Sunday

Internet Apartment, Town Home Shopping: Finding and Renting Your Next Apartment Online

Soon it will be time to move again.  With so many apartments online how can one decide which apartment is right for him or her particularly when one isn't able to view it in -person?  For any number of reasons a prospect may not be able to tour an apartment, so it would make sense for a property management company or landlord to have a variety of photos and/or video showcasing the rental.  Keep in mind, YouTube is widely used by realtors, so you might be able to find some great video of a apartment/town home and surrounding community.  

As a shopper,  you will want to pay close attention to the information about your future residence and ask questions of the management before you fill out an application and pay a fee such as:

1.  Is the available suite an upstairs or downstairs unit?

2.  How close is the office, pool area, workout room, laundry facility, a boiler room, parking lot, or any other place that might have potential noise near the apartment?

3.  What is the color of carpet/cabinets/appliance/walls/door etc.?  This might be an issue if the photo appears to show a questionable color and doesn't go well with one's furniture and decor.

4.  Where is the nearest school/store/post office etc.?  Sometimes one might overlook what is nearby when viewing a map, so it would be best to find out the exact location.

5.  What are additional features in the suite?  The ad might not have everything listed.

6.  What are the on-site amenities?  Again, there may be some features not listed.

7.  Does the community welcome pets?  Even if you don't have a pet, you will want to know because if you are sensitive to noise, you don't want a barking dog or a purring cat annoying you at your new residence.

8.  Is there on-site storage, how big is it and where would it be located?  You typically won't see photos of this.

9.  Is there a parking garage?  Another feature that you might not see in photographs.

10.  How close is your building to...?  Mention the address of your job, a nearby freeway, or some other place you might frequent.

It is very easy to overlook some crucial factors when shopping for an apartment.  Avoid the distractions of a beautiful building design and the latest features to keep you from asking important questions.

Find out the requirements of leasing an apartment on this site.  See labels. 

Nicholl McGuire

Friday

DIY Small Space Mudroom Solution - Keep Your Apartment Clean!


Thursday

You Can Move if You Have a Hefty Savings Account

Some people assume they can't move anywhere without a job, but people do it all the time!  Money talks and so when you have enough saved up to cover many months of rent, most private owners and corporations just might work something out. 

Individuals and businesses know that not everyone is going to have a job, but still need a place to stay.  Others are no longer working for one reason or another ie.) retirement.  But not having a job now, or ever, will not hinder you from renting from someone, somewhere.

Some things you might want to have readily available include:

Copies of your bank statements proving you can pay the rent.

Proof of income sources especially if they are paid monthly ie.) alimony, social security, lottery winnings, etc.

A letter on company letter head with contact information that proves you will begin work at a certain time.

Contact the landlord to find out what more might be needed to assist with your getting a place.  Do explain what your situation is if your landlord has reservations about moving you in, most likely someone before you was in a similar situation.

Nicholl McGuire

Wednesday

Still Have Problems in Your Rental Residence and Landlord has Done Nothing?

For whatever reason, a landlord doesn’t always get around to doing what he or she promises. When this happens, a tenant becomes increasingly irritated. The phone calls to the office become frequent, in -person visits become argumentative, and threats start coming in like a flood! It doesn’t have to come to this, but since a landlord isn’t doing what is asked. There are some things tenants can do, but you have to be sure that what you are requesting is affecting your health and/or safety. Check your lease to be certain that the landlord responsibilities are outlined. In some cases, if the information is not stated in the lease contract such as, landlord is responsible for repairing or maintaining XYZ. Then it is up to the tenant to ensure that repairs are made. If something was already damaged before you moved in and the landlord promised to have it fixed and didn’t, yet you moved in anyway, he or she doesn’t have to fix it especially if you have no proof that the promise was made.

Writing a dated letter including things like: details of the problems, when contact was made with the office and the results or lack thereof is essential. Give a reasonable amount of time for the landlord to respond to letter. If there is no response, then escalate the matter. From contacting the owner to making an appointment with your local housing code inspector, you will want to get others involved. You will also need to read your state’s landlord tenant handbook to find out if you are able to do any of the following. Each option comes with a risk. A landlord can sue for rent payments, keep the security deposit, your credit history might be negatively impacted, and other issues might result if you can’t prove that your unit was inhabitable, affected your health or safety, or the landlord told you he or she would take care of repairs, but didn’t. You also don’t want to hold back all of your rent and avoid paying, damage the unit intentionally or try to fix things yourself without having proper knowledge, or do other similar things out of anger, because these actions might look like you were being unreasonable and acted in spite if you should go to court. The following are your options:

1. Repair and deduct a portion of rent.

Notify your landlord in writing BEFORE you have repairs made, await a response. State in your correspondence you will be deducting the repair cost from the rent. Keep receipts.

2. Abandon the rental.

You can move out the unit, but once again you will have to let your landlord know you will be vacating in 30 days.

3. Set up an escrow account.

You may withhold about 25% of the rent and put the rest in the account until repairs are made. However, do notify the landlord this is your intent and again await a response.

Learn more about your tenant rights by putting “tenant landlord rights” and include your state.


Nicholl McGuire maintains and contributes to other blogs as well. See Laboring to Love an Abusive Mate  http://laboringtoloveanabusivemate.blogspot.com and a blog for families with mixed age groups from babies to teens http://parentsbabieschildren.blogspot.com
 

Tuesday

Incredible Apartment Renovation


5 Things You Can Do to Start Planning for Your Next Move in the New Year

Sometimes we realize after moving in a rental that all we thought about the place is really not serving our needs.  Closets are too small.  Rooms are crowded.  Kitchen space is cramped.  So what might one do in the meantime until the apartment lease expires?

1.  Continue to search for your ideal rental.

Envision what you want for the future and plan to get it.  Do research, read reviews, visit the neighborhood, talk to people you know, and above everything else, if you have a faith, pray a little harder for what you truly want. 

2.  Purchase things to give you some degree of comfort in the meantime.

Maybe it's too cool or too hot in the place or you have a neighbor that walks loudly on her floor, start searching for things that can help you cope without spending much time complaining about things that are beyond your control.

3.  Find other things to do so that you are not spending most evenings and weekends sitting in your apartment moping.

Sometimes situations like this are blessings in disguise.  Maybe you always wanted to get out more, visit relatives and friends and do other things, but you said in the past you have no time.  But now you do have time, you don't like staying at home much, so get out more!

4.  Decorate the rooms you will spend the most time in and divide off or cover areas that you don't like much.

Notice the things you like most about your rental and enhance those.  When you do this, you take your attention away from unsightly looking things in the suite.  Try to work with management to get some things done.  Put in a service request with maintenance.

5.  Donate or sell some of your items you are no longer using, don't like much, or think someone could use.

By removing some items in your residence, you are making more space in a cramped room and who knows it just might come alive.

Before you know it, your time in your residence will have passed and it will be time to move again.  Next time be sure you know what you want and don't settle!

Nicholl McGuire also blogs at a site for workers with workplace challenges, see here.

Wednesday

Do you know a good leasing agent? Here's what it takes to be a good one!


Can You Tell When You Are Being Discriminated Against by a Landlord?

Believe it or not, some people don't have a clue that some landlords and property owners simply refuse to rent to select prospects, because of a number of reasons.  Some of which include:  pressure from the renters at the community not to rent to a certain class of people, personal prejudices, neighboring residents such as homeowners, and others.  Some of the things that fearful, ignorant or simply rude landlords and/or property owners and their staff will do is discriminate on the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital Status
  • National Origin
  • Ancestry
  • Familial Status
  • Source of Income
  • Disability
  • It is illegal to refuse to rent to families unless the housing is for senior citizens.
Keep in mind, each state is different, so be sure to look up the laws in your area.
Despite discrimination being unlawful, as you can clearly see from comments on websites like Youtube, and elsewhere, racism and other forms of discrimination is still ongoing.

An example of discrimination is as follows.

A refusal to sell, rent or lease a unit/property because one doesn't meet the criteria. There is what is written on paper and then there is what some landlords and leasing staff will make up in their minds to try to fit requirements; therefore, turning some people away.  When you notice something like this is happening whether you are a worker or visitor, be sure you record date and time and note your experiences.  For leasing staff, you might want to consider putting in your resignation.  Why work for a company that participates in unlawful discrimination?  Visitors should report what they experienced online and contact the nearest Fair Housing organization, so as to alert others.

Look up more information about different forms of unlawful discrimination when it comes to landlords and staff.  Also, check your rights based on Fair Employment and Housing Acts as well as Civil Rights in your state.  File a complaint with a related group.  Bring attention to your issue by also contacting the local media.  Feel free to also post a comment below.

Nicholl McGuire

Tuesday

Good Landlords, Attract Good Tenants

To date, I have lived at 20 different rental properties during my adult life, and I can tell you from personal experience, that I wasn’t the problem tenant. I knew what needed to be done to ensure my own peace of mind and if it wasn’t done, then I knew how to give notice and start looking for another place.

I have to admit that some landlords were far better than others, because they did the following:

1. They read the lease contract and never changed what was said by misleading statements, false information or manipulative tactics.

2. They followed up whenever I had an issue.

3. They kept drama under control and off the property.

4. They explained to me what was expected and gave me my much deserved credit whenever I did something that helped them.

5. They were fair when it came to my security deposit and recognized how well I took care of every place I stayed.

When residents and tenants work together to ensure a place is well-maintained and rules are followed, you can’t help but stay with certain companies. After 20 moves in various states, I must say that there are good landlords, apartment staff, and rental properties in this world you just need to know where to look. Check out reviews online. Research neighborhoods and check out surrounding ones. Learn more about the property rental company and what others’ experiences have been. Don’t settle for a residence just because it has impressive amenities, certain affluent people live there or nearby, and a great move-in special is being offered. Sometimes features are highly marketed to overshadow the problems in and around the community. Know what you are getting into, before signing a lease contract. Do read your contract well and watch for those places in the lease where the tenant pays extra if one thing or another isn’t done and what rights you and the landlord have in the event that something happens and you are late or can‘t pay your rent.

Nicholl McGuire

Thursday

Did You Know...? The Security Deposit What It Can't Be Used For

Most landlords in various states will not use the security deposit for a number of things.  For instance, the security deposit can't be used for repairing general wear and tear or unsightly looking markings that existed in the apartment or home before you moved in it. The security deposit can't be used for cleaning your rental unit.  Also, a rental agreement or lease should never say that your security deposit is non-refundable.  Why would it be?  There is no way to know in advance if you or your tenants will damage the apartment and will need to cover those repairs with the entire amount of the security deposit. 

The security deposit is used to cover damages after you have been there, unpaid rent, cleaning the rental unit after you moved out, and it is also used to cover the cost of restoring the suite, replacing furniture, keys and other items that were on the property before you arrived.  Read your lease contract to be sure what other things the security deposit is supposed to cover.

Nicholl McGuire

Wednesday

Apartment Shopping: Know What You're Paying For Before Lease Signing

Distracted by the glitz and glamor of a nice, clean community, a potential resident walks into a leasing office and says,"Hello, I'm interested in a two bedroom apartment, can I look at one?"  The leasing consultant answers, "Of course!  How soon are you looking to move?"

The excitement and stress of looking for a new place to stay can be overwhelming, but definitely worth it when you find what you are looking for.  But how much space do you really need and is it necessary to pay extra for things you know you aren't going to use?

When apartment shopping, the leasing consultant may or may not mention the following during your tour, but you might be paying extra for them:

1.  "The monthly rent is...plus utilities."  You should be wanting to know how much more in addition to rent is the electric, water, trash, or whatever else you might have to pay fees per month.  Are you also paying for additional services when you don't really have to?  Notice the wiring, heating, and air conditioning units (separate or shared) and other connections.  Ask how much utilities like electricity and gas typically cost per month.

2. "We offer a service to our residents..."  Did your tour guide mention "FREE"?  If not, you most likely will pay extra for that service whatever it might be.

3.  "In addition to paying for...you will also need..."  "How much is that going to cost and do I really need it," you should be thinking.

4.  "Our community has a pool, sauna, jacuzzi, party room, business center, concierge service, work-out facility, play area..."  The more features the property has, the more the residents will pay in rent.  Will you be utilizing all of these features?

Too often people realize soon after paying the first month's rent and utilities that they didn't need everything that was offered to them.  Then what usually happens is the resident wants something smaller or desires to move elsewhere because "...they don't charge for water...I don't have to pay for any additional services..."  Unfortunately, most community managers will not let a new resident out of his or her leasing contract because of buyer's remorse.  

How Can We Make this Right? When Residents Threaten to Leave

Sometimes issues will come up prior to lease renewal that need to be addressed.  But unfortunately, at some properties, apartment staff are slow about handling resident requests due to a number of things including having less than competent workers and worse, they are simply forgetful!

"I apologize Ms. Jane, I was meaning to get that done, thanks for calling and reminding me," the leasing consultant says.  Now our fictional resident Ms. Jane may be understanding now, but when it's time to renew her lease maybe not so much and that is when management will say, "How can we make this right?  What can we do to convince you to stay, Ms. Jane?"  So here is what I learned over the years and hopefully those of you who are property owners, community workers, and residents will take heed.

1.  Fix what is broken. 

2.  Replace what is problematic especially if you don't want a future lawsuit.

3.  Don't make excuses and definitely don't make anymore promises--make the disgruntled resident's issue priority!

4.  Offer to reduce the rent increase or better yet don't increase a resident's rent who has been very loyal for a decade or two.  Remember to talk this over with your boss first.

5.  If the problem isn't that major to you, but obviously a big deal for your resident for any number of reasons including a negative reaction from your co-workers about it, send a gift card after the work has been completed apologizing for the inconvenience.

6.  Reward those who have been good residents.  Give them an opportunity to choose from a group of specially selected gifts.

7.  Implement programs, groups, activities and more that make life easier for the resident.  From an instructor who comes to the property and teaches once a week to a business offering a product or service in the community room once a month, be proactive in meeting your resident retention goals.

These ideas will hopefully move your management to want to please the community.  Do ask to meet with those who can make a difference--both residents and staff. 

Remember when the residents are happy, so is everyone else!

Nicholl McGuire  

Tuesday

Preparing for Annual Inspection

For some properties, leasing consultants will view a residence at least once a year or more depending on the situation and when they do, it's best that the resident do the following to ensure a smooth inspection.

1.  Read the rental contract and be sure you are following the rules.

2.  Clean the environment including carpeting and walls. 

3.  Find a place to keep your pets so that they will not attack, preferably in a backyard or patio area.

4.  Make the residence nice to smell.

5.  Check along crevices, corners and other areas where insects might live.  If the residence has a problem, leave the dead bugs in view so that the rental staff can see.

6.  Move furniture and other items away from places that might be a potential fire hazard.

During an annual inspection, take the time to share any information related to your suite that makes you feel uncomfortable including bothersome neighbors, strange odors, broken appliances and fixtures, and leaks.

Check out other articles on this site if you need to prepare for a move-out inspection.

Nicholl McGuire

Sunday

7 Things Residents Do that Make Cable Installation a Challenge

You know how stressful moving can be. Well for the cable guy or gal, it can be equally frustrating when he or shows up to an apartment or home that screams, "We aren't ready for cable!"  So what might some renters be doing to make the cable guy or gal walk back out?

1.  The dwelling is just too unclean to perform duties.

Hoarding, odors, insects--you name it, the cable installer would love to make the customer happy, but don't expect him or her to work in a deplorable environment.

2.  Furniture and other items are blocking outlets.

For some customers, they expect the worker will move furniture and boxes on the day of installation.  There are policies in place to keep the installer from moving your belongings.  Plan to move them yourself before he or she arrives. 

3.  The recipient talks too much.

Long stories can be a disruption to the cable worker which will increase the likelihood that something may be overlooked or go wrong during installation.

4.  Illegal drug use and smoking are ongoing while the cable technician is trying to perform his or her job.

One never knows if a worker is more than just a technician so it would make sense not to participate in any illegal activities in his or her presence.  As for smoking, it is simply courtesy not to blow smoke while someone is trying to perform his or her job.

5.  Residents are arguing and harshly disciplining children in the worker's presence.

This is another distraction that slows progress and might potentially land residents in jail especially if violence is involved.

6.  Renters and owners ask for illegal favors in order to obtain cable.

From discounts to freebies, residents expect the cable technician to "hook" them up.  So he or she is suppose to risk his or her job for a person seeking to pay less or nothing at all?

7.  The customer attempts to turn on, install, or fix a cable line his or herself.

When one is attempting to work on property that he or she doesn't own, he or she puts his or herself at risk of having to pay unnecessary expenses to building owners and/or the cable company.  Avoid tampering with the cable, outlets, boxes, and other things related to the network.

With these seven tips, hopefully residents will have a good experience getting cable installed.

Nicholl McGuire
http://nichollmcguire.blogspot.com

A special thanks goes to all the cable technicians I had the pleasant experience talking to--I hope I didn't keep you too long!

Friday

How Does Your Apartment Rate?

Find out what people are saying online about your community.  Learn about others.  Post your own review of your community.  The following links will help.

Apartment Ratings

Renter's Voice

Rent.com

For Rent

Apartments.com

Also check out review sites like Yelp and post your concerns.

Friday

Pest Control: Tips to Help You Minimize Bug Sightings in Your Residence

You have seen your share of bugs in your dwelling and it makes you angry.  You start to think, "Is management doing his or her job?  Why do I keep seeing these bugs?  Where are they coming from?"  Community managers and renters must work together in order to maintain an apartment unit and this includes pest issues.  So what to do?

One.  Know what pests keep showing up and take photos.

By doing this, you can help pest control treat the problem when they arrive.  Leave photos at the leasing office or send to property owners.

Two.  Pinpoint where they might be coming from by removing furniture and appliances from walls and baseboards. 

Check for cracks, small holes, outlets, around piping, along the edges of carpets, and other places you suspect bugs might be coming from.  Seal cracks, holes etc. after those areas have been treated.

Three.  Communicate with management if problem continues.

Sometimes the issue may increase after the property has been sprayed, but does the pest problem begin to die down?  If not, keep in touch with your landlord and be sure you are on a schedule to have your household sprayed often.  If this can't be done on a regular basis from management, take matters in your own hands and search for treatments that will help you get the matter under control.  Save receipts, take photos before and after where bugs show up.  This way if there is an issue later, you will have documented what you had to do to ensure your comfort level in your dwelling.

Four.  Look for signs of bug or rodent feces in things like drawers, corners, cabinets, closets, etc. 

Don't ignore the black or brown crumbs that seem to keep showing up in your drawers, or the weird smell that keeps coming from your closet or a damp place in your home.  Chances are there are some insects or rodents at work leaving behind a trail for their friends to follow to a source of food and water.

Five.  Close your blinds and curtains at night to prevent light from attracting insects into your home.

The more lights you have shining from windows and places outside of your home, the more likely you will see bugs flying around.  When a door or window is open, insects will find their way in, so turn off lights nearby.  Spray an insect repellant before going outside.  Be sure to spray around windows and doorframes not only inside, but outside as well.  Spray in and around crevices.

Six.  Get in a habit of walking and treating your environment periodically.

Note days and times on calendar when you will check your unit and have it treated for bugs.

Seven.  Keep flooring, countertops, tables, and furniture clean.

An area that isn't typically wiped down with a household cleaner will in time attract all sorts of bugs from spiders to dust mites.  Schedule vacuming and dusting in your weekly activities. 

Eight.  Take trash out often.

Don't wait until the bag is filled up when there are food products lingering in it.  Bugs and rodents can detect odors.  Use trash cans and garbage bags that supress odors.  Separate food particles and place in small bags and take out immediately or use garbage disposal.  However, know what the disposal can handle before placing items down drain.  Treat your garbage bags with insect spray and cans.

Nine.  Use air tight containers for storing dry foods and other edibles.

Open bags and containers will attract bugs, so take some time out to separate items that will not be eaten often and place in plastic.

Ten.  Encourage your family to eat primarily in one area and throw food away in a common area.

The more places your family eats and leaves dirty dishware, the more potential issues your household will have with bugs. 

Lastly, you will want to observe the decor in and around your dwelling that might be attracting bugs and rodents as well.  Pine wood, wood chips, and fruit trees are magnets for all sorts of bugs and rodents.

When you are proactive in the upkeep of your household, you will have less insect issues.  Consider favorite pets will also attract insects, so stay up on treating your pet.  Use insect repellants on areas that you or your pet have experienced insect bites.  If you moved from a place that had a serious bug issue, there might be furniture, area carpets, and cardboard boxes that are keeping the problem going in your household, prepare yourself to part with them if after several treatments the insects don't go away.

Tuesday

6 Things Not to Expect from Professional Packers

When seeking out professional packers, do keep the following in mind when it comes to your expectations.  The last thing you want to do is stress yourself out on moving day anticipating that the packers will do XYZ when in fact, they will only do ABC.

One.  Everything will be packed the day before you move.

If you scheduled to move on a certain day and your packers plan to pack you up the day before, there is that possibility that they might not get all your your things packed within the designated time frame.  From accidents to unexpected illness or simply underestimating all your items, anything can happen which can cause packers to carry on their tasks the following day which just might put you behind so plan accordingly.

Two.  All your items will be at your location and intact.

Sometimes things are forgotten, get shifted around and unfortunately break, this is why it is important to have your items insured.  You will also want to have recent photos of your most treasured items, so that you can prove that damage occurred while packing.  Also, be sure that all your items are accounted for.  Find out what kind of system your packing company uses to help you stay organized in advance.  Do they label, number, color code, etc.?  If your packing and moving professionals are one in the same, you should have no problem keeping up with who did what and who handled your items.  Get names and numbers before your workers start handling your items.  Keep in mind periodically even with professionals will mishandle or leave your items on the truck, you will want to know what happens in the event an oversight or accident takes place concerning your belongings. 

Three.  You will be able to find everything with ease.

Just like if you were to pack items on your own and label them as best you can, you may forget what was in the box or bag you packed.  The same holds true with professional packers so before you accuse someone of stealing something, be sure you have opened every box and unwrapped everything before you assume your items are lost especially those you may have hid from yourself.

Four.  The inventory list that the packers provide may not correspond with your list.

It happens, sometimes what your list reflects may not be accurate with the packers list because at the last minute something was added after you got your copy.  So be sure your list and theirs is updated.

Five.  The boxes you may have packed may not be reinforced by the packers.

You may have gotten a head start on your packing, but didn't tape your boxes or even pack your items as well as the professionals.  If this is the case, most likely the company is not going to take responsibility for what you already packed and they will not reinforce your boxes either.

Six.  The professionals may not pack your items the way you want.

You may wish to have your collectibles packed with extra bubble wrap, cardboard, and a box within a box, but for sake of time, your request is rejected or ignored.  You may want to pack those items the way you want to avoid conflict.  The last thing you want to do is get into a major argument with people who are handling your stuff.

With these six tips, you should be well on your way to having a successful move.  You may also want to consider making your packers duties less cumbersome by ridding yourself of those cheaply made items or hard to pack things that you really don't care too much about.  Less is best and will save you time, money and heartache!

Nicholl McGuire

Saturday

House, Townhome or Apartment?

How do you know whether you will need an apartment, town home, or house?  Sometimes people are juggling between all three. Here are tips that might help you make a decision that you can live with for at least a year.

1.  Evaluate everything you have right now.  How much are you giving away, keeping and throwing away?  Once you start clearing out some of the clutter, you will be able to better determine exactly how much space you will need in the future.

2.  Consider your roommates and their stuff.  How many people are living with you and what sorts of things will they be doing in your new household?  For instance, if a hobby takes up too much room and money is definitely an issue when renting your next place, then consider finding ways to take the extra activity, large items, and memorabilia elsewhere until you can have a bigger space.

3.  Think about how might new housing better serve your family/friends.  What problems do you hope your new environment will solve and what challenges might it create?  Can you live with the pros and cons?  Not enough bathrooms might be a problem, but then again maybe not depending on how many people live in the dwelling.  Special amenities you might do without especially if you rarely used them in your last place.

4.  Cost is a factor, so avoid the temptation to get something that will negatively impact your finances.  How much money for housing is too much?  Have you checked your budget?  Could you stand to save more money?  Is it necessary to live in a certain neighborhood, have special features, and live near a shopping mall?  Remember the more you think you need, the more you will pay.

Note some other concerns about your new residence such as how large or small bedrooms are, closet space, kitchen and dining room areas.  If you have fewer items decorating your rooms and make good use of wall, cabinet and closet space, you will be able to fit more.  Find out how to organize your next place at: The Organizer

Nicholl McGuire a blogger, author, poet, speaker and mother of four.




Sunday

Popular Sites Around the Web to Apartment Search

These nationwide sites have many listings, photos, and descriptions to help you determine whether visiting the property is worth your while.  Since Craigslist is typically comprised of real people promoting their own properties, be sure that you ask specific questions based on your needs and requests more photos if there isn't enough to view.  Also, find out the address of the place you are interested in and then search the property using Goggle maps.  Select the icon on the site that provides you with a walking view of the community.

Below are some of the more popular apartment search sites.

1.  Craigslist

2.  Apartment Guide

3.  Apartment Finder

4.  For Rent

5.  Apartment List


Remember to include where you saw the property when you visited and print the information out.  Sometimes special discounts are offered.


Tuesday

7 Things Renters Shouldn't Do When Seeking an Apartment

When people seek rental properties, they tend to do some things that will only cause them headaches in the future or worse jail time.  Think before you make a move that might cost you much legal, financial and emotional trouble.

One.  They lie on applications.

Future renters get off to a poor start with management when it is discovered they have lied about things like income, criminal history, who will be living in the home, debt, and more.  It is better to tell the truth and be rejected then to one day be faced with an eviction notice that most likely will damage your credit history.

Two.  They sublet even when they are warned not to.

Renters put themselves at risk once again of being removed from their suite when they say they are living at the home, but not really.  Therefore, a relative or friend can leave the apartment at anytime while putting the renter's good name in jeopardy.

Three.  They bring insects with them.

Knowing that one has had a serious insect problem in the last home, why would they take a chance on bringing all the infestation with them to their new home?  But people do.  It is always best to spray or use an insect bomb repellent on your items before moving them.  Check for nests that might live inside your furniture, electronics and elsewhere when you know you have a problem.

Four.  They expect the leasing office staff to do everything for them.

From wanting a date from the pretty blond seated at the desk to asking staff to handle their personal business and errand running, these are things that shouldn't be requested from the leasing staff.  Their jobs are to get renters into a suite and help them maintain it, but not handle their personal business.  Avoid the temptation to get the busy staff involved in your affairs.

Five.  They tell shady acquaintances where they are thinking about living.

Some renters are moving because they are having trouble with certain individuals from the last place or hope to cut off ties with others.  Yet, they will keep in contact with these troubled characters and then tell them where they stay.  When problems begin to show up, they act as if they didn't know someone behaved like this or that.  If you know or suspect that someone is annoying, troubled and the like, don't invite them to your new place.

Six.  They destroy their old apartment and then share this information with management.

Management isn't asking you why you are looking for a place or what happened at the last place to cause you to want to move for nothing.  They are looking for prospects to reveal what they did or didn't do at the last place.  So when someone says something like, "I was so angry one day I punched a hole in the wall, but I paid for it though...Then I got mad at my lady and broke the door handle--you know those handles are cheap anyway."  What this person is really telling the leasing consultant, "I'm a hot-head and I might be trouble for your company and my neighbors."

Seven.  They anger others by doing things that might put them at risk of losing their apartment.

Neighbors don't mind complaining about people who play loud music, have unruly children, and have far too many parties and traffic coming and going out of their homes.  When this happens, the leasing staff will most likely tally up the complaints and work to get the nuisance neighbor off the premises--don't let that be you!

Think about these seven tips.  Make adjustments to your current living arrangement as needed.  Then prepare to sit down with the leasing staff worry free.  Be sure that you are making every effort to be an ideal candidate.  Good suites come and go and if you see one you really like, you want to be the renter that stands out above all the rest!  You might want to get a few reference letters to take along with you in the future just in case you see a suite you got to have.

Nicholl McGuire also maintains a blog for people who are in intimate relationships or dating.  See here.

Wednesday

When Shopping for a Rental Property What Might You Bring?

1.  Driver's license, state id or other documentation if you live overseas.  If address is not current on your identification, then bring a bank statement or utility bill that shows your current address.

2.  At least enough money to cover an application fee and a deposit to hold the suite or security deposit if you plan to move in right away.

3.  Pay stubs for at least the past three or four months.  If you have yet to receive payment from your employer, bring a job offer letter that includes the amount of money you will be paid.

4.  Utility bill or other documents that show you are current on bills and paid off/settled debts ie.) bankruptcy discharge.  Sometimes conducting a background check will reveal that a potential renter has past issues that might hinder him or her from renting.

It helps to call the company you are interested in renting from to see if there is anything else you might need in case you decide to do business.

Tips on Touring Townhome While Resident Still Lives There


What You Don't Want to Do When You Find a Place

Just a friendly reminder to readers of this site...

When it comes to landing that place you like, don't do anything that is going to result in a future headache for you and those you love. 

One.  Don't make yourself believe that there is no other rental place out there for you and you know you haven't looked for that long.

Sometimes the first few apartment or rental homes that you see are great, but these beauties might cause unnecessary issues for you and those you love later.  Consider the following: these dwellings are out of your league--you are short of cash, you have to come up with far too many ways to meet the security deposit plus first month's rent and utilities, the home is too far away from the job, and the property is available sooner than you have planned and your current lease isn't up yet.  All these issues and more aren't worth going through when you have plenty of time to keep looking.

Two.  Avoid the temptation to persuade your partner, roommates or others who will be staying with you to take the place.

If you see that your family or friends are really not sold on the rental, don't make them accept it.  You will find out the hard way how much of a burden the place might be for them especially if they have repeatedly told you, "I don't like all the trees in the back yard...The neighborhood is scary...Those neighbors are strange...These rooms are too small!  What's that strange smell?  I don't like this house!"

Three.  Hold off on signing anything.

Until you are one hundred percent sure of the lease, property, and other things, don't sign anything!  You will not want to face a potential lawsuit later if you sign the lease and then decide not to pay.

Four.  Tell only a select few about your new location or wait until after you have had some time to get adjusted to your place.

Unfortunately, not everyone is excited when something good happens to someone.  You may have visitors who are very critical and try to convince you to find something else after you have settled on what you really like.  Exes who have unresolved issues may drop by unannounced, angry relatives or bitter friends might be a nuisance to the community, and your family may not want guests when they are still organizing.  So avoid sharing your good news with everyone.

Five.  Keep away from your neighbor's wife/husband, property, parking space, and anything else that doesn't belong to you.

One of the worse things that a new resident can do to make his or her stay awful is to start acting too friendly toward a married couple especially if they aren't interested in friendship.  You can also rouse neighbors if you like to borrow things, play your music loud, and permit your children to run through through the property.  Don't rub your neighbors the wrong way by being too forward, too trusting  or too noisey.

Six.  Never assume that the leasing office has handled everything.

Follow up with everyone and everything from what you saw in the rental dwelling during your tour to your pool pass.  Ask about anything that concerns you and don't think that because someone said, "I'll take care of it." that it was done prior to your move-in date.  

To your success finding an apartment home that is right for you!

Nicholl McGuire

Saturday

Apartment Mystery Shop

For those of you in the apartment industry, you never know who might be visiting you. For those unfamiliar with mystery shopping, this video is of a shopper who is not really looking for an apartment, but is observing the staff, community and other things her boss has sent her out to check out.  So if you ever wondered how does an owner know what is really going on at the site, he or she periodically sends out mystery shoppers to ensure the staff are doing their jobs effectively. 

Friday

Start Planning Your Next Move this Spring Season

So the winter season is about over and you're not happy with your current rental dwelling.  Well then it is time to start envisioning yourself in a new environment this time next year!

Sometimes we think we made wise choices when selecting a new place to live, but we later learn, usually soon after moving,  why the last residents moved out and why the rental unit or home went empty for so long.  "Was it a leaky roof?  Inadequate heating or cooling?  Was the neighbor keeping up a fuss?" we think.  Then the problems show up. 

Begin listing all the issues you have been having with your current place and what has yet to be addressed.  This way when you meet with management when you are ready to give your 30 day notice, he or she will be aware.  Do note dates and times you brought issues to managment and how long it took before your concern was addressed.  This information will come in handy in case you ever have a legal issue regarding your security deposit refund. 

Next, you will want to start planning to spend less and start saving monies toward your next apartment home.  What do you think you can afford?  An application fee will most likely be expected.  First and possibly second month's rent will be required depending on credit history.  You will also be expected to put a small amount of money to hold the apartment in some cases.  That money is typically put toward your move-in balance.

Take a look around your place.  How much room do you think you will need?  Then go outdoors, walk the property and the neighborhood.  What do you want nearby your next home and what don't you want?  Imagine what would make you most happy then pursue it by checking out guides, classfied ads, and blogs about rental locations in your area.  You will also want to check with a property management agency to see what rentals will be available soon. 

Don't expect leasing consultants and managers to be your friends while you apartment shop.  Remember, they want to sell you a suite and meet management goals.  So be sure you know what you need, what you can afford, and whatever else that will make you happy!

Nicholl McGuire maintains this blog and others, check out this one Work Place Problems

Neighbor Creepy, Stalking You?

Don't bother going to your community manager in your dwelling if you have no proof that your creepy neighbor is bothering you and even if you have evidence, the manager cannot immediately evict.  Rather, contact authorities. 

Gang-stalking is real.  Victims online share their stories of how someone or a group follows them because of any number of reasons including: community activism, offensive actions, associations, or simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you feel you are being stalked, start a paper trail with your local police department.  Save email, texts, comments on blogs, snail mail sent, voicemail etc.   You can also get people who you trust involved to help you perform research and assist you in other ways.  Tell your confidantes what you have been noticing lately, but you might not want to provide too many details especially if you suspect that your home or car is bugged.  Ask your friends have they too seen similar activity near your home. 

People don't normally stalk or act strangely with others unless something was said or done that provoked them.  You may not be the guilty party but someone that you know may have caused others to target you.  It doesn't matter if what you said or did appeared harmless or meaningless. 

As we all know we live in a very strange and evil world at times.  Not everyone is acting in ways that are considerate, kind or even normal--whatever that might mean to you.  So document everything that is going on around you.  Don't leave home without your recording devices.  Talk to those you trust and don't forget to contact those in authority who can sincerely help you.  If your local law enforcement can't be trusted, seek organizations that work on behalf of the people.  There are still small as well as large groups that do have Good Samaritans who are not corrupt.  Also, if you have a faith, above all else pray.

You may have heard of gang-stalking.  If you suspect that someone or group is harassing you.  Read more about others' experiences and what they have done. 

Here are some sources you can check out:

Neighbors Gang Stalking http://youtu.be/DB-MlhPmXqk

Gang Stalking – Ten ways to tell if gang stalkers live next door. http://neverending1.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/gang-stalking-ten-ways-to-tell-if-gang-stalkers-live-next-door/

What to do about gang stalking? http://www.justanswer.com/criminal-law/4g58f-gang-stalking.html

A woman's experience being gang-stalked http://voices.yahoo.com/gang-stalking-psychological-murder-sociopaths-money-10344405.html

Recruiting people to help gang stalk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZODSfs8RlJU

Tuesday

14 Tips Residential Renters Can Do to Keep Their Place in Good Shape

So you want to receive most, if not all, of your security deposit back when you move, huh? Well what might you do now to get what you want? Well some would assume all they have to do is keep the apartment reasonably clean and don’t break anything. There is more to apartment living than that and it all depends on what you consider clean and not damaged. If your views conflict with the leasing contract, then you just might not get your security deposit back.

One. Take shoes off at your door.

The more dirt one brings in from outdoors, the harder a resident’s carpet will be to clean. Any cost to repair and clean the carpet will be deducted from one’s security deposit.

Two. Don’t use tape on walls.

The sticky adhesive, especially from so-called invisible tape, will leave unsightly markings on a matte finish wall. Since many landlords choose to go with inexpensive paints (rather than use a semi-gloss) just about any marking will appear on a wall painted with cheap paint from a marking from furniture to dye from one’s clothing, curtains or bed sheets.

Three. Cover heavy traffic areas with throw rugs.

Heavy wear will show up on carpet from repeated walking. So if you are the lucky one who received brand new carpeting, don’t allow it to become unattractive because your high traffic areas have been left uncovered. Plastic runners, area rugs, oriental rugs, any decorative rug will do. But watch for those that might have gripping or leave markings on carpet fibers and damage them. Also, don’t use masking or gray tape, staple , glue or other harsh items to keep the carpet in place. These items will also cause damage overtime.

Four. Cover low wall space with furniture when you have children.

There are areas in one’s unit where a child may paint, use markers, pens, and even drive toy cars along the wall. Center your child’s activities in an area where he or she can’t use walls as potential canvases. Flush furniture or hang maps, posters, or decorative carpeting low so that the child's creative space is well-covered. The mentioned decorative items also absorb sound which will help with noise.

Five. Don’t flush the full length of a bed up against the wall.

Sometimes people will line their bed up against the wall to allow for more space in a room. However, they don’t think about how bedding will rub up against the walls which leave markings on walls that have been painted with that cheap paint as described earlier. Also, children tend to bring toys to bed with them which might ruin walls and make their bedding area appear unclean.

Six. Use shelving that doesn’t have to be hung on walls.

Many people like to organize their home with the least amount of furniture. So what happens is many shelves are hung on walls. If items are not hung properly, they might damage walls. Sometimes wall space is badly marked up because a resident places far too many items on shelves; therefore, the unit begins to fall off wall leaving behind large holes and cracks. Buy furniture and decorative items that don’t have to be hung on walls with large nails or heavy duty Velcro.

Seven. Store bleach products in laundry room or bathroom.

When one is washing clothes, he or she might carry a bottle of bleach around the home or sit it on a floor with the cap loosely on the top. Accidents easily happen and before you know it, there is a large bleach stain in the middle of the hallway or elsewhere. A good idea would be to keep products with bleach (chlorine) in them near the areas you will be using them the most. Never use them to treat stains in carpeting which leads me to my next point.

Eight. Avoid spot cleaning products that turn carpeting.

How many times has a company boasted about how their product works only for you to find out that it does nothing but change the color of the carpeting? This is why on the back of the bottle they advise test in a discreet area. But some residents start spraying products everywhere and now their carpeting looks like a two or three tone mess!

Nine. If you’re not a pet lover, don’t become one unless you know how to properly care for an animal and your living quarters at the same time.

There are those animal lovers who do well cleaning up after their pets, but others not so much. The ones who are nonchalant about keeping up with their pet’s hair and accidents are the ones who end up incurring a large bill. Sometimes their whole security deposit is used to pay for all the pet issues. Neighbors also tend to complain about pet odors and noise. Unfortunately, some animals attract bugs as well simply because they aren't bathed and treated so the resident will complain of having a flea issue. If time is short and so is money, do yourself a favor don’t get a pet.

Ten. Call maintenance as soon as issues arise from broken fixtures to inoperable appliances.

When maintenance issues go unreported, the resident might be held accountable. Don't be surprised after a move when your security deposit is not returned. Report problems in your apartment before you move.

Eleven. Wash hands.

This point seems to be simple enough. But you would be surprised just how many people don’t bother to wash hands after coming in from outside, working on something or eating something. Walls, outlet covers and other fixtures will easily catch food grease, hair dye, black fingerprints, blood markings, and more simply because people don’t bother to wash their hands. Sometimes these marks don’t come off with a multi-purpose cleaner without taking off the walls’ finish.

Twelve. Keep food primarily in kitchen and dining areas.

Once you tell someone, “It’s okay, you can bring that in here…” the food and drink products end up in the carpet, splattered on walls, cabinets and other places. There are those times that these products just don’t wipe clean. Many residents end up having to pay for damages just because a sugary, greasy or bright red something was too good to drink or eat in the kitchen or at a dining-room table.

Thirteen. Vacuum, take trash out often and perform your own pest control.

You can keep bugs from taking over your place if you maintain the upkeep of your unit. Schedule vacuuming your suite at least twice or more a week when you know you enjoy eating in your living-room and elsewhere. Crumbs and sticky messes attract bugs. Add mopping to your chore list too when you have linoleum, vinyl or hardwood floors. Don’t leave trash out. Buy a garbage can that controls odors especially if you cook often at home. At least once a month, spray cracks and crevices around piping in your home, doors, windows, floor boards, inside shelves, and other places bugs can get in. Although pest control comes at least once a month at most properties managed by corporations and less frequently at those managed by private owners, you will need to keep up with managing bugs both in and outside your home.

Fourteen. Entertain guests elsewhere more often than not.

The more visitors, the more likely something will get broken, tattered, stained, or damaged when living in a rented suite. So watch how often you entertain. People who have the most issues with management and neighbors are those who unfortunately party the most. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. The problem resident never considers that just maybe serving and/or drinking alcohol and drugs at a party might be the reason why he or she is often in trouble with the law.

These are just 14 ideas, but there are others that with a little time, money and patience, you can be able to add a few more. Think about great pieces that not only decorate your home, but keep things organized as well. Cover hot spots or high traffic areas. Check http://organizerhome.blogspot.com for ideas on organizing your apartment or home.

If you begin to take action on many of the points mentioned in this article, you just might be one of the ones who will receive that nice note attached to your security deposit refund that says, “Thank you so much for all you did! The place was spotless!” Finally, do remember to take photos before and after your move.

Learn more about Nicholl McGuire, author, poet, and speaker at http://nichollmcguire.blogspot.com

10 Apartment Shopping Mistakes

You are ready to look for an apartment and you have some idea what you want, but you are not clear about some other things.  Before you go out in search of that dream suite, you might want to have a better picture as to what your needs might be.  When you do this, you save yourself and the apartment staff some time.  In discovering more about your apartment needs, think about these mistakes that many apartment shoppers turned renters have done. 

One. They have underestimated square footage, closet space, cabinet space and more.
 
Once the furniture and many other items were moved in, they realized that the place was just too small to hold all their stuff.  Of course, disappointed, they walk into the leasing office wanting to make some changes.  Sometimes arrangements can be made, but other times they can't be because the apartment communities large suites are already filled. 

Two. They are unobservant of community, neighbors and pets.
 
During the tour, an apartment shopper might be so impressed with the look and feel of the community that he or she overlooks a particular ethnicity that lives there that they don't particularly like, numerous renters with pets, or areas of the property that aren't so nice.  Once moved in, he or she begins to feel like the apartment community is not what they had in mind.

Three. They overlook needed repairs and falsely assume management will get to them after starting the application process.

As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, never sign a contract until needed repairs are fixed.

Four. They fail to open up cabinets, check along baseboards and other places for signs of insect or rodent problem.

This point has been made much on this blog.  It is unfortunate when a resident finds that they will be having a few roommates simply because management fails to keep on top of pest control.

Five. They fail to flush toilet.

Most shoppers don't bother to touch anything, but it would make sense to press a lever, turn a knob or do something in the suite to test that it works.

Six. They don't turn on faucets.
 
The water may or may not be on in the suite.  Sometimes it isn't because the next renter will have to have it turned on.  However, you can at least turn the knobs to see if they will fall into your hands.

Seven. They don't check light switches and electrical outlets.

Notice the lighting, will it be feasible?  Will you need to buy lamps for every room and corner?  (Keep in mind, some places will not have electricity turned on until a new renter moves in.)

Eight. They don't test appliances and windows.

These items may be workable.  But there are those suites where the windows are painted shut or glued.  Appliances may not operate because they are not turned on yet, but be sure.  Perform a test on a later date before you move your items into the suite.

Nine. They don't look for signs of molds and mildew.

If you see any black, green, gray or strange colors growing off of any piping, wall, baseboard, or elsewhere, that just might be a sign of a bigger problem.  Also, use your nose when walking the
suite.

Ten. They ignore bad smells.

Sniff for a gas leak, a rotten smell, a musty odor, or other odd smells in community hallways and in the suite.  Follow your nose.  Tough odors don't go away on their own, sometimes they have to be cut out.  Insulation behind a wall that had a leak, must be removed and a wall might need to be replaced.  Carpeting that once was walked on by a pet will need to be removed.  There are plenty of things that you will need to keep your nose wide open about especially under cabinets and in closets.  Just imagine, if the odor doesn't go away, it just might start to sit on the clothes hanging in your closet or the furniture in your place.
 
In closing, consider looking at other things while touring the rental property such as: the proximity of shrubs and trees near windows and doorways and check amenities like the community pool, playground, workout facility, and play area. If nearby parking is important to you, think about the walking distance to and from your future residence. Another thing that might make or break your moving into a certain community is the length of travel time from job to home and whether the traffic is slow moving.
 
All of these signs will keep you from having to go to management one day with this statement, "I don't like the apartment, I thought it was..."
 
 
Nicholl McGuire


Friday

Guest Cards: Good Leasing Agents Follow Up

I know it can be irritating to receive a phone call from a leasing agent about a property you just visited, but keep in mind, they are just doing their jobs.  You filled out a guest card when you toured the property. After you left, the leasing agent is supposed to file your information and then contact you either the same day or within a 24 hour period to see how your apartment shopping experience is going and what might he or she can help you with.  At a later date, the agent will call again to see how everything is going.  The visitor will most likely update the staff and request not to be contacted again if he or she has already found a place.

Sometimes prospects are not completely sold on their decision to move elsewhere, other times money is a temporary issue, a desired suite is not available, or maybe a guest is just looking for now.  Whatever the reason, there is still that possibility that a visitor just might change his or her mind and return to the property.

One of the issues I have noticed over the years with some leasing agents is they didn't bother to follow up with visitors after their first visit; therefore, they missed out on a potential resident.  Competitors made the necessary contact and made their offers just a little more sweeter. 

Consider this, a leasing agent who failed to follow up literally lost the company thousands of dollars!  Taking a moment to make a simple phone call just might be the best thing a prospect and a leasing agent could do for one another.  The potential resident could share his or her concerns and how might they be addressed.  The leasing agent could offer more options.

So if you are the leasing agent or the visitor do make the time to follow up with one another.  Share what is on your mind.  Is there an additional incentive being offered by the competition?  Would you have liked to look at more available suites?  Is there another property with the same company better suited for the prospect?  You will never know if you don't follow up.

Thursday

Winter Time is Slow Moving for the Apartment Industry

Attempting to seek your ideal spot during the winter isn't an easy feat.  Most renters are not interested in moving during this time of year unless they have to.  So when the timing is off and the pickings are slim, it is best to shop for now rather than commit to anything you aren't completely sold on.

As for the apartment industry, many staff utilize this time to push those suites that have been sitting for awhile.  They will lure shoppers by offering deals such as a discount on the first month's rent.  They might even include some freebies, coupons, services, or upgrades.  However, do keep in mind this question, "Why has no one rented this apartment yet?" 

There are many factors as to why a suite sits for months.  Sometimes it is in an unsatisfactory location in the building such as: near noisy water piping, a trash chute, or high traffic area.  Look around the suite.  Notice how hot or cold it is.  Pay attention to details such as flooring, windows, pipes under sinks, electrical outlets, and appliances.  Also, use your nose when touring an apartment unit and complex.  You will discover that some units have issues with molds and mildews.  If you should smell a strong bleach smell throughout the suite, most likely someone was doing more than just cleaning.  This person most likely was trying to kill some molds somewhere in the unit.  Look for evidence.

To your success in finding the apartment you so desire!

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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