8 Items You Need to Check Before Signing That Lease
by Ice Artificio
May 22, 2017
After a couple of viewings, you have found “the one”. You’ve gone through the contract details and everything seems great. Before you close the deal, there are a couple of things that you may want to check before signing that contract.
While not everybody (including me!) can be experts at assessing the condition of the plumbing and electricity, there are a few things you can check that may indicate if the utilities in your would-be apartment are in good working order.
Here are 8 items you should test and take photos of before signing off that lease:
Try locking and unlocking door knobs. Give the locked door a little nudge. Do they give easily? Try out the keys to see if they easily turn. Are there double locks available? Will your landlord/lessor allow you to install extra locks or will they do it for you?
Bring a small portable light or your phone charger to test if all plugs are working properly. Inspect if there are any burnt outlets and test them. Burn marks are a red flag as they may be a result of arching (a hot wire touching the neutral/ground or loose connections), corrosion, improper wiring, overloaded circuit, or worn outlets. Voice out your concerns with your lessor and ask them to have their electrician check and fix any suspected burnt outlets. You could also check the circuit breaker to see if there are any obvious signs of corrosion or damage.
Open and close the faucets. How strong is the water current? Is the water clear or cloudy? Does it have any odor? After letting the water flow, check how good the drainage is. Does it drain the water easily or did it clog?
Similar with the faucet test, see how strong the water is and if it comes out clean and odorless.
Try out the flush a couple of times, getting a feel of how strong the gush of water is and how long before the tank is refilled. Open the top if you can and take a peek at the condition of the toilet.. Do the parts look like they’re in good condition or has wear and tear shown? I once made the mistake of not checking the toilet flush handle - turns out the handle has been corroded. It snapped a few days after moving in.
Light Bulb Sockets
Some units have pre installed lights. If the unit you are looking for has those, all you have to do is flick the switch on for every light in the apartment. If not, bring a small bulb that you can screw in all the light bulb sockets around the unit. If the ceiling sockets are difficult to reach, ask your lessor for a step ladder, they most likely have one around that you can borrow or you can nicely ask the caretaker/handyman to try them out for you.
Is there a squeaking sound when you open and close cabinet doors? Test all cabinets and cupboards to see if they close properly and open easily. Is there a gap even after you close it or does it fit snugly?
Give your potential-apartment a good whiff. Do you smell anything musty, wet sock-like? The answer should be no as that could be a sign of mold. Examine areas in the house that are usually wet. Look for the presence of cottony or leathery spots. Mold can be white, black or yellow. Their usual breeding places are under the tiles, behind the sink, in the attic, under the basement, and any moist area in the unit. If you see molds, be careful not to touch or inhale the spores - those are toxic and you should inform your lessor immediately.
Keep your eyes peeled for any damaged items or pieces of furniture that look like they are almost past their prime.Watch out for anything that you may have missed on your first viewing. Take photos of the unit for documentation, paying close attention to small details. It is important to do this to know what to ask your lessor prior to moving in. This also protects yourself from any damages that can be contributed to wear and tear instead of being taken out of your deposit. This also makes the moving out process easier as you know exactly at what state to restore the apartment.