How to Inspect Your New Apartment

Choosing the right apartment to fit your needs is complicated, but it is also extremely important not to rush into a decision.

You are going to be living there for the foreseeable future, so why sign the lease for a place that you might not enjoy or one that might have a lot of frustrating problems? One of the most common mistakes that people can make when getting a new apartment is not thoroughly inspecting it well enough.

However, even if you do give your potential apartment a good run-through, it may be hiding undesirable features if you do not know what to look for. By doing your research and preparing ahead of time, you can be confident that your new apartment will not throw any surprises your way after you have already signed the leasing contract.

Why should I inspect an apartment before signing the lease?

By signing the lease on a new apartment, you are making a commitment to pay a certain amount in rent every month, as well as a security deposit. However, if you are not careful and thorough when checking the apartment before you sign, you may be stuck with undesirable conditions. Not only will these conditions be annoying for the duration of your stay in that apartment, but they may also be thrown back onto you by the landlord at the end of your contract.

Particularly unscrupulous landlords might try to rush to make you sign for their apartment before you have gotten the chance to make your inspection. However, signing for a new apartment should be on your own time as a tenant, and you should not try to move too quickly if you can avoid doing so. There are generally always other apartments out there, so do not fall for certain scare tactics. Aesthetic, function and security checks are all extremely important and should not be overlooked before finally deciding on a new place.

What to Look Out For in an Apartment Inspection

There is a wide variety of potential concerns to look out for in a new apartment. While checking for all of these things can seem like a hassle, it is well worth it. If you forget to check some of them beforehand, you may be held liable for them if they turn out not to work, even if it is still shortly after signing the lease. Some of the most important considerations include:

  • Appearance : This include the overall look of the apartment’s foundation, maintenance and features. Scratches on the walls, doors and furniture, peeling paint or wallpaper, water damage and stained carpets can all be common features of an apartment. These visual cues can also give you an idea of how responsible and discerning your property manager is, depending on what problems she or he might have chosen to fix or simply cover up before your inspection.
  • Appliances conditions : These have to do with the devices and other useful features of your apartment. This includes testing the stove, oven, refrigerator, sinks, toilets, bathtubs, heating, cooling, light switches, washer, dryer and outlets. If any of these are defective before you move in, make sure that they are dealt with before signing your lease. Additionally, it is helpful to learn the maintenance protocol for that apartment complex when something breaks down while you are living there.
  • Safety : These involve many different aspects of your apartment that will keep it secure and not hazardous. This can mean that all doors have secure knobs and locks, all windows have interior locks and that there are designated fire escape plans for every main room of the apartment. Additionally, there should be safe electrical wiring throughout the apartment, as well as gas lines leading to your heater and gas stove, if applicable.

How to Carry Out an Apartment Inspection

You will need to set up a time with your prospective landlord to check out the new apartment and carve out a long-enough chunk of time to thoroughly check off items on your list. Additionally, you will need to bring some handy tools that can help with the inspection, such as a camera, tape measure (for the doorways, to compare with your furniture), notebook and pen.

While you perform your inspection, be sure to take many pictures, detailed notes and precise measurements. Then, sign your final list of concerns and have your landlord sign it as well. That way, you cannot be held liable for any problems that were already in the apartment before you moved in. Most landlords will accept a certain amount of daily wear and tear of an apartment at the end of your contract, but you may lose your security deposit if there are more serious problems with the apartment that were not documented at the beginning. If your prospective landlord is unwilling to make any changes, you may be able to negotiate your rent.

Apartment Inspection Tips & Tricks

There are also a few additional considerations to keep in mind as you perform your inspection.

  • You should ask many questions of your landlord : Some landlords will try to oversell their apartments and even tour potential tenants around a model apartment instead of the actual unit that they will live in. If they appear to be cutting corners or trying to deceive you, do not be afraid to address your concerns.
  • You should not be forced or persuaded to settle : If an apartment is not really right for you, you should not sign the lease for it. Some landlords will try to pressure you to sign despite an apartment’s problems, which can be especially tempting if you have already undergone a long apartment search before that point. However, keep in mind that you will be the one living there and dealing with those unfavorable conditions, not the landlord. Only sign if you will be happy to live there for the foreseeable future.
  • You should be able to prove wrongdoing on the part of the landlord : If your inspection finds problems with an apartment and the landlord tries to make you pay for them after you are ready to move out, you must be able to prove that you should not be held responsible. If your landlord is being especially pushy or threatening about this, do not hesitate to consult a lawyer to protect yourself and your liability.

By following all of these steps, there should not be any surprises before, during and after moving in and enjoying your new apartment.

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