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Before signing a lease agreement be sure to thoroughly inspect the property. It is a good idea to take a camcorder through each room before moving in any furniture. If a camcorder is unavailable, take photographs. Be sure to repeat this process after vacating the apartment. This will protect you from a fraudulent landlord. In the avent the landlord claims you did excessive damage to the property, use the video or photographs as evidence to discredit his or her claim.

Perfect apartment, imperfect lease. If while reading the lease you discover an objectionable provision, discuss it with the landlord. If the landlord agrees, you may delete the provision before the lease is signed.

What to do if the landlord refuses to rent to you. Know your rights. The refusal is illegal if it is based on: Gender, religion, race or national orgin. He or she may however refuse rent to someone with insuffcient income or an unstable work record. If the refusal is because you have children, this is also illegal, except in senior citizen communities that meet strict federal guidelines.

What should you do if the landlord says a written agreement is not necessary? Request one anyway. Although the law does not require a lease for a period of less than a year, a written lease is always preferable. In the event of a dispute the lease will protect the rights of both the landlord and tenants.

It is also a good idea to check up on your future landlord by calling the Better Business Bureau as well as your local or state consumer ptotection agency. Ask if any complaints have been registered against the landlord.

If there is anything in the lease you don't understand, take it to an attorney. He or she will review it for a small fee.