Parties to a Lease
When a lease agreement is signed, it confers certain rights and responsibilities to each party involved. Leases all have a landlord at least one tenant, but may also include subtenants. The following is a concise description of the various parties to a lease. See FindLaw's Landlord Tenant Law section for additional resources.
A landlord is the owner of the rental property, or the agent of the owner of rental property. Often real estate management companies will act as landlords for private or corporate entities. The landlord allows a tenant to use and occupy the rental property in exchange for payment of rent.
A tenant is the person or entity that has the right to occupy rental property in accordance with a rental agreement or lease. In addition to provisions set out in the lease, state law typically outlines tenant rights with its own Landlord and Tenant law.
If roommates are listed on the lease, each roommate is considered a tenant and each one will be individually fully responsible for the total amount of the rent due to the landlord, unless the lease specifically states otherwise. If only one roommate is listed on the lease and the others have not signed the lease, only the roommate listed is considered the tenant. The others are considered subtenants. Only roommates who sign the lease are responsible for the full amount of the rent to the landlord. The roommates who signed may have some separate claims against their non-signing, non-paying roommates, but such claims would typically be covered by contract law rather than landlord tenant law.