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How a commercial lease differs from a residential lease

The Michigan Business Network reported increases in commercial property vacancies for industrial and retail use were down in the first half of 2023 over the last half of 2022. Despite this downturn, commercial real estate can be a great investment.

However, it is much different from residential properties. Understanding the way residential and commercial leases differ can be helpful for someone looking to get into commercial real estate.

Purpose of space

Commercial leases cater to businesses. They can range from offices and retail stores to industrial facilities. The terms and conditions are also often more complex in commercial leases. They must reflect the unique needs of businesses. Leases might include zoning regulations, signage rights and maintenance responsibilities.

Residential leases revolve around providing a home for individuals or families. These agreements typically address issues like rent, security deposits and the rights of tenants.


Lease duration for commercial leases often spans longer periods. The length reflects the stability businesses seek to establish. Terms may extend for several years whereas residential leases commonly have shorter durations. They generally last for a year. The goal is more to offer flexibility in the event tenants need to move.

Financial obligations

In commercial agreements, tenants may bear additional costs beyond rent. These might include property taxes and maintenance fees. Residential situations usually put the responsibility for such expenses on the landlord.

When getting into commercial real estate, understanding the lease will differ from a residential agreement is important. Knowing the differences can help to avoid issues or misunderstandings.