- SCHEDULE A WALKTHROUGH WITH THE LANDLORD WITHIN A COUPLE DAYS. If you can get it done before you unpack, even better. If not, then the first thing you should do is your own documentation. Get some paper, make a list, and back up the list with photos. Look for nail holes, damaged trim, carpet and floor stains, wall dings, and any other obvious damage. Light fixtures, bathrooms, and laundry areas should be inspected. Get a lamp and check each outlet. Make sure the switches operate smoothly. Make certain that the toilets flush, the water flows well, and that hot water is available. Watch and see that the drains actually drain. Take note of any stains in the sinks, toilets, and tubs or showers. Stains may tell you that the water needs to be conditioned and you may want to watch for drips. You may have a leaky faucet. If the landlord comes later, be sure to show them these things. Document with a list that you and the landlord will need to sign off and retain a copy. Some of these items may require maintenance repairs right away, while others are simply being documented so that they don’t go against your deposit.
- BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR LEASE. IF NOT, ASK DURING THE WALKTHROUGH. Know the circumstances in which you and the landlord can terminate the lease. Understand your deposit and what it may be retained for.
- FIND OUT HOW TO REQUEST MAINTENANCE. Will you need to make a phone call, fill out an online ticket, or go to an office? What time frame can you expect to see the service person at your door? Are you expected to change light bulbs, light the water heater, or do any yard work?
- GET RENTER’S INSURANCE to protect your personal property. Renter’s insurance is cheap and if you ever need it, you will be glad you have it. You may not think your possessions are of much value, but if you sit down and start adding up replacement costs, you may be surprised.
- IF YOU DO NOT FEEL SAFE, ASK ABOUT PROTOCOL FOR CHANGING THE LOCKS. Many landlords recycle the same locks time after time. If you have any reason at all to worry, ask to put your own lock on the door and turn in a key to the landlord. If this is not enough comfort, you may want to consider a security system.
- CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS AT THE POST OFFICE so that your mail continues to follow you. You can make this change online if you prefer.
- FIND OUT WHERE TO PAY YOUR UTILITIES AND DISPOSE OF YOUR TRASH. You will want to find the nearest trash dumpster and do some research on the designated places where utilities are paid.
If you take care of the items on this list, you will find that your bases are covered now and in the future should you ever need it. Again, congratulations! Enjoy your new place!
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