Understanding Your Apartment Lease
Your apartment lease agreement or rental agreement is a legal document which will define every aspect of your relationship with your rental property manager, so read it thoroughly before signing anything. Understand everything that is expected of you in your rental lease agreement, plus what your legal rights are.
Maybe you'll sign your apartment lease agreement and move in, and everything will go as you desired. There's a chance that you will never have problems with the rental lease agreement. However, there's also a chance that by signing the apartment lease without scrutinizing it, you missed paragraph five, section "b", which informed you that if a rental payment is one week late, you will be evicted, your tires will be slashed and your first-born child will be stolen and sold to gypsies.
Realize that apartment complex owners are allowed to include any provisions they want. And once you sign the agreement, the terms (in most cases) are legally binding. Take the extra time to completely understand this document when you locate an apartment for rent in Houston, and don't feel awkward if the leasing agent stands impatiently over you.
When you get the lease agreement, analyze every word. Some of it may be confusing; take your time. If you don't understand a clause, ask for clarifications. If you don't agree with a provision, see if you and your rental property owner or apartment manager can compromise.
If you do feel it's necessary to make changes to the lease agreement, these changes should be initialed by both you and the apartment manager. Do not settle for oral agreements! An oral agreement will not hold up in court. Every lease agreement should be written, dated, initialed and saved.
By all means SAVE A COPY of the final apartment lease agreement signed by you and the apartment manager. This is the most important document when it comes to settling an apartment disagreement. You should also keep a copy of the apartment or rental housing rules (sometimes called "apartment community policies") for the same purpose.
It's amazing how many renters will sign documents without actually understanding or even reading them. Maybe the lease agreement looked too long, or perhaps the language seemed confusing. Believe me, the time you spend completely understanding this contract will only benefit your position as a tenant.