The mortal enemy of all renters, cockroaches are something you definitely do not want in your apartment. These pesky insects tend to creep up on you–and one sighting in the shower could scar you for life. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but a cockroach infestation is definitely something you want to avoid at all costs.

It’s pretty disappointing to move into your new apartment only to find out that you have to deal with a serious cockroach problem. Some apartments are more amenable to creating a home for these pesky critters than others, so you may want to check for signs of cockroaches before signing a lease.

Unpleasant Smells

That unpleasant odor you smell may be due to more than unclean tenants–it could be a sign of a cockroach infestation. Some species of this insect emit a strong oily or musty smell, so do some subtle sniffing as you tour the apartment. Keep in mind that it is generally only German cockroaches that give off this scent, so just because there is a pleasant odor in the apartment doesn’t mean you are completely safe; you’ll need to look out for additional signs.

Cockroach Tracks

OK, cockroaches don’t leave literal tracks, but you’ll likely be able to see fecal pellets and shell casings around the apartment during an infestation. The shell casings are small, dark brown and oval-shaped. Cockroach feces generally looks like grains of ground pepper or coffee grounds. The quantity of feces that is visible can often help you gauge the seriousness of the infestation. Look for these signs on countertops, under sinks or anywhere else that cockroaches may scavenge.


Although cockroaches are nocturnal, if the infestation is particularly bad you will see them come out during the day. However, you’ll still want to check places that are dark and damp to see if you can spot them–that’s where they will most likely be hiding. As you tour the kitchen, check behind the refrigerator and stove, and underneath the sink. You may also want to look under any floor drains and inside the motors of any major appliances in the apartment, particularly if it has a washer and dryer. Keep in mind that cockroaches can also fit in very narrow areas, so be wary of any cracks in the wall.