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The Ultimate Rental Inspection Checklist for Tenants

The Ultimate Rental Inspection Checklist for Tenants

Imagine moving into a new apartment, excited to start the next chapter in your life, only to realize your place has hidden issues you missed. Water damage, faulty appliances, or missing window screens can all put a damper on your excitement.

While fixing issues like normal wear and tear might be a hassle, starting your rental journey with a list of things to fix isn’t ideal. Plus, some issues might turn out to be so big they could require a legal dispute with your landlord.

But you can avoid these issues by creating a thorough inspection before your tenancy starts. An inspection can help protect yourself, save money, and ensure you pick the right rental property.

You don’t need to be a handyperson, builder, or contractor to do an inspection. All you need is Goodcover’s rental inspection checklist for tenants. Keep reading to learn more about it, and be sure to download our checklist at the end.

Here’s what we’re covering today:

  • What Is a Rental Inspection Checklist?
  • How To Prepare for a Rental Inspection
  • Things To Include in a Rental Inspection Checklist
  • Download Goodcover’s Rental Inspection Checklist
  • What Happens After Your Inspection?

What Is a Rental Inspection Checklist?

A rental inspection checklist is a document you can use to assess the property's condition before moving in. The checklist helps you remember what to check and avoid future disputes by documenting everything from the start. Your landlord will probably have one, but it’s a good idea for you to have your own for your own protection.

Just like a moving checklist helps your move go smoothly, a rental inspection checklist helps your apartment hunt be successful.

How To Prepare for a Rental Inspection

Before paying money, signing agreements, or even taking an in-person tour, you need to plan ahead. Let’s dig into things you can do to prepare.

Weigh Your Options

Research the rental market in your area. Get a feel for the typical prices, amenities, and locations. If a property catches your attention, contact the landlord to see if you can check it out before signing a lease agreement.

Pro tip: If you’re in a competitive rental marketplace like Los Angeles or New York City, you can often place a holding deposit to show interest in the property, giving you time to inspect the real estate before signing a lease.

Cover What You Can Online

What you can find out about a property online.

Before you visit the property, you can discover a lot online. Look into the age of the building, how many parking spaces there are, and even signs of water damage or mold in pictures.

Look for red flags to narrow your search. Bad photos, no photos, vague descriptions, unusually cheap rent payments, no background checks needed, inconsistencies in the listings, and requests for upfront payments can all be warning signs of future trouble like rental scams.

Go ahead and check out the neighborhood, too. You can use websites like niche.com or neighborhoodscout.com to see ratings, crime rates, and demographics.

Pack Some Tools

Remember that a rental inspection is mutually beneficial.

Don’t be afraid to get nosey when hunting for a new rental. Take a camera and flashlight to look at the property on your inspection date.

Use the camera to document the current state of a property and use the flashlight to check every nook and cranny, like behind bathroom cabinets, lights, and faucets. It may feel awkward with the landlord watching you, but remember: being thorough helps both of you.

A rental inspection checklist:

  • Keeps things clear for both parties
  • Improves communication
  • Minimizes future conflict between you and your landlord
  • Ensures the property is in good condition
  • Protects your tenant rights
  • Saves both parties money by finding issues early.

Things To Include in a Rental Inspection Checklist

Now that you have a plan let’s look at what your rental inspection checklist needs to cover.

1. Exterior and Interior Building Conditions

Look for signs of water damage, mold, mildew, or pest infestation, such as gaps around doors and windows, nests, or droppings. Examine the roof, walls, and floors for any damage or deterioration.

Take note of the overall cleanliness and maintenance of the building because it can indicate how it is managed. Additionally, check the state of on-site amenities like laundry facilities, pools, or fitness centers.

2. Security and Safety

Safety is a top priority for new tenants, and your rental inspection checklist should check that all windows and doors locks function correctly and if there’s a fire escape and working smoke detectors.

Also, check for well-lit entrances and common areas and ask about cameras, security personnel, and other security measures.

3. Utilities and Appliances

Make sure your rental utilities and appliances work properly.

Making sure utilities work ahead of time will save lots of headaches. Check faucets, light fixtures, and included appliances like stoves and garbage disposals.

Ideally, you should check the following utilities and appliances:

  • Water pressure and temperature
  • Functioning electrical outlets
  • Appliances are in good working order
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Ventilation (especially in the kitchen and bathroom)

4. Storage, Space, and Parking

When it comes to moving furniture in and out, consider the age of the building. Older properties may have narrower doorways or tighter corners, making it challenging to move your sofa without yelling “Pivot!” as you and your friends struggle up the staircase.

Next, check for sufficient closet space and room dimensions to be sure the living room can hold your couch and your table fits the dining room.

After that, check whether you can allow guests to use parking, have to pay for parking spots, or if parking is even included in your lease.

5. Promised Amenities

Even if you checked out the online listing, confirming the amenities and their conditions is crucial during your in-person inspection. Online photos may be out of date.

Start by verifying the fitness center, pool, and other facilities advertised online. Are they in good condition? Next, inquire about on-site maintenance or management availability. Who is your contact if something needs repair?

Lastly, if you have furry friends, double-check the pet policies and accommodations to ensure your pets will be welcomed and comfortable in your new home.

6. Neighborhood and Community

Your neighborhood and community can be a plus or minus. To get a better feel for the neighborhood, visit during daytime and nighttime to get a sense of noise levels and the general atmosphere.

Take some time to gauge the sense of community and neighbor friendliness. If possible, strike up a conversation with potential neighbors to get their perspectives on living in the area.

Lastly, take note of the proximity to coffee shops, public transport, shops, and restaurants.

7. Lease Terms and Conditions

What you need to confirm in your lease agreement.

Before you commit to renting an apartment, make sure to review the lease agreement carefully. Here’s what you need to confirm:

  • Rent amount and payment due date
  • Security deposit requirements
  • Lease duration, renewal terms, and move-in date
  • Maintenance and repair responsibilities
  • Pet policies and restrictions
  • Penalties for late payments or lease violations

Your lease terms will help you understand your roles and responsibilities as the tenant moving in and how your landlord or property management will act in case of any violations.

Download Goodcover’s Rental Inspection Checklist

We’ve created a handy guide to help you find the perfect rental property and avoid any potential problems.

Rental Inspection Checklist

What Happens After Your Inspection?

With your comprehensive rental inspection checklist, you're well-equipped to find the perfect apartment. And you can use it as a move-in checklist to help you plan your move-out inspection if you ever move again.

You can relax knowing you’ve done your due diligence before moving in. But don’t forget about protecting your personal property now that you have a new apartment.

Goodcover renters insurance starts as low as $5 a month and gives you peace of mind knowing your possessions are protected. Get a quote and start your new chapter with confidence and security.

Note: This post is for informational purposes; insurance regulation and coverage specifics vary by location and person. Check your policy for exact coverage information.

For additional questions, reach out to us – we’re happy to help.

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