Once you have chosen your top three places to visit then use this Onsite Checklist created by Adam Dachis. You will want to visit the property and ask to see the unit that you would be leasing. Do not sign a lease until you see the actual unit you would lease.
• Heater - check for smell, responsiveness. Is it central or just a wall unit? If you need electric heaters, will the additional utility expense be covered?
• Windows - check for breezes; do all windows lock (or at least those that can be reached from the outside)? how much noise do they let in? for pet owners: are there screens?
• Water heater - how many apartments share it? Where is it located?
• Water - turn on all taps; check how hot, how long it takes to get hot, shower pressure; do sinks back up?
• Stove - doesn't smell, all burners work; gas or electric (I only want gas); suss out age of all appliances
• Potential weekend-wakers: church nearby, early gardeners outside, children, garage door under unit, streetcar/bus line, construction
• Test keys, locks
• Where's the fire escape - is it a clear path? Locate fire alarms, look for extinguishers in common areas. Is a carbon monoxide detector provided/required?
• Noise from above/below/next door
• If pets are allowed: are common areas carpeted? (Could harbor fleas.) How many other pets in the building? [Does your next-door neighbor run a dog-watching business in their unit? Learned this one the hard way.]
• Where can bikes be securely stored? Do they have to be kept in the unit?
• General care and upkeep: are old nails, window hardware painted over a million times? Did previous painters mask the light fixtures, or just paint over them? Indicates they use bargain handyfolk
• Bathroom: needs fan/window/circulation. check for mold.
• # sockets/room; are they grounded (three prong)? general electrical capacity (can I turn on everything and not trip a breaker?)
• Flooring - only hardwood (for me) or general state of carpet (ew)
• Check a heat map of crime in the area
• Why are current tenants leaving? It's always great to be able to talk to them, if you have the opportunity.
Also, get really familiar with your local tenant laws. Check if your potential landlord has been involved in any complaints with the Rent Board, Better Business Bureau rating, and if the property has Facebook Reviews.