Run Through this Checklist Before Renting a House

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated May 23, 2022
A scandinavian living room interior with a comfy sofa
Photo: Christian Hillebrand / Adobe Stock

Follow this pre-move-in guide to have the best rental experience possible

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Renting a house for the first time can feel both exhausting and daunting. Whether you’re looking to rent for 12 months or more permanently, you want to ensure that the property you’ve chosen is a good fit. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s with this comprehensive pre-move-in checklist that will give you peace of mind about your rental experience.

What is a Rental Inspection Report?

A tenant entering with moving boxes into new house
Photo: MOAimage / Moment / Getty Images

Move-in day can be busy and exciting. But before you start unpacking dishware and arranging your rooms, there's one thing you must do: complete a pre-move-in rental inspection. A rental inspection ensures that the property you’re moving into is safe and clean, plus it protects you from liability for damages that already existed when you moved in. Essentially, it’s a long checklist of things to inspect before you move into your new rental home.   

How Should You Complete the Rental Inspection Report?

While you may or may not have toured the property before signing a lease, the rental inspection is a time for you to look more closely and critically at the property you’ll be inhabiting. Ideally, you and your landlord will complete the rental inspection before move-in day so you can discuss any issues that come up during the tour. 

Set up a time to meet your landlord on-site and walk through the property using the checklist below to note any dings, dents, or damages you find. Document any issues in writing and through pictures and videos. While your landlord might not correct all issues, as some wear and tear is normal and does not impact the livability of the property, it’s helpful to have documentation that it exists. 

If your landlord commits to fixing any issues, you’ll want to note what corrective measures they plan to take and the date by which you can anticipate the repairs to be complete. Your landlord will likely have a rental inspection report template, but don’t hesitate to point out anything you notice that’s missing on their checklist. 

Once you’ve completed the walk-through, you and your landlord should sign and retain a copy of the rental inspection report. Be sure to keep this checklist as you’ll want to be able to reference it when you move out of the property.

What is Included in a Rental Inspection Report?

While your landlord may have a rental inspection report or pre-move-in checklist they typically use, it’s important to ensure it includes all the elements noted below. Ask your landlord for a copy of the rental inspection report prior to meeting for the walk-through so that you’re aware of what it includes and what you may want to add. 

For each element of the inspection report, note the condition of the item and document any damages or dings. The inspection should include, but is not limited to, checking the condition or operation of the following:

Living and Dining Room

  • Floors and floor coverings

  • Door locks and hardware

  • Windows and screens 

  • Lighting fixtures and light bulbs

  • Walls and ceilings

  • Electrical and gas appliances

  • Outlets and switches

  • Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers

  • HVAC systems

  • Shades or blinds

  • Entryways

  • Stairwells

  • Signs of leaks, flooding, mold, or mildew

  • Signs of any pests/infestations

Kitchen

  • Floors and floor coverings

  • Door locks and hardware

  • Windows and screens 

  • Lighting fixtures and bulbs

  • Walls and ceilings

  • Outlets and switches

  • Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers

  • HVAC systems

  • Shades or blinds

  • Entryways

  • Stairwells

  • Signs of leaks, flooding, mold, or mildew

  • Any gas or electric appliances

  • Sink plumbing

  • Signs of any pests/infestations

Bedroom

  • Floors and floor coverings

  • Door locks and hardware

  • Ceiling fans

  • Windows and screens 

  • Lighting fixtures and bulbs

  • Walls and ceilings

  • Electrical and gas appliances

  • Outlets and switches

  • Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers

  • HVAC systems

  • Shades or blinds

  • Entryways

  • Stairwells

  • Signs of leaks, flooding, mold, or mildew

  • Signs of any pests or infestations

Bathroom

  • Floors and floor coverings

  • Door locks and hardware

  • Windows and screens 

  • Lighting fixtures and bulbs

  • Walls and ceilings

  • Electrical and gas appliances

  • Outlets and switches

  • Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers

  • HVAC systems

  • Shades or blinds

  • Entryways

  • Stairwells

  • Signs of leaks, flooding, mold, or mildew

  • Sink plumbing

  • Shower and bathtub plumbing

  • Any appliances

  • Signs of any pests or infestations

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