Signing a lease for an apartment is a financial investment. You’re spending a decent chunk of your income to live in a space for a year or more. Break the lease, and you could be on the hook for additional fees.
That’s why it’s important to make sure you thoroughly check an apartment for problem signs after moving in. There are many factors you could easily overlook if you’re not careful. Specifically, it’s worth paying attention to the following:
Mold develops in damp areas. Thus, it can sometimes be hidden behind walls and other obstructions. If mold developed because of a former pipe leak, you might not be able to spot it right away. Plus, you may not be able to get mold insurance coverage if you find it after you’ve moved in.
It’s important to make sure your apartment is mold-free before signing the lease. People who are sensitive to mold can experience a range of unpleasant symptoms when exposed to it, including coughing, skin irritation, eye irritation, breathing difficulties, and more.
You can start by checking for mold yourself by looking for key signs of a problem. For instance, a musty odor in high humidity areas can be a sign of mold. You should also take a close look at the areas surrounding water fixtures and vents for signs of dampness. Peeling wallpaper may be another sign of mold.
Unfortunately, most building codes and other applicable regulations don’t clearly explain a landlord’s responsibility regarding mold in the building. If you spot any of these issues, however, you should request environmental testing before moving in. If the landlord will not pay for it, you might have to handle the bill yourself, but this can be worth it in the long run.
A hazard renters often forget to check for is a window that won’t open. When evaluating the windows in a new place, renters often simply look for obvious signs of damage. Also look for peeling paint around the window sill, which could be dangerous lead paint, depending on the age of the apartment.
Regulations are typically designed to ensure apartments are safe. A window that won’t open could put you at risk if there was ever a fire in the building. Protect yourself by making a point of opening every window when first touring the apartment.
A functioning HVAC system is key to your comfort in a new apartment. You don’t want to go without heat in the middle of winter, nor do you want to worry about not having cool air in a heat wave.
Take time to adjust the thermostat, making sure the temperature you set it to matches the actual room temperature. You also want to confirm the unit isn’t leaking. Over time, these leaks can cause major damage to the apartment, and may promote mold growth.
Of course, you also want to check the basics. Make sure the light switches work. Check the water pressure and adjust the shower and faucet temperature. Look for any signs of wall or floor damage. And be sure that the landlord has had the system cleaned, as a dirty HVAC unit can spread mold and dust throughout an apartment, causing poor indoor air quality.
By keeping these points in mind, you’ll identify problems that need to be fixed in your new apartment sooner rather than later. This helps you boost your comfort in your new place, and it ensures you’re not held liable for damage you didn’t cause if and when you move out.