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It is very popular, nowadays, to ask the prospective tenant for an up-front fee so that the landlord can check credit history, etc. before leasing an apartment. Please understand that this fee is NON-REFUNDABLE. Although some landlords prefer oral agreements, most agreements between tenants and landlords take the form of a written lease. Most members of the Lubbock Apartment Association use a standard lease that is considered fair and straight forward. If a new prospective tenant signs a lease, makes a deposit and then changes his mind, he most likely will lose his deposit for backing out of the contract. Tenants should make sure they know what is in the lease. If the tenant and the landlord agree to make a change such as a waver to a no-pet provision, both parties should initial he change. Both parties should also make sure they get a copy of the lease. Before moving in, the tenant should make notes or take pictures of any problems with the apartment, such as worn carpet, etc. This should be done to make sure the tenant is not later charged when he moves out for damage that is not his fault. Most landlords require new tenants to put up security deposits to cover any needed repairs when the tenant moves. By law, landlords cannot withhold this deposit without a valid reason. Under the law, the tenant must give the landlord his forwarding address when leaving. Most leases require a thirty day notice to be given. The landlord must then refund the deposit within 30 days. If any or all of the deposit is not refunded, the landlord must explain, in writing, the reason. Deposit monies can only be withheld for 'abnormal' damage, not just for normal wear and tear. If the tenant does not receive his deposit, he may file suit for $100 plus three times the deposit. For more information about apartments, please call the Lubbock Apartment Association at 806-794-2037 or write to them at 4227 85th St., Lubbock, TX 79423. You may wish to inquire about their GUIDE TO RENTAL HOUSING, a comprehensive list of apartment complexes complete with rates, deposit information and description of facilities.

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