Landlord and Tenant Regulations

What Is the Landlord-Tenant Relationship?

A landlord-tenant relationship is created when the parties enter into a lease agreement for real property. The relationship will be governed by the terms of the agreement as well as the law in the relevant jurisdiction.

The term real property refers to land and everything attached to it that cannot be easily moved, such as buildings, crops, and mineral rights, but not temporary structures, such as a potted plant or a portable grill.

The landlord-tenant relationship refers to how land is owned and used between two parties who have entered into a lease for real property. It involves the overlap of property law, contract law, and tort law. The landlord, who owns the property, agrees to let the tenant, who is renting the property, have exclusive control over the property temporarily in exchange for compensation. The property could be a place for the tenant to live, or it could be a place to operate the tenant's business. Or the tenant may rent property to store items on it or to fish, hunt, or grow crops on it.

Resources and Rights

During a tenancy, land and landed property rights remain with the landlord. Realty rights are temporarily placed with the tenant subject to the terms and conditions of the lease.
Contract law governs the relationship between the landlord and tenant. The statute of frauds is a requirement that certain types of contracts must be in writing in order to be valid. This contact, called a lease or leasehold, conveys interest in land or property services from one party to another for a certain time period in return for periodic payments and is subject to renewal by one or both parties. This written lease creates the landlord-tenant relationship rules and lays out what each party is supposed to do and not do in relation to the property and in relation to each other.

The lease will also discuss what happens if either party in the relationship encounters a tort of negligence, which is a civil wrong in which the defendant owed a duty, breached that duty, and caused the plaintiff harm. Often, the lease will address how the landlord-tenant relationship ends—usually focusing on the transfer of the property back from the tenant to the landlord at the end of the lease term and what each side's obligations and duties are in this regard.

Finally, the lease includes a method for settling disputes between the parties and discussion of penalties for certain violations by either the landlord or the tenant. Tort law covers the private harm for which one person can sue another, and is the area of law that most directly relates to this part of the landlord-tenant lease agreement. Leases tend to provide instruction on how to address the most common issues that arise between landlords and tenants and to contemplate what duties and penalties exist between the parties in managing the landlord-tenant relationship.