Rental Walk Through Checklist
- These should be solid and equipped with deadbolts. Locks should have been changed since the last tenant.
- All windows should lock from the inside and be equipped with screens or bars.
- Note if a good security system is installed, and find out who is responsible for service.
- Is the paint fresh, or are there stains or torn wallpaper? If painting is needed, request that the landlord do so or give you a discount on rent in exchange for your doing it.
- Note any gouges in wood flooring, cracks in tile, or stains on carpet.
- Note any cracks, sagging or water stains.
- There should be no mold or sign of pest infestation.
- Check under sinks and behind toilets to ensure there are no leaks.
- Flush each toilet to see how much water they use and if they are noisy.
- Check sink, tub and shower faucets for drips. Leaks can run up your water bill fast.
- Showers, tub surrounds, etc should be checked for missing tiles or grout. Cracks in the sink or counter should be noted as well.
- The hot water heater should be well maintained and set to a safe hot water temperature.
- Find out what switches control what lights and plug outlets.
- Look for blackened outlets or ones marred by screws being forced in the ground. Insist on their replacement.
- Ask to be shown the breaker box and request a diagram showing what switch controls what in the house.
- Check to see if smoke and carbon monoxide monitors are provided and in working order.
- These should be tagged as inspected by the proper authorities - fire extinguishers can lose efficiency after time.
- Make sure windows that would be needed to escape in case of fire are not painted shut. Upper levels should have fire escape access.
- If possible, run the dishwasher through a short cycle during your walk-through.
- Also run the washing machine through a rinse and spin cycle.
- Make sure the element gets hot and that it spins freely.
- Check each burner, the oven coil and the broiler. The stove should not be direct wired to the wall.
- The fridge should be clean and cold. Test by freezing some ice cubes.
- These should both be tested no matter what the season. Ask who is responsible for replacing filters.
- Note any damage or missing shingles.
- If landscaping is in disrepair, find out what you are expected to be responsible for.
- Any damaged or weak fencing should be duly noted.
- If there is an electric garage door, make sure you get a remote door opener.
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A rental walk-through is a no-brainer when it comes to signing a lease to take possession of a house or apartment. If you hope to get your deposit back, you have to be able to show that you have done no damage to the premises during your stay. Your landlord should give you a checklist so you can note anything that is damaged, missing or not working properly, but if they don't (or even if they do) double check to be sure you aren't going to be stuck paying for something that was already broken when you moved in.
Whether you have an individual landlord or are renting from a property management company, you need to protect yourself. Even the smallest imperfection could come back to haunt you alter if it isn’t noted as existing prior to your move in date. It is best to conduct a walk through with the owner or property manager present – if they are unavailable, get it in writing that you have a week to turn in your checklist, and insist on having it signed by them and a copy provided to you as soon as possible. You should also take pictures of the entire house, in and out – making note of any problem areas so you can prove undisputedly that they were trouble when you moved in, not something caused by you. Covering all the bases is the best way to ensure that you get your security deposit back, whether you are renting a house or an apartment. Once you have obtained a signed copy of your annotated checklist from the landlord, put it, your notes and the pictures you took (if you have a digital camera, you can transfer the pictures to a disc) in a manila envelope and store it in a safe place so you will be easily able to find it when you are ready to move out. Then you can insist on a walkthrough of the property with the owner or manager again and arrange to have your deposit refunded to you.