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More Leases, More Problems

Leases are one of the most common contracts we encounter in our daily lives. Almost all of us have at one point or another signed our name to a lease. However, these contracts are not simple despite being so common. This is especially true for real estate leases.

Both commercial and residential leases are governed by a myriad of laws and regulations. Some of these laws and regulations can be waived in a lease, some cannot. For example, every residential lease in Pennsylvania contains a warranty that the property is habitable for the tenant (whether explicitly mentioned or not). The landlord cannot make a tenant waive this right. Often, landlords cannot evict a tenant because the landlord did not provide a habitable property and the lease waiver does not hold up in court.

On the other hand, the right to a habitable property is not generally applied to commercial leases. Commercial landlords often require tenants to take properties “as-is.” However, the latitude given to commercial landlords can lead to language in commercial leases that is frequently problematic. Knowing how to craft a lease to lessen potential problems can make the difference between easier resolutions to problems or your business losing tens of thousands of dollars.

For instance, a landlord in a residential lease is generally responsible for all major repairs – usually simple enough. On the other hand, a commercial landlord often requires tenants to repair the property except for “structural” elements. Yet, what is considered “structural” is surprisingly often not defined. Does structural mean that the landlord is only responsible for the foundation and structural walls, or does the structure include the roof?

Even if “structural” is defined in a commercial lease, the lease terms can still create ambiguity. Ambiguity can occur when structural elements include components hidden behind walls, but the lease makes the tenant responsible for repairs to elements such as plumbing, pipes, and electrical wiring. When a pipe behind the wall bursts, and water is flooding the property, is the landlord responsible or the tenant?

These are only a few examples of the universe of things that can go wrong under a lease. Lawsuits involving leases can cause catastrophic losses to both landlords and tenants and have even caused businesses to close or forced owners to sell the property.

Sperring Law Firm not only drafts commercial and residential leases but litigates them in court. This experience provides the firm a perspective over other attorneys and firms that draft contracts but do not often appear court to fight over them. The firm’s litigation experience helps us identify common lease pitfalls when drafting, or to develop strategies to help you fight a lease in court.

If you are negotiating a lease, do not hesitate to call or email Sperring Law Firm to help you at 484-250-9058 or Having an experienced attorney review and draft your leases costs some money now but can save you countless headaches and money in the future.

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