Have a realtor to represent you in your rental housing needs. She can explain to you the process and the terms defined in the contract. She can help negotiate the terms and sometimes the rents. And send you rental listings that will fit to your housing needs; then schedule an appointment to show these houses to you. Otherwise, you can hire an attorney to review the lease agreement before you sign it. You are occupying the property of the landlord for a certain timeframe in exchange for the money (rents) you pay him. This is your benefit. But it carries also certain obligations. Be sure you are aware of it.
because there are consequences. Example: You need to know when the rent is due and if there are any grace period. If you are late in your payment, you need to know how much is the late fee. Usually there are. If you vacate the place before it's expiration date, it is critical that you know what the ramifications are. You may loss your rental deposit. You need to maintain and keep the house in order. A good tenant who knows his duties and obligations should have no problem with landlords and neighbors. Good luck!
Read the contract! There may be conditions to your lease that will prohibit you from leaving the lease early. You may have to pay the remainder of the lease & not just lose your deposit. Rental vacancy is very low and it's a landlord's market out there. However, monthly rent may still be negotiable if you sign a longer lease.
Again ... read the contract and make sure that you understand the terms and all the legal obligations. Many renters misunderstand the "30 or 60 day notice". They thought that they can just walk away a lease whenever they want if they give a 60 day advance notice to their landlord. That is not a case.
Also please find out the owner's financial situation if you can. Many renters are not aware that their landlords are in a serious financial trouble before signing a rental contract. A good real estate agent can do some detective work for you.
Check the monthly fee, rental period, security deposit amount and condition, who should be contact to when something is repaired, rental condition, if the house is in the process of short sale or foreclosure.