Understanding a Lease

The first step to understanding a lease is to read it. Always read every single word before you sign it. If it is possible, take it to a lawyer and have them read it too. If that is not possible, then research leases for similar circumstances and compare them. Each and every lease in this world is a purpose-built and unique document, and once you sign it, it will be binding upon you and you specifically. Therefore, it behooves you to be thoroughly familiar with the provisions outlined before affixing your signature. The only way to do that is to read it thoroughly. Here are a few of the more common terms and concepts that you may encounter while reading your lease.

“Lessor,” “Leasee,” and “Lessee”

The highly precise but confusing nature of legal terminology makes itself known immediately when reading this binding contract. The “lessor” that most leases refer to is easy to understand: they are the person who is offering the lease. The difference between “leasee” and “lessee” is more arcane, though both refer to the person obtaining the lease. They are similar in meaning, though not precisely interchangeable, and one should be careful of any contract that uses them carelessly. Contracts are written with great precision for good reasons.

“Common Maintenance Area”

Also known as the CMA, this is a common feature of leases on commercial property, apartments, and any other sort of shared access real estate. The CMA refers to the area outside the property specific to the lease but still common property of the lessee and all other people on the property. Hallways, yards, elevators, and public restrooms are all excellent examples of things usually within the CMA.

“Gross Square Foot”

This is the measurement of the area for lease. It will sometimes include areas in the CMA, but they should be designated as such in the lease. Be sure to check their measurements yourself to be sure.

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