Apartment Inspection Tips for Chicago Renters

Moving into a new apartment can put renters on an emotional rollercoaster, from the apartment search process to signing the lease to getting the keys and finally moving in. It’s easy to overlook some things when you're caught up in the whirlwind of emotions, facts and figures. So in the spirit of thoroughness, here’s a room-by-room rundown of all the things you should check before moving in to that apartment for rent.

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Kitchen Inspection Tips

The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home, so if you’re looking to move into an apartment, be sure that your new home’s “heart” is in healthy condition. Look high and low for signs of water damage from old leaks. Keep an eye out for any active leaks by running the kitchen faucet and checking the pipes below the sink. 
Turn on all kitchen appliances to make sure they’re in working condition. Open and close all kitchen cabinets and closet doors. What for? It’s not just being nosy -- you should check for evidence of rodent infestations or water leaks.

Look Out for These Items in Apartment Bathrooms

It’s understandable that many renters zero in on the conditions of the bathrooms during their apartment search. You shouldn't expect every single apartment for rent to boast a completely renovated bathroom; but a decent apartment should at least have presentable and functional bathrooms.
First things first, inspect the bathtub and/or shower for evidence of mold, moisture, or drainage problems. Run the faucets while testing the temperature and water pressure. Flush the toilets to see how they respond (this can be more exciting than some reality TV shows) and be sure to note any moisture or leaking around the base of tubs, showers and toilets. 
You can always make the bathrooms more appealing after moving in. There are a host of DIY bathroom upgrades that cost relatively little and are easy to carry out, effectively turning the bathroom from drab to fab, but fixing serious plumbing issues is definitely NOT a task that renters should expect to take on. 

Don't Overlook the Entryway

Take a moment to get familiar with the doors. Open, close, lock, and unlock all of them, especially the main entry door. Check for a deadbolt on entry doors. If there’s an alarm system, inquire about how it works or if there’s an active monitoring service in place (rare to see this provided by a landlord but can happen in the case of an apartment sublease). Go through the same steps with all windows, then test all blinds and shades for functionality. Is the entryway lit well, so that you will feel safe coming and going? 

Check Out Hallways and Living Room

Take a look at the ceilings and walls, again checking for water damage or other red flags. Look out for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They don’t need to have working batteries while you look at the apartment but make sure to test and replace batteries if you end up moving in to the apartment. Test these again every 6 months.
Check for the location and number of electrical outlets, and bring a phone charger (or other device) to test the power. Turn all the lights on and off, and don’t forget to check for exposed bulbs in closets -- closet lights need to be covered for safety.


Take a moment to stand still and quiet and listen to the ambient noise in the apartment. Do you hear the L rumbling past at a volume that will bother you? Can you hear the upstairs neighbors clonking about? If you like to play your music loudly, consider whether the apartment is well-insulated for noise.