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term is that it protects you from rent increases and changes in the terms of the lease during that time. The landlord has the advantage of being assured they will receive rent for that period. One disadvantage of having a long-term lease is that you are obligated to the terms of the lease for the entire lease period, unless the landlord substantially violates the lease or agrees to let you out of the lease.

If you never had a written lease agreement or your written lease has expired, you are probably a month-to-month tenant. A month-to- month lease continues from one month to the next, as its name implies, until either you or your landlord gives a one-month advance notice of termination. (If you pay rent weekly, then you are a week- to-week tenant and only one week's notice is required.) No matter who terminates the lease, you should always keep a copy of the notice of termination as proof. See "Termination and Moving Out."


During the lease, one party cannot change any terms of the lease agreement without the other party's consent. If an agreement is reached, it should be made in writing, dated, and signed by both parties. Unless an agreement is reached, the parties must abide by every term in the lease agreement (including any house rules). Prior to the end of the lease, either party can propose changes to a future lease agreement. (For month-to-month leases, either party can give a 30-day advance notice of a proposed change.) Unless the other party clearly terminates or does not renew the lease using the notice requirement described in the lease, then that party might be presumed to have accepted the new terms offered by the other party. If you do not want to accept a change in your lease, for example, increased rent, try to negotiate with the landlord and indicate you will not renew the lease unless the rent is lower. You should always get agree- ments in writing and signed by the owner or manager. See "Tenant Duties and Consequences."


When you move into your new home make sure all the repairs your landlord promised have been completed. If some of the repairs have not been made, contact your landlord immediately. If the landlord fails to make the repairs she promised before you signed the lease, she may be liable for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices - Consumer Protection Act. Contact a lawyer or tenant association for more details. You should also make a written list noting the condition of the apartment on the day you move in. This list will help you avoid dis- putes when you move out and may also be crucial in getting back your security deposit. Make a note of every spot on the carpet and every damaged item in the place. Give a copy of the list to the landlord and keep a copy for yourself. Your landlord has a duty to test all smoke detectors to verify they are in working order when you move in. The landlord also has a duty to rekey the locks between tenants.


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