1. Read the Lease Carefully Before You Sign It
Read the lease carefully before you sign. The landlord can enforce any and all reasonable terms written in the contract as long as they don’t contradict any state or local laws. Understand the terms of the lease before you sign the contract.
2. Take Photos of Your Apartment When You Move In and Move Out
To protect your security deposit, take plenty of photos to document the condition of your apartment at move in and move out. Keep the photos in a safe place until you are ready to move out. Thoroughly fill out a checklist to document preexisting damages at move in and make sure it is signed by both landlord and tenant. Request a move out walk-through before you move out. This can give you a better understanding about what the landlord may charge you.
3. Document All Communications with Your Landlord in Writing
Document all your communications your landlord. Keeping good documentation can save you from a lot of trouble during and after your tenancy.
4. Prioritize Paying Rent above Other Expenses
Don’t take chances with your housing. If you don’t pay rent and get evicted, it will likely cause problems with your job, school, and your health. And, an eviction on your record can make it very hard to rent again. Document every payment and communication with your landlord to protect yourself.
5. Do Not Withhold Rent if the Landlord is Not Making Repairs
It is not a good idea to withhold rent from the landlord, even if they are not making repairs. Keep a written record of your requests for repairs, and consider small claims court if your requests are ignored. Tenants make themselves vulnerable to evictions if they don’t pay rent.
6. Survivors of Domestic Violence Have Additional Protections Under the Law
Survivors of domestic violence cannot be discriminated against because of their status. Survivors also have the right to legally break their lease to escape an abuser, but must follow the proper legal process. In addition, landlords cannot refuse to rent to you because of your status as a domestic violence survivor. For more information, see
7. Eviction Always Requires a Court Process
Evictions require a specific court process. Even if you’ve failed to pay rent, it is illegal for a landlord to remove a tenant’s belongings without their consent, shut off utilities, or change the locks. It is best to call the police if the landlord attempts to exercise these actions without a court order.
Photo credit: Housing4Hoosiers