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    What to Look for When Renting an Apartment Checklist

    April 19, 2021 at 2:56 pm · · Comments Off on What to Look for When Renting an Apartment Checklist

    What to Look for When Renting an Apartment Checklist

    Justin Becker

    Updated: January 10, 2023

    You have found yourself in a situation where you need a new living arrangement, and the next item on your To-Do List is locating an apartment to rent, what do you do? You could just pick up your phone and scroll through several pictures from websites to search apartments for rent; but the surreal experience of a virtual apartment tour is different from reality. You need to do more than just checking online.

    Our little secret is that physically visiting the apartment complexes will unfold details you would have never thought of. It will give you insights that will define your next home. Even when you are familiar with the surroundings, never be so sure about the place until it checks all your boxes after doing an in-person tour.

    Often, a new apartment community is built and has vacancies that need to be filled. However, the fact that they are new does not necessarily qualify it to your taste. This is why following through will tell the difference.

    Modern composition of living room interior with brown mock up poster frame, design retro commode, sofa, bookstand, rattan basket with plant and elegant accessories. Template. Stylish home staging.

    So what do you need during your apartment tour? An apartment inspection checklist is a perfect answer. Before moving out of your current accommodations, draft a list to use for your next apartment hunt. Go through every detail possible that matters to you.

    If you have no idea how to come up with one, don’t worry; this article will guide you through what to look for and note on your apartment inspection checklist.

    What to Look for When Renting an Apartment Checklist

    An apartment inspection checklist is no joke; it will define what your next apartment will look like. We believe it is safe to say you wouldn’t want to mess with that. Besides, it will keep you on your toes about the issues you need to address before moving to a new apartment.

    Here is why you need to draft a checklist before randomly renting an apartment to call your next home:

    • You will be aware of all your options beforehand and what exactly you want for your next apartment
    • It will save time when looking for an apartment
    • It will help you highlight small details you are not comfortable within an unit before move-in, which you can raise with the landlord during your apartment tour(s)
    • Often landlords wrongfully pin some damages on tenants and the best way to avoid that is to make them aware prior
    • It is also a way of safeguarding your security deposit, which acts as collateral if you damage the property in the course of your stay; you would not want to mess with your security deposit, right?

    What Do You Need When Touring Apartment Complexes?

    A notebook and your phone will play a huge role when doing apartment hunting. Whenever you discover things you are not OK with, you can note them down and it will help you to remember to share them with the landlord. Taking pictures is also a good way to keep records during an apartment walkthrough, too.

    Share your concerns as a way of ensuring you are all on the same page before proceeding to sign a lease agreement later on. Learn how to read an apartment lease here.

    Eager to know what should be on the checklist? Here we go:

    ●    Know your budget

    ●    Safety of the apartment

    ●    Plumbing is a must item to check

    ●    Are the kitchen appliances in good shape?

    ●    Are the electrical outlets functional?

    ●    Are you comfortable with the living space?

    ●    Is the neighborhood lifestyle convenient for you?

    ●    The signing of the lease agreement

    Know Your Budget

    What is your expected rent budget for the next apartment? Do you want to scale up or down? Such questions will inform you of where you will search for apartments.

    Based on your monthly income, decide the number of bedrooms you want. Will it be one, two, or three bedrooms? If you are a family person, then naturally you will need more space compared to someone living on their own.

    Keeping up with math is never everyone’s daily cup of coffee. As terrible as it may sound, however, that should not be an excuse for failing to budget. The good thing is that technology is at your disposal. Use a rent calculator to define your sustainable rent based on your monthly income.

    The 50/30/20 rule is the model you should follow for your lifetime money plan.

    What is the Meaning of the 50/30/20 Rule?

    It is a rule popularized by Elizabeth Warren that can help you manage your finances effectively.

    For example with the rule in use, you will spend wisely based on your needs, wants, and savings.

    ●        50% Needs

    This category includes everything you can’t live without, including:



    -Utility Bills

    ●        30% Wants

    This category includes everything you desire to do or spend on, which could be:


    -Online Streaming Services

    -Partying with Friends

    ●        20% Savings

    This category falls on things like future investments or retirement plans. Besides, it is here where you deal with outstanding debt.

    Safety of the Apartment

    No matter how fast you need a new rental unit, you can never overlook the safety of the apartment. Make sure you confirm that the fire alarms and smoke detectors are in working order before moving into your new apartment. Check and make sure the carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are in place as well, and that the community has a solid fire escape plan, just in case.

    Look for red flags, such as water leakages, especially on ceilings and peeling paint. This is a place many forget to check, only to later find out their ceiling is leaking and messes up the whole apartment.

    Does the apartment have security system surveillance cameras installed? It is important to check such things, and more. Also, conduct your own background check of the place to find out if any crime has been committed at the place within the last three years.

    Armed with such information, you will become more certain about the security of the place and feel safe, which is good for your mental health. You do not want to spend time living with the fear that someone will break into your room and take away valuable items.

    Plumbing is a Must Item to Check

    Check for water leaks during your apartment inspection, especially around the toilet, under the sinks, and the garbage disposal. Waking up in the morning only to be greeted by a strong smell from the toilet due to leaks and rotting wood is not something you would want to experience.

    Check for faucets and if they shut off properly. How about the water pressure on the showers? Is it in good condition? This is your chance to confirm things like water pressure while you have time. Also, check the hot water for the unit and find out if it’s shared or if it has its own separate hot water heater.

    Are the Kitchen Appliances in Good Shape?

    The kitchen is one of the most visited rooms in the apartment, and the last thing you would want is to have problems with the appliances. Conduct rigorous tests on the appliances to make sure they meet your desires, such as:

    • Open and test the refrigerator to make sure it works well
    • Do the laundry facilities work properly? Now is the time to confirm that
    • How about the heat and air conditioning system? Make sure it produces cold and heat efficiently

    Are the Electrical Outlets Functional?

    Conduct a thorough apartment inspection to confirm if the electrical outlets throughout the unit are functional. This can be done easily with a phone charger. It is a grave mistake to assume they work without testing them. These are prime examples of the damages the property manager is likely to pin on you if you fail to check them before move-in.

    This is also the time to check for the positioning of the outlets, which play a major role in the arrangement of furniture in a room. Learn how to arrange furniture in a small living room apartment here. Besides, it does not harm to check if the light fixtures are functional, too.

    Are You Comfortable with the Living Space?

    A top concern will be the general space of the rooms in the unit. You want to live in a spacious place and not in a congested environment where you will be struggling to find storage for everyday household items.

    The living room mostly will be a place to keep an eye on since it is the center of the apartment. Check the bedrooms as well to make sure they are laid out the way you want.

    How about the balcony? Is it big enough to hang out when you need fresh air? More so, do the doors and the window locks work well? Make sure they open and close properly for confirmation. The first step to safety is checking the locks and making sure they pass your test.

    Any doubts about the locks should be addressed immediately to avoid making your safety or security deposit suffer later. Think of losing your precious household items just because the door locks were not fixed! It isn’t worth it, right?

    Is the Neighborhood Lifestyle Convenient for You?

    What you call home goes beyond the door of your unit. You want to feel as comfortable outside as you do inside of your unit. The community around you is part of your home and there is nothing as good as blending in fast without having a hard time.

    Things to keep in mind while checking the apartment:

    • The noise level at the apartment is something you will want to be sure of. Is it a quiet place with a little destruction? Learn more on how to deal with noisy apartment neighbors
    • How about the parking situation? Does the management provide ample parking space for every unit? It may be a small thing, but people do argue over an assigned parking space.
    • It is also good to check about guests visiting, what is their policy? Apartment policies vary, so make sure you are comfortable with them before move-in.
    • Check for amenities available, such as a gym, pool, or public transportation.
    • Is a pet accepted? What is the apartment pet policy? Is there any cost associated with a pet, like a pet deposit?

    The Signing of the Lease Agreement

    After everything has checked out, now is the time to have a look at the apartment lease agreement, going through every detail to be clear of the terms.

    Generally, this is the binding document between you and the property manager/landlord, and only after you have signed it is when you can officially consider yourself part of the apartment complex community.

    Do not be in a rush to sign if you can not understand the terms in the agreement. As happy as you are for liking the apartment and being on good terms with the future landlord/property managers does not mean the absence of conflict later on. The only thing that will ultimately salvage you is the lease.

    Ask for help and clarification where you do not understand. Here is what to keep an eye on:

    • The rent rate of the unit.
    • In case of a late payment, what is the grace period and the penalty?
    • Does the unit come fully furnished?
    • What is the lease duration?

    Still confused? Consider “should I have a lawyer review my apartment lease?”

    Other Factors to Consider When Apartment Hunting

    • Location of the apartment – You may want the apartment to be closer to your working place and schools for your children. If you are comfortable with any distance from your workplace, then this should not be something to worry about.
    • Social amenities proximity – Closeness to things like a health facility or restaurants are something you may want to keep in your plans. In a nutshell, staying close to where social/outdoor amenities are available is advantageous.

    The Bottom Line

    If you notice something about the apartment, it is only logical to raise concern early and make the property manager aware of it.  At the end of the day, armed with a drafted plan while apartment hunting makes a huge difference in your quest. It is worth it to draft one and stay organized.

    Also, it is wise to check several apartment homes and make a list of units that meet your demands. Later on, you can cut down the list and choose the best to call your next home. We hope you find the perfect apartment for you and yours.

    Tags: Apartment Checklist

    Categories: Apartments

    About The Author

    Justin Becker is a property owner in the state of Michigan and has a passion for managing communities. He owns both apartment complexes and mobile home communities and has been writing his own blogs for his properties for several years.

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