If possible, walk through the house or apartment with the landlord before you move in. Ask your landlord if they have a standard condition report or inspection form for the property that you should be completing.

Document any damages you see before unpacking. A great way to do this is by taking pictures and videos of every room and emailing them to yourself or someone else who can store the emails, like a parent or sibling. Be sure to include the inside of closets and appliances, floors, walls, ceilings, windows and doors, and plumbing fixtures.

Some helpful tips for checking for damages are:

  • Run the hot and cold water separately in all sinks and showers to make sure they function and drain properly
  • Flush all the toilets to make sure the water drains properly
  • Turn on/off all the appliances including the microwave, stove, oven, dishwasher, and laundry machines
  • Check thermostat to make sure the heat and air conditioning both work
  • Test smoke detectors
  • Look for any loose wires and make sure all electrical outlets and light switches are covered
  • Check for holes, tears, breaks, and stains in furniture, floors, walls, counter tops, and ceilings
  • Check for broken windows, window locks, blinds, doors, door locks, and mirrors
  • Make sure all included furnishings are present and in good condition
  • Look for water stains as these may be a sign of leaks
  • Check light bulbs outside on porches/patios

Review your lease for information on how you must notify your landlord of any previous damage or items that need repair. Many leases specify a certain number of days for this communication, so complete this thoroughly and quickly. After that, they may assume that everything was in good repair, or that you are responsible for the damage.

Be sure to keep a copy of your photos/video and send a copy to someone you trust such as a parent/guardian.