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The basics of apartment leases

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When you sign a lease as part of an apartment rental, you’re entering into a long-term agreement with your landlord about the rules you will follow as a tenant. You may be inclined to simply sign it so you can get on with the moving process but being hasty could lead to misunderstandings down the road.

Take the time to read the lease and make sure you understand the basics before signing your name on the dotted line.

Basic details

The lease needs to include your physical address as well as your landlord’s contact information. Another necessary detail is the date the lease goes into effect, which will also be your move-in date. This date establishes the timetable on which other elements of the lease will operate, including renewal options.

Rent and cost breakdown

Knowing how much you rent you’ll pay is only the first step. The lease should also indicate:

  • The deposit you need to pay before moving in
  • The circumstances under which you’ll get back your deposit after the lease ends and you move out
  • The utilities that need to be paid, establishing what the tenant has to cover and what the landlord is responsible for, if anything – some landlords will provide past bills For reference


If you’re not the apartment’s first tenant, the odds are good that something will break. The lease lays out who is responsible for what: major repairs like leaks and heating issues are usually the responsibility of the landlord – but not always.

The lease can put the responsibility, in whole or in part, on the tenant. This is one of the most important parts of the lease you must pay attention to. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions because once you sign the agreement, you’ll be bound to it.

It should be noted that the security deposit generally covers damages, which can be anything from a malfunctioning oven to a dented wall. If the landlord has to make repairs during your stay or after you’ve moved out, they can take the costs out of the deposit before they return it back to you.

Additional rules

One of the biggest variables in rental leases is the additional rules that don’t fall into the above categories. They can cover almost anything. For example, if there are other tenants in your building, the landlord may have an established set of hours where everyone is expected to be quiet.

Additional rules could specify the number of guests you can have over at one time and how long they can stay. Some leases will include clauses that say guests can’t stay with you for more than a set number of consecutive days. If your guests overstay, the contract may detail the consequences of breaking the rule.

Renting an apartment is exciting and can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s important to take your time when going over the lease. Make sure you understand every aspect and ask for clarification for anything about which you’re unsure.

For inquiries on apartments in the Houston area, get in touch with the seasoned agents of Hunter Real Estate Group. Call (713) 572-0824 today or send an email to trace(at)hunterrealestategroup(dotted)com.