre and at the end charging the hirer a price based on his total usage is permissible. For example, one is told “For each kilometre you travel, you will be charged R5.00.” This will be permissible. It will not be regarded as though the price was not fixed in the beginning and that both the parties do not know the rental of the car. Rather, it will be regarded as though the price was fixed per kilometre and based on one’s total usage (which differs from person to person), one will be charged.

Therefore, there is a distinct difference between the rental of a property and the wage of a person hired for his services. Comparing the rental of a leased property to the wage paid in lieu of services is incorrect.

It is on account of the above-mentioned reasons that we find all the four Mazaahib (Hanafi, Maaliki, Shaafi’ee and Hambali) are unanimous that if the rental is not fixed in an ijaarah contract (lease contract), it will not be permissible.

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

مذهب المالكية

باب في الاجارة وكراء الدواب والدور والحمام وما يتعلق بذلك وهي بكسر الهمزة أشهر من ضمها وهي والكراء شئ واحد في المعنى: هو تمليك منافع شئ مباحة مدة معلومة بعوض، غير أنهم سموا العقد على منافع الآدمي وما ينقل غير السفن والحيوان إجارة والعقد على منافع ما لا ينقل كالارض والدور وما ينقل من سفينة وحيوان كالرواحل كراء في الغالب فيهما. وأركانها أربعة: العاقد والاجر والمنفعة والصيغة، والمراد بها ما يدل على تمليك المنفعة بعوض ويشمل ذلك المعاطاة، وأشار إلى الاولين بقوله: (صحة الاجارة بعاقد) مؤجر ومستأجر كالبيع فشرطهما التمييز وشرط اللزوم التكليف فالصبي المميز إذا أجر نفسه أو سلعته صح وتوقف على رضا وليه ومثله العبد وأما السفيه إن عقد على نفسه فلا كلام لوليه إلا إذا كان في الاجر محاباة فلوليه النظر وإن عقد على سلعة فلوليه النظر مطلقا كالبيع فالشرط لزوم أيضا في الجملة (وأجر كالبيع) فيكون طاهرا منتفعا به مقدورا على تسليمه معلوما. (الشرح الكبير مع حاشية الدسوقي 5/334)

والجعل في المجاعلة لا يكون إلا معلوما ، كما أن الأجرة في الإجارة لا تكون إلا معلومة ،(البيان والتحصيل ,ج 8 ص 445)

مذهب الشافعية

كتاب الإجارة  بكسر الهمزة في المشهور وحكى ابن سيده ضمها وصاحب المستعذب فتحها وهي لغة اسم للأجرة ثم اشتهرت في العقد وشرعا عقد على منفعة مقصود معلومة قابلة للبذل والإباحة بعوض معلوم…(مغنى المحتاج ,ج 3 ص378 )

( ويشرط كون الأجرة ) التي في الذمة ( معلومة ) جنسا وقدرا وصفة كالثمن في البيع (مغنى المحتاج ,ج 3 ص383 )

مذهب الحنابلة

( الحكم الثالث ) أنه يشترط في عوض الإجارة كونه معلوما لا نعلم في ذلك خلافا وذلك لأنه عوض في عقد معاوضة فوجب أن يكون معلوما كالثمن في البيع وقد روي عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم أنه قال : [ من استأجر أجيرا فليعلمه أجره ] (المغنى لابن قدامة ,ج 6 ص7 )

مذهب الحنفية

وشرطها كون الأجرة والمنفعة معلومتين لأن جهالتهما تفضي إلى المنازعة

قال الشامي : قوله ( كون الأجرة والمنفعة معلومتين ) أما الأول فكقوله بكذا دراهم أو دنانير وينصرف إلى غالب نقد البلد فلو الغلبة مختلفة فسدت الإجارة ما لم يبين نقدا منها فلو كانت كيليا أو وزنيا أو عدديا متقاربا فالشرط بيان القدر والصفة وكذا مكان الإيفاء لو له حمل ومؤنة عنده وإلا فلا يحتاج إليه كبيان الأجل ولو كانت ثيابا أو عروضا فالشرط بيان الأجل والقدر والصفة لو غير مشارا إليها ولو كانت حيوانا فلا يجوز إلا أن يكون معينا بحر ملخصا (رد المحتار 6/ 5)

( تفسد الإجارة بالشروط المخالفة لمقتضى العقد فكلما أفسد البيع ) مما مر ( يفسدها ) كجهالة مأجور أو أجرة أو مدة أو عمل (الدر المختار 6/ 46)

وأما الذي يرجع إلى ما يقابل المعقود عليه وهو الأجرة والأجرة في الإجارات معتبرة بالثمن في البياعات لأن كل واحد من العقدين معاوضة المال بالمال فما يصلح ثمنا في البياعات يصلح أجرة في الإجارات وما لا فلا وهو أن تكون الأجرة مالا متقوما معلوما وغير ذلك مما ذكرناه في كتاب البيوع (بدائع الصنائع 4/193)

مطلب في أجرة الدلال تتمة قال في التاترخانية وفي الدلال والسمسار يجب أجر المثل وما تواضعوا عليه أن في كل عشرة دنانير كذا فذاك حرام عليهم وفي الحاوي سئل محمد بن سلمة عن أجرة السمسار فقال أرجو أنه لا بأس به وإن كان في الأصل فاسدا لكثرة التعامل وكثير من هذا غير جائز فجوزوه لحاجة الناس إليه كدخول الحمام وعنه قال رأيت ابن شجاع يقاطع نساجا ينسج له ثيابا في كل سنة (رد المحتار 6/63)

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)