The apartment walkthrough: Things to watch out for before you move in

By Allstate

Last updated: January 2024

You've found a great apartment in your price range and are ready to move in. But before you pack your bags and boxes and load up the moving truck, you'll want to do an apartment walkthrough. Essentially, it's like running through a home safety checklist; you walk through the apartment with your landlord or rental agent and determine if there are any issues that need fixing before you move in.

This is one of the most important steps in the moving process. An apartment walkthrough may ensure that you avoid any fees for damages (that you didn't cause) when you move out; if it isn't initiated for you, make sure to request one. Here is a list of common problems to look for during a walkthrough.

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Come prepared

The first step to a successful walkthrough is to make sure you come prepared. Bring a camera to take pictures of any problematic areas, and make sure you have a notepad and pen handy to take notes. Also, bring a tape measure and size up the doorways to ensure your furniture will fit through them.

General checks

  • Check for any signs of an insect or rodent infestation, such as droppings or chew marks.
  • Bring a cell phone charger to plug into outlets and check function.
  • Make sure home phone or cable jacks are available (if you'll be using them) and that they are functioning and accessible.

Safety checks

  • Make sure proper fire safety equipment is installed: Check to see that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and in the appropriate areas and ensure that fire extinguishers are in place.
  • Find the fire escape plan (if your apartment is in a complex) and make sure you know where to go in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Door and window checks

  • Check all windows and doors to make sure they open and close properly.
  • Try all locks and doorknobs to ensure they are secure and not wobbly. If there is more than one type of lock, ask to receive a key for each lock.
  • See if all window coverings are intact, including screens. Check for drafts.

Bathroom checks

  • Flush every toilet to make sure the plumbing works properly. Look inside the tank to make sure the handle is sturdy, so you know it's not going to snap.
  • Check for leaks under the sink by running every faucet. Look under the sink to make sure there are no drips, water discolorations or odors. Fill up the sinks to make sure they hold water and drain properly.
  • Make sure the shower head works and isn't spraying water all over the place.
  • Test the hot water to ensure it heats up in a timely manner. Check the water pressure.
  • Check for any cracks or discolorations in the bathroom mirror. If there is a medicine cabinet behind the mirror, make sure the door opens properly.

Kitchen checks

  • Turn on each appliance (microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, etc.) and make sure it works properly.
  • Turn on all the burners on the stove to make sure they light up. Open and close the oven door and look for all the racks in the oven. Check the broiler and make sure it works.
  • Open and close the refrigerator doors and pull out every drawer. Check any musty smells. If there is an icemaker, check to see if it works. Make sure the refrigerator is chilly and the freezer is cold.
  • Examine the linoleum or tile for any scrapes, scuffs and cuts, and check the counter tops for any stains, burn marks or chips.
  • Open and close all the cupboard doors and drawers. Check for chips and dings.

Bedroom and living room checks

  • Flip every light switch on and off.
  • Test the air conditioner on both the hot and cold settings. Listen for any strange sounds and be aware of any weird smells, which could be a sign that the filter needs to be changed.
  • Open and close the blinds to make sure they work properly.
  • Look for cracks and dents in the walls and baseboards, which could be an indicator of structural damage.
  • Check for any aesthetic details, like stains on the carpet, chipped paint, peeling wallpaper, nail holes in the wall.
  • Make sure the fireplace (if there is one) is in working condition.

Once you and your landlord have completed the apartment walkthrough, clarify the terms of the security deposit, schedule any repairs, and make sure to sign a document detailing the agreed-upon condition of the property.

This guest post was provided by Apartment Guide, a leader in apartment search listings and moving, decorating and green living content. Whether you're living, looking or moving, Apartment Guide will help point you in the right direction.