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Your College Rental 101: What to Inspect and Document at Move-in

Your College Rental 101: What to Inspect and Document at Move-in

As college students head back to campus, they’ve likely got football games, upcoming exams and possibly even their favorite local pizza places on their minds. But, if they’re moving back into an off-campus apartment, students better also have a little inspection process ready to pull out of their backpacks before the semester – and their lease - starts.

Having the freedom to live independently in an off-campus apartment is a great thing, but it does require a bit of homework before the dorm-decorating can begin. One perk of renting is that landlords are basically responsible for maintaining their properties; so, it is important for new renters to make sure they start with a clean slate when it comes to their new place. That way, they won’t be held accountable for any pre-existing conditions or imperfections and they’ll be able to recoup their security deposit when it comes time to move out.

Here’s a simple inspection checklist for college students moving into rentals for the school year:

 1. Floors: From carpeting to tile to hardwood to laminate, closely inspect whatever materials are covering the floors in your college rental. You’re looking for stains, cracks and any other imperfections that may be plainly visible. It is a good idea to take photos of anything you find – just in case your landlord may ask about a scuff or stain in the future.

2. Walls: Wallpaper, paint, even paneling – it doesn’t matter what’s covering your apartment’s walls; you need to scan it over – rather closely, too! Here, you’re looking for obvious stains, chipped paint, peeling wallpaper and nail or other holes. Don’t forget to check window coverings and blinds to make sure they’re all working properly, too. Particularly, if you plan on hanging anything on the walls, document any current wall imperfections to prove they were there from the start.

3. Safety Features: Safety is paramount in any rental, but we’re pretty sure your parents will sleep a little better at night knowing that you’ve confirmed the safety features in your college rental apartment. Check all the locks on doors and windows and make sure any given keys work where they should. Don’t forget about other safety features, either. Make sure your apartment has functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If you find something not working right here, skip the photos and immediately alert your landlord.

4. Lights: Proper lighting is needed for a few reasons – so that you can properly write those papers and cram for exams, but also as a safety feature! So, while you’re scanning over the floors, walls and other security measures, check all the light switches to make sure each light is properly functioning. Find and familiarize yourself with your fuse box as well. You never know when your hair dryer may blow a fuse and you don’t want to have to call your landlord to help with an issue like that!

5. Utilities: When you’re checking the lights, you’ll obviously be ensuring the electricity works. But, don’t forget about other needed utilities like heat and water. Test your thermostat and check all showers, faucets and toilets - before you move in! Address any issues with your landlord up front, so that it’s smooth sailing through the entire school year and the length of your lease!

Pretty much everyone’s got a smartphone these days; so, before you use your selfie-taking skills to document anything else this semester, make your first video of the schoolyear a glimpse at your new apartment. This way, you’ll have video record of the apartment’s condition, just in case any paint chips, nail holes or broken blinds come into question when it is time to move out! You’re going to want that security deposit back to buy next year’s text books anyway, right?