Thursday

Outside Your New Home: Your Responsiblity

When you first saw that nice rental home in the classifieds, you may not have anticipated you would be the one making any necessary improvements like: mowing the lawn or trimming the hedges that is until you read the lease contract on the day of signing. Now what?

There are a number of options that you could utilize based on your situation when it comes to maintaining your landscaping.

1. Rent garden tools.

If you know, that you don't plan on owning a home anytime soon and you aren't interested in purchasing garden equipment or using a landscaper, why not rent your tools? You can get everything you need for your landscaping tasks at stores like, a Home Depot or Lowes. Also, conduct a search for tool rental and include the city and state that you live to see what comes up.

2. Hire a professional landscaper.

You may want the best treatment for your property. Check with your neighbors to find out who they use to maintain their landscaping.

3. Ask a relative or friends.

What better way to keep some money in your pocket while helping a relative or friend who is frequently borrowing or asking others, give them a weekly job to do. To date, professionals can charge from $50 plus for weeding, trimming, and lawn care a month. They also will charge an additional fee for fertilizing. Think of the money you will save when you get someone you know to do it. However, you may acquire a headache if your relative or friend is unreliable.

The outside of the home is the first thing that anyone sees when driving by and therefore it must be well-maintained. Besides, it is a reflection of you and your family. Also, keep in mind that city officials may visit your home with a warning and possibly a citation if you fail to keep up the property.

Nicholl McGuire

Check the Plumbing!

Most people are so impressed with the basic appearance of an apartment before moving in that they fail to check the plumbing. They don't bother to let the hot water run. They don't bend down and open the cabinets to check for water leaks and they won't take a look at the kind of water heater that is in the unit. Unfortunately, some landlords are hoping that the potential resident doesn't check for these things. Sometimes they prefer to wait until money is in hand before they make any necessary repairs. If the landlord does make some improvements, it may be just enough to band-aid the problem, so that he or she can save money. When this happens, a resident finds out real soon that all that glitters isn't gold and before long he or she is disheartened about the unit.

Save yourself a headache or two and find out what the trouble spots are before signing a lease and if you have already done so, be sure that you note your findings, take photos, and mark the day and time you talked to your landlord about the problems in your unit. Review your lease contract to find out what repairs your landlord is responsible for. If you don't see any improvement after repeated requests, seek legal representation, your city office and/or health department.

Nicholl McGuire

Tuesday

Move Out Date

So you are looking to move out your current apartment, but when? If you give ample notice, your landlord will love you. However, too late and you may ruffle some feathers, not only that, you may find yourself paying prorated rent for an apartment you are not staying in.

Most lease contracts require at least a 30 day notice prior to the end of your lease. While others may mention a 60 day notice. The move-out date alerts your landlord, so that he or she will begin marketing the unit for the next resident.

Most landlords want a written notice, so there is no question about whether a resident is staying or going. They also would like to be made aware of any problems in the unit before a resident moves out. Conduct a preliminary walk-through with your landlord to be sure that you both are on the same page regarding what repairs need to be made before you leave. For instance, some residents like to paint the walls different colors. Most landlords require that a resident paints the walls back to their original colors.

Don't waste time thinking about "when and if I move," know what you are going to do in advance to avoid any unnecessary charges.

Nicholl McGuire

Monday

Got a New Job? Want Out of Your Lease?

You signed an apartment lease contract that won't make it easy for you to break it without paying out some substantial money. Losing money is the bad news, but knowing that there is a way to get out of the contract is the good news! Depending on what the contract says, how fast management can get someone in the unit, and how reasonable you are through the process, may get you out of some fees.

There are those contracts that may allow you to break your lease if you should get employment hundreds of miles away or outside of the state. Other contracts will outline the penalty for breaking a lease early. Whatever the contract says, consider working with management. Maybe a future resident will need to come to your home to view the place while you are still there, give permission to enter. Management may have noticed some problems in your unit that may need to be addressed by you, roll up your sleeves. Whatever the issue about your apartment, keep in mind that: you need to terminate your lease and management needs to rent your unit. Think about how you can offer your assistance. Who knows, your place may be rented before you leave?

Nicholl McGuire

Where's Maintenance?

You pay rent each month for the luxury of having things like a pool, courtesy patrol and most of all 24 hour emergency maintenance. However, what happens when maintenance isn't doing their job?

Sometimes there will be those property management companies that pride themselves on exceptional maintenance service, but this doesn't happen often. Unfortunately, more times than expected, a new renter experiences a rude awakening after the first month of living at an apartment complex. Maintenance isn't moving as fast as they did during the early days. A typical service call is not answered within 24 hours, maybe 48 hours, 72 hours or as long as a week later. Sometimes service issues are never answered. Before long, the resident is spending his or her own money to fix a problem in the apartment even though management doesn't want that to happen. They fear that a problem in the apartment may not be fixed properly, so they want their staff to be the ones to fix it. But what's a resident to do when maintenance isn't showing up?

When management and maintenance aren't doing their parts, sometimes a resident will contact outside help like the police, Health Department, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, or contact an attorney. This is so that a case may be built against management for a future lawsuit. Disgruntled landlords may retaliate by finding fault with a "trouble-making" resident in an attempt to legally evict him or her or provide an option for a resident to leave the residence if he or she feels there is no way to satisfy him or her. However, many landlords will eventually get someone over to see the problem in the apartment. However, if a resident was to contact a workmen, outside the management company, most repairs would not be done because permission must be granted by the property owner.

Nicholl McGuire

Cardinal Rule for the Renter: Don't Be Anxious!

You need a place, I need a sale. Between the two of us, we are both anxious. However, we shouldn't be, because when we act in this way, one of us might do or say something that might cause us to miss out on what we both want.

I think of all of the new residents who were eager to get a place when they walked in my office some years back, and I recall how later they were disappointed after moving in. Their disappointment may have been due to a lack of funds, the apartment location, a nosey neighbor, something overlooked in the contract, and other things that caused that once smiling face to turn upside down.

No one is to blame. Feelings take over and you just want that coveted place now. Sometimes desperation exuding from a apartment shopper would make me second guess whether he or she would be a good resident. Other times, I was the one guilty of moving too fast with the interview to close the sale.

A few words of caution: take the time to go over that vacant apartment with a fine tooth comb, so to speak. Read and re-read the contract. Bring a second set of eyes with you when you look for an apartment. Most of all, sleep on it. If it's meant to be, it will be there the next day.

Nicholl McGuire

Saturday

Resident Retention

In the apartment industry, the words “resident retention” are very important. To define it simply in my experience, it is a process to keep a resident happy in the apartment community, so that he or she will not want to move.

When discussing resident retention goals, behind closed doors, management and staff are brainstorming on ways to keep residents at their apartment communities. It costs much money to the landlord when a resident moves out. He or she is losing profits daily when the apartment remains vacant not to mention the expensive marketing mediums the landlord must pay to get people to come see the unit.

So when a resident gives a notice to move, then another, and another too often and too soon in between, someone should be paying close attention to this and looking for ways to slow these numerous departures.

One way is by surveying the residents. The apartment management may host a meeting, post surveys on doors with a small incentive, or walk door to door asking residents if there is anything they need done in their apartment and/or like to see changed in the apartment community.

Based on feedback, management and staff will accommodate their residents needs; therefore, keeping them around a little longer. Some apartment management will usually pay closer attention to resident needs during lease renewals which I personally feel is too late. Resident retention efforts should be made daily.

At least once, sometimes twice a week, there is always something going on at one apartment community I worked, because I was the one who initiated it. I wanted residents to feel like we cared and many with tears in their eyes, mind you, was most appreciative. I didn’t just keep the previous managers’ punch and cookies routine, but what I did do, was work with local businesses to get the residents the things that they needed. It was a win for everyone. Residents got discounts from local businesses, businesses got exposure, apartment visitors got to partake in some of the festivities as well. Eventually people were telling others, “My apartment community has really changed. There is a lot going on around here.”

I believe as I write that if it wasn’t for the support of management when it came to my ideas regarding resident retention we would have lost a lot of people. The previous landlords were not good and left many residents with a sour taste in their mouths. The resident retention numbers of those leaving the community were bad (in the double digits) when I came on board. There were more people going then staying and someone had to do something.

By Nicholl McGuire

When the Landlord Has to Enter Your Apartment

Those days will come where one's apartment dwelling will be visited by management. State laws require that a landlord give notice before entering one's unit. But unfortunately I have heard my share of stories of apartment management, maintenance and others not always giving at least a 24 hour notice. Most often when this happens it is due to an emergency.

Emergencies may occur in a resident's apartment such as: a water leak, electrical problem, rodent or insect nuisance, or some other problem. When this happens, usually a resident will need to clear the problem area. He or she should also pack up valuables.

There are usually sections within the lease contract that outline when staff may enter a unit including when a resident gives notice to move, so pay close attention to your lease during signing and periodically review it. Some residents are taken by surprise when their unit is already being marketed to the public before boxes are packed and they are already moved out. The inconvenience of having a stranger walk through your apartment can be irritating. One way around this is to compromise on when apartment staff can come view the apartment or simply refuse when staff show up.

I have been on both sides of the fence, the one showing the apartment and the one living there; therefore, I have mixed emotions, but I usually make the right decision when it comes to getting things done in the apartment unit. I tend to be more empathetic for staff then I would have ever been had not worked as a leasing consultant and apartment manager.

One of the biggest issues that maintenance has with residents is when they either don't report a problem or wait until it is so bad that they complain. Whenever there is a leaky faucet, watermarkings on a ceiling, a crackling sound behind a wall, lightbulbs having to be changed often, a bad odor, or frequent visits from bugs, there is a problem. Don't wait simply because you don't want to be inconvenienced, make a phone call, then another until something gets done.

Nicholl McGuire

Thursday

How Soon Are You Looking to Move?

There are people right now busily surfing the Internet for a new apartment home or duplex, yet haven’t bothered to look at the calendar to find out exactly when they will give their landlord notice, schedule packing days and secure a moving date, and most of all know exactly when they will be arriving at their new location.

Too often a leasing consultant is sitting down with the potential resident helping he or she and family figure it all out. When the leasing consultant picks up the phone to answer a prospect’s question about apartment availability, he or she is also trained to ask the most important question of all, “How soon are you looking to move?” When the prospect stammers and stutters about it, the consultant will most likely help the person settle on a moving date. This is important because he or she doesn’t want the prospect to miss out on a desired apartment. What usually happens at this point is the prospect will say, “I’ll call you back.” But if the consultant is a good salesperson he or she will not let the prospect off that easy. A few more questions might be asked about one’s preference and a contact name and number is usually written down to be called again nearing the future move-in date.

Some apartment shoppers will ask if the desired apartment can be held. Most communities may hold the unit for about 24 hours without any money placed on the home. However, there is a little disclaimer that goes along with the granted request, “I can’t guarantee you that the apartment is yours, because if someone walks in here ready to put money down on it, I will have to give it to that person.” I have personally seen the disappointment in a variety of faces showing up 72 hours later or longer expecting to see the available unit and rent it the same day. There is nothing to do at this point, but show potential residents other suites which usually aren’t what they wanted. They were sold on what the person told them over the phone.

Apartment shoppers should try their best to know exactly what their needs are in an apartment home and when they would want to move-in. Without such important information, it can be frustrating for both the consultant and the shopper. It can also be annoying for the shopper to find something and not have the money to hold the apartment. This happens frequently as well. The shopper is so excited about finding a desired apartment only to be told, “You will need to put down a deposit to hold the apartment which this money goes toward your security deposit. The remaining security deposit amount and first month’s rent is expected within two weeks prior to move in which at this time you will sign your lease.” Unfortunately, some potential residents can’t afford to come up with the money so quickly. They also aren’t expected to pay twice the amount of a security deposit when it is discovered that their credit is bad.

Apartment shoppers may want to plan to save money prior to calling a consultant to schedule a tour. This way they won’t miss out on possible specials. Sometimes there is a discount given to those who sign a lease within a certain period of time. There are also discounts an apartment shopper may not know about. Some communities offer employer discounts for residents who will be working in the local area.

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About Me

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media