A Tenant’s Must-Read Guide Before Moving In

Apartment hunting isn’t easy. Navigating numerous variables like location, price, and amenities makes the process stressful. If you have children, school districts are probably at the top of your list. We’ve developed an inspection checklist to help you prepare to move into a new apartment. This could help you save time and relieve some of the stress and confusion about moving into a new home. If any issues crop up after moving in, you will be one step ahead. Going through the inspection checklist will help create a better understanding between you and your landlord. 

Ideally both the tenant and landlord will sign a completed apartment inspection checklist before moving in. This will help prevent arguments in the future. Keep additional copies for your own records. Everyone wants to get their security deposit back. Using a rental inspection checklist prior to moving in will increase the likelihood of that. 

It may seem difficult and perhaps a bit uncomfortable to be so blunt with the landlord. Don’t worry. You will thank yourself for using the apartment inspection checklist before moving in when the time comes to move out.

What is an Apartment Inspection Checklist?

An apartment inspection checklist, or rental inspection checklist is a form that landlords and tenants use to determine the initial condition of the property. It also serves as a comparison tool when moving out to see if any damage has occurred.

Why Make an Apartment Inspection Checklist?

Using an apartment inspection checklist prior to moving helps new tenants to view their potential new home in an objective way. It establishes a common understanding of the condition of the rental property. It documents the condition of the apartment so the tenant will not be held responsible for damages that were pre-existing. The apartment inspection checklist aids tenants in documenting what the landlord needs to repair before the tenant moves in.

It’s acceptable to use a checklist provided by the landlord or property management company. Simply remember to review it and be available for a walk-through. It’s important that you and the landlord agree on the assessment so you don’t run into problems later.

Should I Take Pictures Before Moving Into a New Apartment?

Yes! Taking pictures before moving in is always a good idea. Take pictures of the items on the checklist, especially if there is any pre-existing damage. Keep a copy of the photos somewhere safe and make sure to note the date.

What Makes an Apartment Inspection Checklist Effective?

A move-in checklist is effective if it makes determining what needs repairs easy. It should be thorough and include all the features of the apartment. The checklist format should be easy to read. This lessens the possibility of questions and complications when you move out and determine if things have changed.

How Should You Record the Condition of the Property?

You can use the following abbreviations to make noting the condition of the apartment easy:

  • S = Satisfactory
  • NA = Not Applicable
  • NC = Needs Cleaning
  • NP = Needs Painting
  • NR = Needs Repair
  • SC = Scratched
  • RP = Needs Replacing

Inspection Checklist Before Moving In To a New Apartment

Ideally the tenant should inspect everything in the apartment and property before moving in. This would be overwhelming. Rather, use this comprehensive checklist so you can make sure to see as much as possible and make good use of your time. 


  • Is the area around the property in good condition? 
  • Do some areas need painting or landscaping?
  • Is there standing water that needs addressing?
  • Do the paths and walkways have adequate lighting for safe passage at night?


  • Do the doors open and close without issue?
  • Are all of the doors in good condition without any holes?


  • Do the door locks operate correctly?
  • Take note of the type of locks used. Is there a deadbolt, chain lock, etc.?


  • Are the windows in good condition?
  • Do the windows open and close?
  • Are the window locks secure?
  • If the unit is on the first floor, are there any easy access points?

Fire Safety

  • Are there any smoke detectors, sprinklers, and carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Do the safety features work and have fresh batteries?
  • How often are safety inspections completed?
  • Does the management company provide a fire extinguisher?

Entrances, Porch Areas, Balconies

  • Are the entrances, porches, and balconies in good condition?
  • Do the railings or supports need any repair?

HVAC/Climate Control System

  • Is the external part of the HVAC/Climate control system in good condition?
  • Does the air conditioning unit turn on and cool the apartment?
  • Is the heating system working?
  • Do the heating and cooling systems make any strange noises?

Electrical System, Outlets, Light Switches

  • Are all of the light switches working properly?
  • Do the outlets work?
  • Test the outlets by trying to charge your phone.

Interior Walls and Ceiling

  • Do the walls and ceilings have any cracks, paint chips, or water damage?
  • Is there mold on any surfaces?
  • Are there any holes in the wall from previous tenants?


  • Do the toilets flush properly?
  • Are there any leaks after flushing the toilet?
  • Are the shower heads clean and free of limescale?
  • Is the water pressure adequate?
  • Does the shower water warm up properly and quickly?
  • Does the shower/bath drain properly?
  • Do the walls and sidings have any cracks or water sealant issues?
  • Does the bathroom sink drain properly
  • Do any pipes from the toilet or bathroom sink leak?
  • Are the cabinets in good condition?
  • Does the floor show signs of water damage? Are there tiles that are broken?


  • Thoroughly inspect any appliances the property provided such as a refrigerator, oven, microwave, dishwasher, etc.
    • Do they all turn on?
    • Are they free of any damage?
  • Does the kitchen sink drain properly? 
  • If there’s a garbage disposal, does it work?
  • Are the kitchen cabinets in good condition?
  • Is there any sign of pest infestation?

What Else Should I Inspect Before Moving Into a New Apartment?

Although some of the following items may not be provided by the landlord, it might be useful for you to make sure you have the following items before you sign any rental contracts.

Cell Phone Reception

Try sending text messages, making voice calls, and browsing the internet from your phone. Check to see what kind of reception you have in the rooms where you’re most likely to use your phone

School Districts

If you have children, or are expecting them, do your research on school districts. Make sure you are within an area that your kids will be able to use the provided transportation. 


Wi-fi is critical whether you’re working from home or commuting. If your apartment bundles wi-fi with utilities and cable television, check to see if the speed is sufficient for your needs. 


If you don’t have a washer and dryer in your unit, ask if there’s a laundry facility on the property. Make sure it’s not too far from your unit so you don’t need to spend a lot of extra time doing laundry.

Trash Disposal

Ask about how to dispose of waste and recycling. Is it picked up directly from your unit, or do you need to transport the trash yourself? Is there any fee for trash removal? 


Where should I have my packages delivered?

Is there a secure location for my mail and package deliveries?

Emergency Requests

Plumbing, electrical systems, and heating/cooling systems problems don’t always happen during business hours. Make sure that someone will be available to make emergency repairs if necessary in a timely manner. Some apartment complexes have resident portals that accept emergency requests for repairs. Be sure to get the contact information for the person who handles these requests.


If you drive a car, you need to make sure there is ample parking near your new apartment. Find out if parking spots are assigned. If you need more than one parking spot, make sure to ask the property management about this. 

Additional Storage

If you think you might need additional storage space, ask the property management or landlord to see if there is extra storage offered to tenants. Find out about any fees associated with the extra storage. 


If you have a pet, or might get one in the future, it’s important to find out the property management’s policy for pets. Some units might allow pets, while others must remain pet-free. See if there are any fees associated with pets. If your pet needs frequent exercise, make sure there is a place for you to take them. 

Schedule an Apartment Walk-through

For more information or to schedule an apartment viewing, contact us

La Maison of Saraland (251) 227-8654