Just like on first dates, when you’re touring apartments, it’s important to keep an eye out for both the green flags and the red flags. But unlike dating, a breakup with an apartment that isn’t working out can’t simply be over and done with an awkward conversation and the few taps it takes to block them on Instagram — ending a lease early is expensive, time-consuming, and may even damage your rental history. Read on for 12 things to look out while touring apartments for before signing on for the next 12+ months.
1 | Mold
Mold thrives in warm, humid climates — and when it invades your living space, it’s downright miserable. When checking the apartment for mold, keep an eye (and nostril) out for blue/greenish discoloration, odd textures, and musky smells throughout the unit.
2 | Broken/damaged items
Having an in-unit washer + dryer is a game-changer, but only if they actually work! Be sure to scope out the state of the appliances, light fixtures, faucets, AC, and locks.
3 | Holes/cracks
Cosmetic stuff like holes from past tenants’ picture-hanging nails are easy enough to have repaired before move-in, but what you really need to look out for are holes big enough for critters and pests to get through. Pay extra attention to the seals around doors and windows.
4 | Floor condition
Make note of chips, scuffs, and broken boards. Not only could they be potential hazards, but you also don’t want to lose your deposit later if you don’t remember to include pre-existing floor damage on your inventory sheet!
5 | Cell reception
If texting and social media are important to you, you’ll want to make sure your apartment isn’t in a dead zone. Or just risk it all and hope that your WiFi connection stays strong.
6 | Water pressure
There are few things worse than signing on for 12+ months of lackluster showers.
7 | Storage space
While there is tons of DIY kitchen/clothing storage inspo for smaller spaces floating around the Pinterest-sphere, now’s the time to be mighty real with yourself about how much stuff you’ll be bringing along to determine whether or not the closets and cabinets will cut it.
8 | Security/property entry points
Safety first! Keep an eye out for broken locks or gates that don’t close properly.
9 | Pet logistics
Will it be a long trek to take your dog out for a potty break in the middle of the night? Is there a non-awkward space to hide your cat’s litter box? Renting with a furry friend comes with a few extra things to consider, so if you’ve got a roommate with four legs and a tail, read our deep dive right here.
10 | Parking & visitor parking
If you love entertaining but your guests will have to pay $10/hour for street parking at your cool Downtown apartment with a resident-only lot, you may be looking at a dealbreaker. Ask the onsite staff about their parking policies so you don’t run into any surprises!
11 | Commute with and without traffic
Make sure to plug in your everyday routes into Maps and set the times to when you’ll be most active on the roads to ensure that you won’t need to queue up 3 hours’ worth of podcasts on your way to work.
12 | Reviews
We recommend doing research about the property ahead of time so that if you have questions, you can ask the onsite staff while touring. While it’s important to note that reviews online don’t always paint the most accurate picture of a property, keeping an eye out for repeated issues within the negative reviews can indicate if there are any true areas of concern. If only one person out of the hundreds of reviews is complaining about their AC not working, that was most likely a one-off problem for that resident. But if you see 20 reviews that mention the unbearable noise levels, you may be looking at a red flag.
While everything on this list may not be dealbreakers to you, in general, training your eye to notice potential issues at the get-go will help you avoid unwelcome surprises once you’ve already signed the lease. Plus, if you’re a huge overachiever and decide to take notes while you’re out touring, you can use that info to fill out your inventory sheet at move-in!
Work with an Apartment Locator
An agent will be your best resource for finding an apartment that checks all of your boxes — both the must-haves and the must-not-haves. On top of doing extensive property research daily, their clients give them direct feedback and insider knowledge about the properties they leased at. The best part? Their services are totally free to you, the renter.
Let's get touring!