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How to Evaluate a Rental Apartment

The time to discover peeling paint, creaky floorboards, or that the place was built on a cursed burial ground is before you sign on the dotted line.


  • Step 1: Inspect surroundings Inspect the neighborhood for things that will affect your quality of life inside the apartment. For instance, a restaurant or nightclub.
  • TIP: Make your appointment for the weekend, when you can gauge the noise level of your neighbors. It’s hard to know whether the walls are paper-thin if you’re the only one in the building on a weekday.
  • Step 2: Survey for safety Inquire about safety. Ask the landlord a few questions: Does the lobby entrance lock? Have the elevators been inspected recently? Are there smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Step 3: Sanitation Check the common areas, like stairwells, trash rooms and laundry facilities, to see how clean they are.
  • TIP: Look for hidden rodent and cockroach traps to be sure there are no pest problems.
  • Step 4: Check for damage Check the walls for holes or peeling paint. Open and close every single door, drawer, window, and cabinet to make sure they work properly. If there is damage, ask the landlord to make repairs before you move in.
  • Step 5: Test water Run the hot and cold water in every faucet and flush the toilets to ensure that the water pressure is good, and that there are no leaks or slow drains.
  • Step 6: Check electricity Check all electrical fixtures and appliances. Plug an appliance or electronic device into the outlets to make sure you’ll have power.
  • Step 7: Check heat and AC Ask about the heat and air conditioning. Will you have control over these utilities? If so, where are the thermostat and vents? Make sure you know how to use them, and that they work.
  • TIP: If you enjoy natural light, check the sun exposure of the apartment to make sure it's not dark and gloomy.
  • Step 8: Get it in writing Put in writing anything that needs to be repaired and have the landlord or leasing agent sign it before you sign a lease.
  • FACT: The median rent payment in the U.S. is $755 per month.

You Will Need

  • An apartment to evaluate
  • A landlord or managing agent to accompany you on a walk-through
  • Attention to detail

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