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What to Look For in Your Lease

The Texas Apartment Association suggests you look for the following things in your apartment rental agreement when you rent an apartment in Houston, TX:

When is your rent due, who do you pay it to and where (apartment leasing office, drop box)?

Are there late charges if you don't pay the rent on time? How much are they, and when do they first apply?

How much advance notice must you give before moving at the end of your apartment rental agreement term? Thirty days. written notice used to be the norm when rent is paid monthly, but many properties now require 60 days' notice.

What will you be responsible for if you need to move out before the end of your apartment lease term?

Can you have roommates, and what are the apartment complex policies toward roommates?

What restrictions, if any, will affect your security deposit refund?

What are the apartment owner's obligations to make needed repairs? A requirement for diligence is common.

What does the rent include? Any rental furniture? Utilities? Parking? Rental property amenities?

Are there any instructions for cleaning the apartment when you move? Cleaning costs usually can be deducted from your security deposit if you fail to follow instructions.

Are there prohibitions against subletting or keeping animals in your apartment? Written permission is usually required. Also, there is usually an extra rental deposit for animals.

Lease provisions are often negotiable, which means the lease language or form can be changed by mutual agreement. If you want to make a change in an lease provision, or add a provision to your apartment lease, ask the apartment manager to write in the change and initial it. You should initial the change as well. If the apartment manager does not agree to a change, you can reconsider your requirements or choose to rent an apartment somewhere else.

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