A lease is an agreement between the landlord and the tenant which sets forth the particulars of the tenant`s use of the property. The lease defines the duration of the tenant`s possession, the rent to be paid, responsibilities for taxes, utilities, maintenance and the like, limitations on the types of use for the property, legal rights and remedies available to both parties in the relationship and so forth. In essence, the lease is the agreement which forms the basis of the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. This is seen as a contract between the parties. Federal, state and local laws control other aspects of the relationship, and may impose other duties on the parties that are not contained in the lease.
Both the landlord and the tenant benefit from having the lease in writing. Either party may negotiate for any terms or other particulars he or she may want in the lease before it is signed. However, once both parties sign the lease, it is a legally binding document. If a conflict later arises between the parties regarding the property that must be decided in the courts, the court will look to the lease to determine the parties` agreement as to their respective rights and obligations. Therefore, it is very important that each party read and understand the lease before it is signed.