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What Every Renter Should Know About Move-In Inspections

Renter Guides
August 5, 2019

You’ve found an apartment. You want to move in, unpack, and enjoy your new place!   You feel like you’ve already filled out a mountain of forms. And yet, there’s one more crucial step you should take before moving in, or even before signing a lease: Conduct a Move-In Inspection!

renter with dog

Remember, inspection = protection and peace of mind.

As a renter, you want to document the condition of the property so that you don’t get blamed for pre-existing damages when it comes time for you to vacate the property.  You’re thinking, I just moved in and I have to think about moving out! Yes! The more you protect yourself, the better your move-out will be. The time to do this is when you move in.  Even if you’re moving into a brand new place, don’t skip the inspection!

You can download check lists, print, and walk through the unit with a clipboard. Better yet, you can do it all from your smart phone with the RentCheck app. This step-by-step, top-to-bottom inspection is only a click away on your phone. The app includes every detail of a living space. Not only do you document the property’s condition, you take photos as you do it. Everything is ready and stored for when you may need it.

Invite your landlord or the property manager to join you in the inspection. There’s no need to be secretive about inspecting the property.  Every landlord wants to protect their asset as much as you want to protect yourself from being accused of damaging their property.

In some states, landlords are required to give new tenants a written statement on the condition of the unit at move-in time, including a comprehensive list of existing damage. Check your state security deposit rules for the exact requirements in your state, including the type of inspection required at the end of the tenancy. Regardless, plan to conduct your own inspection.

Here are 5 Things to Look For:

1.  Previous Damages

Perhaps the previous tenant didn’t leave the property in great shape and the landlord hasn’t fixed things to your liking. Document it and notify the landlord of these pre-existing conditions.  You want to ensure you won’t be paying for these damages.  Check for paint chips, cigarette burns in carpet, leftover moving debris, broken windows, door locks, and so on. Using RentCheck will guarantee nothing is forgotten as you inspect the property.

2.  Appliance Malfunctions

Fixing broken appliances isn’t your responsibility as a new tenant.  Inspect every appliance, including every electrical outlet and light switch.  Don’t be shy about running the dishwasher, washer and dryer, turning on the oven vent, the oven, and the stove and microwave. Don’t overlook the bathroom exhaust fan. Whatever you see, make sure they work.  If you find anything not in working order, bring this to the landlord’s attention immediately to discuss how things will be repaired. Do not offer to pay for any repairs!

3.  Maintenance Issues

Maintenance is what keeps an apartment from looking good to looking shabby. You want to inspect and document everything: even if you think a squeaky door, or mini-window crack, or scratched floor don’t bother you and you can live with them, document anyway. Remember, you don’t want to be blamed for the bad habits of others.  So inspect that the toilet flushes, the hot water is hot, that every window opens easily, that every door closes. Check closet lights. Check the oven light. No thing is too small or unimportant when it comes to move-in inspection. If you see it now, you want it fixed.

4. Health & Safety

Be sure to test the smoke detector. Inspect the door and window locks. Check the access to your building as well.  Ask for documentation about lead paint and other hazardous materials that may have been used in construction, like asbestos. The more you know before, the less chance you have of paying for damages down the road. Every landlord needs to follow all federal, state, and local landlord-tenant laws when it comes to disclosing specific information to tenants at the time they move in. Be sure you receive this information. Check that the floor is even; you don’t want to trip on a nail or warped floorboard. Check for leaks by the sinks, toilet, bathtub, and shower. Check the ceilings for water stains from the apartment above you.

5. Document Everything

Easy and Detailed Guided WalkThrough - RentCheck App Preview

Here at RentCheck, we want you to have open communication with your landlord. The more you document the condition of your apartment before you move in, the better that communication will be. By inspecting the unit, you’re showing the landlord you care about their property. In turn, they’ll want to take care of the unit to keep you as tenant.

So Inspect to Protect! Then you can unpack and pour that much deserved cold beer!