Your apartment inspection checklist: 5 things to look for when viewing an apartment
Finding the right apartment to rent can be a daunting task, especially in today's real estate market! Perhaps after weeks of searching, you finally found the apartment of your dreams? Not so fast! You need to make sure the place is in good condition and ready to rent. To help you, here's an apartment inspection checklist with 5 things to look at your next apartment viewing.
1. Test the electricity, heating and plumbing in the apartment
The first step in your apartment inspection is to check the three basic elements of the home : electricity, heating and plumbing! The process can add a few minutes to the visit, but you won't regret any time taken to inspect the building carefully. First, check that all electrical outlets are in working order and if the apartment has enough to meet your needs. Then, locate the electrical panel and make sure it is in good condition and easy to access if needed.
Second, ask about the type of heating. Is it working properly? Does it heat the apartment enough? Is the apartment well insulated for the winter? Is there an air conditioning unit for the summer months? Is the apartment heated with electrical, oil or gas heating? If you’re not sure about the difference between different types of heating and how they can affect your bill, read our article for some great heating safety tips!
Finally, take the time in your apartment inspection to check the water pressure, flow rate and temperature in the bathroom, kitchen sink and laundry room, if there is one. Run the shower, faucets and flush the toilet. We've all stayed in hotels where the shower pressure was just a trickle or there was no hot water – it’s not something you want to have in your apartment.
Good to know
Good news! You can check how much the electricity bill for your future home costs before moving in. Visit your electricity company's website, if the service is available, (Hydro-Québec in Quebec and Hydro One or Toronto Hydro in Ontario, for example) and check the electricity bill for the address of your choice. Avoid the nasty surprise of a huge heating bill in a few minutes and plan your budget accordingly.
2. Inspect storage, cupboards and closets
During the apartment inspection, take a look at the storage spaces. Is there enough storage space in the living space and bedroom for you to live comfortably? What about cupboards and cabinets for your dishes and cookware? Most apartments offer limited space and might look cluttered if you have a lot of personal items. Are you thinking of living in a shared flat? Take a look at the closets in the bedrooms and make sure that there is space for everyone!
Closets aren't the only thing to check when you're planning to live with roommates. Read our article on insurance and roommates and find out everything you need to know about preparing for the unexpected!
3. Check the doors and windows of the apartment
An important part of the apartment inspection is making sure the doors and windows work properly and open and lock tightly. This matters as much for your safety as for your heating or air conditioning bill. Old buildings are not known for having good insulation, and if the windows don't close properly you could end up with a big heating bill! Is there a security system to deter anyone from trying to break in through the front door or windows?
Inspecting the doors and windows is a good way to check the overall condition of the home. If your visit takes place during the winter, make sure there is no condensation on the windows. A build-up of moisture could lead to your apartment developing mold, which can then spread to your furniture and walls and harm your health. Checking these details during the apartment inspection should give you a good idea of whether the apartment is well maintained.
4. Look for holes, mice or pests, mold and smoke detectors in the apartment
Don't skip this step, whether you're trying to rent an apartment in a big city or a more rural area. You will have to inspect the apartment from top to bottom!
Pay attention to holes, both in the wall and under cabinets or in the pantry. Not only do holes make it cold and drafty, but even worse give easy access to mice and other undesirable roommates. Look in the cabinets, along the baseboards and in the drawer under the oven for any traces of mice or other pests, such as crumbs or droppings.
Take a deep breath and pay attention to the smell of the apartment. Do you smell anything that reminds you of cigarette smoke, cooking grease, sewage, mold, moisture or any other strange smell? The bathroom, especially the shower, is the most humid place in a dwelling. Condensation accumulates and mold can grow quickly. Look around the bath for signs of mold and feel free to touch the walls. They should not be wet, curled or smelly. These are possible signs of water leaks and damage.
Finally, quickly test the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and ask your future landlord to change any that don’t work properly.
5. Special conditions of the lease
This last point of your apartment inspection checklist is to look carefully at your lease. This will help you avoid surprises during the rental and be prepared for different possible scenarios.
If you are asked to pay a security deposit, fee or first month of rent before signing the lease, beware! Without a contract, you have no guarantee that the apartment is reserved for you. Also, before signing the lease, make sure you're on the same page about animals, parking, internet and cable, the ability to use the yard or balcony and snow removal. Does your landlord have any special rules that you will have to follow? Is there a list of regulations for the apartment complex? Do you have access to facilities like laundry facilities, a parking space, a swimming pool or gym? Define these terms before signing the lease and moving in.
Does your landlord ask you inappropriate questions about your privacy? Please be aware that you are not required to respond. Your relationship status and whether you have a boyfriend or girlfriend (or not!) should not influence your landlord’s choice of tenant. Do not hesitate to walk away if the situation makes you uncomfortable or feels strange. You deserve to feel safe wherever you decide to live.
If kitchen appliances are included, discuss the terms of maintenance with your landlord. What are the steps to follow if the sink leaks or the toilet is clogged? Not sure about your rights? Check with your provincial housing authority or rental board.
Don’t forget rental insurance!
Finally, a rental inspection checklist wouldn't be complete without mentioning rental insurance! Find out what coverage you are entitled to with your landlord's insurance and don't forget to have tenant insurance yourself. Your landlord's property insurance will not cover your personal belongings in case of fire, theft, water damage or other disasters*. Get a quote now to find out about the different tenant insurance coverage available to protect your furniture, your belongings and yourself. Sleep soundly knowing that Intact Insurance has your back. And good luck in your apartment search!
*Certain conditions, limitations and exclusions apply to all offers. Visit intact.ca for more details. Offers may change without notice. The information that appears on this website is provided to you for informational purposes only. Your insurance contract prevails at all times; please consult it for a complete description of coverage and exclusions.