When you move into a new apartment, it’s up to you to inspect your new home. When you do an inspection, you’re looking for specifics:
- Is there any damage to the apartment that is there before you move in? You don’t want to get penalized for something you didn’t do.
- Are there any problems that need to be fixed before you can move in? If there’s a problem with a leak, for instance, you may not be able to start living in the apartment until it has been fixed.
An apartment inspection is just a matter of making sure everything looks the way it should. Check that appliances work — turn them on and see what happens. You also should check faucets, along with the heater and air conditioning systems. Check that windows open, shut and lock. You even want to keep an eye out for bugs and other pests — signs can include mouse droppings, dead bug bodies and even the mouse trap your landlord left out.
One thing worth checking that isn’t always on an inspection checklist is the electrical outlets. Bring along a night light or other plug-in in to test each of the electrical outlets in your new apartment. Micki Sievwright of Denver, Colorado, had a friend who failed to do just that: “We had some friends move into their apartment, set up their big screen TV, have the satellite worker set everything up, only to find out the one nearby outlet failed to work. So, cords are all over the living room.”
When you go to do your apartment inspection, take along a camera. Take pictures of any problems and provide copies to the landlord immediately. If, for instance, there are some dings in the wall before you even move in, make sure your landlord knows about them.
It’s up to you whether you want your landlord to fix those dings before you move in, but you definitely don’t want him taking the repairs out your deposit when you move out. Having photographic evidence on day one makes it easier to argue your point down the road.
Even if you aren’t renting an apartment for the first time, it’s a good idea to take a friend or family member along. An extra set of eyes can help ensure that you catch every problem — before you move in and have to live with it.