When you’re checking out a potential new residence, you always have a million questions running through your head, and sometimes it’s easy to forget a few important ones. Consider taking a checklist with you, to ensure you ask everything you want to know about your new house or apartment. A landlord is more likely to quickly bend to your whims before you move in (and before you hand over that first rent check), so you should ask questions and set your expectations up front. Here are seven safety questions to ask your landlord before you move in:
1. Are all the appliances working properly?
Before a landlord leases a property, they should make sure that all the appliances are working properly, especially anything that uses gas, such as a stove. When you check out a home or apartment, you should check out all the burners, the fridge, and all the water taps. This question should also focus on safety features like carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, and thermostats. These are important appliances and are vital for your safety and satisfaction when renting a new home.
2. Are the draperies, blinds, or curtains included?
Sometimes the window treatments are not included with the residence, so it’s always a good idea to check. Blinds, drapes, or curtains are essential when you’re moving into a place. You don’t want strangers being able to look into your residence and see all your valuables, especially when you’re moving in and everything is scattered in plain view. Make sure to get some good window treatments installed stat, if they don’t come with the residence.
3. Have the locks been changed?
Whether you’re moving into an apartment or a house, insist that the locks be changed before moving in. Make sure the locks are new and not just redistributed. Some apartment owners just rotate the locks between apartments, which can be dangerous. You never know who might be savvy to the system and have keys to the old locks. You might also consider asking for an upgrade to a smart or electronic doorlock. Some landlords will be willing to let you install this if you foot the bill.
4. Who lives in the adjoining apartments or neighborhood?
You want to move into a place where you can become friendly with your neighbors, so you can call on them in case of emergency, or if you need a cup of sugar. Ask your landlord about children, pets, and activities in the area. Ask what the neighbors do for a living. If the landlord doesn’t know much about the area, it’s generally not a very good sign. Especially if you live in an apartment complex, the landlord should know the general demographic and lifestyle of nearby tenants.
5. Are there motion-sensor lights? Is the area well-lit?
It may not be a bad idea to check out your potential residence at night to see how the lighting checks out, rather than taking the landlord’s word for it. Intruders love to hide in the dark, so the more lighting outside, the better. Motion-sensor lights are great because you don’t have to waste energy leaving lights on, but if motion is detected near an entrance or window, the lights will come on. You can find motion sensor lights at pretty affordable prices, and they make a big difference in the safety of your home.
6. Is there a fire extinguisher on the premises?
Although it’s more common in apartment complexes, many residences come equipped with fire extinguishers to use in case of emergency. If your residence does not come with a fire extinguisher, consider buying one and keeping it in an easy-to-grab place in case of a fire emergency. Educate yourself about what to do in case of a fire, and make sure you have all of the essentials ready to go.
7. Has the place been tested for mold?
Mold in homes can be associated with several health risks, including eye irritation, respiratory problems, and headaches. Mold can often be found in crawl spaces, attics, and drywall, and if found, it should be removed immediately and the area should be cleaned. Generally, homes or apartments should be tested for mold every 5–10 years. Be especially careful if you notice any black mold, and be sure to ask about this when you’re taking your first tour of the home.
Don’t hesitate to ask your landlord questions, and be prepared to make safety adjustments in your new home or apartment. For more safety tips for apartments, utilize our renter’s resource here: The Apartment Renter’s Guide to Home Security