Posted Dec 24, 2014

What to Look for During an Apartment Inspection

Once you find that perfect apartment in a great neighborhood, and you’ve signed a lease, you have to do an inspection with your landlord. Before you move in, you and the landlord essentially walk around the space, making note of any damages that are already in place.What to Look for During an Apartment InspectionYou might be tempted to forgo this step, as it seems like a time sink, but trust me, you should do it. Even if your landlord doesn’t mention it, ask for an inspection – you’ll be glad you did!

When you move out, landlords do another inspection to see what they’ll have to repair before the next tenant moves in. If you didn’t complete an initial walkthrough, you may be held responsible for the damages, and that means getting a smaller portion of your security deposit returned.

Plus, if you see issues now, your landlord might be able to fix them more quickly. With that being said, spending that 10 or so minutes with your landlord to check out your unit is important for future you’s wallet. As you peek about, make sure you’re covering the items on this new apartment checklist:


Walking throughout your apartment will cause damage to your floors over time. Dirt, shoes, moving furniture, etc., can all create scratches and dents. Look for imperfections during your inspection.What to Look for During an Apartment Inspection-FloorsWood: If your floors are made of hardwood, check to see if they’re dull or scratched. Older buildings are likely to have worn-out wood floors that creak, so be specific in your inspection write up. For instance, note “Heavy scratches near the walls” or “Scuffs across the living room floor.”

Carpet: If you have carpet, look for stains, tears, holes, etc.

Tile/Linoleum: Be on the lookout for broken tile pieces or chipped linoleum. Some squares could be discolored as well.


You’ll probably decorate your walls during the course of your lease, so you may cause some damage. Holes from nails and screws are easy to fix, so you shouldn’t worry about them. However, you should note destruction caused by previous tenants, such as:What to Look for During an Apartment Inspection-WallPeeling Paint: Most landlords repaint apartments before new tenants move in, so this shouldn’t be much of an issue, but it’s always good to look. Write on your report exactly where the paint is peeling.

Scuff Marks: Everything from bicycle tires to dark sheets can leave marks when rubbed against the wall. If you didn’t color it, you don’t want to pay for it. Make a note of where the marks are on the walls.

Holes or Dents: You don’t want to be charged later on for the holes a former tenant left, so write them down!


Everything from faucets to shower heads to lights have the potential for being a bit out of whack. When you do your walkthrough, test everything.What to Look for During an Apartment Inspection - FixuresFaucets: Turn them on, using both hot and cold. Make sure the water temperatures work and that the knobs are all OK.

Cabinets and Drawers: Pull them out and open them. Questions to ask yourself might include, “Do they stick? Are they falling out? Is anything broken?” It’s OK if a few cabinets don’t close all the way, the main thing is to ensure your landlord knows the issue is not your fault.

Lights: Make sure they all work. If a bulb is burnt out, be sure to ask for a new one – you shouldn’t have to buy a bulb when you first move in. Turn on ceiling fans as well.

Toilet: Run the toilet and make sure all the water goes down. Is the toilet running long after it flushed? That’s an issue you should jot down.


Your stove, oven, refrigerator and dishwasher must all be in working order.What to Look for During an Apartment Inspection - AppliancesYour gas line shouldn’t have leaks. The fridge ought to be cold and the light should work. You can turn each item on to thoroughly investigate it.


Additionally, check on these items:What to Look for During an Apartment Inspection - MiscellaneousLocks: Deadbolt locks are the most secure, and each door to your apartment should have one. If not, ask the landlord if he or she can add it to your door. Furthermore, make sure the locks and your keys work.

Windows: Windows must be able to lock, open and close. Make sure they seal properly and don’t have any cracks.

Blinds: Your window fixtures could be a little out of shape, just write down the damage.

Inspection Tips

While going through your new apartment with your landlord is ideal, he or she might not do the inspection with you.What to Look for During an Apartment Inspection - Inspection TipsIf that’s the case, you should conduct one on your own anyway – you don’t want to be liable for any issues that come up! Whether you go it alone or with a landlord, here are a few tips for inspecting diligently:

  • Take photos of damages and keep the files on hand.
  • Make very detailed notes.
  • Test everything you can.
  • Have the landlord sign off on the inspection notes.
  • Keep a copy of the walkthrough notes in your files.
  • When you move out, make sure you leave the place as you found it, or in better condition.

Pin this post:What to Look for During an Apartment Inspection - An apartment inspection could save your security deposit!

Photo Credit: Elissa MerolaSteve SnodgrassJonathan MoreauCurtis PerryMike Bitzenhoferthe second fiddle

Jen Jackowski


Jen Jackowski is a graduate of Illinois State University, where she studied theater and English. Her experiences in the theatrical arts left her with a love for storytelling that she breathes into her writing. She’s also passionate about art, gaming, sustainability and fashion. Her work has been published in the literary magazine, Euphemism.

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