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How-to guides, articles, and any other content appearing on this page are for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal advice, and are no substitute for the advice of an attorney.

Assignment of commercial lease: How-to guide

Occasionally, tenants wish to leave a rental property before the end of their lease. Individuals may take new jobs in new cities, and companies may go out of business or sell their enterprises to a third party.

Whatever the reason, tenants can transfer their original commercial lease to new parties by completing an assignment of the lease.

An assignment transfers one party's interest and obligations under a lease to another party.

During these tenant transfers, the new tenant takes on the lease responsibilities, including paying rent and property maintenance of the leased premises, and the original tenant is released from most of their duties.

Successful property management begins with good documentation and a properly drafted, executed assignment:

  • Ensures that all parties involved understand the obligations being transferred
  • Defines the responsibilities that each party will have under the new arrangement
  • Lays the foundation for a long-lasting landlord and new tenant relationship

Important aspects to consider when drafting commercial leases

Laws about the original commercial lease agreement

State laws governing real estate, renting, leasing, and assignments vary widely and can tremendously affect your arrangement.

Since the tenant is legally responsible for this document, they must include specific information like financial statements in the commercial lease assignment. Consider your state and local laws for additional information required in your area.

Criteria for commercial landlords in providing consents

A landlord may consider only proper factors when deciding whether or not to consent to an assignment.

Some criteria will be regarded as impermissible by courts, such as refusal based on race or sex of the proposed new tenant. If your landlord does not consent to your attempted assignment, ensure they give you clear written reasons for the decision. Failure to provide such reasons can itself be deemed unreasonable.

Consequences of not providing consent

It is essential to seek the landlord’s permission for the proposed transfer of the duties.

Depending on your jurisdiction or the terms of your original lease, a landlord’s failure to respond to your request for consent to assignment within a specific time may be deemed consent. Sometimes, it may give the assigning tenant grounds to terminate the lease. Review the original lease and your state’s laws for additional details.

Although a landlord is not required to consent to a lease assignment agreement, in some cases, your lease will state that a landlord’s consent will not be “unreasonably” withheld. This is more common in commercial leases than in a residential lease. What is considered unreasonable varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and you should review the laws in your area (and the assignment clause in your original lease agreement) for additional information. On the other hand, if the lease states that the landlord may use their “sole discretion” to evaluate the new tenant, they can veto this assignment without any reason.

Rights of the original tenant

The original tenant cannot assign more rights than the original lease. For example, if the lease term is one year, the assignment term cannot be two years.

Review the lease assignments before signing

Most leases require the landlord’s written consent before an assignment becomes effective. Review the assignment provisions and the original lease agreement for additional information and see if other requirements must be met to make the lease assignment agreement valid.

Get the assignment signed

Sign three copies of the assignment, one for you, the other party, and the landlord. Depending on the nature of its terms, you may decide to have the document witnessed or notarized. This will limit later challenges to the validity of a party’s signature.

Be sure the assignee gets a copy of the original lease by attaching it to the assignment. Its terms will bind them, and they should know their new obligations and rights.

If your agreement is complicated, contact an attorney to help draft a document that meets your needs.

Key components of a commercial lease assignment

The following instructions will help you understand the terms of your assignment.


In this section, identify the parties and, if applicable, what type of organization(s) they are. Write down how the document identifies each party. For example, the current tenant can be addressed as the “original tenant” or “assignor” as they assign the lease to the new tenant, and the new tenant can be called the “new tenant” or “assignee.”

Furthermore, add the date on which the assignment will become effective – when it is signed.


The “whereas” clauses, referred to as recitals, define the world of the agreement and offer essential background information about the parties.

In this assignment, the recitals include a simple statement of the parties’ intent to assign the original tenant’s interest in the lease and the new tenant’s intent to assume it. Provide a brief description of the rented property and the landlord’s name under the lease.

You don't need to include a complete legal description for the property description, but provide enough information to identify it. For individual houses, the address will usually be sufficient. If the property has a specific name (e.g., “Lincoln Towers”), include that as well. If only a section of the premises is assigned, clarify that in this description.


This section mentions the assignor’s assignment of their right and interest in the lease to the assignee. This assignment clause allows you to determine whether all of the assignor’s interest in the lease is being assigned or only part of it. For example, if interest in only one-half of the premises is being assigned, the document should note this.

Assumption of rights and duties

This section clarifies the assignor’s responsibilities for the duties listed under the lease (e.g., rent, maintenance of property, etc.). For example, whether:

The assignor is ultimately released from any liability they had under the lease. For example, if the assignee defaults, the landlord cannot seek payment from the assignor.


The assignor will be liable to the landlord if the assignee defaults.

In any event, the assignor will remain responsible for any obligations that occurred before the assignment. In other words, if the damage happened to the apartment before the transfer or the assignor did not fulfill another obligation under the lease, the assignor remains responsible for the building occupied.


In many rental relationships, amounts are paid in advance or deposited as security for the landlord.

At the end of the lease, this security deposit (with deductions subtracted or interest added) is returned to the tenant. If an entire interest is assigned, the lease does not end, and the assigning party cannot get this money back. This paragraph requires the assignee to pay those amounts to the assignor, and any later return of that money by the landlord will be made to the assignee.


In such clauses, the assignee promises to bear the financial cost of any injury the assignor suffers due to its assignment and any lawsuits arising from its activities on the premises. Note that there is an exception for things done by the assignor before the effective date of the assignment — the assignor remains responsible for those actions.

Continuing effectiveness of lease

Here, emphasize that the original lease terms are still effective to the assignee, except for the assignment.

Assignor’s representations and warranties

List the assignor’s promises under the assignment. Note that this is not a detailed list of services to be provided. Instead, this is the assignor’s assurance that the lease and the rental interest it’s providing are helpful (i.e., no one else lives or has an interest in the place, the lease is still in effect, the assignor is not behind in rental payments, etc.). If there are additional representations the assignor should be making, feel free to include those here.

Condition of premises

Here, mention that the premises are not warranted to be perfect or valuable in a particular way. Instead, the assignee is taking the rented property for what it is and is accepting it in that state.

Additional terms of assignment

This optional provision allows the assignor and the assignee to include any representations, warranties, or other provisions particular to their situation.


This section provides information that both parties were on equal footing in negotiating the consent to assignment. In many cases, a contract is interpreted favorably by the individual who did not draft it. This clause clarifies that both parties were involved in the drafting, so the document should not be read in favor of (or against) either.


Here, list the addresses to which all official or legal correspondence should be delivered. This can be the tenant’s business address or the mailing address for both the assignor and the assignee.


This section indicates that any changes to the document are only effective if they are made in writing and signed by both parties.

Governing law

This section allows the parties to choose the state laws used to interpret the document.

Counterparts; electronic signatures

This section explains that even if the parties sign the assignment in different locations or use electronic devices to transmit signatures (e.g., fax machines or computers), the separate pieces will be considered part of the same agreement. In a modern world where signing parties are often not in the same city—much less the same room — this provision ensures that business can be transacted efficiently without sacrificing the validity of the agreement as a whole.

Entire agreement

This clause mentions that the document parties are signing is “the agreement” about the issues involved. Unfortunately, the inclusion of this provision will not prevent a party from arguing that other enforceable promises exist, but it can provide you some protection from these claims.

Landlord’s consent and release 

Review the terms of the original lease agreement to determine whether or not the landlord’s consent is required to make the assignment effective. This is usually the case. If so, have the landlord sign the document.

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of an assignment of lease?

Whether it's because it's time to move to a new space or city, business isn't booming, a company gets sold, or otherwise, sometimes commercial tenants must leave a lease before it ends. And sometimes, they may want to transfer the responsibilities of their lease to someone new. A lease assignment occurs in this case.

Here's the information you'll need to have handy to complete your assignment of commercial lease:

  • Who the old tenant is: Have their name and contact information ready
  • Who the new tenant is: Have their information available

What is the difference between an assignment and a sublease?

An assignment transfers one party's interest in an agreement to a third party. In this case, the original tenant gives all their interest to a new tenant. That new tenant steps into the shoes of the old tenant and the old tenant is released from most of their obligations under the lease (although this can be changed by agreement).

This is not the same as a sublease. Under a sublease, a third party is granted only those specific rights provided in the sublease. The original tenant remains ultimately liable for residual obligations under the lease or any failures of the new tenant to meet their obligations. This means that the original tenant will be responsible (in equal measure with the new tenant) for any skipped rent payments or damage to the property.

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