As part of the military community, chances are that you and your family are no strangers to relocating and have experience with ever important rental walk through. Here is your guide to mastering the rental walk-through to ensure your deposit is returned!
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to get this money back, but they don’t happen at the end of the process — they happen at the beginning. Being a smart renter means protecting yourself with a thorough property walk through before you sign the lease. This is where you identify and document any and all existing damage so that you are not held accountable at move out time.
There are major differences between renting an apartment and a single family house. When you lease an apartment, you generally incur lower utility bills and do not have to worry about yard care. When you rent a house you generally have more privacy, quiet and more of a feeling of permanence.
Just as living experiences vary greatly by rental type, so does the walk through. There are quite a few differences between an apartment walk through and single-family home walk through, but in both cases, you will want to check for safety issues, working appliances, and functioning utility infrastructure.
Be sure to come prepared to your walk through. Bring a camera to take photos of problem areas, a notepad to take notes, and a tape measure to check if your furniture will fit through the doorways. Check the functionality of all door and window locks, identify any missing window screens and check for drafts by holding a lighter near the edges of the windows.
Water leaks are easily fixable if caught early, but if left untreated could lead to disaster. While roof leaks tend to be a problem primarily in top floor apartments, they can easily happen in any single family home. Be sure to inspect ceilings for water stains and in homes with basements, look for signs of moisture including water stains on the walls and a musty smell that signifies mold.
Electrical & Fire Safety
Checking the functionality of lights and fans is as simple as flipping a switch, but you may not think to test the electrical outlets, too. All you have to do here is bring your cell phone and a properly functioning cell phone charger to plug into and check the outlets.
Fire safety equipment is one of those things that you tend not to think of until an emergency strikes and you need it. Don’t become a victim; be sure to check for a fire extinguisher and its current inspection tag, as well as properly functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Pay special attention when inspecting your kitchen and bathroom(s). Make sure the tap runs hot water in a timely manner, check the water pressure and make sure there are no drips from the faucet or leaks under the sink. In each bathroom, flush the toilet and check to see that the shower head functions properly and doesn’t spray water everywhere.
One of the differentiators between renting and buying is that when you rent, appliances are included in the deal. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on their reliability. During the walk through, be sure to check all appliances by turning them on and making sure they work. In the kitchen, open the refrigerator and all of its drawers, while also checking for odors and ensuring that the ice-maker works, if there is one. You should also turn on the stove burners, inspect the inside of the oven and check the garbage disposal while running the cold water. If the washer and dryer are provided for you, be sure to test that they are working properly, as well.
Another main difference between apartments and single-family houses is that apartment complexes usually have dedicated maintenance technicians available to repair most problems that arise. In a house, unless your landlord is handy, they will usually have to hire a professional to address your issue. Whoever the responsible party is, make sure that they have a specific and timely process for dealing with repairs to appliances, plumbing, and electrical work.
With any rental property, be it an apartment, condo or single family home, make sure you identify any existing damage, have the landlord explain any issues, and document the damage with photos and notes on the lease that you both initial prior to signing.
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Meet Your Contributor
Sarah Kellner provides how-to advice to renters and homeowners for Home Depot. Sarah’s tips aim to help consumers better understand the issues related to the reliability and efficiency of plumbing, electrical and kitchen appliances such as refrigerators. A full selection of refrigerators available at Home Depot can be found online.