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What is a Residential Lease?

A residential lease is the legal agreement between a property owner and the leaseholder outlining the terms of occupancy. It establishes the rights and responsibilities for both parties regarding the unit and common areas.

The lease provides rules and guidelines for the property, including maintenance obligations, permitted and prohibited uses of the space, and more. It serves as a reference for addressing issues that may arise. While leases can be detailed legal documents, owners or their representatives should be available to answer questions and ensure understanding of obligations.

It’s important to note that leases may differ even for units in the same building. Relying on a neighbor’s lease without verification is inadvisable. If the original lease cannot be located, owners can typically obtain a replacement from the property registry or management for a small fee. Mortgage lenders may also have a copy on file.

When purchasing a unit, taking time to review the lease terms is beneficial. Understanding responsibilities and what issues the owner handles provides clarity. If a management company oversees building operations on the owner’s behalf, the lease serves as the guiding policy.

Owners of share-of-freehold properties still have leaseholder obligations for their individual units outlined in the applicable lease, in addition to any responsibilities that come with freehold ownership shared among residents.

Leases typically specify payment due dates, the unit’s portion of shared costs, permitted uses, and more at the beginning. Schedules define maintenance duties of owners and leaseholders. For example, most leases designate interior windows and fixtures as tenant responsibilities while exterior window frames fall to the owner.

Keeping the lease terms in mind facilitates compliance and cooperation between residents and building management.

Consider the lease as the ‘holy grail’ and you will get along just fine!


Bethany Nicol February 2024