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The Ultimate Apartment Walkthrough Checklist for Renters

Know what to look for when evaluating your next rental home
By Justin Kerby 2021-02-04

Searching for your next apartment is an exciting process. You’ll find yourself evaluating many things, including the location, warmth, and overall feel of your potential new home. When you step into an apartment, make sure you bring a list with you that includes everything you need from your new apartment. We’ve created this list of things that may be important to you. Comb through our suggestions, and then make your list of must-haves. Creating your own list will give you a clear picture of whether an apartment is a good fit for you or whether the search should continue. 

Here’s everything you need to look for on an apartment walkthrough.


The Kitchen

This is one of the rooms that can potentially cause you the most trouble, so make sure you’re closely inspecting the kitchen. The major appliances to check out are the stove, fridge, and potentially a dishwasher. 

First, check all of the stove’s burners to ensure they’re working. If you’ve lived in an apartment where your stove’s burners go down regularly, you’ll know how important it is to make sure your stove is in good working condition. You’ll also want to make sure the oven door has a tight seal, though this can also be said about the other major appliances - check to ensure that the doors on the fridge and the dishwasher close properly. 

Touch the inside of the fridge to check the temperature, which is a must for your checklist - a warm fridge won’t do you any good. If the apartment comes with a dishwasher, start a wash cycle as a test and wait until the water begins to run. You’ll also want to be inspecting these appliances for any unexpected smells, leaks, or stains which could indicate previous issues. 

The last two things you should be inspecting are your sinks and your cabinets. Turn the faucets on and test them for hot and cold water while also making sure your drains aren’t backing up. For the cabinets, check to make sure the doors and drawers are all opening and closing correctly and that there’s enough space and storage for you.


The Bathroom(s)

The first thing to look for in the bathroom is general cleanliness. If the bathroom hasn’t been properly cleaned in a while, that could indicate that the previous renters or owners weren’t taking care of it properly, and mould or other problems could be lurking. If it’s in poor condition, be thorough with the rest of the items in this section. 

Start by running the faucets in the bathrooms and check for any leaks under the sink. As you did in the kitchen, try to see if the sinks are backing up or whether things are flowing smoothly. The same should be monitored in the shower or tub, as you don’t want things draining slowly. 

The toilet is another concern when evaluating your bathrooms, so do a complete inspection. Look for any dampness around the base of the toilet, and make sure it’s flushing properly when you do your walkthrough. Toilets are not a significant expense to replace, so don’t be afraid to address them if you notice problems or if they haven’t been replaced in a long time. 

Other things to check for include a working fan, which can prevent mould if left on during and after you’ve taken a shower, working light fixtures, and any cracked tiles or grout that should be filled in. If you’ve checked off everything above, you should feel much more confident in your bathroom situation. 


The Bedroom(s)

In the bedrooms, the main thing you’ll be looking for is any potential damage that’s hidden below the surface. If carpeted, check for subtle stains that you might overlook at a glance. Make sure your windows seal properly (more on windows later), that you have enough closet space and storage, and measure to make sure your furniture will fit. Bedrooms come in all sizes, so don’t assume that your king-size bed and end tables will fit the room without measuring. If you do find yourself looking at a small space, here are some tips to make it feel bigger. 

Ceiling fans can help keep the temperature down during the hot summer months, but they’re also notorious for rattling loudly if they aren’t looked after, so test them out and check the lighting situation while you’re at it. Some bedrooms will require additional lighting to make them feel more like home.


Throughout the Apartment

Electrical is a great place to start, so check your breaker and then do a quick test on all of your outlets by bringing a phone charger or some other pocket-sized device that will quickly give you feedback. A working thermostat and smoke detectors are also important, so don’t forget to ask where they’re located. 

Other items to check that run throughout the apartment include the durability of the walls and floors, window placement so you can anticipate your natural lighting, and the condition of any blinds, shades, or curtains in the apartment. Heating and air conditioning is another major asset, but depending on where you live, they’re not always included. Make sure you know what to expect during the hot summer and cold winter months.


Other Things to Consider

An energy-efficient apartment will definitely save you money in the long run, so be sure to look for double pane windows and a programmable thermostat if you’re on the hook for the heating bill. An in-suite washer and dryer unit is one of the most requested features by renters, but if it’s not included you’ll want to know how far you are from the laundry room or the nearest laundromat. 

There’s building-specific information you’ll want to know about, including any shared amenities like access to a gym or swimming pool, common areas like barbecues and recreation rooms, and security. You’ll also want to save plenty of room on your checklist for evaluating the location of the apartment. Walkability, distance to grocery stores and restaurants, and anything else important to you should be noted here. 

Once you’ve considered everything on the list above and done a complete inventory of the apartment’s features, you should have a good feel for what’s attractive and what’s lacking about your potential new apartment. First-time renters can often be overwhelmed by this process, and a checklist can help get things in order. If you come to your walkthrough prepared, you won’t find any unpleasant surprises after you sign on the dotted line.

Justin Kerby
Justin Kerby is the founder of Something Great, a digital marketing agency that specializes in real estate branding and content creation. They help companies create social media strategies, newsletters, blog content plans, and advertising campaigns.