Don’t Forget Your Move-In Inspection — 4 Things Every Renter Needs to Know (Before Moving In)
You’re so close to finally being in your new apartment. You’ve packed up all of your apartment essentials. Rented the moving truck. Hired movers or rounded up friends and family to help with the move. But there’s one more crucial step you should take before moving in: conduct a move-in inspection!
Why do you need a move-in inspection?
As a renter, you want to make sure you get your security deposit back when you move out. That means you need to document the condition of the property when you move in so that you don’t get blamed for any pre-existing damage. The more you protect yourself at move-in time, the better your move-out will be. Even if you’re moving into a brand new place, you don’t want to skip the inspection!
Remember, inspection = protection of your security deposit and peace of mind.
Pro tip: Invite your landlord or the property manager to join you in the inspection. There’s no need to be secretive about inspecting the property.
Things to look for during your move-in inspection:
You’ll want to make sure you have a checklist to work from as you walk through and inspect your new apartment. Of course, you can print something and walk through with a clipboard – but there’s an app for that. Do it all from your smartphone with the free RentCheck app. It’s a step-by-step, top-to-bottom inspection tool that includes every detail of your living space. The app helps you to both document the property’s condition and take photos as you go. Everything is ready and stored for when you may need it.
Regardless of which checklist you use, make sure you cover the following four areas.
1. Previous damage
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 issues. You want to ensure you won’t be paying for stuff like chipped paint, cigarette burns in the carpet, leftover moving debris, broken windows, door locks, scratched hardwood floors, and so on. Using the RentCheck app will guarantee you don’t miss any of this 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, stove, and microwave. Don’t overlook the bathroom exhaust fan. Whatever appliances 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 keeps your apartment looking good and functioning well. You want to inspect and document everything. Even if a squeaky door, small crack in the window, or scratched floor doesn’t bother you, document anyway. Remember, you don’t want to be blamed for this damage when you move out. 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 and safety
Be sure to test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 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.
Remember, document everything
Using the RentCheck app will help to foster 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 a tenant.
So inspect to protect! Then you can unpack and pour that much deserved cold beer!