There’s nothing quite like the excitement of moving. It’s frequently a chance to start a new and better chapter. Sure, boxing up all your books and sweaters is a necessary evil. But once you’re moved and unpacked, you can begin enjoying your new home.

But did you check everything before signing the lease? Did you check for pests? Checking for pests should be a routine part of apartment hunting.

Pest Checking List

1. Do some research. Run the addresses of prospective apartments through a registry like this bed bug registry. Make a note of which apartments are on the registry, and plan on scheduling a canine bed bug detector if you decide on that property.

2. Ask everyone about pests. Talk to your landlord. Ask if they treated previous problems. Because any pests can easily invade your home from the apartment next door talk to the neighbors. You should ask current or previous tenants about any infestations and how the landlord handled them.

3. Look around. If previous tenants or owners are still there when you view the place, look at how tidy and clean the space is. Clutter attracts bugs and pests of all kinds.

Look under the sink and in closets for pesticides. One can of pesticide spray isn’t cause to worry, but several half-empty cans means the tenants have an ongoing pest problem.

4. Check everywhere. Take a small flashlight, if you can. Look underneath existing furniture, behind appliances, and in the cabinets and closets. You can also flip through a book or two. 

5. Look for evidence. While you’re crawling around the crevices of your prospective new home, there are a few things you should look for. Obviously, live or dead pests are a bad sign. But you should look for other evidence since many pests are nocturnal.

You should also look for evidence of feces. For mice, feces will look like black rice. Fleas leave behind gritty black specks that turn red when they get wet. Pantry moths leave fine threads in boxes of food and bags of flour.

Sometimes you can see damage from pests. Are there holes in the wall or attic? Are book spines damaged? There might be a silverfish or cockroach problem. Holes in the carpet can mean there are carpet beetles. Mice will shred paper to make nests. Make sure to move boxes of food to check for ants and other pantry pests.

Make a list of any pest evidence you find. When you start deciding which apartment or house you want, read through that list. Is the apartment or house worth dealing with a possible infestation? If it is, contact your new landlord and an exterminator to discuss your pest control options.