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Parties to a Lease

Whether you are signing a commercial or a residential lease, several other parties may sign the real estate lease. Lease agreements often confer rights and responsibilities on each party involved. Leases all have a landlord and at least one tenant but may include subtenants or sublessees.

This FindLaw article explores the different parties to a lease and their respective duties.


A lease is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant that covers the duties and obligations of all parties to the lease. For example, a residential lease should identify the landlord as responsible for common areas, while basic maintenance for the dwelling unit falls to the tenant. The lease agreement should also identify the type of lease. For example, whether the lease is a yearlong or a month-to-month lease.

Terms of Lease

The terms of the lease cover many areas, including, but not limited to:

  • Amount of monthly rent
  • How to make rental payments
  • Description of the leased premises
  • Occupancy limits
  • Security deposit amount
  • The date when the tenant or renter can gain possession of the property
  • Covenants
  • Disclaimers
  • Sublease/sublet rules

Other Considerations

A lease should also provide information on the behaviors that may lead to an eviction, such as unpaid rent or causing damage to the commercial or residential property. Although oral agreements are valid in some states, landlords should use a written lease to avoid unnecessary conflicts.


A landlord is often the property owner of the rental property or the agent of the owner. Real estate management companies often 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.

Landlord Rights and Duties

Landlords pay property taxes for most residential real estate or real property. Landlords also have the right to evict a tenant for lease violations, including nonpayment of rent. They cannot use self-help to remove a tenant from their dwelling unit.

Instead, they must follow local laws and ordinances regarding eviction, including giving their tenant written notice and a reasonable time to respond. If the tenant doesn't pay or vacate the rental property in the allotted period of time, the landlord can go to court for an order to vacate.

Anti-Discrimination Housing Laws Landlords Must Follow

Landlords must follow local laws and federal laws regarding anti-discrimination housing. Fair housing laws, including the federal Fair Housing Act, prohibit the landlord from discriminating against tenants or prospective tenants in any aspect of the rental process or during their tenancy. Landlords cannot make any decisions based on a protected characteristic.

Protected characteristics include, but are not limited to:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Gender Identity
  • Disability
  • Familial Status


A tenant is a person or entity with the right to occupy rental property per a rental agreement or lease. In addition to lease provisions, state law usually outlines tenant rights within its landlord and tenant law sections.


subtenant is a party who rents from the tenant. Consider a commercial property that leases out part of the leased property to a commercial tenant. For residential leases, a subtenant often rents from the tenant named in the lease. For example, the primary tenant rents a two-bedroom apartment and leases out one bedroom. In this scenario, the subtenant pays rent to the primary tenant, who pays rent to the landlord. Anyone considering this option should check with their landlord first.


Roommates listed on the lease are also tenants, and each one will be individually fully responsible for the total amount of the rent due to the residential landlord unless the lease specifically states otherwise.

If only one roommate is on the lease and the others still need to sign the lease, only the roommate listed is a tenant. The others are subtenants. Only roommates who sign the lease are responsible for the total amount of rent to the landlord. Any claims between roommates are often resolved through contract law rather than landlord-tenant law.

Commercial Leases

Commercial leases have a few differences as compared to residential leases. First, most of these leases cover property zoned for businesses, while others are in mixed-use zones. Most commercial leases involve a lessor or a lessee. The lessor is the landlord or the party leasing out the property. Lessors rent property to a lessee.

Get Legal Help

Deciphering complex leases is a complex task. A qualified landlord-tenant attorney is an expert in real estate law. They can read the lease, help you understand the agreement, and protect your legal rights. Speak to an experienced local real estate attorney.

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