Here is a basic apartment checklist that should be done before you move in. All of these things should be taken care of by the landlord, with no cost to you.
Door Locks and Latches—They need to work smoothly with and without the key. If they don’t, request that they be lubed or replaced, since you don’t want to come home some night and be locked out of your own place.
Ceilings—Check every ceiling for water spots, particularly in bathrooms. Water spots mean that something is leaking, and anything leaking is a bad thing. If you find water spots, notify the landlord immediately.
Closet door and patio door sliders—They need to work smoothly and glide easily. If they don’t, ask for an adjustment now, or plan on a headache later. Also, make sure to check the patio door locking mechanism. This needs to work flawlessly and hold securely.
Windows and screens—All windows should slide with little effort, and all screens should be in place and not have any holes.
Carpeting—Look for stains in the carpet. Stains become your responsibility if not pointed out right away, and if you don't say anything now, you’ll pay for it later. (Literally)
Faucets and Drains—Check faucets for dripping, but more importantly, check beneath the sink for drain pipe leakage. You'll know if it has been leaking right away as there will be discoloration on the pipes, major water stains on the inside surface, and quite possibly a build up of mold.
Heating and Air Conditioning—No matter what time of year it is, turn on the heat, and you will hear creaking coming from the baseboard heaters as the metal expands. Check in all rooms to make sure the heaters are warming up. Do the same with the air conditioning. Turn it on high and make sure you feel cool air coming out of the vents.
Walls—Check the walls for marks and holes. Be diligent about this, and write down any blemish that you see. Most apartments will charge the renter to repair or paint over holes or marks in the walls when they leave, so you want to be thorough and point out anything that you see.
Outlets and breakers—Check every outlet to make sure it works, by plugging a small electrical appliance like a hairdryer or a fan into each one. Make sure you know where the breaker box is, and check to see if they are all turned on.
Lightbulbs—Over the course of your rental agreement, lightbulbs will become your responsibility. If need be, ALWAYS replace the bulbs with the same type or wattage that was originally in the socket.
Taking the time to do these basic checks before you move in, can save a lot of time, hassle, and money, later.