What to Look for Before You Move In

It is imperative to do a full walkthrough tour of your potential new apartment before you move in. Make sure you see the actual apartment that you will be renting and not a model. Before you complete a tour of your potential new unit, review this list to make sure you know what to look for before you move in. If there are any items that need to be repaired or replaced, make sure the landlord does this before you move in. If there are many things wrong with the apartment, you might just want to pass.

What To Look For Before You Move


Look For:

  • Sufficient safety features, including smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors. Look inside the apartment as well as in the hallways and in other common areas.



  • Check out faucets, toilets and the pipes under kitchen cabinets for potential leaks in plumbing.



  • Check the water pressure and water temperature in the unit. Turn on the faucets or shower to see how long it takes to get warm.



  • Find out if there is an in-unit water heater or if there is one that is shared by multiple units. This will also affect the amount of hot water that runs to the apartment.



  • Check the water heater and furnace to make sure they are free of rust. Look for rocks, stones or other debris on the outside of the heater or furnace. This debris or chipping may indicate leaks. These leaks could possibly indicate carbon monoxide problems.



  • Make sure that all appliances in the unit work properly and are not damaged.

  • If there is not a washer or dryer in the unit, ask to see the common laundry area. Make sure the common area is well maintained and is well lit. Make sure that access to the common laundry area is limited to residents only.



  • Look for any evidence of insects or rodents, both on the floor in visible areas as well as inside cabinets, drawers and closets.



  • Check for drafts by running your hand along the outside of the window.



  • Look up at the ceiling for any water damage. This may indicate either a leak from outside or very careless upstairs neighbors. If there is discoloration, it may be a sign of mold.



  • Check to see if there is any peeling paint or wallpaper, or if any of the walls show signs of cracking or repairs. This may also indicate water seepage problems or may indicate a breech in the building foundation.



  • Locks should be sturdy and not wobbly.



  • Doors should open and close easily and fit well within the doorframe. The hinges should be sturdy. This is especially important when inspecting doors that lead to the outside. The apartment should have a deadbolt on all outside doors.



  • Turn off and on all lighting inside the apartment to check for electrical shortages.



  • Check the outlets in the apartment to make sure that they all work properly and there are no electrical problems.


Don’t rush through your inspection of your potential new apartment. Be thorough and take your time. After all, it will be your home for at least the next year, make sure you choose a place that you know you’ll be happy with.

This post was updated April 2, 2013.