Congratulations must be in order — you’re about to move into an entirely new space! Whether it’s your first apartment or a new dorm, moving is a big deal and you should be proud of yourself. However, once the thrill of getting a new place wears off, you’ll likely find yourself with a seemingly endless amount of paperwork. This is all a normal part of the move-in process, but it can feel intimidating.
Along with that tedious side of moving, your leasing manager should also schedule an apartment inspection. The inspection should be done by your landlord or someone who works on the property before your lease is finalized. If this is not mentioned in your move-in checklist, be proactive and schedule one right away.
An apartment inspection is a similar process to renting a car. Before a rental agent hands over the keys, you typically take a lap around the car and note any damages — this way you’re both on the same page of the condition in which the car was lent to you. The same premise applies to an apartment inspection. When the landlord gives you your keys, they are renting the apartment to you in a specific manner — it could be brand new or it could have some wear and tear. Regardless of the condition it’s in, it’s important that it’s clearly documented so there is no confusion at the end of the lease term should any damages be reported.
Although it may be just another tedious process, an apartment inspection is an important step in your rental process, and it will ultimately protect you. Here’s what to keep in mind before your inspection.
Room by room
Not sure where to start? Overwhelmed by all the details there are to remember? It can be helpful to break things down by room. When walking through the space with your landlord or leasing manager, be sure to bring an inspection checklist with you. We suggest organizing your list in the following categories:
Throughout the apartment
There are a few recurring items and maintenance issues that will be inspected throughout your apartment. For example, the wall and paint condition will be noted in every room. Ensure any scratches, damages, or cracks are documented. You might even be able to get these damages repaired before you move in if the inspection is done well in advance.
Other general items that will be looked at include the condition of the floors, doors and locks, windows and blinds, and lighting. While checking each of these items, make sure you test everything thoroughly.
Most of the items found in your bedroom are listed in the section above or in the “tech & utilities” section at the end of this checklist. However, since the bedroom is one of the most important spaces in an apartment, be sure to give this space a good overview.
If you have an idea of where your bedside table will go, double-check those outlets to ensure bedside lamps will work properly. If there is a ceiling fan or recessed lighting, ensure both functions properly. Lastly, if there is a connected balcony or outdoor space, double-check those locks so you can sleep with zero stress.
Pro tip: While doing your apartment inspection, you can also use the time to make note of measurements and sizing for move-in day. Debating an upgrade to a king-size bed? Make sure it will fit. Eyeing a new dresser or oversized mirror for the closet areas? Double-check the width of the door for a smooth move-in.
When it comes to bathrooms, the inspection is pretty straightforward. Ensure the toilets are in working order. Check the sinks, tubs, and showers for both cold and hot water that runs without clogging. Run the overhead fan so you know your steamy showers won’t fog the mirrors. Plus, if there are storage cabinets under the sink, give those a close review for any previous leaks.
Additionally, if you’re renting a large apartment with multiple bathrooms, it’s wise to run all showers at the same time. This can be particularly helpful if you live in a space where morning routines take place at the same time or if you plan to host guests frequently. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that the hot water runs well in multiple spots.
A kitchen inspection is all about the appliances. Carefully check each one, even if it looks brand new. Open the refrigerator, check all the drawers in the freezer, turn on the oven, and check all of your stovetop burners. There is no detail here that is too silly to check. Similar to the bathroom, run the sink for both cold and hot water, and check under the sink for any potential leaks. Be sure to have a keen eye for detail in the kitchen. This is where previous leaks could have caused stains, rust, or even odd smells that you might momentarily overlook in the heat of the moment.
Tech & Utilities
Although this list might look long, you’re not going to want to skip out on some of the most intricate and often expensive aspects of your unit. Although it’s likely an onsite maintenance crew is available should anything go wrong, it’s best to get ahead of things and check:
Your new space may have a balcony, elongated entrance, backyard, rooftop, or other space exposed to the outdoors. These areas will be harder to control due to good old mother nature, but it’s important to make note of their condition nonetheless.
Keep an eye out for cracks in the exterior walls or on the concrete pavement. If you have a garage or parking spot, watch out for pesky oil stains. On the roof, check the drainage to prevent future roof leaks. Lastly, look for potential dangers. Are there large trees close to your space? If you’d like things to be cut and cleaned up before moving in, don’t be afraid to ask.
This may seem like a lot to take in, but the future you will be happy you were prepared and confident when heading into your apartment inspection. If any of these items are not up to your expectations, kindly discuss them with management or your landlord to see what can be done prior to moving in. If any damages are permanent, be sure to document them with photos and share them in writing so you are not penalized down the line. Lastly, enjoy it — this is an exciting step in your rental process, and once it’s done, you’ll be ready to relax and settle in!