How To Thoroughly Inspect Your Apartment Before Signing The Lease

By Gretchen Kernbach on July 18, 2016

Before signing your name on any contract, you should do your research, even on a leasing agreement. In this case, your research would be an inspection of the living space you plan on occupying the next school year. It does not hurt to check out the space yourself, looking for signs of neglect or inefficiency that may make you want to live elsewhere.

Here is why you should thoroughly inspect the apartment before you move in. According to

“When you move into a new place and things aren’t in proper order, your landlord is responsible for fixing them. If the landlord isn’t aware of these problems when you move in, they could take the price of repairs out of your security deposit when you move out. In fact, it’s probably best to get the landlord to fix these issues before you even sign your lease.”

So there you have it, if you do not examine the living space beforehand, it is possible you could be stuck with extra charges. Even so, you could be stuck living somewhere that has turned out to be not-so-great.

Here is a compiled list of items that should be inspected prior to signing the lease.

1. Pests

All buildings get pests at one time or another. This is one of the more important things to check before signing, especially if the apartment complex is older. Remember, college students lived in the same apartment the year before and the year before that; you do not know what their living habits might have been.

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So how do you check for vermin? First thing to do is check where they are known to enter/gather. This means cracks in walls, corners of bedrooms, behind the stove, etc. It wouldn’t hurt to grab a flashlight either.

If you see brown pellets, insect eggs, or the vermin itself, get pest control on it right away so it doesn’t become a reoccurring problem during the year.

2. The Kitchen

One of the more important rooms in an apartment; if the kitchen is ineffective you basically cannot eat. That being said, check out the stove to make sure all of the switches work. Furthermore, check if the burners actually get hot when you turn them on. Check the fridge to see if it is actually cold. In addition, look for mold inside.

3. Bathrooms

According to, “Turn on the faucets and shower and flush the toilet. Make sure the water pressure is decent, and run the water long enough to make sure the hot water works.”

Turning on all the faucets and running the shower may seem like a bit too thorough of an inspection, but waking up in the morning and having no hot water does not make a happy student. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Also look for cosmetic issues in all the bathrooms, things like missing tiles or mold. If there is mold, there is a good chance there was a leak at one point in the bathroom’s history. Check the shower and sink for proper drainage.

According to, “be sure to check the cabinet under the sink to note any leaky water, mold or strange smells.”

4. Heat and A/C

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If you are living in a particularly cold or hot area, making sure the thermostat is in working condition should be a top priority. Especially on move-in day, you do not want to break a sweat carrying your stuff in and continue to sweat while you are inside. A/C makes a big difference when it comes to comfortability.

5. Electricity

Let’s be real, we cannot live without it. The first thing on your electricity sub-list should be all the light switches and bulbs. Simply flick the switch to see if it works or not; however, keep in mind the bulb could be the problem too, so that is why you have to check both together.

Go around the apartment and plug your charger into all the outlets to see if each one is working properly. An ineffective outlet can create lots of “phone battery” issues between you and your roommates. It wouldn’t be fun having to charge your phone in your friend’s bedroom because yours all blew.

According to

“Open up the fuse box if your unit has one. It shouldn’t seem damaged or look like it has switches missing. If the fuse box has more than one 30-amp fuse, the box may be overloaded, which could present a fire hazard.”

6. Floors and Walls

When looking at your apartment’s walls, check for holes or chipped paint. If you do not mention these to your landlord prior to signing, you could get billed with the repairs once your lease ends.

The same goes for the floors. Any stains or odd smells can be an eye sore (or nose-sore) to you and anyone who visits. If you do discover any missing pieces of carpet or tile, again, let the landlord know prior to signing the lease. This is all in efforts to avoid you getting the blame, and the bill.

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