Are Apartment Inspections Really Necessary? Here's What You Need to Check Before You Lease

Mar 20, 2024

Whether you are renting an apartment for the first time or the 30th, you know that the inspection is one of the most critical points of moving in or out. The inspection determines a great deal in the bottom line of you the tenant, and of the landlord, and any property management company that may be in place as well.

If you're anything like most people, you can get easily distracted and overwhelmed in touring apartments, making it difficult to distinguish flaws or potential hazards. For this reason, using an apartment inspection checklist can be useful in comparing potential apartments and choosing the best one.

Remember, a simple oversight on your part when moving in or out of your apartment could mean the difference in thousands of dollars and potential damage to your reputation and credit as a renter. So bookmark and save this checklist for every apartment inspection you have; moving in or moving out.

What To Inspect Before Leasing An Apartment: A Checklist

Apartment inspections have two main uses. Firstly, they can reveal potential issues with an apartment that can be an inconvenience for you later on. Secondly, when you have a detailed inspection of the apartment, property managers can't make incorrect claims and usurp your security deposit.

Download our Free Home Inspection Checklist here

Here's what you need to check before you lease an apartment:

  1. Condition of the Flooring
  2. Before signing a lease, look at the apartment's flooring. It is likely it has experienced wear and tear. Whether you're constantly moving your furniture around on your hardwood floors or dropping drinks on the carpet, the flooring is the first thing your property manager will inspect before anyone moves out.

    A proper home inspection always involves evaluating the condition of the floor; this way, you know what problems were there before you move in, and your landlord can't hold you liable.

  3. Faulty Plumbing in the Apartment
  4. You should also beware that major problems can be lurking behind the walls in the plumbing as well. When looking at an apartment, be sure to inspect the plumbing. Dealing with water damage in an apartment can be very frustrating. Because there is a small amount of space in an apartment, any flooding in the bathroom or the kitchen can flow into other rooms, damaging the furniture and personal belongings; some that are irreplaceable like family heirlooms.

    A home inspection will highlight major problems with the plumbing that the landlord should fix before moving in.

  5. Check the Condition of the Appliances
  6. After previewing a potential apartment, you may feel a bit wary about some of the main systems of the home or may want a professional opinion on their condition; for peace of mind. For this reason, many savvy renters opt to hire a professional home inspector to inspect the apartment before signing the lease.

    Take the appliances for example. When looking for an apartment, appliances are a big deal and should be inspected. A home inspector assesses the condition of the appliances in the apartment to ensure they function correctly. If the dishwasher is on its last leg or the dryer takes longer than it should, you can ask the landlord to replace it before signing the apartment lease.

  7. Heating and A/C
  8. You don't want to come back home on a hot summer day only to find out your HVAC unit isn't working. Or worse, have the heat go out in the middle of a brutal snowstorm; leaving you without any way to stay safely warm! As you already know, HVAC repairs are time-consuming and can be quite an inconvenience.

    For example, if it takes a week or a few days before the system can be fixed for whatever reason, you may be displaced and forced to stay in a hotel or with friends and family. That is a headache that nobody wants to come home or wake up to by surprise.

    Add this to your apartment inspection checklist and have a home inspector investigate the functionality of the HVAC system. If it hasn't been maintained regularly, it can cause serious problems later on.

    A detailed inspection report will list structural issues, problems with plumbing, HVAC units, and appliances that can impact a renter's experience in the apartment.

    They protect renters from liability and unfair claims that property managers and landlords can make when they decide to leave the apartment.

    Think of home inspection reports as insurance. They'll give you a clearer picture of the apartment before you move in, so there will be fewer chances of underlying issues from surfacing when you've already asked the landlord to repair them.

    If you're a landlord who has been given a home inspection report by a potential tenant, send it to Repair Pricer to get an accurate estimate of how much each repair will cost. The repairs you make can help you ask for a higher price.

  9. Pests
  10. Pests and infestations are another one of the most commonly overlooked yet problems you could face if you don't get an apartment inspection before lease signing.

    Bed bugs, rats, mice, snakes, and many other common pests use apartment buildings like breeding grounds and buffets. You may find a place and fall in love without realizing theirs an entire colony waiting for you behind the walls.

    To prevent these ugly little surprises, be thorough in looking for droppings in cabinets and closets, explore crawl spaces, keep eyes peeled and ears open.

    Just imagine finding out after moving in that the place needs to be tented and you will be displaced while your home is filled with toxic chemicals to neutralize the infestation! Pests are another compelling reason it's so wise to have a pest inspection or inspection of the apartment.

  11. Electricity
  12. It should come as no surprise that the electricity should be at the top of your list of items to inspect before signing the lease.

    Give a solid once-over to the major appliances. Is the fridge cold? Does the stove heat up quickly? Do all of the light switches work? What about the ceiling fans?

    Here's a pro tip from the insiders: bring a phone charger so you can test all of the outlets and ensure they work too. If a couple are faulty it could be a major red flag!

  13. General
  14. Before starting your overall or general inspection of the apartment, it is crucial to set yourself up for success by opening all windows and doors and turning on every light. This will help highlight any hidden flaws lurking in the dark.

    Here are some additional factors to include in your apartment inspection checklist:

    • Inspect the carpeting for tears, stains, holes, and odors
    • Inspect all of the doors and windows to ensure they open and close properly, lock and lock in the right direction, and that they aren't broken.
    • Inspect the paint if you won't be permitted to paint when you move in.
  15. Bathrooms
  16. They say kitchens and bathrooms sell houses and the same could be said for apartments. However, a seemingly stunning bathroom could be a disaster in waiting. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that bathrooms are a hallmark of every apartment inspection checklist.

    In the bathroom, you're looking for loose toilets and sinks, leaky faucets, showers with no water pressure, any signs of mold and mildew, tub jets that don't work, etc.

    Put everything through the paces as though you were using each item and you're far more likely to discover deficiencies.

  17. Bedrooms
  18. Because they are generally one of the simpler rooms of a home, bedrooms are often overlooked in an apartment inspection. When in fact, you should be vigilant in what is there; closets, windows, doors, lights, etc.
  19. Exterior
  20. All too often, renters overlook the exterior of their apartment when performing an inspection themselves. Although this can be an easy mistake it can also be a costly one.

    In addition to looking for exterior building damage, you're on the lookout for signs of pests, problems with the yard, holes in the fence or screens, issues with the pool or patio.

    Furthermore, if amenities are included with the apartment, your inspection should extend to those. Especially if you are paying a premium to be able to use them.

Final thoughts on your new Apartment checklist

Signing a lease is a significant legal and financial move that can have a very real impact on your life. Especially, if you don't take the time to do your homework first.

This new apartment inspection checklist was designed to give you an overview of what an inspector might look for to ensure occupants' safety and it is a valuable tool for evaluating potential properties. However, it is not meant to serve as a replacement for a proper inspection when you have the means and opportunity to invest in one.

This apartment inspection checklist is also a valuable tool for landlords, property managers, and investors that commit to delivering quality homes to their tenants and residents. In fact, many multifamily properties rely on Repair Pricer's experts to not only inspect their properties but to provide them with convenient and clear-cut estimates on what it would take to bring an apartment up to code or make preferred repairs.

Just remember, when it comes to real estate knowledge is power and it never hurts to arm yourself with as much information about your property (owned or leased) as possible.

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