Renting a new house or apartment can be a daunting task for both landlord and tenant. Background and credit checks put pressure on the potential tenant and city ordinances and permitting can put a squeeze on a landlord. Both parties have so much to do in this time of transition that both can forget the importance of a leasing agreement.

Residential and commercial leases for tenants and landlords alike can often be confusing or even unbalanced for either party. For residential tenants it’s important to protect your privacy and to understand potential late fees should you be late on rent. Commercial leases for business tenants must be maintained for large swaths of time without interruption for a business to find its footing and keep costs down.

If you are a residential tenant make sure to reread the lease and ask questions of the landlord before signing. Many landlord agreements seem standard, but can often have clauses unfavorable to the tenant, that are unlawful. Landlords sometimes get stuck using outdated leasing agreements, long after laws have been amended. A good attorney will be up to date with the most applicable law and make sure the leases are sound.

Landlords can use residential leases to cover repairs or back pay in a number of ways. Sometimes deposits themselves are not enough to cover damages incurred by the resident leaving landlords with little recourse aside from a lawsuit. But a properly worded lease, and applicable state laws, could potentially allow a landlord to seize a tenants’ property and sell that property after eviction takes place. Double check laws in your state and talk with an attorney to see what you are allowed to do to cover your costs.

In a commercial leasing arrangement permitting and business codes may not just affect the business in the eyes of the city or state. Many leases have clauses dependant that the tenant maintains a lawful residency. If your business violates a health code, it could also be in breach of contract as far as the leasing agreement itself.

Landlords need to protect their real estate by using language in leasing agreements that allows them to obtain a deposit and keep that deposit to cover clean up costs and repair costs, should the tenant damage the property. Leasing agreements can also circumvent any liability the landlord may take on otherwise concerning any accidents that take place on the property.

Commercial leases generally mean that the real estate will be open to the public and have a lot of foot traffic. For the business, customers are a great thing, but for a landlord that might mean potential liability. Landlords can protect themselves by including agreed upon language concerning their liability in the leasing agreement themselves. An experienced attorney can draft an agreement that offers peace of mind to a stressed landlord.

Clearly, residential and commercial leases for tenants and landlords are essential documents to have at hand. Make sure you know what leasing arrangement fits you and your needs beforehand to best protect your interests.