When you move into a new house or apartment and are conducting the move-in inspection, there are many items and issues of which you should be familiar. The reason to do this during the move in is so that the landlord, who should know these items well, can show you what you need to know about your new place. The two of you can also make a note to have items repaired if needed. Some of these items you may not know should be checked at move in and that is the whole point of alerting you to them herein.
Smoke and fire items. You should have the landlord show you the location of and test the smoke alarms at move in. Make sure the batteries are working and it never hurts to replace them at move in. If the smoke alarms appear dated, you could also ask the landlord to replace them, or just do it yourself, as they are only about $10 at a home improvement store. Many areas also require carbon monoxide detectors if the house has any sources of CO2 generation. Even if they are not required in your area, you could request one or just simply buy one that plugs in, like this CO2 detector. You should research radon detectors too if your location is prone to issues with radon gas. You should also know the location of the fire extinguisher and/or consider buying one if there isn’t one in the house. If you live in an apartment complex, you should also know where the fire alarm pull boxes are located and the evacuation routes in case of an emergency.
Water and flood issues. Most houses and apartment units have a shut off that will cut all the water flowing into the house. There are also shut offs on most water devices, such as toilets, faucets, the hot water heater, etc. You should inspect these devices and ensure that they are operable because sometimes old ones are frozen. Let the landlord be the one to turn them to show they can close off the value if needed. Be careful because sometimes older ones will break. If they do appear old or will not turn, ask the landlord to have a plumber replace them so you can stop any flooding in case of an emergency. You should also inspect the hoses for the clothes washing machine as it is recommended to have new hoses installed if they are more than a couple of years old. These hoses are usually rubber, degrade quickly, and can be major sources of floods, so it is a good preventative measure to install new ones. Inspecting all the water valves will also help you and the landlord discover any leaks that might need to be repaired. And don’t forget to look at these water sources once a year or so and report any leaks or water stains immediately to your landlord.
Doors and Windows. You should also open and close all the doors and windows to make sure they are operable. If they do no easily open, request that your owner have them inspected and repaired. If not, they can be a fire hazard that might restrict your ability to get out in case of an emergency. And if there are bars on the windows or doors, make sure they can also be easily opened in case of an urgent situation. Check your local laws on this issue and work with your landlord to comply with the rules.
Appliances and heaters. You should also test all the appliances and have the owner show you how to work them if it isn’t easily determinable. This will also alert them to any issues that need to be repaired. You can also usually find manuals on the Internet for appliances based on the manufacturer and model.
Electricity and Gas. Properties should also have a whole house electric panel that allows you to shut off all the electricity to the house if you suspect there is a problem. You should have the landlord show you the location as sometimes they may be hard to find in older apartments or houses. And the owner can show you how to operate the device and reset circuit breakers or replace fuses if needed. Additionally, kitchens or bathrooms may contain a few GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit breakers) so make sure you know how to reset them, here’s information on those. And finally, if you have gas appliances like stovetops, a gas furnace, or a water heater, you should know where the master and individual gas shut off(s) are located. If you suspect there is a gas leak, you should always evacuate the house first and secondly call 911 to let the fire department handle it.
These are just a few of the important items you should be aware of and have your landlord help you locate, test, and fix at move-in. If non-emergency items are not working, give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to get them repaired and diplomatically remind them if it is taking too long. Luckily, under normal circumstances you are not going to have any serious problems during your tenancy. But they do occasionally happen and that is the reason you need to know how to handle them. Doing these inspections and knowing how to shut off utilities in an emergency will be a big help just in case that unlikely issue occurs.