Friday

What Did the Landlord Promise, But Didn't Do?

So you walked the unit and noticed some things after you signed the lease, now what?  Well you call or write the landlord to ask that the issue be addressed.  But what then?  You wait about a week to 10 days.  Then what?  You make a personal visit to the office or you send another letter or make another phone call.  While you wait, take photos.  You my friend, are beginning to build a case against that landlord who claims to be, "Busy...I will get to it." 

You might have overlooked some annoying issues while you walked the suite, it happens.  However, some things, no matter how much you scream and yell, the landlord will do nothing, because he or she knows that some issues are not considered a health risk nor do they put his business at risk.

The following are a list of things that he/she will most likely ignore.  However, if you get these things fixed on your own, save the receipts and take photos.  If he/she doesn't reimburse you (for damages you didn't cause), and should have been done before move in--if you can prove his/her promise, feel free to contact the Better Business Bureau and/or file a case with your local small claims court.

So what about those non-essential issues?  Well if you don't make a big deal about them, the landlord won't address them.

1.  Window or door screen damage such as small holes or bent frame, but window works.
2.  An inoperable appliance like a microwave, but the stove works.
3.  Stain, hole or tear in carpet, but the majority of the carpet is intact.
4.  Cosmetic defects of walls, ceilings, doors, flooring, and cabinets, but they all are okay.
5.  Lightbulbs blown out, but the majority of the place has lighting.
6.  Windows that are hard to open and close, but you can still move them.
7.  Lukewarm water, but still gets warm just not scalding hot.
8.  Toilet hard to flush, but still pushes matter down.
9.  Garbage disposal issues (FYI: try pressing the reset key under the belly of it).
10.  Weird smell, but doesn't linger and poses no health risk such as: a dog or cat smell.

Now major issues usually don't go unnoticed because by law, things like electrical issues and piping problems must be addressed.  Check what rights you have as an apartment or home renter in your state.

Nicholl McGuire

Note:  Please be advised Nicholl is not a lawyer and can't provide legal advice.  She is the owner of this blog and former property manager and leasing consultant.

We Know You Like the Place But What About...

As a former manager who has shown potential renters around various apartment buildings and suites over the years, I can tell you that oftentimes men and women are apartment shopping without their significant other and/or roommates.  This can be frustrating for all parties involved, because a prospective renter: hasn't consulted with others about their interests, don't know if partner/roommates can afford to help with the rent, are unsure whether or not person(s) want to live with he/she, and aren't exactly sold on the location, building, or suite themselves.

Sometimes people are in the process of relocating from another state, are tied up with jobs, children, etc. so they can't always come with the one who is scouting out the places, but at some point the wife back east or the cousin or friend up north is going to have to make the time to come along--that is if the apartment shopper is willing. 

Excuses as to why apartment shoppers don't tell their roommates about the place they plan on leasing range from: my wife is picky to "I don't know if I want him living with me."  Wouldn't it make sense to get your issues out of the way before looking for an apartment?

What usually happens when the apartment shopper acts deceitful, stubborn, selfish, or rude about his or her purchase: he comes up short with the rent, the partner doesn't like the place and doesn't move in, he/she complains frequently about the building or suite to management, arguing amongst roommates or couples increases, and neighbors complain about "those new people who just moved in apartment A...."

If you are going to apartment shop, save yourself some future grief, know what all parties want in advance and be sure everyone agrees with everything before move in.  Also, bring all the money that is owed to the leasing office BEFORE lease signing.  Keep in mind, if you can't pay, you can't stay!

Nicholl McGuire

5 Tips I Learned About Relocating 14 times

Relocation isn't always easy particularly when you haven't bothered to plan properly, so to assist some of you who are faced with this task, here are some tips.

1. Don't move into any apartment without seeing it first and if you can't, send a trusted friend or associate to look at the apartment. Call the leasing consultant at your new place, share your interests, and tell him or her what you plan to do, so that they will tour your friend until you arrive.

2. Don't sign the lease without reading it first. However, some of you don't like reading long documents, so to make it easier for you, pay close attention to the following: cancellation fees, what your security deposit covers, when rent is due, and the length of your lease term date and whether you should provide a 30 day notice before moving out. Other concerns should be the time of quiet hours and what time the leasing office, pool, business center and/or fitness areas close.

3. Learn to save money by asking for a discount whether it is on the first month's rent, moving company or furniture. Find movers who have special deals or rates. Rent your own truck and then check for laborers through the local Pennysaver, newspaper, yellow pages or Internet. Give items away that you don't need. Sell items that are in very good to excellent condition. If you are relocating out of state, consider mailing your keepsakes, tv, computer (packaged extremely well) a plastic dinnerware set, can opener, clothes, and get rid of everything else. (From Ohio to San Diego, I only spent $800 for all my items to be mailed via USPS and UPS. Furniture I sold, novelties and other home decor. Items that didn't sell, I gave away. When I arrived in California, two weeks later I was given a livingroom suite, dining room table and chairs when I arrived, dishware and a nightstand. I got a microwave, entertainment center and three brand new beds at a significant discount, and I paid little money for my other furniture (a mixture of new or used less than $50 each piece). Call it what you will good karma, luck, blessings etc.

4. Save money! When I didn't get anticipated money when I expected, I struggled some. So if you plan to relocate to another state, save at least three paychecks worth. I also put holiday gifts to people on the back-burner and let go of the fast food restaurants, shopping with friends, and dollar store visits once I knew I was moving.

5. Take the time to sit down and plan each week include what you hope to accomplish for that week. As I write, I have completed the first part of my task list this week. I wanted to begin packing everything I wasn't using. Now this week I will sit down with the children and find out what they aren't playing with and then pack that, by the time the move out date is here, everything will be packed.

Hope this helps someone, have a great trip!

Note:  My recent move September 2012.

Wednesday

12 Apartment "To Do" Things When You're Shopping/Moving

So you are ready to begin looking for a new place to stay?  Consider the following before you make your announcement to everyone.

1.  Know what kind of apartment you need based on your needs and your budget.  How much are you willing to spend each month?
2.  Know what area you would like to live in.  Did you determine this location because it is near the job, relatives, has a good school district, nearby shopping, etc.  Have you considered your partner's needs?
3.  When do you plan to move.
4.  Check your lease.  Did you give your landlord proper notice?
5.  What maintenance issues need to be reported to your landlord about your unit and surroundings?  Be sure to call in a work order request and make necessary improvements, if need be, yourself.
6.  Will your move affect your job?  Take off some personal days for shopping and moving.
7.  When do you plan to tell children, relatives, friends, etc.?
8.  Make a list of items you plan to give away, throw away and sell.
9.  Put money aside for boxes, tape, bins, and other moving supplies including a truck, gas and if relocating out of state, plane fare, hotel costs, food etc.
10.  Update your mailing address with all businesses directly as well as through USPS.
11. Set aside cleaning supplies and time to prepare your unit for final inspection.  Take video and/or still pictures.
12.  Meet with landlord to give keys, update your mailing info., ask questions, and find out necessary information related to your security deposit.

Feel free to print out and follow this list.  If you do, you will have less headache and heartache.  This list should answer the who, what, when, where, and how questions that you might be asked from your partner to the landlords.  You don't want any unecessary problems during your apartment shopping and moving experience.  Remember when you are apartment shopping, you will see issues with various apartment buildings and units, be sure that all flaws that you see will be addressed before you sign anything.  Otherwise, you just might be stuck with problems during the duration of your lease.  Things to check for during apartment shopping are as follows.

1. Building structure: windows, screens, doors, gutters, roofs, fences, etc.  Window screens are known for having holes.  Be sure that the screens will be replaced before you commit to moving in.  Check door locks, don't assume that management sees what you see.  Be sure that everything works!

2.  Apartment:  Walls, ceilings, appliances and other things in the apartment can be easily overlooked for markings, holes and more.  Check to see that appliances work and fit your standard of living before you say, "I'll take it!"

3.  Check mail boxes, amenities like the laundry room and pool areas.  Do they fit your needs, clean and secure?

4.  If the deal is too good to be true, then it usually is.  Good deals are used as a distraction from any number of issues.  Sniff around the unit.  Do you smell mold, mildew, leaking gas, stale, or disturbing odors?  Feces left behind by a nest of insects, mice or lizards will leave an odor in or behind the walls of the unit. Check for dead insects.  The more insects you see that look the same, most likely that is the insect that will be your frequent visitor later.  If you can lift back the corner of a carpet, check behind doors, kitchen shelves--top and below, or move something out the way (like the stove), you just might see left over evidence of an insect problem.

5.  Check for holes around the fixtures below the kitchen faucet, bathroom and laundry areas and around windows.  These are problem areas when it comes to insects and rodents stopping by for a visit.  Be sure they are properly sealed--once again before you move in!

6.  When walking the property, take a good look at where people park and how secure is the lot.  View faces and observe the surrounding areas.  Is the location a place that you wouldn't mind bringing a loved one to for a visit?

Feel free to check elsewhere on this blog for more tips.

Nicholl McGuire is a former leasing consultant and property manager.  She also is a writer, do check out her books on her personal blog here.

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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