How to Check an Apartment Before Signing a Lease

Carefully check out the apartment, as well as its surroundings, before signing a lease.

Carefully check out the apartment, as well as its surroundings, before signing a lease.

No matter how enticing a new apartment seems, you want to avoid any misunderstandings or headaches that might arise once you live there for a time. Aside from rent, you usually have to put down a security deposit to cover any damage that might occur while you're renting. If the landlord expects you to leave the apartment in the same condition as when you move into it, make sure you enter into an agreement that clearly spells out all the terms and conditions.

Examine the location thoroughly because you want your new home to have everything that fits your needs and desires, especially if you plan to live there for a while. Make sure the apartment is close enough to stores, school or work. Check the neighborhood and community for safety and ask your potential neighbors or nearby residents about any security concerns.

Inquire about pet-friendly measures if you have pets or plan to get pets. Even apartments that allow pets might have weight and breed restrictions. Find out if neighbors have pets and how they feel about neighbors with pets. You don’t want to live somewhere when you have to deal with occasional or frequent complaints.

Ask the management agent or landlord if utilities are included in the rent or how much they typically cost a month if they aren't. Inquire as to what appliances come with the apartment and if the apartment has air conditioning. Check for amenities, such as a washer and dryer in your unit or nearby to make clothing chores convenient. If the apartment offers a recreation center or pool, look at the condition of these amenities.

Go through the apartment with the landlord or agent to check the condition of walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors and appliances. Make note of any chips, stains, worn carpets or other damages to make sure you are not held responsible for them. Landlords and apartment management often have a checklist for your dwelling, which provides protection for you and them when you leave.

Use the walk-through time for basic inspection to turn on faucets, run water in the bathroom, check kitchen appliances, and open and close windows to ensure they work properly. Check the locks on doors and windows to make sure they function properly for your security.

Verify maintenance procedures at the apartment, such as a proper maintenance staff to take care of any problems as soon as possible. An on-site maintenance staff is ideal. Get the name and contact information of maintenance workers who take care of the apartment property. Make sure that any repairs you requested when viewing the apartment are completed to your satisfaction before you sign the lease and move into the apartment.

Read the lease agreement carefully so everything you discussed or were promised is included in writing. Insist on modifications to the agreement if something is not addressed. For example, if the landlord or management verbally agreed to replace carpeting or paint the apartment before you move in, but these issues aren't included in the lease, ensure that they are spelled out to your satisfaction.


  • You need to trust the landlord or apartment representatives the entire time you are living in the apartment. Observe their professional behavior and attention they give to your wants and needs when you consider the property you rent. Management needs to trust you in handling the apartment responsibly, and you want the same respect when it comes to tending to your needs as a tenant.

About the Author

Jerry Shaw writes for Spice Marketing and LinkBlaze Marketing. His articles have appeared in Gannett and American Media Inc. publications. He is the author of "The Complete Guide to Trust and Estate Management" from Atlantic Publishing.

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