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Apartment Inspection: How to Evaluate Your Next Pad

So you found a new apartment right in your favorite neighborhood. It's nice and spacious, it's got a huge backyard, and oh, that kitchen!

Hold on a second. Don't sign that lease just yet.

There are several warning signs to keep an eye out for before you sign your name on the dotted line.

A couple and a realtor examine an apartment

Right Place, Right Time:

For starters, make sure this apartment is the right place for you. Our "Where to Rent Quiz" will help you make sure you're moving into the type of apartment that really fits your lifestyle.

A Thousand Words

Bring a camera with you as you walk around to document potential issues. Just in case.

All Hands on Deck

An outdoor deck can be a great place to hang out in the summer, but you want to make sure it's safe before you break out the cooler. Signs of an unsafe deck include decaying wood, shaky railings, and corroded fasteners.

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Water Works

Experts recommend turning on the shower to ensure the apartment has adequate water pressure and hot water, and checking the faucets to make sure the water is clear—not a rusty color. Also look under the sink for moisture from leaky drains, which can cause mold.

The Legit Landlord

Make sure your landlord is on the up-and-up—you want to be sure you know how to spot scams. A solid apartment inspection includes doing your homework. Research the property to make sure the site isn't in foreclosure and everything is good to go.

The Smell Test

There are several ways to tell if mold may be an issue:

  • Yellow stains on walls and ceilings can mean the apartment has suffered water damage, which can lead to mold. And if the stains are green, brown, or black, mold could be present.

  • Cracked or peeling paint may be a sign that moisture has built up behind the wall.

  • A musty smell means mold could be lurking somewhere.

So if your dream apartment smells like a locker room or you see telltale discoloration (look closely in the bathroom), talk to the landlord immediately. It might be the kind of mold that can be fixed with a little work. But if not, consider looking for another place.

This Is Only a Test

Experts recommend checking all the appliances to make sure they're in working order. Turn on the stove—do all of the switches and burners work? Check the fridge and the freezer. Will they keep your leftovers cold and your ice cream frozen?

Safe at Home

Test the deadbolt locks on the doors to make sure they work properly and ask if you can install your own locks on the doors—the more the merrier. You can also ask the landlord to change the locks—that way, the previous tenant's keys won't open them.

Also ensure the windows close and lock properly—the windows should fit snugly within the frames to prevent drafts during winter. You should also make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and a smoke detector.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Ask the landlord when the furnace was last cleaned. Forced air gas furnaces should be cleaned every two years to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.

This Is Only a Test

Experts recommend checking all the appliances to make sure they're in working order. Turn on the stove—do all of the switches and burners work? Check the fridge and the freezer. Will they keep your leftovers cold and your ice cream frozen?

Safe at Home

Test the deadbolt locks on the doors to make sure they work properly and ask if you can install your own locks on the doors—the more the merrier. You can also ask the landlord to change the locks—that way, the previous tenant's keys won't open them.

Also ensure the windows close and lock properly—the windows should fit snugly within the frames to prevent drafts during winter. You should also make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and a smoke detector.

Protection Is Important, Too

If the apartment has issues that don't relate to safety issues for you or your family, you might be able to use them to help reduce your rent. Our article about negotiating a lower rent will help you find tips on saving money with your landlord.

Make sure your belongings are protected with Allstate renters insurance—which averages just $15 a month. A renters policy with Allstate protects your belongings from theft, fires, and more.*

Get an easy no-obligation quote or find an agent locally to see how Allstate can help you save on renters insurance. Protect yourself and your belongings.

Published: October 2012

General: Coverage subject to terms, conditions, and availability. Policy issuance is subject to qualifications. Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL. © 2015 Allstate Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL.

ALR Life: Life insurance offered through Allstate Life Ins. Co. & Allstate Assurance Co., 3075 Sanders Rd, Northbrook IL 60062; Lincoln Benefit Life Co., 1221 N St. Ste 200, Lincoln NE 68508; American Heritage Life Ins. Co., 1776 American Heritage Life Dr., Jacksonville FL 32224. In New York, life insurance offered through Allstate Life Insurance Company of New York, Hauppauge NY.

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