Renting a new apartment—especially if it’s your first—is often an incredibly exciting experience: new neighborhood, new possibilities, the prospect of a new life. And while it is perfectly normal to have these feelings, it is absolutely imperative that you do not let them cloud your judgment at a time when you need it most. Landlords know that people get caught up in the moment. They show prospective renters new appliances, large windows that open up to views of the city, new carpet and just about anything they know is going to illicit emotion and make people forget to be cautious and prudent. We all know that you are eager to move in; but before you sign that lease here are a few simple things to ask your rational self when that inner-child of yours is begging to take, take, take.

(1)Check all appliances upon your walk-though

The landlord should (and cannot) mind you flushing toilets, feeling inside of refrigerators and turning on faucets, stoves and showers. Additionally, it might be a good idea to bring a simple electronic device (cell phone with a charger?) to make sure all of the outlets are working. Most leases have clauses in them that force you to accept the apartment as is. And while landlords are supposed to fix these issues, you have no guarantee when—if ever—they are going to be. Make sure that what you’re accepting isn’t broken.

(2) Take pictures of everything!

Be sure to document every corner of the unit before you accept it. This includes things that are in perfect working order as well as those that are broken. Stories abound of landlords claiming that their tenants have broken something when they in fact haven’t. Outsmart them by having pictorial proof that they are fibbing. You can make the proof extra potent by putting the landlord in them!

(3) Don’t just skim the lease contract

The landlord may be eager to have you sign the lease right then and there, but don’t. Take it to a local coffee shop and look it over thoroughly. My roommate and I once missed a clause stating that the carpet had to professionally cleaned after we vacated. Instead of simply having it cleaned, the landlord re-carpeted the whole place and sent us a bill for $2,000. To say the least, it got ugly. Don’t let this happen to you!

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