Definition of rack rent in English:

rack rent

Pronunciation /ˈrak rent/ /ˈræk rɛnt/


  • An extortionate or very high rent, especially an annual rent equivalent to the full value of the property to which it relates.

    ‘They rearranged their estates to create larger tenant farms on rack rents, with a decline in small yeomen farmers with customary tenure or freeholds.’
    • ‘By the 19th century, the traditional rents were so out of line with real values that landlords sought to convert them to rack rents.’
    • ‘Rack-renting and Farmers' Returns on Capital: Beneficial leases survived in certain areas as late as the end of the 19th century, but from around 1750 landlords increasingly imposed rack rents.’

transitive verb

[with object]dated
  • rack-rentExact an excessive or extortionate rent from (a tenant) or for (a property)

    as noun rack-renting ‘hundreds of thousands of peasants who hate corruption, rack-renting, and foreign intervention’
    • ‘rack-renting landlords’
    • ‘A small studio in the centre of the town - ideal either for monitoring the joyful events in person or indeed for rack-renting desperate pilgrims - starts at around €30,000.’
    • ‘One reason for introducing short leases was so that ‘rack-rented farms could… become subject to market forces… ’, but another was that they made tenants more accountable to landlords.’


Late 16th century (as rack-rented): from the verb rack (in the sense ‘cause stress’) + the noun rent.