6 Areas to Check When Looking at a Potential Apartment


A shortage of housing across the nation has created a hugely competitive rental market. In some areas, you’re lucky to find an apartment at all, let alone the perfect apartment for you. That being said, once you sign a lease, you are stuck living there for anywhere from 6 months to a year and in some cases even longer. Apartment hunting is also time consuming, so you want to do your best to evaluate the property the first time you go looking. Here are 6 areas you want to check when looking at a potential apartment.

Sidewalks and parking lots

This may seem a little strange, but sidewalks will often give you the best clue to the overall condition of the property. Slapping a coat of paint on the buildings can spruce up the exterior and make a property look more upscale than it actually is. Sidewalks can be expensive to maintain and repair, however, so they are often the last thing on the maintenance list and also the most overlooked by potential renters. If sidewalk slabs are uneven or there are large chunks missing, you might want to think twice about renting. Sidewalks are also a liability, however, so some apartments might keep them in slightly better repair. Parking lots are your next best option for assessing the maintenance level of the property where most people don’t think to check. 

Cell reception

With fewer and fewer people using landlines anymore, you will want to make sure that you have adequate cell reception. Most carriers have dead zones and too many apartment dwellers have move in only to find out they are right in the middle of one. While most carriers offer WiFi calling now, you’ll still want to know ahead of time what you are getting into. 


One of the first things you will want to do when you first walk into an apartment is sniff deeply through your nose. Pay careful attention to any faint moldy or mildew smells. Once you’ve been in the apartment for a while, you won’t notice any faint smells anymore, so be sure and pay attention right at the start. Mold or mildew smells could be the result of water damage, so if you smell anything take care. 

In cabinets and under the stove

As soon as you walk into the kitchen open the cabinet doors quickly and take note of any movement or scurrying sounds. You’ll also want to open the oven and the drawer underneath and do the same thing. In the drawer under the stove look for any tiny droppings. You may even want to remove the drawer and look under it. Chances are good a professional cleaning service may have cleaned the drawer under the stove, but they probably didn’t think to take the drawer out. 

Faucets and dishwasher

Turn the water on in all the faucets and pay careful attention to the color. Water should run clear from the moment you turn on the tap. You’ll also want to take this opportunity to check for any leaks, including under sinks and in vanities. If there is a dishwasher, run it through a short cycle and again, check for any leaks under the sink. 


In an apartment community, you will live in much closer confines with your neighbors than in a house. You don’t want to just get to know your immediate neighbors, but also ask other neighbors about your neighbors. Not only do you want to get to know they neighbors, but they will be the most likely to give you the real inside skinny on what living in the community is really like. This is not something you will want to do with a leasing or real estate agent by your side, but it is something you should do before deciding to move in. You will also want to visit at various times of the day and possibly even at night. If your soon-to-be neighbor’s lights are still on well into the night, that might be an indication they don’t sleep much at night – and if they don’t, there’s a good chance you might not either.