Steve Harper
apartment checklist

Not every landlord or management company requires an apartment walkthrough when you move into a new apartment unit, but it’s in your best interest to do so. Request one before you move in, if it’s not initiated for you, and check to see that all is well in your new home.

If the owner is unavailable, ask for the representative managing the property in the owner’s absence. Many landlords will give you a checklist to note the condition of everything for their records, so make sure to follow that if it’s given to you.

Download the Apartment Guide Checklist

Here are things you need to keep an eye out for:



  • Make sure that working smoke detectors andfire extinguishers are in place. (Carbon monoxide detectors are less commonly found but are a good precaution.)
  • 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

  • Check all locks and door knobs. 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.
  • Arewindow coverings intact? Note any missing screens.
  • Check all windows for drafts.


  • 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!)


  • Test each appliance to make sure it works properly.
  • On the stove, test each burner and the oven/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 is clean, bright, well maintained and accessible to residents only.


  • 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 one 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/phone jacks.

General apartment condition

  • Check for signs of water damage, especially on the ceilings (no one remembers to look at the ceiling).
  • 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.


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 is 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 of going onto too much detail, especially when it comes to pictures. Send any that you take to management, as well as keeping a copy yourself. Documenting an existing problem may aid you in recovering your security deposit when you move out.



About The Author

Steve Harper enjoys seeking out and writing about topics that matter to renters for the Apartment Guide Blog. He hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Find Steve on Google.