If you're looking for a new place to live, bringing a walkthrough apartment checklist form may not be at the top of your mind.
After all, there are bigger fish to fry, including the cost of rising rents and the coordination and costs associated with the actual move.
However, before you pack your boxes and call the moving company, don't forget to create and go through an apartment checklist. Instead of waiting for your landlord or management company to do it, initiate one on your own and set up a time to go through it with them.
Here's what you should know about the checklist and why it's important. Don't forget to download the walkthrough apartment checklist form below.
One of the top reasons tenants and landlords end up in court is because of security deposit disputes. Having an apartment checklist helps ensure there are no big surprises and both landlord and tenant are on the same page when it comes to the condition of the apartment. This means you should reasonably expect to get your security deposit back (as long as you don't significantly damage your apartment while you're living there).
Going through the apartment with your landlord or property manager before you move in will highlight any damages or things that need repairs, so they can be addressed and fixed prior to moving in. It will also eliminate the chance the landlord will pin those damages on you when you move out, meaning you'll be off the hook for damage that was there prior to your move-in.
Think of a move-in checklist is the “part one" of covering yourself as a renter in your apartment. “Part two" is your move-out checklist.
Having both helps solidify the lease terms, your needs as a renter and the condition you're supposed to leave the property in, minimizing issues between you and the landlord.
What should I bring for an apartment walkthrough?
When you do your walkthrough, remember to have your phone on hand to take any photos of things that may be of concern to you. Perhaps certain fixtures need to be replaced, repaired or walls painted.
You should also bring a notebook with a pen to record any important notes or use the notes app on your phone.
Extra tip: Bring a tape measure to measure doorways to make sure your furniture will fit during move in.
What should I look for in an apartment walkthrough?
There are a few things that you need to look out for during your apartment walkthrough. Here are the basics.
Check the building's hallways and other common areas for fire safety features, including fire alarms and sprinklers
Find out what the fire escape plan is for the building and make sure you know where to go
If there are bars on the windows, are they approved safety gates that don't require a key
Also, make sure that each sleeping area has an operable window large enough to escape through
Doors and windows: Do all of the locks work without issues?
Check all locks and doorknobs. They should lock and not wobble. Make sure that you get keys that work for each lock.
Try all windows and doors to make sure they open and close properly
Are window coverings intact? Note any missing or loose screens
Check all windows for drafts
Plumbing: Look out for leaks and weak water pressure
Look around the toilets and under and around every sink to make sure that nothing is damp or dripping
Make sure that faucets shut off properly and that all sink stops work
Check the tub and sinks for missing grout or tiles
Turn the shower on to test for water pressure and hot water temperature. It's important to find out if you share a hot water heater or if your unit has its own. (This could affect the kind of shower you'll have in the mornings!)
Kitchen/Appliances: Turn on stoves, ovens, heaters and air conditioners
Test each appliance to make sure it works properly
On the stove, test each burner and the oven and broiler
Check the refrigerator and freezer closely. Make sure that they get cold, that every drawer opens and that there aren't any lingering smells.
Make sure the dishwasher, washer and dryer work
Run the heater and air conditioning, to make sure that both work and produce heat and cold, respectively
If the laundry facilities are in a common area, be sure it's clean, bright, well maintained and accessible to residents only.
Electrical: Make sure outlets work
Bring a phone charger and plug it into every electrical outlet to test if they work
Turn all the wall switches off and on to make sure they work properly. This is also a good time to note anything unusual, like a light that's affected by multiple switches or if a light takes longer than expected to turn on.
Check for the location of cable, internet and phone jacks
Apartment condition: Look for red flags like water damage or peeling paint
Check the walls for peeling paint or wallpaper, along with any cracks or stains
Check closets, under sinks and elsewhere for signs of rodents or insects, such as droppings and chew marks
Make sure that the blinds and curtains open and close
If you notice something, say something
Your walkthrough is the time to document any concern or problem that exists in the unit. Because this process will likely be repeated with your landlord when you move out, it's typically in your best interest to document or photograph the condition of the unit now to be able to make a comparison later.
Don't be afraid to send photos and notes to the landlord or management company. Make sure to keep copies for yourself. Keeping organized records of the apartment condition before you move out may help create a smooth process for when you move out.
Claire Tak is a writer who previously served as head of content and chief editor for FinTech companies in New York and San Francisco. Her work has appeared on FOX Business, Bloomberg and Forbes. She writes regularly about travel, money and being a good human. Traveling and snowboarding are her two favorite things to do.