Lessee – Concept, rights and obligations

We explain what a tenant is, what are the rights it contemplates and the different obligations that it must comply with.

A tenant is someone who rents an asset (building, apartment, vehicle, etc.).

What is a tenant?

It is called lessee to the opposite figure to the lessor in a lease or rental contract. That is to say, the natural person or legal person that acquires the rights of use (usufruct) of a specific asset (personal or real property) is thus called, under contractual conditions of mutual agreement and for a specified time. In return, the tenant agrees to meet the regular payment, usually monthly, of a specific amount.

Put more simply, a tenant is who rents something: a building, an apartment, an office, a vehicle, etc., and acquires by contract the right to use it, without considering in any way its legitimate and definitive owner.

The specific terms of the legal contract between the lessor and the tenant will always be defined in writing, in a legal document protected by the judicial institutions and in accordance with the protocols and considerations established by the legal framework of the country where the lease occurs. Under no circumstances what appears and is accepted in the contract may be illegal, as it will make the contract invalid.

Among the terms agreed by contract are usually: the time that the lease will last, the conditions in which it will be given, how the unforeseen or disagreements between the parties will be resolved and, in addition, the amount of the rental payment (along with its possible changes in time). If the terms of this agreement are violated or breached by any of the parties, the institutions and mechanisms that the law provides for justice will take part.

Rights of a tenant

The tenant has the right to use the rented property as he sees fit.

The rights of a tenant will always be contemplated in the respective code of laws of the country where the rental takes place, regardless of the nationality of those involved. However, it is usually considered that:

  • The lessee has, above all, the right to use the rented property as he sees fit, as long as it does not harm third parties, or deteriorate or destroy the property in question, beyond what its correct use implies.
  • The lessee has the right to demand that the leased property be in the conditions that were promised by contract, and that the duration of the usufruct be exactly as stipulated in the contract.
  • The lessee has the right to use the leased asset as his own, and to share it with those who so wish, as long as he becomes responsible after the eventual consequences that this may cause.
  • The tenant has the right to legal consultation, to review the contractual document to ensure that it does not violate the law or does not harm their interests, as well as to be protected by the law in the event of discrepancies not contemplated in the document.
  • The tenant has the right to be notified of the landlord’s decisions regarding the leased property with time and consideration for his well-being (especially in real estate).
  • The lessee is entitled, in some jurisdictions, to the first purchase option in the event that the lessor puts the leased property up for sale.

Obligations of a tenant

The same occurs with the tenant’s duties, stipulated by law. However, roughly, you are required to:

  • Preserve the state of the leased asset, causing it only the damage and deterioration that its correct use will cause.
  • Fully comply with the payment of the rental amount, respecting the provisions of the contract.
  • Respond to the owner and to the laws, if necessary, for the activities that occur in or involve the leased property, as well as its loss, destruction or deterioration, except in cases of force majeure or catastrophe.
  • Do not sell, sublet or negotiate the leased property to third parties without at least notifying and consulting the owner first.
  • Do not impersonate the owner under any circumstances.
  • Consult with the owner the radical or structural changes that could be made to the leased property, and respect his final decision on the matter.