When you rent an apartment, condo or house, it’s traditional for the landlord to conduct a walk-through with you before you finalize your rental agreement. The walk-through benefits both you and the landlord, in that you can each assess the condition of the property at move-in and make sure everything is in good working order.

Outside Condition

Take a look at the outside of the property and look for cracks in the foundation, and for signs of rot or decay. Test the sprinkler system if you’re renting a house that has one, and inspect siding for damage. Even if there are just cosmetic defects, note them in the rental agreement so you aren’t assessed a fee for damage when you move out.

Room-by-Room

Check each room one at a time to assess condition and make note of any defects. Makes sure doors and windows open and close and that shelving is stable and intact. Turn on light fixtures and test faucets and toilets in bathrooms. Miniblinds should be easy to roll up and down. Note cracks on plaster ceilings or walls and note major nail holes, wall damage or staining.

Flooring

For wood flooring, examine for water damage and deep scratches or gouges. For linoleum, look for signs that the flooring is bubbling or lifting away from the floor. Ceramic floors should be clean and crack-free. Carpets should clean, stain-free and smell-free. Check woodwork and make sure the carpet is not coming up at the seams or the walls. Make specific identifying notes of any flooring defects.

Appliances

Check the refrigerator and freezer to make sure cooling levels are appropriate. Run the dishwasher and the microwave, and test all burners on the stove. Start the oven to ensure it heats up. Run the garbage disposal and trash compactor, if you have them, to ensure efficiency. If the property has a garage door opener or a washer and dryer, test them as well.

Take Notes

Take your own notes on the walk-through so you have a record of any concerns. Ask that problem areas be fixed before you sign your lease. If you can live with different cosmetic issues, have them noted in the lease agreement. Some landlords may be willing to discount rent if you take care of minor repairs on your own.