This is Part 2 of a series on apartment how-to’s. Part 1 focuses on what to consider when searching for a rental property and questions to ask. Part 3 focuses on furnishing the rental when moving in.


After finding some suitable rental properties, it’s time for touring and inspections. Bring a phone to document anything that needs fixing, a charger to test outlets, and measuring tape to measure doorways. Here’s a checklist of things to keep in mind:

General

Check the cell phone reception: Make a call in different areas of the property to make sure the reception is consistent.

Check the thermostat: See if it feels like the set temperature in the room. Examine every room to see if the temperature is consistent throughout the property. Turn the heat way up and check for heated air. Repeat for the AC. If there’s a radiator for heat or a window unit for A/C, check those to ensure they’re working.

Check windows and doors: Do they open and close properly? Run your hand along the outside of each window and door to feel for leaks or drafts. Inspect the insulation for cracks or brittleness. Determine if you can see light through any cracks in a closed door indicating poor insulation.

Check the walls and ceilings: Make sure there are no cracks, holes, or water leaks. Also check to see if the paint job was done professionally. There should be no paint chips, drips, or inconsistencies in the paint color.

Check the flooring: Inspect the floor and carpet (including behind furniture and in corners) for stains or holes. Check for pet or other smells. Tug on the edges of the carpeting and floorboards to see if they come up too easily. Look around for improperly installed flooring nails.

Check water pressure and temperature: Test the water the pressure and temperature on your hand to make sure it’s suitable. See how long it takes the water to heat up and get cold. Be sure there are no drips or leaks both from the faucet and the plumbing underneath. Look for cracks both in the bowl and the pipes. Consult with the landlord or company to see if something can be done before move in if there is an issue.

Check the power outlets and lighting: Use a phone charger to test each outlet. Test all of the lights throughout the apartment to make sure they work. Look for cracks or burn marks around light fixtures. Make sure all cable, internet and fiber optic outlets are in good condition, not blocked, and are in areas of the apartment where they’re needed. If the apartment has a satellite dish, check that it’s secure and there are no leaks or holes around the connection to the unit.

Check for “pests”: Check inside cabinets, on top of cabinets, gaps in the wall, around the bathtub, and around plumbing to see if there are any poop or eggs (small brown pellets) there and check walls and baseboards for large cracks or holes. If there are current pest issues it should be stated in the lease, since the landlord should disclose important information, as pest issues.

Test out the appliances: Stoves, dishwashers, ovens, microwaves, and fridges are used almost daily. Inspect each of these appliances in-depth and make sure that they are in working order. If these things don’t work, discuss with the landlord and determine who is responsible for upkeep and repairs.

Take note of the parking at different times of the day: If parking is unassigned, visit the property when everyone is getting home and leaving for work. This will give a good idea of how hectic leaving in the morning will be and will show how much competition for spots there is after work.

Visit at night: Make sure you feel comfortable with the surrounding neighborhood. You also want to make sure to see how the lighting around the parking lot and property itself is.

Speak to neighbors: If possible, ask about any concerns they’ve had, things they would recommend you do, etc. They could also likely comment on the maintenance staff and how the landlord(s) have been over the months and years. Find out out if there’s an apartment association group around that you could talk to first.

Ask about the landlord: Do they live on the property? Are they friendly towards residents?

Check the amenities: Are the offered amenities as advertised? Is there a storage facility on the property or nearby?

Check the lease itself: Do not sign any documents without reading over TWICE. Look up or ask if there’s anything in the contract you don’t understand.

DOCUMENT EVERY IMPERFECTION: Take pictures of every impurity: holes, tears, leaks, stains, and other things that need fixing. If not, you’ll be responsible if you can’t prove it was there before you moved in.

Kitchen

Is the oven interior clean? Does it turn on and heat up properly? Does the light work?
Does the stove top heat up properly on all burners?
Do the range hood light and fan work properly?
Are the fridge and freezer both cold? Is the freezer free of ice buildup?
Is the dishwasher interior clean? Does it start?
Does the garbage disposal run properly?
Does the kitchen sink drain properly? Is the area underneath dry and easy to access?

Bed and bath

Does the sink drain well? Is the area underneath dry and easy to access?
Does the toilet flush properly? The bowl should refill quickly and should stop running in sufficient time. Flush again to see how long it takes to reset. Smell for bad odors, look for cracks and nicks and check that the seat is securely attached.
Is the soap holder in the shower secure?
Are there any cracked tiles?
Does the bathroom fan work?
Are there ceiling fans and working vents in the rooms for air circulation?

Safety and security

Do the locks work?
Are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors present and working?
Is the security system working and connected to the local police department?
Are there fire extinguishers or sprinklers in the hallways or individual units?
What is the fire escape plan?


After the walk through, discuss any concerns and issues with the rental agent or landlord. Send pictures or other proof of concerns and follow up to ensure that these concerns are addressed. Keep a record of everything, it’ll make moving out much easier.

Once you sign your lease and pay the associated deposits, you’re all set for move in day!

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