Check your credit rating with the local Credit Bureau before making application to rent. You can be denied housing because of a bad credit rating.
Inspect the property before signing a lease or rental agreement. Make a list of all damages and fixtures that need repair. Ask the landlord to sign or initial the list of repairs needed. If the landlord is not present or refuses, have a witness sign that they have noted needed repairs. Keep this list, for it will indicate any damage or repairs needed when you moved in and may help you get your security deposit back when you move.
Read your lease carefully and be sure you understand it before signing.
Ask for a copy of the lease or rental agreement which you and the landlord have signed.
Always ask for a receipt which shows the date of payment of rent, the amount paid and the period covered by the rent (especially when paying in cash). If you pay rent by check or money order, you should also keep the returned check or a copy of the money order as your record of having paid.
Immediately before you move out, have the landlord inspect the property for damages that may reduce your security deposit. Having witnesses present or taking photographs or video tapes of the dwelling also are useful if you must prove in court that the landlord wrongfully withheld your security deposit.