The Texas property code states that the burden of proof lies upon the tenant. The lease agreement is most often written for the landlord and built to protect their interest. These two are what makes a lease a disadvantage for any tenant who is not aware of what they are getting into. Most often people just have a need for a place to live and so they do what is necessary to get one. You find a place in your search that is just right and now there is a 6 plus page fine print document that is standing between you and your new home. Most do not take the time to read the lease and those who do may not fully comprehend what all is in it. Basically the landlord has over years of experiences built a contract that protects them from loss in any situation that could be created by the tenant.
The lease is only a disadvantage if it is not understood and respected along with knowing the property code. If you need to break you lease then I suggest you read the article written on how to break a lease legally. However, if you are wanting to fulfill your lease then I have some tips on how to protect yourself from anything negative finding its way onto your credit or rental history.
Tip#1 Read your lease.
I know it is the obvious number 1 tip but with so many different variations of lease agreements out there, there is no way to fully protect yourself without knowing what you are liable.
Tip#2 Make sure you walk your unit before you sign your lease.
You may have already moved in, but just like you would not buy a car without seeing it first you should never sign a contract for an apartment before you check the condition of the unit. Often times you can have repairs done quickly and without any problems if it is documented prior to the lease agreement. Afterwards it is much more difficult to get things done.
Tip#3 Pay your rent to a leasing agent, preferably the same agent every month.
Convenient as they may be, night drop-boxes are the home of the lost rent check. No one knows you turned it in, and your assumption that your rent is paid will cost you hundreds in late fees, and a strained relationship with the management. If you can pay electronically then that is even better. There is a no chance of it being lost or misplaced if it is deposited in their account.
Tip#4 Be a good neighbor.
You do not need your neighbors complaining about you. If you become a problem for the management it could become easier to evict you than to continue to tell you about the complaints.
Tip#5 Hand your written notice to a leasing agent.
Have them sign it and give you a copy. Nothing worse than getting a $2000 debt on your credit from an apartment that you moved out of and them saying that you never turned in your notice.
Tip#6 Any communication with them management about service or issues that you may be having should be sent through email.
This gives you a copy and in writing as well as a time stamp.
Tip#8 Give yourself at least 48 hours to move out and clean the unit.
It will need to be cleaned thoroughly so you will want to have plenty of time.
Tip#8 Walk your unit before you leave and take pictures.
If even one forgotten item or piece of trash is left, an apartment that may not be inclined to give all of your deposit back can charge you for a trash bag. That can range between $25 up to $150 per trash bag. With pictures you can make sure that you have proof if necessary.
Tip#9 Keep everything pertaining to your lease that is in writing for at least 3 years.
The Texas property code states the burden of proof lies on the tenant. This means if you cannot provide proof of your actions then the default winner will be the landlord.
These tips should give you enough understanding of how to protect yourself against the lease agreement, property management, and employees of the management. CYA, because no one will look out for you better than you.