Skip to main content

Common Lease Terms

Click each term for the definition


Action

A legal proceeding by which one demands or enforces one’s rights in court

Assignment

The transfer of rights or property from one person to another

Breach

A violation of one or more provisions of a lease or contract

Caveat Emptor

A concept meaning “buyer beware;” summarizes the rule that when renting or buying housing, one must examine and test the condition of the premises for himself or herself

Civil

A noncriminal legal matter; housing disputes are typically handled in civil courts

Damages

Usually a sum of money awarded to a landlord or a tenant as compensation for a financial loss caused by the other party

Default

Failure to fulfill a legal obligation, particularly payment of rent

Eviction

Dispossession by process of law; turning a tenant out of possession

Fixtures

Property that is attached or annexed to a structure, such as sinks and light sockets

Housing Codes

Regulations written by a state, county, or local government that establish certain minimum standards of habitability for residential property

Judgment

A decision or opinion of the court, usually awarding monetary damages

Landlord

One who owns and leases real estate

Lease

A contract by which one conveys the right to possession of real estate to another for a designated length of time and usually for a specified monetary rent

Lessee

A tenant under a lease

Lessor

One who grants a lease (landlord or the landlord’s agent)

Liability

The state of being legally responsible

Notice

An oral or written forewarning of a legal event

Parties

Persons involved in a legal contract; the lessor and a lessee under a lease

Premises

The property conveyed in a lease; a building, a house, an apartment, a dwelling unit, etc.

Property

That to which a person has a legal title; real estate that one has the legal right to possess, use, and enjoy

Quit

To leave or vacate

Retaliatory Eviction

An attempt by a landlord to evict a tenant in retaliation for the tenant’s complaint of a housing code violation to the appropriate enforcement agency

Security Deposit

Money deposited by a tenant with the landlord as security for full and faithful performance by the tenant of the terms of the lease

Sublease

A lease by a tenant to a third party, usually conveying the leased property for a shorter term than the tenant’s term. The original tenant remains completely liable to the landlord for rent

Tenancy

A holding of real property; also, the period of a tenant’s occupancy or possession of premises

Tenant

One who holds or possesses premises under a lease

Term

The period of time for which a lease is granted

Utilities

Usually heat, hot water and cold running water, and electricity supplied to a premise