What is a Lessor and Lessee in Real Estate?

May 29, 2024

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Lessor and Lessee in Real Estate  

“Lessor” and “lessee” are common terms you’ll find in a lease or other rental agreement. 

But what exactly do these terms mean? What does it mean to be a lessor or lessee in real estate? 

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant working with lease agreements and property management for the first time, you must first grasp the rights and obligations defining the lessee lessor relationship. From ownership dynamics to legal frameworks governing leases, this article will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of the landlord-tenant relationship. 

Lessor Definition 

In real estate, a lessor is a person or entity who owns a property and grants a lease to someone else to occupy or use that property. Lessors are also known as landlords. The lessor prepares and provides the lease agreement, which explains the rights, responsibilities, and conditions that apply to each party in the rental agreement. Because the lessor holds ownership of the asset in the lease agreement, they define the terms and conditions for its usage. 

In return for giving up the use of their property, a lessor receives payment, usually in the form of monthly rent installments. This allows lessors to generate cash flow and potentially make a profit from the capital they invested. 

Lessee Definition 

A lessee, by contrast, is the person granted a lease by a property owner. Lessees are also known as tenants. Lessees are responsible for signing and maintaining the terms of the lease agreement in exchange for occupation or use of the property for a certain term length. A lessee’s largest responsibility is paying rent. 

Lease Agreements 

The critical agreement that defines the relationship between a lessor and a lessee is the lease agreement. A lease agreement is a legal document that defines the terms and conditions of the agreement, such as the lease term, periodic payments for use of the leased asset, consequences for unpaid rent, early termination procedures, and other terms. Negotiating lease terms and conditions is crucial for establishing a clear understanding between the two parties. 

Both parties must agree on key elements such as rent amount, payment frequency, lease duration, maintenance responsibilities, and potential penalties. For most residential lease agreements, the landlord or property manager prepares these items, which may or may not be negotiable. Maintenance responsibilities or pet policies, for instance, could be negotiated between the lessor and lessee (especially in the case of a smaller landlord), while the rent price is usually determined by market trends and less likely to be negotiable. Clear and detailed leases written in plain language can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes later on. 

As a lessee, it’s essential to review and fully comprehend all terms before signing the agreement. If any terms seem unclear or unfavorable, don’t hesitate to discuss them with the lessor and seek clarification or modifications if needed. Open communication and mutual agreement on lease terms can lead to a smoother and more harmonious landlord-tenant relationship. 

Lessor vs Lessee Legal Obligations and Rights  

Housing is an important public policy point and social concern. For this reason, rental housing is regulated by federal, state, and local governments to ensure that both parties are being treated fairly and that contracts adhere to government standards. Commercial leases are also regulated by laws, but since residential housing legislation is relevant to more people, we’ll focus on that here. 

Lessor Obligations 

Lessors’ obligations include maintaining the property, providing safe and sanitary housing, and following any relevant local or city laws. Here are a few common responsibilities of lessors: 

  • Screen tenants fairly and adhere to all fair housing laws (This means only denying tenant applicants for a valid legal reason). 
  • Provide safe, sanitary housing, free from pests and environmental hazards like mold and mildew. 
  • Maintain the property to all building, housing, and safety codes. 
  • Refund security deposits and deduct funds for valid legal reasons. 
  • Regularly inspecting properties. 
  • Performing preventative maintenance. 
  • Repairing appliances and building systems, like plumbing and electricity. 
  • Adhere to local rent control laws. 
  • Make reasonable accommodations and modifications for tenants with disabilities 
  • Follow all landlord-tenant laws, such as security deposit and late fee limits, landlord entry times/notice periods, eviction processes, etc. 

Lessee Obligations 

The lessee’s responsibilities include the following: 

  • Make on-time rent payments (usually regular payments each month, but may be a one time payment as well) 
  • Follow all the landlord’s rental community rules. 
  • Do not damage the property. 
  • Dispose of all trash and keep the property reasonably clean and sanitary. 
  • Inform the landlord of damages or other property maintenance concerns as soon as possible. 
  • Be respectful of other tenants and their right to quiet enjoyment. 
  • Clean up after yourself and your pets in shared common areas. 
  • Follow occupancy limits per the building code and lease agreement. 

Benefits of Lessee Lessor Relationships 

To maximize the benefits of the lessee lessor relationship, both parties need to understand and agree to the responsibilities listed above (and all other terms/conditions agreed on). This mutual understanding fosters a positive and cooperative atmosphere, reducing conflicts and promoting smooth interactions. 

By following the lease terms diligently, lessees can enjoy stability in their rented space and avoid unexpected disruptions. For the landlord, sticking to the agreed-upon terms ensures a reliable income stream and helps maintain a good rapport with tenants. 

Ultimately, clear communication and respect for the lease agreement create a harmonious environment where both parties benefit from a transparent and mutually beneficial relationship. 


Understanding the roles and responsibilities of both parties in a lease is the first step toward fostering a successful agreement. 

Whether you’re a lessor or a landlord, maintaining open lines of communication and upholding your obligations are the most important component to a harmonious and mutually beneficial arrangement.

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