With the rental market being so competitive, you may be tempted to swoop in and sign a lease the second you find a great apartment. Even when you’re feeling the pressure, it’s important not to neglect one important step: the apartment walkthrough.
Apartment walkthroughs are a vital part of your rental journey. From exploring specific features to assessing the overall atmosphere, apartment walkthroughs give you an idea of any improvements that need to be made before you drop a security deposit and move in.
- An apartment walkthrough is your chance to document any issues or problems before you move in.
- If you skip a walkthrough, these problems might never be addressed—or you could be blamed for them yourself.
- Print out our room-by-room apartment walkthrough checklist to make sure you don’t miss any important points.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly how to make the most of an apartment walkthrough, and why filling out a proper apartment walkthrough checklist is so important.
- Why apartment walkthroughs matter
- What to bring to your walkthrough
- What to look for during your apartment walkthrough, room by room
- Common problem areas to pay attention to
- Having an actual apartment walkthrough checklist
- What to do after your walkthrough
Why apartment walkthroughs matter
The apartment walkthrough is an essential opportunity to inspect the apartment thoroughly and identify any existing issues, maintenance concerns, or damage before signing the rental agreement. You’re protecting yourself from headache-inducing surprises down the line.
Without a walkthrough, you might be on the hook for damages or problems that were present before you even moved in. Ultimately, investing a little time in a thorough apartment walkthrough not only helps protect your security deposit but also ensures a smooth transition into your new home.
What to bring for your apartment walkthrough
Come prepared! In addition to a print-out of your walkthrough checklist—more on that later—be sure to have the following:
- Notebook and pens, to document observations
- Tape measure
- Your phone, fully charged, so you can take pictures and videos
- A small flashlight
What to look for during your apartment walkthrough, room by room
As you enter each room, it’s important to keep a keen eye out for issues that could potentially impact your comfort and safety. Do your walkthrough in a methodical way, don’t simply wander around the apartment.
Let’s get walkin’.
Sure, maybe the kitchen has a shiny fridge and a cute backsplash. But you want to make sure that the fundamentals are also in order.
- Start by examining the appliances: check the stove and see if all burners work, take a close look at dishwashers, ask questions and turn things on and off
- Look for proper ventilation, like a working range hood or exhaust fan (even more important if the apartment has a gas stove)
- Inspect countertops and cabinets for damage, stability, and ample storage space.
- Assess the condition of the sink, faucet, and garbage disposal, checking for leaks, rust, and water pressure
- Examine electrical outlets for safety and access: Are there enough outlets? Do the outlets seem loose?
While exploring the living room, make sure to inspect its heating, cooling, and electrical systems, including outlets and switches.
- Check walls and ceilings for cracks, holes, peeling paint, or water damage
- Make sure the floor isn’t worn, damaged, or stained
- Ensure windows open and close smoothly, and have working locks and intact screens
- Inspect light fixtures and electrical outlets
- Make sure heating and cooling vents (or radiators) appear to be clean and in good working order
- Confirm that there are smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors
- If there’s built-in storage, open cabinet doors and peek inside
- Take a close look at baseboards or crown molding
Here, you’ll want to check for strong water pressure, adequate ventilation, and signs of mold or water damage.
- Test the plumbing by turning on faucets and showerheads, which will also give you an idea of any issues with water pressure or drainage
- Flush the toilet
- Eyeball the tub for signs of mold, mildew, or crumbling grout
- Look for proper ventilation—is there an exhaust fan or a window?
- Open the vanity or other storage space to make sure it’s in good condition
- Inspect electric outlets to make sure they’re in shape (and that there are enough of them)
- Ask about any leaks in plumbing or ceiling
If you’re viewing the apartment unfurnished, here’s where your tape measure can come in handy—you’ll have a better idea of the room you’ll have left after moving your queen-sized mattress in.
Additionally, you’ll want to focus on:
Common problem areas
You will want to closely examine common problem areas, such as poorly insulated windows, damaged floor coverings, faulty locks, or peeling paint. Take a close look at walls, ceiling, and floors.
Note if you notice any odors or unusual smells, which could point to mold, pest, or other red flags.
Also inquire about noise levels in the apartment, since your walkthrough might occur during a relatively quiet period. Is there a bar on the ground floor that’s open until 4am? Is the building underneath a flight path that causes the whole property to shake several times a day?
The apartment walkthrough checklist itself
You may be given a physical apartment or rental property walkthrough checklist to complete and sign off on. If not, we’ve made one for you below that you can download and print out.
This handy document serves as a guide to ensure that you thoroughly inspect every aspect of the potential living space, from plumbing and electrical systems to safety features and general conditions.
It formalizes the process and lets you feel more comfortable during the walkthrough, since you’re essentially just “checking off all the boxes.”
What to do after an apartment walkthrough
Hopefully, everything will be in good condition, but after a walkthrough of an apartment, it’s important to address any issues you came across, from peeling paint to broken appliances or suspicious mold.
- Make sure to document all of these issues and let your landlord know about them so that they can address them ahead of your move-in date.
- If for some reason you can’t get these issues resolved before your lease begins, make sure to get a written agreement with your landlord that outlines their obligations for ensuring said issues get fixed.
Taking the necessary steps after an apartment walkthrough gives peace of mind that when the time comes to move in, everything will be in proper working order—and you won’t end up blamed for pre-existing issues in your new place!
And once you move in…
Kick back, relax, and make sure to get your new digs protected with renters insurance. It’ll cover your valuable stuff in the event of disasters like kitchen fires or theft, and will also provide liability protection when you host that first wild housewarming party.
A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage may not be available in all states.