Essential Guide

for smart Renters


The building and apartment checklist...

TIP: Prioritize your search. Make appointments to view the apartments that seem most attractive to you first. 

TIP: New York is a big city, so group your appointments according to location.

TIP: If you have unusual financial, roommate or pet circumstances, discuss your situation with the landlord in your first call to save time running around looking at apartments that are not suitable for your circumstance.

TIP: If you have the time, visit the building a second time. If you first met the landlord at night, re-visit the building in the day. If you met the landlord in the daytime, return at night. This way, you'll see the two sides of the neighborhood and the building. You'll want to know if folks like to hang out on the stoop and smoke at night, or if there’s a day school next door with kids yelling at recess. You can always decline the apartment at any time after you've submitted your application.

Building and apartment checklist:

Bring the following Building and Apartment check lists of things to notice when you inspect the apartment:


  1. What kind of security system is in the building – doorman, buzzer, locked front door, etc.?

  2. Does the common area have adequate and functioning lighting? This might be difficult to assess in the daytime, but you can still see what kind of light fixtures are in the lobby or foyer.

  3. Are the paint and plaster in the lobby in good condition?

  4. Where are the trash cans? Are they in a place that can be a source of unauthorized entry into the building? Are they in a place that can promote vermin infestation in the building?

  5. Assess the area: Do you see a lot of people loitering? Is there a restaurant or night club nearby that might interfere with your quiet enjoyment?  Are the nearby buildings in good condition?

  6. Confirm the amenities: where is the laundry room? Is there a trash room? Are there any outdoor common areas?

  7. How do you contact the superintendent for maintenance?

  8. Check out the parking arrangements: on street, off street, reserved spot, garage?

Meet the Landlord and Inspect the Apartment

TIP: When you go to meet the landlord, be on time. This is your first impression to the landlord and it will demonstrate how well you keep your commitments.

TIP: If you get to the building and you don’t like it, DON’T JUST WALK AWAY. The building could be ugly on the outside but beautiful on the inside – that happens a lot in New York.

TIP: Ask the landlord to tell you about his/her other apartments in other buildings that you didn’t notice on the website.


  1. Is the apartment in move-in condition? It should be clean and newly painted.  if not, will it be by move in time

  2. Turn on the kitchen and bathroom water taps and test the hot water.

  3. Check the windows and the door for cracks or broken locks.

  4. Open the refrigerator and see if it smells. If the electricity has been turned off, the door should be propped open to make sure the inside stays fresh.

  5. Make sure the major appliances are functioning: air conditioner, oven, refrigerator and stove.

  6. Check the areas around plumbing for large holes. There will be some gaps in the wall wherever plumbing is attached but the gaps should not be large enough for rodents to squeeze through.

  7. Don’t worry about water stains in the bathroom tub or sink. The water in NYC can be hard – that means it has a lot of minerals – and it will stain ceramic in normal use. However, water stains around the floorboards or on on the ceiling can be a warning sign.

  8. Ask which utilities are included in the rent.

  9. Make sure the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide detector are functioning.

  10. Ask the landlord about the kind of changes you can make to the apartment – repaint with new colors? adding  fixtures? Can you get a rent rebate if you upgrade the appliances?

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