The Ultimate Renter’s Checklist


I’ve had my fair share of apartments and with each one there’s been issues that could have been avoided if I knew what to look for when I was hunting. Once you’ve found the perfect rental, there are a few a lot of things you need to check before signing the lease. Best case scenario your landlord is a nice guy who will fix the problems or make amendments to your lease contract. Worst case scenario your landlord sucks and will not fix the issues which is where you WALK AWAY, my friends.

I’ve made a list of every thing that has possibly gone wrong in my apartments so that I can share it with you in hopes that maybe you can avoid it. Print this bad boy out and take it with you when you’re hunting for your next pad. I swear, you’ll thank me later.

Turn on the faucets. Make sure you have clear water, good pressure and no banging in the pipes. Then turn them off and see if you have any leaks.

Check for mold, mildew, water damage, stains or cracks in your ceilings, floors, and walls.

Open and close all the doors and windows. If your rental is anything like mine, the windows are painted SHUT. This is an EXTREME fire hazard. If you do not have operable windows, check to see if it can be fixed.

While we’re on doors, check all of the locks and make sure they work. This is crucial if you live alone. Also check to make sure all the doors are sealed properly. If they aren’t your power bill will be through the roof because air/heat can escape.

Check the closet for critters and mice poop. This is a serious one, guys.

Check the outlets. For heavens sake, make sure there’s at least one three-prong outlet in every room. Make sure there’s like seven in the kitchen. If not, you will have to purchase big, bulky adaptors and it’s a hassle.

Check the appliances and make sure they are up to your standards. If the ice maker in the fridge doesn’t work or the stove light is broken, you can request the landlord to fix it or buy you new appliances.

Be aware of the noise level. This is hard the first time you visit the apartment, so try to visit at multiple times of the day. This allows you to scope out your neighbors and surroundings, too. I once drove by an apartment complex and midnight and there was a loud party going on next door and cars parked everywhere. Maybe that was a once time only deal, but I wasn’t going to find out.

Make sure there is ample lighting in the hallways and bathrooms.

Speaking of bathrooms, make sure there’s an exhaust fan in there. If not, your bathroom will breed mold and it will smell horrendous all the time.

Check for sufficient parking. If you have to walk a block to get to your apartment, that might not be fun next time it rains and you have groceries to carry.

Depending on if you’re in a building or a house, check the laundry facilities. If you do not own a washer and dryer, you make have to rent them which can be expensive. Most apartment buildings charge you to do your laundry. Sometimes it’s worth visiting your mom every weekend to avoid that added expense. Plus, she’ll do it for you, too!

If you have a pet, make sure you’ve got a large grassy area to walk them. Better yet, if you’re in a home make sure it’s got a (secure and safe) fenced in backyard. This was a high priority to me.

And last but not least, know what your security deposit will cover in terms of damages. A lot of leases outline additional charges that you will have to pay when you move out.

My best tip is to take pictures of everything that is already messed up in the place, such as a stain on the carpet or rusty part on the stove or marks on the countertops. That way they can’t say YOU did them after you leave.

Do you have any horror stories about renting? Did I leave something out of this list?



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