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Landlord and Tenant

A lease grants the exclusive possession and use of property (but not title) to a tenant as against everybody else, including the owner, for a definite period of time in exchange for valuable consideration. If the term is for more than one year, the lease must be in writing. A lease option is an irrevocable right to lease. Both an assignment (transfer of all lease rights) and a sublease (transfer of a portion of lease rights) are permissible unless specifically prohibited in the lease.

Covenants in a lease are either dependent or independent. If a covenant is dependent, a party’s performance or tender of performance of his or her own covenant is a condition precedent to the right to recover for the breach of any covenant by the other party. If a covenant is independent, one party may sue for a breach of a covenant by the other without regard to whether the first party has performed his or her covenants. The warranty of habitability (i.e. landlord’s duty to provide habitable premises) is a dependent covenant in a residential lease but an independent covenant in a commercial lease.

Fixtures are incidental or appurtenant to land, are part of the real estate, and require a writing to be transferred. Personal property is not real estate.

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