The Ultimate Rental Apartment Visiting Checklist
Apartment hunting can be a lot like love at first sight – you know immediately when it’s right for you. You’ve seen a apartment for rent that catches your eye, and you can’t wait to visit in person.
Imagining yourself at home in your rental apartment is quite exciting, but not all rented accommodation is created equal. What looks great at first sight may hide flaws that could haunt you afterwards.
Know what to look for and make sure you’re asking the right questions, and getting the right information by using our ultimate rental apartment visiting checklist.
After you’ve determined your needs and the neighbourhood you want to live in, and spotted an apartment you want to visit, call the landlord to schedule a time to visit the apartment. Ask if there are already pending applications for the unit you want. If there’s an open house already scheduled, ask if you can come and visit it earlier, to snag yourself the apartment before the others!
Be professional and organized when you speak to the landlord, and use the checklist below. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and poke around – you need to know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign your lease agreement. If the landlord isn’t willing to answer your questions or seems nervous about doing so, walk away!
You can also use this checklist once you’ve agreed to take the apartment but before you sign the lease or hand over a security deposit. A thorough visit will give you leverage to negotiate with the landlord. If you plan on taking the apartment, take photos to record any damage with digital camera (to time-stamp the photos) to make sure you can get your deposit back when you leave.
Be realistic about your expectations, and be willing to compromise. Know what you want before you visit and eliminate apartments that don’t fit your must-have criteria. The right apartment for you is out there!
General questions to ask the landlord
- How long is the lease for?
- How does the billing for utilities work? Is the heating/hot water included? If not, is there a separate accessible counter for each unit?
- When is the next rent increase – can you obtain a history of the rental price?
- Are you allowed to sublet? Are there restrictions?
- Have there ever been bedbugs in the building or unit?
- Does the apartment come furnished or unfurnished?
- Can you hang pictures and repaint the walls?
- What’s the smoking policy for the apartment and building? Did the previous tenant smoke? Do the neighbours smoke?
- Who are the neighbours – will they be partying all night long, or will even small noises disturb them?
- Are pets allowed? Do other tenants have pets?
- What is a typical rate for tenant’s insurance? It’s best to take the same insurance company as the building or neighbours if possible.
Visiting the inside the apartment for rent
The floors, ceilings, and walls
- Is the flooring in wood or ca rpet? How old is the carpet and will it be shampooed before you move in?
- Are there holes around the baseboard or cracks/warps in the flooring?
- Are there signs of water damage on the ceiling or walls?
- Has the apartment been freshly painted?
- How many outlets are there; are there enough of them and are they in good condition? Bring a nightlight with you to check.
- Is there enough kitchen counter and shelving space?
- Have you opened the kitchen cabinets and checked for signs of infestation with a flashlight?
- Have you looked behind the stove and fridge?
- Is there an outlet for laundry machines or a dishwasher?
- Have you opened the sink and bathroom faucets, and checked the pressure of the shower?
- Is there a powerful vent in the bathroom?
- Is there enough shelf space and a towel rack in the bathroom?
- Are there any signs of moisture damage or mold on the shower curtains?
The bedroom and living room
- What kind of a view do you have from your apartment?
- Do the doors and windows close well? Are there screens for the windows for summer?
- Can you see the streetlights from the bedroom at night?
- Are the window blinds or treatments included?
- If you have a balcony, can you barbecue on it?
- How much natural light is there at different times of the day?
- Is there enough closet space?
- Where are the cable hookups for TV, landline phones and internet? Is there a specific company that provides these services for the building?
- Do all the lights work?
- How old is the electricity wiring? Is the fuse box located in the rental apartment or elsewhere in the building?
- Are there any children living upstairs?
- Can you hear a lot of noise from the elevators, neighbouring apartments or the street?
- Is there enough privacy for the unit you want to rent?
- Have you measured the door frames and dimensions of the rooms to make sure your furniture will fit?
Visiting the exterior of the building
- How old is the building? When was it last renovated?
- Is there indoor or outdoor parking? If you’re parking on the street, are there time/day restrictions and do they suit your work/play schedule?
- Are there any amenities in the building, such as a pool or gym? Do you have to pay extra to use these?
- Is there a laundry facility in the building? How much does it cost to use it?
- Where is the trash put out for pickup?
- Where is the mail delivered; is there a private mailbox for each unit?
- Are there any common areas for the tenants? Who is responsible for maintaining them?
- Are there any additional storage spaces in the building?
- Is there a place to lock your bike?
- Are you able to get solid cell phone coverage anywhere in the building?
- Who plows the snow outside?
A note about safety
- Is there a peephole in the door of the apartment?
- Can you monitor the lobby from the apartment?
- Are there smoke alarms in the apartment and in the corridor? Do they function? When were they last checked?
- Where are the emergency exits?
- If you have a balcony or fire exit, could someone easily use it to break in to your apartment?
- Do all the windows and doors close securely?
- How many people have a copy of the keys?
- Is there adequate wheelchair access?
- How long does it take for regular repairs to be made? Who can be reached for emergency repairs?
- Is the area around the building and in the parking lot safe, with adequate lighting?
- Have you checked the crime statistics online for the area?
- Is there adequate public transportation near the apartment building, and enough parking space for guests?
- How close is the nearest convenience store? In winter, this distance will seem to be even longer!
- Is there a self-storage facility nearby?
- Are there any green areas or parks nearby?
- What are the traffic patterns like near the building?
When visiting an apartment for rent, be polite but don’t be shy: you need to know what kind of a place you’ll be living in!
Why not also introduce yourself to the neighbours to ask if they’d mind you asking some questions about the apartment and landlord? Do so without the landlord hovering over you, either before or after your visit.
Good luck, and happy hunting!