The House Hunter’s Comprehensive Checklist

Are you going to visit a house in person in the hopes of renting (or buying) the place? Here is a checklist of things to look for and ask about during your visit.

What to Bring

  • Phone charger and phone (to test outlets)
  • Measuring tape (to measure room dimensions)
  • Smartphone camera (take lots of photos to review later)

Things to Ask the Landlord

  • How much are utilities each month, on average?
    • Are the utilities covered in part or in whole by the rent, or are they the tenants’ responsibility to purchase and arrange?
  • Is there air conditioning/heat?
  • When was the house built?
  • Have there been any major repairs over the last few years?
  • What are the expectations on upkeep? (some landlords hire gardeners or even cleaning services as part of the lease; others just want to make sure you aren’t writing on the walls)
  • Where can tenants park their vehicles?
  • Are there any HOA fees tenants have to pay?
  • Will the house come furnished or unfurnished?
  • What application do you want potential renters to fill out? Are there any fees?
    • Some landlords charge a fee to run a background check. On that note, ask them if they will run a credit/background check on you, or if they expect you to provide one (usually a credit score report)
  • Expected or desired length of lease to sign? (some landlords prefer a minimum 12-month lease)

Overall Physical Space

  • Basic overview of the house: does the place look like the advertisements?
    • Square feet, number of rooms, number of bedrooms, other amenities
  • How big is each bedroom and bathroom? If you’re planning on fitting two people in a room, are there rooms big enough to fit two people?
  • Driveway (if applicable, for parking space), as well as other sidewalks and areas available to park
  • As you go through the house, note any defects or potential defects you see. If you rent the place, make sure you get the landlord to fix at least the major defects.
  • Check electric outlets with your phone charger to see if they work.
  • Listen for the noise level inside and outside the house.
    • Pro tip: visit the location during another time of day than when you visited/are planning to visit. This gives you a better sense of what living in the area will be like.
    • Make sure to visit at least once around nighttime to see how the surroundings feel.
  • Look up – everyone forgets to check the ceiling! If you see any discolorations, there might be water damage.

Bedrooms

  • Dimensions of each room
  • Thinness/thickness of walls
  • Are there any noticeable holes or patched-up areas?
  • Do the lights work?
  • Do the outlets work?

Bathrooms

  • Dimensions and layout of each bathroom
    • Is there enough space to fit on the toilet comfortably?
  • Test the showers, bathtub, and faucet for running water
    • Pro tip: check beneath the faucet, underneath the showerhead, and along the edge of the bathtub for any leaks.
  • Check for mold or water damage on floors, walls, and ceilings
  • Do the lights work?
  • Do the outlets work?

Kitchen

  • Test the faucet for running water
    • Pro tip: check beneath the faucet for any leaks.
  • Is there ample space to cook?
  • If there are amenities (fridge, table, pots and pans), ask the landlord if they come with the house.

Outdoor Space

  • Check for any sprinkler leaks, unsightliness (i.e. tons of dead plants)
  • Check for major cracks, uneven or raised concrete near large trees. This is usually caused by tree root growth, which could threaten the house’s structural integrity if left unchecked.
  • Is this a space you would enjoy?
    • Larger, greener spaces evoke the quintessential “American Dream”, but they also will increase your water bill.
  • If there are any furnishings outside (chairs, umbrellas, garden equipment), ask the landlord if they come with the house.

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