Are you or a family member in the market for a rental? Make an informed choice by following this inspection checklist from the experts at RentHop:
1. Cellphone reception
In today’s world, we tend to assume we can get great coverage anywhere and everywhere. That’s not necessarily so. When you’re touring a potential apartment, make a call or two on your mobile device from a couple of different rooms. While you’re at it, ask the landlord about WiFi. Some include it in the utilities as a rental incentive.
2. Water pressure and temperature
While you can’t climb in and take a shower during a walk-through, be sure to turn the shower on and test the pressure and temperature with your hand. If it’s not up to par, find out why. Perhaps it’s a temporary situation due to work being done in the building, or something that the building management can repair.
No one wants company when they move in. The best way to check for pests is to open cabinets and drawers and look for droppings, and check walls, baseboards and around plumbing pipes for cracks and holes. You can also ask the landlord for confirmation of when the last pest-control treatments were completed. Be proactive and ask questions—you have every right to.
4. Power outlets and electrical work
When visiting an apartment, bring something small to test as many outlets as possible. Or, pick up an Electrical Receptacle Wall Plug AC Outlet Ground Tester from your local hardware store. It should cost about $5 – 10 and will check the circuit status for each individual outlet in the apartment. While you’re at it, check all the lights in the apartment to make sure they turn on and off properly.
Just as you’re checking the outlets and the water pressure, test the appliances as well. Open and inspect the fridge, microwave, dishwasher, oven, garbage disposal and any other gadget that comes with the apartment. If something isn’t in working order, ask the landlord what the plan for repair or replacement is.
6. Night-time vibe
Neighborhoods can be very different once the sun goes down, so make sure you visit your potential new location at night. Is it lively or desolate? Well-lit or dark? Are businesses still open, or has everything shut down? Make sure you’re comfortable with how the area feels at night.
If you’ll be dependent upon a car for your daily commute, find out about the parking situation. Is there a lot with assigned spots? If not, visit the lot during the morning and evening rush hour and see how easy it is to get a spot. If you have to rely on street parking, find out if there are alternate side rules to contend with. Your best bet here is to ask other tenants, as they’ll give you the skinny on parking pros and cons.
One of the most important factors to check into is who your neighbors will be. Talk to as many other tenants as you can, not only to get a feel for the vibe of the building, but to ask questions about landlord and building maintenance. Ask them what they like best about living there and what they can’t stand. This will go a long way in helping you make the right decision.
9. The lease
The item you should inspect most carefully of all is the lease. Take your time and read it from top to bottom, asking questions whenever something is unclear. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised later on by something you unwittingly agreed to in the lease. Look for policies on subletting, renovations, security deposit, renewal and pest control.
Make sure you take photos and document anything that is wrong with the apartment before you move in—a hole in the wall, a tear in the carpet, a cracked window. You need evidence that such damage was not caused by you, otherwise, it could jeopardize your security deposit when it comes time to move out.