6,000Units Under Management
Less Than 1% Eviction Rate
Avg. Time Rental Is on Market 23 Days

Apartment Search Checklist: 10 Things Every Renter Should Look For

Finding a new apartment that fits all your wants and needs is quite tricky these days. Additionally, with virtual tours becoming the new norm, it can be challenging to picture what some rental properties look like. Either way, it’s crucial for tenants to come up with an apartment search checklist to find the right rental for them. Keep reading to review the importance of an apartment search checklist and what to include in your list of requirements this year. 

What Is an Apartment Search Checklist?

An apartment search checklist is a list you come up with that helps you find apartments that adhere to your wants and needs. Every renter has different standards and requirements that they look for in a rental. For instance, if you have pets, you’ll want to look for a rental that allows pets. 

Additionally, perhaps you’ll want to live in a specific location close to work or school. Then, you’ll want to include specific areas on your checklist and look for apartments that are best for your lifestyle. 

To create a list for your rental search, think about all of the aspects of an apartment that are important or necessary for you. For instance, certain locations, amenities, lease terms, utilities, rental rates, and more. Then, sift through your preferences and come up with a list of things to look for in each apartment listing. Although it seems like a minuscule step, here’s why creating an apartment search checklist is so important.  

Why Create an Apartment Search Checklist?

If you’re looking to move, searching for rentals online can be quite broad. It doesn’t hurt to create an apartment search checklist so you can easily streamline your research process. When you know what you’re looking for, you can filter out apartments that won’t work for you. With so many apartments and rentals available, you could search for hours before finding one that works best for you. 

When you have a list of things you’re looking for in each apartment listing, it’s easier to narrow down your search. Instead, if you’re doing a broad examination of housing, you could be looking at listings for a long time without finding one that suits you. Here are ten things to add to your checklist to help you quickly find what you’re looking for.  

10 Things to Check Off on Your Apartment Search Checklist


  1. What are the Lease Terms? 
  2. Consider the Amenities
  3. Are Pets Allowed?
  4. Research the Neighborhood
  5. Which Appliances Are Included?
  6. What’s the Parking Situation?
  7. How Much Is Rent and Security Deposit?
  8. Who Pays for Utilities?
  9. How Much Storage Is Available?
  10. Is Renter’s Insurance Required?

What are the Lease Terms?

Throughout your apartment search, one of the essential parts to consider is the lease terms and agreement. This contract will tell you how long the lease term is and the rules and expectations throughout your tenancy. Essentially, the lease agreement tells you all the information you need to know about living in a rental. 

Suppose you have certain expectations, like a month-to-month lease, a pet-friendly rental, or a refundable security deposit. In that case, it’s crucial to read the lease terms before moving into an apartment. Additionally, you’ll find information in the lease about maintenance concerns and your local Baltimore property management company you’ll contact. 

Consider the Amenities

Amenities are a huge selling point of apartments and rental homes. Most renters want basic amenities like a dishwasher, in-unit laundry machines, and energy-efficient appliances. As such, it’s crucial to narrow down your options by seeking out these amenities.

Additionally, if you want specific amenities in your apartment, add them to your checklist. For instance, if you are specifically looking for an apartment with a pool and fitness center, you’ll want to streamline your search to find rentals that apply quickly. 

Are Pets Allowed?

Nowadays, a large percentage of renters own a pet. However, even though this is common, that doesn’t mean every rental will welcome your furry friends. Thus, if you own a pet or want to own one in the near future, a pet-friendly unit must be included on your apartment checklist.

Research the Neighborhood

Location is everything; the neighborhood could make or break a potential renting option. So add it to your checklist if you have specific job opportunities, shopping centers, or restaurants that you’d prefer to live near. 

Additionally, once you’ve found a neighborhood you prefer, find out what the community is like. For example, is the area noisy or quiet? Are there schools or universities nearby? Each of these aspects is important to analyze and consider throughout your search. 

Which Appliances are Included? 

Appliances are another major selling point of rental properties. Many apartments include essential appliances, like a stove, microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator. However, some apartments require you to provide some of your own appliances. 

As such, paying attention to which appliances are included for each apartment throughout your search is crucial. After all, you don’t want to be stuck purchasing your own appliances for an apartment you’ll be living in for a year. 

What’s the Parking Situation? 

Parking can be a huge issue with apartment buildings, especially if there’s no assigned parking or limited space to park. As such, you may want to consider looking for apartments that will provide an ideal parking situation. 

Unfortunately, not all apartment buildings have available parking. So if you have a vehicle, you’ll want to ensure you have a spot to park any time. Assigned parking spaces, large parking lots, or even parking garages can be a lifesaver. 


How Much Is Rent and Security Deposit? 

If this isn’t your first question or item on the checklist, it probably should be. After all, you need to know what you can afford and how much you’ll need to budget to live in an apartment. So, figure out exactly how much you can afford each month and then find out which apartments will fit within your budget. 

Additionally, you’ll want to know how much the security deposit will cost and whether or not it’s refundable. Most security deposits are refundable, meaning you’ll get the money back at the end of your lease, assuming there are no property damages or lease issues. 

Who Pays for Utilities?

Utilities are either paid by you or your landlord. As such, it’s crucial to figure out whether you can afford this extra expense or if it’s factored into the overall rental rate. If you’re looking for apartments with utilities included, this is something to add to your apartment search checklist. 

However, if you’re expecting to pay for utilities or willing to pay for extra expenses, like laundry services, then you can narrow down your search accordingly. 

How Much Storage Is Available? 

Generally, apartments don’t have tons of storage–significantly smaller, one-bedroom rentals. However, some apartments have extra storage space for renters to store large items. If you have a lot of personal things, look for apartments that will fit all of your belongings. 

If you can’t find any apartments that will fit your needs, consider looking for an apartment building close to storage units. That way, if it comes down to it, you can store your large items nearby and still live in an ideal location. 

Is Renter’s Insurance Required? 

Renter’s insurance isn’t always required, but sometimes landlords will at least recommend it. In an emergency, renter’s insurance will protect your personal property in an apartment rental. For instance, your property will be protected if there’s a fire, flood, theft, or other unexpected circumstances. 

So, while renter’s insurance typically isn’t required, search for apartments that fit what you’re looking for. If you don’t want to pay extra for insurance, look for locations or apartment complexes that don’t require it. 

Importance of Reading Your Lease Agreement

The lease agreement is the number one thing to pay attention to while searching for an apartment. Before signing any paperwork, renters must read and fully understand the lease terms thoroughly. 

In your lease agreement, you’ll find tons of crucial information. For instance, in the lease, it should list


  • Names of All Tenants and Occupants
  • Term of the Tenancy
  • Monthly Rental Price
  • Security Deposit Price and Terms
  • Emergency Maintenance and Repair Policies
  • Landlord’s Right to Enter the Property
  • Contact Information
  • Rules and Policies
  • Required Landlord Disclosures

These details will tell you everything you need to know about your tenancy, including necessary maintenance information and payment information. 

Questions to Ask Prospective Landlords

Sometimes a lease agreement isn’t entirely straightforward. Additionally, if you’re exploring several apartments to find one that’s right for you, it’s crucial to ask the landlord or property manager some questions about the rental. 

  1. When is rent due, and how should I pay it? 
  2. Is the security deposit refundable? 
  3. What’s the maintenance policy? 
  4. How much notice will you give before entering the apartment?
  5. What’s the guest policy? 

Once you think you have everything covered, it’ll be easier to tell if the apartment is right for you or not. If it’s in a good location with reasonable rent and has all the amenities you’re looking for, you may have found your dream apartment. If not, keep using your apartment search checklist to narrow down your options.  

Manage Your Rentals With Ease

If you want to own and manage a rental that will suit any type of renter, it’s important to have excellent management skills. For instance, you’ll want to stay up to date with maintenance, provide excellent customer service, and carefully screen new tenants. 

Luckily, landlords don’t have to do it all alone. Hiring a trusted property management team like Bay Property Management Group can improve your business and maximize your rental portfolio. Contact BMG today if you need rental management services in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, or Washington DC.