Apartment leases vary in length and complexity. Not all leases are created equal. Some are better written than others. Don’t assume that the lease you’re looking at now is the same as the one you signed when you moved into your last apartment.
When your landlord presents you with an apartment lease to sign, read it thoroughly. Ask for (written) clarification of any areas that are vague or that you don’t understand. If there are important points that you think have been overlooked, insist that they be included and that the landlord initial them. Anything that’s not in the lease could become the source of a misunderstanding later on.
What does the lease say about subletting? About running a home business? About pets?
One thing you should ensure is delineated in the lease is what happens if you need to leave the apartment before the term of the lease is up. What penalities will you incur?
It’s your responsibility to learn about the landlord-tenant regulations in your state. Be sure that you understand such potentially sensitive aspects of the relationship as the circumstances under which the landlord may enter your apartment.
The lease outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parties: yours and the landlord’s.