How to Inspect Your New Apartment

Too many tenants make the mistake of not inspecting their new apartments prior to moving and end up with lots of unwanted issues. Choosing a new apartment to live in is an important decision.

After all, you often commit to a rental property for a year, if not longer. You, therefore, need to ensure the place is in tip-top condition before you decide to move in.

Even if you do check your apartment before you settle in, the unit may have hidden undesirable features. You just need to know what to look for. Check out the following sections in order to find out how to inspect an apartment. You can then move into your new home trouble-free.

Why should I inspect an apartment before signing the lease?


When you sign the lease for your new apartment
, you are committing to paying a particular amount of rent each month. You usually have to provide a security deposit too.

It is crucial you first make sure your apartment does not contain any negative issues. Unnoticed undesirable features of your apartment could make your stay in the property annoying or uncomfortable.

Additionally, any pre-existing damages that you do not point out before signing your lease could become your responsibility. The cost of repairs for any issues or damages within the apartment could potentially be withdrawn from your security deposit when it is comes time for you to move out. At that point, it can be difficult to prove that these damages already existed within the apartment before you moved into it.

Do not be naïve. Unscrupulous landlords exist who attempt to rush you into signing a contract before you have had the chance to do a thorough inspection of the apartment.

Even though you may need to find an apartment as soon as possible, do not rush into signing a contract before you have examined the rental unit. There is no point in signing up to live somewhere if it turns out to be a nightmare.

What to Look Out for in an Apartment Inspection

Make sure you check every square inch of your new apartment before you commit to signing the lease. If you do not inspect everything beforehand, you could be liable for the issues later on. Important items to look at when inspecting an apartment include:

  • Appearance: It is common to find peeling wallpaper, scratches on walls and doors, damage to furniture, stained carpets and water damage. Although not all of these items are necessarily a problem, you must be aware of them and make sure your landlord is aware of them too. Ensure you look at everything. You do not want to move in and find the landlord has hung a picture to hide a massive crack in the wall.
  • Condition of Appliances: Check all the appliances and devices that come with the apartment. Inspect items like the oven, stove, sink, refrigerator, toilet, bathtub, washer, dryer, light switches, heating and cooling. If any item is defective, ensure it is dealt with before signing the lease agreement and moving in.
  • Safety: Make sure anything in the apartment that could be hazardous is not. For instance: check all doors and windows have secure locks, ensure there are fire escape routes for each room and confirm there is safe electrical wiring throughout the property. Check gas lines to the stove and heaters as well.

How to Carry Out an Apartment Inspection

To carry out an inspection on your potential apartment, set up a time with the landlord to visit the property and perform a proper check. Make sure the landlord gives you enough time to inspect everything you need to look at.

Also, it is helpful to take tools with you to the inspection, such as a tape measure, a camera and a notebook and pen. You can easily check precise measurements, take pictures and record detailed notes.

Check every part of an apartment during your inspection. Specific items and features to look at include:

  • Walls: Inspect the apartment’s walls for structural holes, cracks and evidence of water leaks, especially next to windows and air vents.
  • Smoke Detectors: Ensure smoke detectors are near each bedroom, by the kitchen and by the front door. Make sure they all work too.
  • Windows and Doors: Run your hand along each door and window to see if you feel drafts or leaks. Check for cracks and brittleness too.

Make a note of all the issues you find. If you are happy to move into the property as it is, get your landlord to sign a document listing your concerns, and sign the document yourself. You are not responsible for any problems later down the line.

Apartment Inspection Tips & Tricks

The more tips and tricks you know for performing an inspection, the more you are sure to complete a comprehensive check. Keep the following advice in mind:

Ask questions – If your landlord is overselling the apartment or rushing you through a viewing or inspection, do not fear to address any concerns you may have. If you have any questions about any element of the apartment, make sure you ask.

Do not feel forced into signing a lease – If the apartment is not right for you, do not sign a contract. Even when a unit has visible problems, unscrupulous landlords try to coerce you into signing on the dotted line. Do not be swayed by patter and false promises. You are the one who has to live in the apartment, so if you are not happy with the conditions, do not sign the lease.

Establish a good relationship with your potential landlord – Being polite and professional in your dealings with a potential landlord helps you to get a sought-after apartment. If there are other interested parties, a landlord could well go with the tenants he or she likes the most. When you inspect your potential apartment, try to develop a good relationship with the landlord. Be friendly and engage in a little chit-chat. This also helps you if you want to negotiate the terms of your lease with the landlord. It is important to conduct yourself in a professional and courteous manner not only during the apartment inspection but also during email and telephone communications as well.

Be able to prove any wrongdoing by the landlord – If you discover problems with the apartment when you conduct your inspection, make sure the landlord is aware of them and the issues are put into writing. Otherwise, your landlord could claim you caused the issues and say you must pay for them when you move out.

View the actual apartment that you intend to move into – It is not uncommon for a landlord to make repairs, renovations or cleaning sweeps through recently vacated apartments as well as those that have sat for a lengthy period of time. However, sometimes a landlord may offer to show you a different apartment that has the “same” floorplan. It is essential that you do not agree to move into any unit that you have not physically seen and had the opportunity to walk through and inspect. Even if a floorplan is the same between two units that does not mean that the condition of the units will be the same or that there will not be any pre-existing damages that you could later be held accountable for.

Related Sources:

HUD Inspection Checklist

Move In/Move Out Inspection Form