Welcome to our new series, Ask a Landlord. We find well regarded and experienced landlords and get tips and advice on how to handle all kinds of situations renters run into all the time.

“What should a tenant look for when seeing a new apartment?”


It Happens to Us All

We find the perfect apartment, but after moving in we realize we forgot to ask some vital questions.  Maybe we made too many assumptions, maybe the landlord “forgot” to bring them up. Regardless, we’re stuck.

Benjamin Hackett, a licensed realtor and owner of District Properties, LLC, gave us some great advice on what to check for in a new place.

The Building’s Exterior

Though your main concern is with the interior,  how does the exterior of the property compare with the neighboring properties? Often this is a sign of an active landlord or property management company and may indicate a higher interest from the ownership.

The Basics

Sure that granite countertop is nice, but does the sink provide hot water when the hot handle is turned? Immediately check the basics before becoming enamored with the layout and design of the unit. Turn all the faucets and showerheads on to hot. Run the heat for 15 minutes and then the air conditioning for 15 minutes. Many older cities still have window units for AC and boilers for heat, so remember to check that the radiator is warm all throughout.

Small Holes and/or Cracks

Check in closets, near baseboards, and anywhere near doors/windows leading to the outside. Note these holes if they exist. Alleviating this problem early can help prevent mice and pests that exist in almost every potential domicile.

Visit During Daylight Hours

If you are looking at basement apartments, most cities require some windows. Turn off all the lights to ensure things are well suited. Check the function of the windows while you’re at it.

Does the quality meet your needs?

Not all rental units have granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, nor are these things the most important elements of a unit. Are there obvious signs that repairs were done in a shoddy fashion? Are there cracks in the ceiling? Most of these things are not a huge problem, but they may provide hints about potentially annoying underlying issues.

Apartment Hunting Cheat Sheet


Print | Download

To make sure that you’ve got your bases covered, we’ve got a handy renter cheat sheet you can download and print out and take with you! You’ll never forget to ask the right questions when you’ve got it in front of you.

What other questions do you ask while touring a potential new apartment? Tell us in the comments