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Third Party .AU Domain Name Leasing - Be Cautious

If you've settled on your choice for a perfect Australian domain name, but it's registered by someone else and that party offers to lease it to you - can you and should you?

What if you're the registrant of an Australian web address and wish to lease it out to another party - is it a wise move?

The body overseeing the .au domain space, au Domain Administration (auDA), doesn't expressly forbid third party leasing arrangements; but there are some important points to bear in mind.

auDA says the registrant, the person listed as such on a WHOIS query, is ultimately responsible for the name. It also warns a third party has no rights over the address.

"For example, if auDA receives an eligibility complaint about the domain name then it will investigate whether or not the registrant is eligible. If it determines that the registrant is not eligible then it will delete the domain name, regardless of whether a third party is using it," it states.

Ineligibility could be determined for any of a number of reasons, including the name not having a close and substantial connection to the registrant - or the person it is leased to. The Australian domain space has quite strict eligibility guidelines, which help to preserve the good reputation of and trust in the .au space.

This situation could present a significant risk to a lessee. Imagine leasing a name, putting in the hard yards to build a site and promote it - and then the name is suddenly being taken away through no fault of your own. 

Even if the ineligibility scenario doesn't eventuate, what happens after the end of your lease if it isn't renewed?

For a lessor, there are also risks. You may have a name that is well-aged and perhaps even has good search engine rankings if a site is attached. If a lessee starts causing havoc through their activities or search engines penalise the site due to its content and activities; it could lose some of its value. It's also very important to remember you are responsible for the name and whatever happens with it.

Probably the only scenario where leasing could be considered potentially viable is where the intention is for the lessee to eventually buy the domain name and have it transferred to their own account. Even in that scenario, it's very important to have a solid contract drawn up based on the advice of a legal professional.

Given third party leasing can be problematic, it's best to either buy an already-registered domain name outright (although the concept of being able to "buy a domain" isn't quite accurate) or to settle on an available website address; which is in effect taking out a lease from the registry that runs that particular name space.

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How to register a name: Enter your choice in the search tool and click 'GO'. If after the check the domain names search results show your choice is available, you will then have the option to proceed to purchase registration; which is a very quick and easy process - start a search and find your ideal website address now.