Don't Get Stuck in a Bad Lease: Look for These 13 Things Before Moving Into a New Apartment

There’s nothing more American than packing your bags.

In fact, 11% of the population moves residence every year, well above rates found in many other countries. Know what else is a favorite American pastime?

Getting the best place for the best price. Since moving into a new apartment can cost a small financial and mental fortune, you don't want to move more than you have to. But sometimes you may not have a choice when a small problem you missed during the walkthrough becomes a major headache.

Don't get trapped in a bad lease for a worse apartment. Here are 13 things to look for in an apartment walkthrough.

1. Windows and Doors

Don't assume the small stuff works. A squeaky door is one thing, but it's another if it can’t fit in the doorframe. Open and close all doors, checking for both fit and security.

Make sure you can get some fresh air by putting all the windows through their paces. While doing so, take this moment to feel for drafts and cracks.
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2. Smoke Detectors

Some smoke detectors are wired into the apartment building’s power grid while others rely on batteries. In either case, you want to test out each one within the apartment.

It's true they can be a nuisance from time to time, but they're worth it. The majority of fire deaths in the United States occur in apartments and homes without working alarms.

3. Noise

Whether you're located in the city or surrounded by other tenants, there's no avoiding noise in apartment buildings. You can, however, keep an ear out for noise levels during your walkthrough.

When you're looking at apartments, try to schedule the tour during the evening hours or on a weekend when most people are home.
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4. Storage Solutions

Everyone needs space, and you should make sure your apartment has enough. Before looking at an apartment, take stock of your possessions so you can estimate what will fit and what won't.

Open all the closets and cabinets. Remember that you can install shelving to improve the functional storage space available. We wrote an article about apartment storage solutions if you need more assistance.

5. Surrounding Neighborhood

The apartment itself is only one piece of the larger picture. Take a look at Google Maps and explore nearby businesses, parks, and activities. This can give you some insight into life in the area.

It's also a good idea to explore neighborhood statistics, such as crime, income, and more. Even a nice apartment isn't worth the trouble if it's located in a bad neighborhood.

6. HVAC

Heating and air conditioning solutions vary depending on climates and apartment buildings. Talk to the leasing office about the appliances available to you. Keep in mind that some HVAC solutions will be more expensive and less effective than others.

You won't have time during the walkthrough to test your HVAC solutions thoroughly. At the very least, turn them on when you enter and gauge their performance as you leave.
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7. Plumbing

One of the most common problems in apartments, especially old ones, is the pipes. Old plumbing is liable to leak. You may also have to deal with low water pressure.

For these reasons and more, run water from every faucet and spout in the apartment. Be sure to check both the cold and hot water. Otherwise, you'll be disappointed if you later discover tepid water is as hot as it gets.

8. Parking

Let's face it: You probably own a vehicle. Problem is, you may not have access to a free or affordable parking lot on the premises. That could be a major headache down the road.

Ask about the parking procedures and walk through the lot yourself to see if there’s plenty of room available.
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9. Appliances

Even a studio apartment will come with basics such as a refrigerator and stove. Examine the appliances for space and functionality, and when possible, give them a whirl.

Just because they work doesn't mean they work for you. Not a fan of gas stovetops? Look for an apartment that has electric.

10. Internet Access

Never overlook access to basic utilities. Wherever you live, you'll find options for internet access—but that doesn't mean they're good.

Talk to the leasing office about your internet options. For example, if you have to use satellite internet, that could be a dealbreaker.
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11. Laundromat

The vast majority of apartment buildings don't come with a washer and dryer. If yours does, test it out like the other appliances found in the kitchen and bathroom.

No laundry service? Ask about an on-premises laundromat and look it over. In some cases, the laundromat could be free for residents, but you'll likely have to pay extra to run the machines.

Consider that in your final price estimate.

12. Pet Procedure

Everyone loves pets. But not every apartment does. Even if you don't have a pet now, you may want one in the near future.

For that reason, familiarize yourself with the pet policy. You may have limits such as the size of the animals, as well as additional fees.
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13. Accommodations

Apartments tend to come with other additions, such as a workout facility, pool, or communal room. These extra accommodations shouldn't sell you on an apartment in bad shape. But they're worth considering when you're weighing a variety of choices.

Things to Look for in an Apartment
This apartment rental checklist has covered the bare essentials for anyone looking to move into a new place. But keep in mind these aren't the only things to look for in an apartment building. Consider your personal tastes as well, as you may want access to a patio or a short commute to work.

Looking for a new apartment that's part of something bigger? Take a look at our apartments in Minnesota. Your new home may be waiting here just for you.