What to Do If Your Apartment Floods

Flooding is, to put it mildly, no fun. Between the amount of damage typically done, the stress of dealing with repairs and trying to get back to normal, there’s a lot to cover.

While we can’t help you deal with the stress directly, these precautions and additional information should give you a better idea of what you’d need to do before, during and after you have a flooded apartment.

Pre-flood

The first thing is preparing for the possibility of any kind of damage by getting renters insurance that includes a flood policy covered under the National Flood Insurance Program.

The whole thing is usually no more than a few hundred dollars per year, and it covers you from floods, fire and theft. It isn’t a legal requirement, but some property managers will ask you to get it. Considering the low cost for the level of coverage you’ll get, it’s worthwhile.

Catching problems before they happen

To address the possibility of water damage and a flooded apartment more directly, keep an eye out for drips and leaks. You also want to watch for the appearance of water stains or mold growth, signs of a previous water leak. This includes checking the walls and ceiling when it rains and periodically looking at faucets and pipes in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Report anything you see to your property manager since these are issues they’ll need to repair. Make sure you have the emergency phone number for your building saved and accessible. It isn’t only good for flooding, but anything that happens unexpectedly and needs immediate attention.

Securing your belongings

While the likelihood of a flood is low, it’s still a good idea to keep valuable items away from the most obvious places they’d get wet. “The easiest way to keep smaller items safe is with a waterproof, fireproof box. These safes come in a variety of sizes. You will want to consider what items are most important to you before deciding on the size,” says Soil Away, a disaster restoration company.

Keep items like electronics off the floor if they’re near the kitchen or bathroom as well. These strategies both protect your valuables and also give you more time to get to things if the water is rising and you need to grab and go.

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During the flood

When the flooding starts, get everything you can away from the path of the water. Take what valuables you can and move them into your car, into another room or into a neighbor’s apartment — anything to keep them dry.

Next, call that emergency maintenance number you’ve saved, as well as the management company itself. They should respond immediately, but if not, you may have to take matters into your own hands, contacting a plumber or other repair person.

While you wait for help to arrive, try to get things under control. Attempt to seal the leak if you can reach it and have the right materials. Use plastic bins or any other containers you have to contain as much water as possible.

After the flood

Unfortunately, the stress of a flooded apartment doesn’t end once the leak is fixed. Now you have to try and pick up the pieces, get things repaired and get back to life as normal. Sorting this out involves insurance claims and a close review of the terms of your lease.

Since you have to establish who handles what, there can be some confusion, so it’s important to know what general areas are more likely whose responsibility.

Documenting the damage

The first step after a flood is documenting all the damage that occurs. This is both for your insurance company and for your property manager to have. Take photos of both your damaged items and visible damage on walls or ceilings. Save all damaged property until an insurance adjuster is able to come out and document the damage. Don’t throw anything away until they give you the all-clear.

Establishing responsibility

Damage to the building itself normally falls under the property owner’s insurance. The actual structure and anything that comes with the unit like carpet or appliances are also covered. You’re responsible for your personal property, and having flood damage as part of your renters insurance should make dealing with that easier.

Exceptions to this breakdown occur when flooding happens because your property manager didn’t fix a known issue. In that case, they may end up paying to replace your own property. The opposite is also true if something you did caused the flooding. In this instance, you might have to pay for all the damage, including damage to the building itself. If there’s any conflict, don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer.

Terminating the lease

If the flooded apartment ends up with too much damage to remain livable, you may have the right to terminate your lease without penalty. If your property owner has another, equivalent apartment available, you could try and negotiate a move into that unit, signing a new lease. You could also try and work out a temporary living situation while your apartment is getting repaired.

Your lease should have a section on termination, but you can also research the local renter laws in your area to get a better idea of what your rights are. If you can’t work out a deal with your current property owner, it may be best to find a new place to live altogether.

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Common causes of flooding

Flooding can happen anywhere, beginning from a natural phenomenon or from within your own apartment. Common sources of flooding include:

  • Heavy rain: “Heavy rainfall is more than 0.30 inches of rain per hour,” according to Weather Shack. Rain at this rate can overflow streams, drains and even entire sewer systems. This backs everything up, sending water overflowing into homes and apartment buildings.
  • Clogged or frozen pipes: Plumbing is often the internal culprit when it comes to flooding. Clogged pipes mean water can’t drain properly, so it comes back up into sinks, bathtubs or toilets. In the extreme cold, pipes can freeze, as well. When they thaw, they can end up bursting, sending water spraying. Issues like these going unchecked can lead to flooding.
  • Drainage basins in urban areas: Large cities like New York and Los Angeles use concrete drainage basins, which don’t provide a place for groundwater to get absorbed. In heavy rains, these basins can overflow, creating street flooding that can spread into the first few floors of buildings.
  • Leaky roofs: What may start out as a small crack in the ceiling can quickly become an access point for water to drip down if it’s not addressed. Any small imperfection in your ceiling should be reported immediately to your property manager for repairs.

“Just in case” is enough risk to prepare

Nobody likes to think about the disaster a flood could cause in their home, but it’s a risk to think it could never happen to you. In fact, 14,000 people in the U.S. experience some kind of water damage at home or at work every day according to Water Damage Defense.

Whether a little leak or a full-on deluge, some preparation and a deeper understanding of how easy it is to be ready, can help you can get ahead of the stressful situation that’s possible from a flooded apartment.

Read more about keeping your apartment safe:

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Source: apartmentguide.com

What’s the Difference Between a Property Management Company and a Landlord?

When renting, the terms “Property Manager” and “Landlord” get used interchangeably. But, there are some distinguishing characteristics between the two.

We’ll tell you what they are below.

Property management companies

A property management company is an umbrella term for a person or company that manages both small and large-scale operations of a rental property on behalf of the owner.

Property management companies can be almost any size, and it’s not uncommon for one smaller company to report to a larger parent company. But in simple terms, a property management company is the middleman between you and the owner of the property – whomever that may be.

At properties operated by a property management company, lease agreements and rental terms are typically dictated by company policy as opposed to the preferences of the individual owner. Additionally, property management companies may have several properties and typically, the rental process and terms are uniform across all of them.

In terms of amenities and resources, property managers tend to have a more concrete system including maintenance, security and other staff on-site or on-call.

Landlords

Landlord is a term reserved for the sole owner of a property. They typically own individual rental houses but many also operate multi-family homes or small apartment complexes.

Because you’re dealing with one person, there’s typically more flexibility to waive certain fees, handle tenant requests or deal with disputes on a case-by-case basis as opposed to referring to a blanket policy.

Since the landlord-tenant relationship is more personal than the property management model, you may even be able to negotiate a reduced rate when renting directly from the landlord.

However, landlords typically don’t have the same resources as a full-fledged property management company. On top of that, landlords are responsible for knowing a ton of information on rental law enforcement. So much so, that occasionally a landlord could be misinformed about the law.

Which is right for you?

It all depends on what you’re looking for in your apartment hunt. Renting from a property management company offers the benefits of uniform policies and guaranteed services and amenities. Landlords offer a more flexible rental setup, but you also have no guarantees as all landlords handle renter situations differently.

Both have pros and cons, but hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the differences between the two.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Choose a Property Manager for Your Rental Home

Happy owners, happy tenants — it all starts with the right property manager.

You would never turn your home over to a stranger, so choosing a property manager shouldn’t be any different — finding one you trust is vital. 

“You are entrusting probably one of the biggest investments you’ll make into the hands of someone else, so you want to make sure you feel confident that they’ll handle things the way you want them to,” says Grace Langham, CEO of Nest DC, an award-winning boutique property management firm in Washington, D.C.

Dependability and trustworthiness are two key points all homeowners should keep in mind when assigning their home or condo to the loving care of a third party. But before handing over the keys, consider these six other factors to help you find the right property manager.

Communication

With so many players involved — owner, tenant, and manager — communication is critical. Some owners prefer lots of updates, while others want few. Regardless of your desired amount of communication, the quality of it is crucial.

A property manager’s availability and response rate get to the very heart of their job. In your initial contact, look for clues about their speed, courtesy, and availability.

“Once signed on, a good manager will do what it takes to keep you in the loop, whether you prefer emails, phone calls, or texts,” Langham says.

Residents

When it comes to renters, a property manager’s duty is twofold: Find quality residents, and ensure they are treated fairly.

Happy renters often stay in a residence longer, and are more reasonable when things break. That said, finding good residents requires legwork.

“Bad tenants can be one of the most costly things for an owner,” says Nathan Miller, president and founder of Rentec Direct, a property management software company.

Evictions are expensive, especially when owners are forced to forgo several months’ rent, and damage can be costly. That’s why running a credit check and performing a background screening for criminal and eviction reports are musts, according to Miller.

Fees

Property management fees tend to be fairly standard, Miller says — usually between seven to 15 percent of a month’s rent, but most often around 10 percent. Sometimes, a condo may cost slightly less than a stand-alone house because there’s less home and yard to maintain.

The owner is also on the hook for maintenance costs, and often pays a finder or leasing fee — up to a full month’s rent — when a new resident moves in  Ask if you will still be charged, even if the unit stands empty.

Some property managers also charge a lease renewal fee and sometimes tack on a project management fee when dealing with excessive bureaucracy or paperwork, such as insurance claims. Verify the fee structure and services provided before signing any contract.

House visits and other specs

When it comes to inspections, a property manager should be proactive. That means taking a peek at your property no less than once (and maybe even twice) a year to ensure that everything is in good shape.

Such time-consuming tasks mean it’s important for a property manager to maintain a reasonable caseload. Miller says his ideal property manager oversees between 500 to 1,000 properties. “Once they get above that size and they’re managing many, many thousands of units, you’ll lose the personal touch,” he says.

Finally, you want to find a property manager that specializes in a type of unit: single-family homes, apartment complexes, or high-end houses, for example.

Earning potential

To maximize a home’s earning potential, property managers should know how to deftly market a unit so that it doesn’t stay empty long. This includes everything from posting it on well-known rental websites to taking quality photos that make it pop.

Miller says the property manager should also ensure a home is leased at market rent, and analyze that rate semiannually. You want to know you’re not being shorted income by charging too little.

Technology

Finally, the proper software can indicate that a management firm has what it takes to succeed. “We’re lucky to be a company that’s eight years old,” Langham says. “We started with all this technology that’s really friendly to the millennial generation, which is a lot of the renter base.”

Collecting rent and submitting maintenance requests via an online interface makes interactions between all parties a breeze, meaning owners and tenants can move on with their busy lives. After all, at the end of the day, that’s what having a property manager is all about.

Get more tips for managing your rental property

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Source: zillow.com

How to Make Apartment Hunting Suck Less

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Searching for the perfect apartment can feel like a daunting task.  Nailing down your ideal neighborhood, price range, square footage, layout, utilities and amenities might sound straightforward on paper, but hitting the streets can prove to be a different experience entirely.  Fear not, friends; we’re here to help simplify the process and get you back to enjoying this exciting time in your life.  We’re going to show you how to make apartment hunting suck less.  Start your search with this guide in mind and you’ll be well on your way to a happy home.

how to make apartment hunting suck less

how to make apartment hunting suck less

Step One: Set a budget.

When it comes to your home budget, there are two major expenses to take into consideration: rent and utilities. To determine what you can realistically afford, begin by calculating your net income or take-home pay.  As a general rule, you will aim to spend no more than one third of your net income on rent.  Depending on where you plan to live, this can range from being a requirement of the landlord to feeling like a near impossible feat, but is a good place to start.  Use your current utility costs to factor in an estimate for these expenses, then consider additional monthly costs such as cable and internet.  Now is also a good time to consider the impact of varying locations, such as the cost of your commute and the expenses associated with living in different communities.

Step Two: Consider Convenience.

Determine the maximum distance you are willing to travel for work, groceries, the gym, socializing, etc.  Next, decide which items take priority in the event that you have to compromise for your dream apartment or neighborhood.  If you travel by car, consider which neighborhoods have abundant parking- your dream apartment may not have this amenity.  If you use public transportation, explore the neighborhoods that are convenient to bus, train, or bike share options.

Step Three: Get online.

In the digital age, it is no surprise that the majority of apartment searches today begin online.  Take the time to research different neighborhoods, then perhaps peruse some listings.  Websites like WC Smith’s offer neighborhood guides to help orient renters, and even show you properties within each neighborhood.  This will help you set realistic expectations about what you will be getting for your money in different markets, and may even help you add some must-haves and must-nots to your list.  Once you’ve built out your criteria, submit your request with Apartminty to begin your search.

Step Four: Follow Up.

Once you’ve submitted your request with Apartminty, you can expect to start hearing from landlords and property managers. Be prepared with a list of any unanswered questions and begin gathering any items that you anticipate may be required of you, such as references and pay stubs. Be sure to respond promptly to any calls or emails you receive from landlords; a sluggish response not only sets a bad tone but also increases your changes of missing out on prime real estate.

Step Five: Hit the pavement.

Carve out some time in your upcoming schedule to begin touring properties.  When the calls begin coming in, you’ll want to jump on the opportunity as soon as possible, so don’t over-commit yourself during your hunt.  Each property you visit has been chosen based on your specific criteria, so take the time to weigh your options and try to see multiple apartments before making your decision.

Step Six: Move In.

Settle in to your happy home and enjoy this exciting, new chapter in your life!

Ready to find your next apartment?

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Source: blog.apartminty.com

What is a Property Manager?

It’s all about ownership.

A property manager is someone who oversees a rental property. They may be in charge of screening tenants, collecting rent, maintaining the property and any other duties a landlord would normally take care of.

A property manager differs from a landlord in that they don’t actually own the property, they’re just hired to take care of a rental so the owner doesn’t have to do it alone. This is usually the case when someone owns multiple properties or an entire building and needs help maintaining all of the rentals and tenants.

property managerproperty manager

What difference does it make if I rent from a property manager or a landlord?

Because a property manager is taking care of multiple rentals at one time, they’re usually highly organized and have formal written processes for every situation, whether its collecting rent or fixing a water leak. They’re often backed by a larger property management company, giving them easy access to resources a landlord might not have, which means issues could be resolved much quicker.

This also means each individual renter may not receive as much attention as they normally would with a landlord. Property managers don’t usually create their own policies and forms, so there’s not as much flexibility with negotiating and paying rent, moving in and out and other renter-related issues. There also may be a lengthier application process and screening.

Pros of a property manager

  • Organized and responsive
  • Standardized processes
  • Resolves issues quickly

Cons of a property manager

  • Less personal attention
  • Little flexibility
  • Longer application process

Additional resources

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Home Decor – Luxury Residential Vegas Resort Adds Home Automation/Security System to Dwellings – Fintech Zoom

Home Decor – Luxury Residential Vegas Resort Adds Home Automation/Security System to Dwellings

Residents of more than 300 apartments at the Tuscan Highlands resort community can now remotely control and schedule automation of lighting, climate, security and door locks.

LAS VEGAS — At Tuscan Highlands, a brand new south Las Vegas residential resort community, the custom pool, giant LED screens, personalized service and trendy bar set the tone for luxury living, but also represent fairly standard Las Vegas fare. Step into the residences themselves, however, and it’s obvious that Tuscan Highlands set out to stand above the rest, with each unit integrating its own Clare Controls ClareOne security and smart home system that offers remote control and scheduled automation of lighting, climate, security and door locks.

Thanks to the expert integrators at Innovative Home Systems, the Las Vegas-based custom integration firm that outfitted Tuscan Highlands with cutting-edge technologies, the smart home system standard for every apartment is equal parts innovative and necessary.

Particularly for 2021, when many renters will undoubtedly spend more time at home due to ongoing pandemic concerns, the technology is a crucial inclusion that benefitted from local availability of products and design assistance from Volutone.

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Ask The Apartment Experts: What Is “Normal Wear And Tear”?

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Normal Wear and Tear | Ask The Apartment Experts

This week’s “Ask the Experts” post is about a question we receive in a couple of different variations: Can my landlord charge me for wear and tear? What is considered normal wear and tear? What is normal wear and tear?   We asked a couple of different landlords and property managers to get their take on what is considered “normal” and when is an extra charge assessed upon move-out? As usual, the first thing we are going to tell you is, check your lease! If you are working with a professional management company, the lease will often outline what “normal wear and tear” is to them.  Anything beyond that will likely be taken out of your security deposit. Second, do a walk through with your property manager or landlord when you move in. Often, there will be a move-in checklist you can use to document any current damage or conditions you do not want to be charged for when you move out (similar to when you rent a car).  Also, take time to take pictures to document the condition upon move-in. “Normal wear and tear” encompasses any damage that occurs through the ordinary course of living in an apartment. For instance, your carpet will start to have some wear patterns in highly traffic areas. However, a giant red wine stain on that carpet is not typical. Examples of typical wear and tear and where it crosses the line into excessive damage: Holes In The Wall Small holes in walls from nails or shelves less than the size of a nail head are perfectly acceptable. If you drill large holes and anchors into an apartment wall to mount a TV or significant shelving units, expect to be charged for wall repair. Paint The paint question is one a client asked us to address specifically. “Can a landlord really charge me for paint? Don’t they paint in between each tenant anyway?” Most landlords do paint in between residents. However, if you have painted the walls a different color, especially if it’s a dark or saturated color, the extra labor and goods cost to return the walls to the original color will be your responsibility to pay. We’ve seen past residents that painted their walls a dark blue and before leaving, slapped on one coat of primer…which just turned the walls a slightly less dark blue and were shocked when they received a charged for a paint job. Don’t do this. In fact, skip painting your rental and just use these tips to bring color to your apartment. Carpet A carpet will generally be replaced after 3 or 5 years, depending on the company. If you live in your apartment for five years, you should not get charged for carpet replacement. However, if the carpet requires replacement after 12 months, you will most likely pay a prorated charge for the replacement. Also, if you have a pet, know that pet stains can seep down into the pad below the carpet. That is where the odor sits, and a landlord has to replace the carpet padding, and you should expect a damage charge for it. Misuse & Neglect Damage due to misuse or neglect is another area of some confusion. If you notice that a pipe under your sink is leaking, but you fail to report it, the damage caused to the cabinet or floor could be your responsibility. Always report maintenance issues ( and take time-stamped photos) as soon as possible, especially when they involve water or leaks. Also, make sure to document any time you communicate maintenance issues to your landlord – this is best done by communicating in writing/via email. Neglecting to clean appliances properly is another big area for charges. The Today Show states you should clean your oven every three to six months and you should clean your refrigerator monthly. Beyond obvious health threats, if you neglect to clean appliances regularly after you move out, the cost for the ‘deep clean’ can and will be passed on to you. Speaking of appliances, it’s relatively common to find stainless steel appliances in apartments these days. While we love their sleek look, you do need to treat them with care. If you break a refrigerator’s handle or shelf, or scratch or dent the stainless steel, expect charges for damage. Items Left Behind One last note: when you move out, ALL of your things need to go with you. You are not generous by leaving your old couch or nightstands behind. Whether it’s trash or furniture or food in the fridge, someone will have to move it, and the cost to remove it will be yours to pay.   We hope this answers your questions about normal wear and tear. Need clarification or have follow-up questions? Feel free to give us a shout!  

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What is Normal Wear and Tear?-Apartment Experts Answer Your Questions
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What is Normal Wear and Tear?-Apartment Experts Answer Your Questions
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Ever hear the term “normal wear and tear”? As renters, it’s crucial to understand what it means when it comes time to get our security deposits back.
Holli Beckman
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Apartminty
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Source: blog.apartminty.com

Your Lease Is Up? Here Are 3 Good Reasons to Renew

Should you stay or should you go? Think twice before packing up and moving to a new place.

If you’re approaching the end of your lease, it’s easy to think of reasons to move — new neighborhood, change of scenery, different amenities. But there are many compelling reasons why staying put might be a better choice.

Take these three considerations into account before packing up and making the move.

Dollars and cents

From security deposits to moving supplies to renting a truck or hiring movers — and even time off work to get unpacked and settled — moving is never cheap.

Moving to a new place can cost renters between $2,900 and $4,500 —  not including the rent itself, according to Nathan Miller, founder and CEO at Rentec Direct, a company that creates software for landlords and property managers.

“And that’s just our sample size in Portland, Oregon,” he notes. “When you consider bigger cities like San Francisco, Seattle, or New York, it could be two to three times that amount, and many people don’t have that much cash available.”

Deposits and move-in fees can be double or triple the monthly rent. And while many tenants count on getting the full deposit back to put toward a new deposit, it’s rare to get it all back, even if you’ve taken great care of your unit.

“In many cities, landlords aren’t required to refund your deposit for 30 days, so you can’t immediately use that money for your new place,” Miller notes.

The ball’s in your court

If you decide to move, your property manager has to spend money on advertising to fill the vacancy, plus pay at least two to four weeks of carrying costs until a new tenant moves in and starts paying rent.

Landlords paying attention to their bottom line would rather keep you — especially if you’ve been a good tenant that pays on time — than spend time and money finding someone new. This alone puts you in a great negotiating position, so ask for a discount on your rent, better lease terms, or complimentary amenities like parking.

While you negotiate the terms of your new lease, keep this in mind: Many cities and towns put limits on how much a landlord can increase your rent at one time. And given that rental prices are rapidly increasing in many big cities, the new rent your current landlord is proposing may very well be lower than what you’d pay somewhere new.

A bird in the hand

If you have a good rapport with your landlord, like your neighbors, and are generally satisfied with the amenities your community offers, it may not be worth rolling the dice on somewhere new.

“Going into a new community, you don’t always get the personal connection you’re used to,” says Kristen Gucwa, executive vice president of marketing at Richman Signature Properties, a leader in luxury apartment communities. “If you already have a connection with the front desk worker or the maintenance supervisor who always comes right over to help you, there’s a huge benefit there.”

Miller agrees. “If you like your landlord now, there’s absolutely no guarantee you’re going to like the new one. You’re giving up something you know for a complete unknown.”

If your lease end date is approaching, take some time to crunch the numbers and consider the less tangible pros and cons. You just might find that staying put is the right choice — nobody likes to move, anyway.

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Source: zillow.com