Living Large in a Small Space

Squeezing your life into a tiny apartment, home, or condo can be a challenge, but you don’t have to sacrifice style or live knee-high in a sea of clutter. No matter how small, a space can be enjoyable and feel spacious with just the right touch. Here are some ways five tips on how to maximize your space, making it feel like home:

Downsize

You don’t have to get rid of everything but going through the process of downsizing can ease the clutter by getting rid of things you don’t really need. You probably did this before moving into your new space, but if you’ve had some time to accumulate more stuff, you may need to revisit it.

Brighten the atmosphere

Choose a crisp, light color scheme for things like curtains, sofa, and throw rugs to make the room feel bigger, brighter and comfy. Avoid darker tones that make a space appear uninviting and small.

Lots of natural light in a space can make it seem larger, too. Changing window treatments, if possible, or simply opening blinds and curtains during the day can make any room more pleasant.

Mirror appeal

Take a page out of restaurant strategy and try hanging up a few mirrors. It gives the illusion of feeling like you’re in a much larger and lighter space, and sometimes the illusion is all you need to feel better.

Style with function

With little space, you can’t give over space to something with just one function. A table with storage underneath or a desk that pulls out from the wall gives you effectively more space to work with. If you’re in a one-bedroom apartment, or even a studio, opting for a sofa bed can be a smart choice if you host guests from out of town. This takes away the need for an extra room and bed, while still being practical for everyday use.

Curtain call

Hang your curtains higher (the higher the better) to give the appearance of higher ceilings. You can also let in more light and make windows look wider by extending a curtain rod by four inches or more on either side of the windows. This will not only give the illusion of more square footage, but allows more light to enter too!

Shelve it

Getting clutter off of the floor can make any space seem bigger. If you’re letting items collect, trying various shelving. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate.

Curtain call

Getting clutter off the floor can make any space seem bigger. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate. If that’s enough, you might need to get more creative.

Be clever about storage

You still need places to stick your stuff, and a little creativity can get you a lot more space. If your bed frame is off the ground, you can put some boxes and other storage containers underneath it – the same goes for any other furniture with space under it. When you run out of that space, look to hooks and racks that go on the back of your doors. These are especially helpful in closets, where you can get shoe hangers to held more than just shoes, or bathrooms, where you can store what doesn’t fit in your drawers or cabinets. Still not enough space? Some cleverly placed peg boards can convert wall space to storage space, as well as keeping commonly used things in easy reach.

With these tips, take a look around your space and see how you can update! Have more tips to share based on your personal experience? Share in the comments below!

Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Remove Permanent Markers: 8 Easy Tips to Try

Permanent marker stains don’t need to be permanent if you know the proper ways to remove them.

We’ve all used permanent markers for one reason or another — art projects, labeling our belongings, decorating Easter eggs, giving ourselves (or others) fake tattoos… And while it usually ends up where we put it, there are those few instances that it ends up somewhere we don’t want it, whether we dropped the Sharpie and it got on our favorite shirt or a toddler takes it upon themselves to decorate the walls with their very own mural.

Whatever the case, no need to panic! You can actually remove permanent markers from almost anything — and it doesn’t take long, either. Here’s how to remove Sharpie from just about everything.

Wood

Cleaning wood.

Whether you’ve found a permanent marker stain on your wooden furniture or your wood floors, you can use either rubbing alcohol, toothpaste (without gel in it) or peanut butter (yes, the kind you eat!) to remove it.

  1. Apply one of these items to the markings and let it sit for five minutes or so.
  2. Use a damp cloth to lightly scrub away the treatment and the stain should come off with it!
  3. Repeat this process if necessary to get it all off.

Laminate

Most places you’ll find laminates are countertops or floors — which are also places that young children enjoy drawing on with permanent marker. Use a magic eraser or toothpaste mixed with baking soda to get the Sharpie off.

For the magic eraser, simply get it wet and scrub the marker off. For the toothpaste and baking soda, mix them together, put the mixture onto the marker and use a damp rag to scrub it into the stain. Rinse the excess toothpaste off with some water and a clean rag.

Plastic, metal, glass, whiteboard and tile

For surfaces made of plastic, metal, glass, whiteboard or tile, you can typically use either a dry erase marker or some rubbing alcohol to remove the permanent marker.

If you’re using a dry erase marker, simply color over the permanent marker with the dry erase marker and wipe it away with a clean, dry paper towel. Repeat as necessary until the entire permanent mark is gone.

For the rubbing alcohol method, grab a cotton ball and dampen it with rubbing alcohol. Then use it to rub off the stain. Clean the area again with water and a rag to soak up anything left over.

Painted surfaces

Little girl drawing on the wall with markers.

From painted walls to kitchen cabinets to furniture, there are plenty of large, painted surfaces in our homes that make a canvas for permanent marker.

To eliminate stains from these surfaces, use a toothpaste that doesn’t contain gel and apply it to the marker. Let it sit for at least five minutes, then use a damp cloth to gently scrub the stain off the painted surface. Wipe away the excess toothpaste with a clean rag and water.

Clothing, fabric, upholstery and carpet

Sharpie can sometimes show up on the fabric items we use daily — clothes, pillows, furniture, etc. Luckily, there are many household items that can take permanent marker off of these items: rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, hairspray, nail polish remover or non-gel toothpaste.

  1. To get Sharpie out of clothing and fabric, start by putting an old rag or some paper towels on the underside of the fabric with the stain, if possible. This will prevent the marker from transferring onto other parts of the piece you’re cleaning.
  2. Soak the stain with your choice of removal product and use a cloth rag to firmly dab away the marker. Only use a dabbing motion and avoid rubbing back and forth or in circles as this can further push the stain into the fabric and make it absolutely permanent.
  3. Once the marker is no longer visible, wash it as you normally would (if possible) and it’s good as new! If you can’t put the object into the washing machine, you can use a clean, damp cloth to get any residue out of the fabric.

This method should work for most fabric types and carpets or rugs, including cotton, microfiber and polyester.

Leather

Up close leather chair.

The most important part of removing sharpie from leather is to do it as soon as possible so it doesn’t have time to set and cling to the leather permanently.

Hairspray is an effective way to get it off — spray it onto the affected area and blot it away with a damp rag. Repeat if needed, just remember to blot it gently and not to scrub too hard or it may ruin the finish of the leather.

Books and paper

Sometimes, we end up writing on paper with a permanent marker when we don’t mean to and we jump to the conclusion that it’s irreversible. Nail polish remover can actually erase or at least lighten permanent marker from paper.

Dampen a cotton swab with nail polish remover and lightly dab the stain to extract the ink. Be extra gentle, as paper is delicate and can tear very easily, especially when wet. Again, you may not completely get the marker off, but it will be a noticeably lighter marking than before!

Take note that with colored paper and books, use caution. Any liquid, including nail polish remover, may also remove the color from the paper along with the marker.

Skin

Pouring hand sanitizer into a hand to remove permanent markers

You may have been writing with Sharpie and accidentally gotten some on your hands or maybe you were giving yourself a marker tattoo and ended up wanting to get the ink off of your skin. Whatever happened, hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol will solve the problem.

To remove the Sharpie marker from your skin, just put some hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol onto the stain and rub away the marker using a cotton ball.

No need to worry about how to remove permanent markers

In almost any case, you can figure out how to remove permanent markers. Really, it’s just a bit more difficult to remove than other markers that are washable, so there’s no need to feel distraught if you’ve found Sharpie on a surface.

Using the above tips, you’ll be able to take care of it in no time!

Source: rent.com

10 Ways to Save on Your Apartment Heating Bill

Cooler weather means sweater weather, hot drinks and shorter days. It also means you’ll have to turn on your heater. But staying cozy doesn’t always mean high apartment heating bills. On average, an American home spends around $112.59 on their energy bill every month.

Whether you’re looking to save some money or even just help the environment, there are small changes around your apartment you can do to lower your heat bill.

And none of them include wrap yourself in a blanket so you don’t turn into an ice cube, we promise.

Keep on reading to find out how you can stay warm this winter and not end up broke.

1. Seal up those windows and doors

window seals apartment heatingwindow seals apartment heating

If you live in a charming old home or apartment with older windows, you’d be surprised at how much heat escapes through your windows and doors. Heat gain and loss through those unsealed spots account for up to 30 percent of heating and cooling energy use.

Consult with your landlord before moving forward as they may offer to do it or replace the windows. Once you get the go-ahead, you can seal up those spots and leaks around your rental with weather stripping and clay rope caulking to winterize the apartment. Double-check that the window itself closes all the way.

You can also pick up a window insulation kit or magnetic window insulation that are easy to install to insulate the area. It’s a quick weekend project that will pay off in the long run.

2. Purchase a smart thermostat

smart thermostatsmart thermostat

It’s hard to remember when and what temperature it should remain on to save on heating costs during the winter. The solution? A smart thermostat. You can take it with you when you move out or have your landlord reimburse you upon purchase.

During winter, you’ll want to keep the thermostat set to 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and then 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. So you don’t forget, set your thermostat to remember when to switch off as it learns your daily patterns.

3. Add beautiful rugs to your living spaces

apartment rugs apartment heatingapartment rugs apartment heating

Sure, blankets and chunky socks are great to stay warm, but have you thought about rugs? A beautiful area rug can enhance your living spaces with patterns and vibrant colors and bring it all together. But it can also work like insulation and keep your feet warm.

In older units, especially those with hardwood floors, a large rug in the living room can help keep the heat in place and insulate the area, so there are no leaks. Smaller rugs in the bathroom or by your bed will make the space even cozier and help protect the area further.

4. Double check your current furniture layout

floor ventfloor vent

If you moved quickly, you probably didn’t pay attention to all the vents on the floor and along the walls. Go around your apartment and double-check that none of the furniture, including couches, side tables, beds and credenzas aren’t blocking any of the vents.

This will help your apartment heating unit work a little less as the room will get warmer, faster. This is a great time, too, to reevaluate your winter bedding to keep even warmer.

5. Turn down your water heater

water heaterwater heater

How high is your water heater right now? Yes, that contraption inside your utility closet. Check the temperature of your water heater and lower it by 10 degrees. If you need help figuring it out, ask your landlord to help you change it.

Turning it down to about 110 degrees will save you money month over month on your heating bill, and you’ll still stay warm while in the shower.

6. Keep the humidity high

humidifier apartment heatinghumidifier apartment heating

Every winter, it’s almost like someone sucked all humidity out of your apartment, and your skin starts to dry up. Dry air can affect both you and your plants around the home. Pick up a humidifier for your bedroom and the living room as higher humidity helps keep the apartment feeling warm. It’s a win-win for your skin and your heating bill.

7. Close doors to unused rooms

closing doorclosing door

Your apartment heating unit will attempt to warm up every nook and cranny in your home. But why is the laundry room getting warm if you’re not there? As soon as the temperature shifts outside, get in the habit of closing doors for unused rooms.

Close the doors to the bathroom, the closets, the guest room and the laundry room to allow the heating unit to concentrate on heating your living spaces and the bedroom. If possible, close the vents in there. It’s a simple trick that’s often overlooked but works like a charm.

8. Warm up (carefully!) with a small space heater

space heater apartment heatingspace heater apartment heating

First, a disclaimer. Space heaters can be hazardous if not used correctly. Before purchasing one, check with your landlord to make sure they allow them. The leading factor that puts you in danger is leaving them too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing or mattresses, according to the NFPA.

Never leave your small heater unattended, don’t plug it into an extension cord, make sure that it’s kept a safe distance away from flammables and only use them in walled-in rooms like your bedroom and turn it off before going to sleep.

9. Consider thermal curtains for your windows

curtainscurtains

Energy-efficient thermal curtains can quickly help heat up your apartment as they have layers that act as insulation and keep heat in and cold out. In some instances, according to Energy.gov, heat loss can be reduced by 40 percent or more with thermal curtains, that’s about 20 percent in energy savings. In the summer, they’ll keep your apartment cool as well.

These curtains are available as a set of two panels for one window, hovering around $30-$40 each.

10. Use your ceiling fan

apartment heatingapartment heating

You would think a fan would be counterproductive in keeping your space warm, but that’s actually far from the truth. The better the circulation and airflow, the more energy-efficient your home will be.

Having your fan spinning clockwise on the lowest setting will trap heat inside to keep rooms in your apartment warmer, making a world of difference!

Let’s winterize your apartment

Every single of these tips will help reduce your apartment heating bill over the next few cold months and keep your wallet happy. If a window or a patio door isn’t closing correctly, have the landlord fix it as soon as possible.

Start small and then increase measures as you see results month over month. Those pennies will add up. You’ll stay cozy through the winter and have some fun money once the weather warms up.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Why You Should Live in Your Home Until It Sells

Last updated on October 23rd, 2019

A new study from Redfin proved what we probably all assumed was the case; vacant homes sell for less than those filled with stuff.

There’s something slightly unappetizing about a vacant home, whether it’s the emptiness of it all, or the desperation knowing someone is losing money each month it sits on the market.

Homes are also simply more exposed when there aren’t area rugs, couches, tables, and beds covering up minor (or major) defects.

Vacant Homes Sell for Less and Take Longer to Sell

  • Empty homes sold for 3.6% less than occupied ones in 2018
  • That’s about $11,000 less on average
  • They also took an extra six days to sell
  • So you may want to stick around (or at least make it appear that way)

As suspected, vacant homes often sit on the market longer than their occupied counterparts and fetch lower prices.

On average, such properties spent an additional six days on the market and went for $11,306 less when they finally did sell.

This is according to a survey of homes listed and sold in 2018, conducted by real estate brokerage (and mortgage lender and iBuyer) Redfin.

The biggest discounts were seen in Omaha, Nebraska and Greenville, South Carolina, where vacant properties sold for 7.2% less than occupied homes on average, a haircut of about $15,000.

Similar discounts were seen in El Paso, Texas, where the average vacant home sold for 6.6% less, or roughly $10,000, compared with occupied homes.

Discounts were smaller in more in-demand metros, including San Jose (just 0.9% less), Las Vegas (-1.5%), and Orange County (-2.3%).

[Why You Should Buy a Home Next to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods]

How Many Homes Sales Are Vacant Properties?

  • Over a third of home sales in 2018 were vacant properties
  • But share of unoccupied homes varied widely by region
  • 67% of sold homes in El Paso, TX were unoccupied
  • While just 13% were empty in Kansas City, MO

Interestingly, Redfin found that 35.5% of all properties that sold in 2018 were empty at the time of sale.

That’s a lot more than I expected it to be. The share must have been really high during the housing crisis a few years back.

But this varied tremendously from one metro to the next.

For example, 67% of homes in El Paso, Texas were empty when they were listed for sale, whereas only 13% of Kansas City, Missouri homes were unoccupied.

There were a lot of empty homes in Arizona too, with both Tucson (54%) and Phoenix (50%) having large shares of vacant home sales.

Similar numbers were seen in Austin, TX (52%), Tacoma, WA (51%), and Las Vegas, NV (49%).

Meanwhile, empty homes were more of a rarity in Fort Lauderdale, FL (14%), Hampton Roads, VA (17%), and Greenville, SC (20%).

[Homes Next to Starbucks Are Worth More]

Make the Home Look Lived In, But Have Good Taste

  • Not all occupied homes are created equal
  • A poorly decorated home could actually hurt its chances
  • Expect to do some cleaning/renovating/staging if you sell your home
  • Many real estate agents now provide some of these services

While vacant homes mostly sold for less than the occupied ones, results may vary based on how the house itself looks and how it’s decorated.

Redfin agent Billie Jean Hemerson notes that a home seller’s furnishings can have a big impact on sale price.

If the home isn’t empty, but all the furniture looks like it’s from 1980 (in a bad way), or there’s lots of clutter, it’s probably going to do more harm than good.

Conversely, if the home seller has good taste that fits with what today’s home buyer is looking for, it could result in a price increase and perhaps a bidding war.

So just having an occupied home isn’t enough. There’s a good chance you’ll need to put some work into it if and when you list.

Fortunately, many real estate agents these days include some level of home staging in their listing package.

And Redfin themselves offer a so-called “concierge service” for a 2% listing fee (instead of 1%) that includes cleaning, staging, and a custom home improvement plan.

The company also recently partnered with a virtual staging company called roOomy to help decorate vacant properties, ideally so they sell for more in a shorter period of time.

Ultimately, when a home buyer checks out your property, they’ll want to get a sense of what it will be like when they live there.

If it’s empty, or poorly decorated, some prospective home buyers may not be able to look beyond that, even if the home itself is just fine.

Of course, if you’re a savvy home buyer with an eye for design, you might be able to snag a discount on a home that needs just a little bit of TLC to get back to its prime.

As a buyer, you should take note of the fact that vacant properties often sell for less, and use it as a negotiating tool.

While the staged homes will undoubtedly look more appealing, there’s a good chance they’ll sell at the higher end of the market.

And all those beautiful furnishings will be gone once it’s time for you to move in…

Read more: 12 home selling tips for 2019

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Fire Prevention Tips

Everyone wants to turn up the heat and stay warm in their apartment during the frigid days of winter, the early mornings of spring or the cold fall evenings. While the toasty heat feels great, it’s essential to stay safe and avoid a fire in your apartment.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, how we heat our living spaces is largely to blame for the many fires that take place each year. In 2018, there were 86,500 fires in apartment buildings alone in the United States.

Heating your small space is a must, but the right safety precautions have to be in place to avoid a potentially life-threatening catastrophe. Below, we outline a room-by-room guide stating the main causes of apartment fires and how you can prevent one from setting your humble abode ablaze. We’ll also talk about landlord and renter rights and responsibilities when it comes to fire safety.

Fire safety guide

Within minutes, a small fire can spread and grow into a deadly fire. But with a few steps, you can protect yourself, your family, your apartment and your belongings.

First, closely inspect your home to eliminate potential hazards.

Then, use these fire prevention tips and strategies to safeguard your home.

family with firefamily with fire

Overall fire safety tips

  • Protect your appliances and your home by using surge protectors
  • Don’t overload circuits or extension cords
  • Check electrical cords for appliances. Cords that are frayed or cracked are potential fire hazards. Unplug the cord immediately and replace it.
  • Don’t run cords underneath rugs or between rooms
  • Never place portable space heaters near flammable materials, such as drapery or bedding
  • Turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed
  • Don’t smoke in bed or leave burning cigarettes unattended
  • Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children
  • Don’t leave candles or incense unattended, and place these items away from drapes, curtains or other flammable materials
  • Don’t store flammable materials, such as gasoline cans or a propane tank, in your apartment

Kitchen safety

Lots of cooking and baking takes place during the cold winter months when the desire for warm, home-cooked meals is at its peak. Don’t deny yourself a hearty feast, just be mindful of how you go about it.

  • Remember to never leave food unattended on a stove
  • Keep potholders and towels away from the cooking area
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting sleeves when cooking
  • Always set a reminder to turn the stove and oven off when you’re finished cooking
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an accidental cooking fire

Laundry room safety

If your laundry room is located in your own apartment, follow these safety guidelines. If your laundry room is a communal space, check with your landlord to ensure proper safety measures are in place.

  • If possible, have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional
  • Avoid using a dryer without a lint filter
  • Clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry, and remove lint that has collected around the drum of your dryer
  • Check to make sure the right plug and outlet are used, and make sure the machine is connected properly
  • If you leave home or go to bed, turn the dryer off

While a fire can start in any room in your apartment, these are the most common areas for household fires to start. By following these guidelines, you’re helping to decrease the chance of starting a fire in your home.

firefighter with firefirefighter with fire

Taking additional safety measures

In addition to practicing safe habits in each room, you’ll want to ensure you have the proper safety precautions in place. These safety measures can help reduce the risk of a fire and keep everyone safe.

1. Install smoke alarms

Make sure there’s a properly functioning smoke alarm installed in your apartment. To be extra cautious, install a smoke alarm outside of each sleeping area. These alarms can be battery-operated or electrically hardwired in your home.

For renters who have hearing problems, use alarms that include flashing strobe lights and vibration. Test smoke alarms once a month, and replace batteries once a year. An easy reminder is to change the batteries when the clocks spring forward.

2. Place heaters strategically

Fire-related home incidents caused by heating mechanisms largely take place during the winter. As long as you’re using extra measures to heat your apartment, you’re at risk. When using a portable space heater, keep these tips in mind.

  • Anything that can melt or burn should be at least three feet away from the heater
  • Never leave these small heaters on all day or night, even when you go to sleep
  • Children and pets should not be allowed in the same area where portable space heaters are in use
  • Follow your space heater’s directions exactly if you’re unsure of its proper operation

3. Be careful with candles

Although they’re not the most effective heating choice, candles are often used to set a soothing atmosphere. They also come in handy when power has been lost. But they’re also known to start fires, particularly when left unattended.

  • Blow out candles before going to sleep and any time you leave your apartment
  • Keep candles at least one foot away from any other objects
  • Always use candle holders and make sure that the surface is flat and away from an edge where it may tip over
  • Never use candles if an oxygen tank is in use
  • Opt for flashlights instead of candles in case of a power outage

4. Plan an escape route

Though your apartment may be prepared, accidents do occur. Plan an escape route, and if you have roommates, plan for a safe place to meet outside. Have at least two escape routes planned in case one is blocked. If you live in a high-rise or on an upper-level floor, consider purchasing an escape ladder in case the stairs and entryways are blocked.

fire escape routefire escape route

Additional fire prevention tips

In general, you should be prepared for a fire emergency at all times. It may not happen in your unit, but it could take place right next door. It’s also smart to know what responsibilities and obligations are on the landlord and the renter. We’ve outlined some general information below:

Know the landlord’s responsibilities

In most cases, the landlord should make sure the rental property is in a habitable condition (fit to live and free from hazards) and provide for the necessary maintenance and repairs. Federal and local laws mention the following landlord responsibilities:

  • Complying with federal, state and local building codes
  • Repairing structural components like the fireplace, chimney, electrical cables and the plumbing system
  • Providing defect-free heating and cooling facilities
  • Promptly responding to repair and maintenance requests
  • Conducting regular fire safety checks

Remember, landlords have the legal duty to adhere to fire safety regulations or risk being penalized by the housing authorities. Knowing the landlord’s safety obligations towards keeping your rented home safe will help protect you from fatal fire accidents.

Know your duties as a renter

Though it’s the landlord’s duty to provide for the tenant’s safety and property maintenance, you’re required to act responsibly when residing in the apartment. The landlord is not responsible for damage caused due to the negligence of you, your family, guests or pets.

If you identify any potential fire hazard, it’s your duty to inform the landlord, enabling them to take timely action. Remember, your landlord can only repair something if they know what’s broken or defective. For instance, though landlords are liable to fit smoke alarms in the apartment, it’s your duty to inspect them on a weekly basis.

The National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) requires smoke alarms to be replaced at least once every 10 years. Be aware of the expiration date of the smoke alarms installed in your apartment and talk to your landlord to get the expired ones replaced. Check for missing or disconnected alarms, dead batteries or low-battery chirps and replace them immediately.

Similarly, fireplaces and chimneys require regular maintenance. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney fires are life-threatening and can severely damage the building structure. Make sure your landlord gets the apartment’s chimney and fireplace cleaned and repaired on a regular basis by hiring a reputed chimney cleaning service provider. Also, installing carbon monoxide detectors is a must for rooms with a wood fire.

Finally, when the landlord sends workers to fix the issue, it’s your duty to be responsive and flexible in allowing access to the maintenance staff.

Report all issues in writing

As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to report damages and defects to the landlord in writing or through email. When requesting repairs or maintenance, it’s a good idea to include a brief summary and an image of the problem.

For instance, if your grievance is about the mounting creosote deposits in your chimney flue, include an image showing this in your email, enabling your landlord to hire a chimney cleaning service immediately.

Further, keep records of all the formal complaints you make in this regard. These include documents, such as photographs of the damage, copies of the letters and emails, receipts of repairs undertaken by you, testimonials from professionals who you have hired for repair services, bills of lodging you had to shift into due to the property being uninhabitable and the apartment’s inventory report.

The above-mentioned details will prove to be useful evidence in case of a court proceeding against your landlord.

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario

Although the Landlord and Tenant Act governs the rental agreements for residential properties, each U.S. state has its own landlord-tenant laws with many of the statutes being similar. All landlords are required to comply with federal and state landlord-tenant laws.

If your landlord refuses to make the necessary home repairs and maintenance for fire safety or the problem violates the state’s building and health codes, contact your local housing authority to learn about your state laws and report the issue.

For instance, if your landlord refuses to install a smoke alarm in the rental property, you can ask the local housing authority to take a look at your apartment’s fire safety. The authority will assess the situation and issue a notice to the landlord to install a smoke alarm. If the landlord fails to fix the problem even after receiving the notice, they’ll be penalized by the authorities. Meanwhile, you can make the necessary repairs and deduct the amount from the rent check.

You can also withhold the rent until the corrective measures are taken. Housing authorities in a few states encourage tenants to transfer the rent to an escrow account that will be released once the landlord undertakes the repair and maintenance.

Lastly, if the problem is preventing you from living comfortably in the apartment, you may move out and cancel the rental agreement. You’ll need to present evidence that the property was uninhabitable due to the landlord’s negligence and you vacated the premises in a reasonable time.

Keeping the community safe

Given the high incidences of home fires in the U.S., tenants and landlords should work hand-in-hand to reduce the risk of fire hazards in rented apartments. If you’re planning to shift into or are already living in a rented property, you should be aware of your safety rights and the landlord’s responsibilities. The information shared in this post will serve as an effective guide towards protecting you from fire accidents in your newly-rented apartment.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Fire Prevention Tips: 14 Ways to Avoid Setting Your Apartment on Fire

Everyone wants to turn up the heat and stay warm in their apartment during the frigid days of winter, the early mornings of spring or the cold fall evenings. While the toasty heat feels great, it’s essential to stay safe and avoid a fire in your apartment.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, how we heat our living spaces is largely to blame for the many fires that take place each year. In 2018, there were 86,500 fires in apartment buildings alone in the United States.

Heating your small space is a must, but the right safety precautions have to be in place to avoid a potentially life-threatening catastrophe. Below, we outline a room-by-room guide stating the main causes of apartment fires and how you can prevent one from setting your humble abode ablaze. We’ll also talk about landlord and renter rights and responsibilities when it comes to fire safety.

Fire safety guide

Within minutes, a small fire can spread and grow into a deadly fire. But with a few steps, you can protect yourself, your family, your apartment and your belongings.

First, closely inspect your home to eliminate potential hazards.

Then, use these fire prevention tips and strategies to safeguard your home.

family with firefamily with fire

Overall fire safety tips

  • Protect your appliances and your home by using surge protectors
  • Don’t overload circuits or extension cords
  • Check electrical cords for appliances. Cords that are frayed or cracked are potential fire hazards. Unplug the cord immediately and replace it.
  • Don’t run cords underneath rugs or between rooms
  • Never place portable space heaters near flammable materials, such as drapery or bedding
  • Turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed
  • Don’t smoke in bed or leave burning cigarettes unattended
  • Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children
  • Don’t leave candles or incense unattended, and place these items away from drapes, curtains or other flammable materials
  • Don’t store flammable materials, such as gasoline cans or a propane tank, in your apartment

Kitchen safety

Lots of cooking and baking takes place during the cold winter months when the desire for warm, home-cooked meals is at its peak. Don’t deny yourself a hearty feast, just be mindful of how you go about it.

  • Remember to never leave food unattended on a stove
  • Keep potholders and towels away from the cooking area
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting sleeves when cooking
  • Always set a reminder to turn the stove and oven off when you’re finished cooking
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an accidental cooking fire

Laundry room safety

If your laundry room is located in your own apartment, follow these safety guidelines. If your laundry room is a communal space, check with your landlord to ensure proper safety measures are in place.

  • If possible, have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional
  • Avoid using a dryer without a lint filter
  • Clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry, and remove lint that has collected around the drum of your dryer
  • Check to make sure the right plug and outlet are used, and make sure the machine is connected properly
  • If you leave home or go to bed, turn the dryer off

While a fire can start in any room in your apartment, these are the most common areas for household fires to start. By following these guidelines, you’re helping to decrease the chance of starting a fire in your home.

firefighter with firefirefighter with fire

Taking additional safety measures

In addition to practicing safe habits in each room, you’ll want to ensure you have the proper safety precautions in place. These safety measures can help reduce the risk of a fire and keep everyone safe.

1. Install smoke alarms

Make sure there’s a properly functioning smoke alarm installed in your apartment. To be extra cautious, install a smoke alarm outside of each sleeping area. These alarms can be battery-operated or electrically hardwired in your home.

For renters who have hearing problems, use alarms that include flashing strobe lights and vibration. Test smoke alarms once a month, and replace batteries once a year. An easy reminder is to change the batteries when the clocks spring forward.

2. Place heaters strategically

Fire-related home incidents caused by heating mechanisms largely take place during the winter. As long as you’re using extra measures to heat your apartment, you’re at risk. When using a portable space heater, keep these tips in mind.

  • Anything that can melt or burn should be at least three feet away from the heater
  • Never leave these small heaters on all day or night, even when you go to sleep
  • Children and pets should not be allowed in the same area where portable space heaters are in use
  • Follow your space heater’s directions exactly if you’re unsure of its proper operation

3. Be careful with candles

Although they’re not the most effective heating choice, candles are often used to set a soothing atmosphere. They also come in handy when power has been lost. But they’re also known to start fires, particularly when left unattended.

  • Blow out candles before going to sleep and any time you leave your apartment
  • Keep candles at least one foot away from any other objects
  • Always use candle holders and make sure that the surface is flat and away from an edge where it may tip over
  • Never use candles if an oxygen tank is in use
  • Opt for flashlights instead of candles in case of a power outage

4. Plan an escape route

Though your apartment may be prepared, accidents do occur. Plan an escape route, and if you have roommates, plan for a safe place to meet outside. Have at least two escape routes planned in case one is blocked. If you live in a high-rise or on an upper-level floor, consider purchasing an escape ladder in case the stairs and entryways are blocked.

fire escape routefire escape route

Additional fire prevention tips

In general, you should be prepared for a fire emergency at all times. It may not happen in your unit, but it could take place right next door. It’s also smart to know what responsibilities and obligations are on the landlord and the renter. We’ve outlined some general information below:

Know the landlord’s responsibilities

In most cases, the landlord should make sure the rental property is in a habitable condition (fit to live and free from hazards) and provide for the necessary maintenance and repairs. Federal and local laws mention the following landlord responsibilities:

  • Complying with federal, state and local building codes
  • Repairing structural components like the fireplace, chimney, electrical cables and the plumbing system
  • Providing defect-free heating and cooling facilities
  • Promptly responding to repair and maintenance requests
  • Conducting regular fire safety checks

Remember, landlords have the legal duty to adhere to fire safety regulations or risk being penalized by the housing authorities. Knowing the landlord’s safety obligations towards keeping your rented home safe will help protect you from fatal fire accidents.

Know your duties as a renter

Though it’s the landlord’s duty to provide for the tenant’s safety and property maintenance, you’re required to act responsibly when residing in the apartment. The landlord is not responsible for damage caused due to the negligence of you, your family, guests or pets.

If you identify any potential fire hazard, it’s your duty to inform the landlord, enabling them to take timely action. Remember, your landlord can only repair something if they know what’s broken or defective. For instance, though landlords are liable to fit smoke alarms in the apartment, it’s your duty to inspect them on a weekly basis.

The National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) requires smoke alarms to be replaced at least once every 10 years. Be aware of the expiration date of the smoke alarms installed in your apartment and talk to your landlord to get the expired ones replaced. Check for missing or disconnected alarms, dead batteries or low-battery chirps and replace them immediately.

Similarly, fireplaces and chimneys require regular maintenance. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney fires are life-threatening and can severely damage the building structure. Make sure your landlord gets the apartment’s chimney and fireplace cleaned and repaired on a regular basis by hiring a reputed chimney cleaning service provider. Also, installing carbon monoxide detectors is a must for rooms with a wood fire.

Finally, when the landlord sends workers to fix the issue, it’s your duty to be responsive and flexible in allowing access to the maintenance staff.

Report all issues in writing

As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to report damages and defects to the landlord in writing or through email. When requesting repairs or maintenance, it’s a good idea to include a brief summary and an image of the problem.

For instance, if your grievance is about the mounting creosote deposits in your chimney flue, include an image showing this in your email, enabling your landlord to hire a chimney cleaning service immediately.

Further, keep records of all the formal complaints you make in this regard. These include documents, such as photographs of the damage, copies of the letters and emails, receipts of repairs undertaken by you, testimonials from professionals who you have hired for repair services, bills of lodging you had to shift into due to the property being uninhabitable and the apartment’s inventory report.

The above-mentioned details will prove to be useful evidence in case of a court proceeding against your landlord.

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario

Although the Landlord and Tenant Act governs the rental agreements for residential properties, each U.S. state has its own landlord-tenant laws with many of the statutes being similar. All landlords are required to comply with federal and state landlord-tenant laws.

If your landlord refuses to make the necessary home repairs and maintenance for fire safety or the problem violates the state’s building and health codes, contact your local housing authority to learn about your state laws and report the issue.

For instance, if your landlord refuses to install a smoke alarm in the rental property, you can ask the local housing authority to take a look at your apartment’s fire safety. The authority will assess the situation and issue a notice to the landlord to install a smoke alarm. If the landlord fails to fix the problem even after receiving the notice, they’ll be penalized by the authorities. Meanwhile, you can make the necessary repairs and deduct the amount from the rent check.

You can also withhold the rent until the corrective measures are taken. Housing authorities in a few states encourage tenants to transfer the rent to an escrow account that will be released once the landlord undertakes the repair and maintenance.

Lastly, if the problem is preventing you from living comfortably in the apartment, you may move out and cancel the rental agreement. You’ll need to present evidence that the property was uninhabitable due to the landlord’s negligence and you vacated the premises in a reasonable time.

Keeping the community safe

Given the high incidences of home fires in the U.S., tenants and landlords should work hand-in-hand to reduce the risk of fire hazards in rented apartments. If you’re planning to shift into or are already living in a rented property, you should be aware of your safety rights and the landlord’s responsibilities. The information shared in this post will serve as an effective guide towards protecting you from fire accidents in your newly-rented apartment.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

What To Do If Your Apartment is Too Cold

The winter can be grueling in many places in the U.S. Unless you’re living in sunny California, having heat in your apartment is vital to get through the winter. Old houses and apartments may have issues that won’t keep the heat inside your place.

There could be several different things making your apartment cold. Some may be quick fixes that your landlord can take care of, but you may need to get creative with ways to keep your apartment warm this winter.

Here are seven things to do if your apartment is too cold.

1. Insulate windows

A common way apartments get cold in the winter is drafty windows. They can make for an expensive heat bill. You turn up the heat, the heat escapes, so you turn it up even more. The cycle continues and your apartment never stays cold.

You can break the cycle by making sure that your windows are properly sealed and insulated. One option is to purchase a window insulator kit, which are inexpensive and easy to install.

You can also buy a draft blocker, which is stuffed fabric that stops the cold from seeping in windows and doors. Additionally, you should keep drapes and blinds closed, except when the sunlight is directly shining through your windows.

2. Check your radiator

If your radiator is making a “hiss” sound, that’s a sign it’s broken. It’s likely you’re hearing air escaping from the pipes. You want to be sure your radiator is tilted back slightly toward the pipe it’s connected to.

If this is broken, you should contact your landlord immediately to replace it. It’s a quick and easy fix, but as a renter, you shouldn’t have to worry about replacing it yourself.

3. Focus the heat

If your apartment is cold, try to focus the heat in the room that you’re in. At night, you should try to trap heat in your bedroom and throughout the day, in whatever room you’re in. This saves energy and keeps you warm. Try closing the vent in spaces you aren’t using, so the heat goes into the rooms you’re in often.

4. Dress warm

This may be obvious, but you should keep yourself bundled when your apartment is cold. Break out your favorite sweatpants, sweaters and socks. Keeping yourself warm will also save money and energy since you won’t need your space to be as toasty.

5. Cover cold surfaces

Hardwood floors are wonderful for many reasons, but keeping you warm isn’t one of them. Rugs and carpets can help to trap heat. Rugs double as great decor, so find one you love that will keep you warm and tie your room together.

If you aren’t interested in investing in a rug, you can also use towels or blankets to cover the floor when it’s especially cold.

6. Keep your fan on

Having the fan on may seem counterintuitive, but it actually helps to keep your apartment warm. Reversing the direction of the fan can help to bring the warmer air down to where you’re cuddling up on your couch.

7. Electric space heaters

Space heaters aren’t exactly energy or cost efficient, but they’re helpful in a last-resort situation. If you absolutely cannot get your apartment warm enough, investing in a space heater can help.

You can move it to any room you’re using and it will surely keep you warm. They also have potential to be hazardous. Remember to never leave a space heater unattended and to turn it off before leaving a room or going to sleep.

Photo by Talgat Baizrahmanov on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Does Renters Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

You bought renters insurance to protect you against life’s what-ifs. So if you wake up with a row of small bites, you might be wondering: Does renters insurance cover bed bugs?

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
  • Zero hassle, zero paperwork

Bad news. In most cases, you can’t get renters insurance to cover bed bugs. You’ll be on the hook for paying for extermination or the other treatment of your choice — provided you can’t prove your landlord is responsible for the situation. 

(This doesn’t mean you should drop your renters policy. It still covers you against a whole bunch of risks.) 

Long story short, renters insurance bed bugs coverage is pretty much nonexistent. Let’s find out why.

[ Read: Is Renters Insurance Worth it?]

In this article

Does Renters Insurance Cover Bed Bugs? 

No. 

But your renters policy is supposed to protect you against unexpected disasters, so why doesn’t renters insurance cover bed bugs? 

Your renters insurance safeguards you against sudden, unavoidable disasters. Bed bugs disqualify you for coverage in two ways. First, insurers don’t see them as a sudden peril. Secondly, they’re generally seen as avoidable. In fact, most insurers will argue preventing and dealing with bed bugs is a maintenance issue. 

Beyond that, most renters policies — both cheap and pricey renters policies — specifically exclude bed bug coverage. Even all-perils policies usually list bed bugs as a policy exclusion. (The same is generally true for home insurance policies, too.) 

Some companies offer renters insurance bed bugs endorsements, meaning you could add bed bug coverage to your policy. But these endorsements are increasingly hard to find. And as far as insurance policies designed specifically for bed bugs, those are usually reserved for landlords and business owners (e.g., hotel owners). You’ll probably have a pretty hard time finding renters insurance with bed bugs coverage. 

[ Read: The Best Renters Insurance of 2021 ]

Is my landlord supposed to take care of bed bugs? 

Does renters insurance cover bed bugs? No. But does that mean you definitely need to pay out-of-pocket to deal with them? Not necessarily. In some cases, the infestation is your landlord’s responsibility. 

Legal rights as a tenant 

In most states, landlords have to provide their tenants with a safe, habitable living space. If you can prove that the bed bugs are your landlord’s fault — not yours — you have a leg to stand on here.

It’s easiest to lean on your legal rights as a tenant to have your landlord handle the infestation in two cases:

  • You just moved in and found bed bugs. In this case, you can probably prove that the bed bugs were there before you.
  • You live in a multi-unit property and multiple units have bed bugs. If the bed bugs can’t be traced back to you or another tenant at the property, your landlord will have to deal with them. 

Bed bug laws 

In some states, landlords are legally required to get rid of bed bugs at their property. In Arizona, California and other states, for example, a landlord can’t knowingly rent a unit that has bed bugs. In Florida, landlords are explicitly required to exterminate bed bugs any time they show up on their property.

Ultimately, bed bug laws vary from state to state. But that doesn’t mean you have to delve your state’s statutes and codes to find out if your landlord is on the hook. The EPA has a handy, alphabetically organized spreadsheet summarizing all bed bug laws in each state. 

[ Read: How Much Renters Insurance Do I Need?

How do I prevent bed bugs? 

Since you know you’re lacking renters insurance bed bugs coverage, you want to avoid this infestation, for sure. Steering clear of bed bugs comes down to checking items before you bring them into your house. 

After travel

If you travel somewhere you suspect had bed bugs, launder any clothes you’re wearing and shower right away. Then, leave your suitcases outside until you can launder everything in them (on hot) and vacuum them out thoroughly. Make sure you hit any seams with extra care. 

After buying second-hand 

If you thrift for furniture or clothing items, check anything you bring home really well before you bring it inside. 

Tips at home

Additionally, you can do a few things around the house to make it harder for bed bugs to thrive there:

  • Clear out clutter around your bed so these bugs don’t have a place to hide
  • Vacuum regularly around your bed
  • Put your mattress inside a protective cover (bed bugs love hiding in mattress seams)

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
  • Zero hassle, zero paperwork

How do I get rid of bed bugs? 

You have a few options you can explore to nix those pesky pests:

Hire an exterminator

Your best bet for ditching bed bugs is to bring in a pro. Costs to treat your bed bug infestation can vary based on the extent of your infestation and the treatment you choose, but you’re probably looking at somewhere between $500 and $1,500. 

Launder what you can — and seal up what you can’t

Run all your clothes through the laundry on a hot cycle for both the washer and dryer. Do the same with your bedding and literally anything else you can launder, including bedskirts, drapes, towels, rugs and stuffed animals. 

If something can’t go through the wash, double bag it in a trash bag and be prepared to stash it for a while. Bed bugs can live for months without feeding. 

Vacuum, then empty your vacuum carefully

Vacuum the crevices of your mattresses and furniture. Vacuum all of your floors, focusing particularly on the areas around the legs of your bed, too. 

Immediately after finishing vacuuming, take the vacuum outside. Dump the contents into a trash bag and seal it. Place that bag in an outside trash — don’t bring it inside or you risk undoing all of your progress. 

[ Read: How to Buy Cheap Renters Insurance Online ]

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

7 Tips for a Smooth Apartment Move | Apartminty

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Getting ready for an apartment move? This may be a new beginning for you. Finding an apartment that suits your needs for location, space and overall comfort can be difficult, so consider yourself lucky. Preparing for a move can be exciting if you think about it. You’ll set up your new place according to your preference. You’ll discover new adventures and things in your new neighbourhood. Before getting pumped about moving into your new apartment, take some time to check these simple moving tips for a smooth and stress-free move.

1. Give Proper Notice

Before you start feeling all excited about your new adventure in your new apartment, you need to make sure you give proper notice that you are moving out of the old apartment. This may include reviewing your lease agreement. Your lease will outline every necessary step before leaving an apartment. Make sure to check all the required steps to avoid any additional charges for the apartment you no longer live in. You need to start from writing a notice of your move, usually 30 to 60 days, or even 90 days for some. This will alert your landlord and at the same time, you will have a fond farewell with your nice neighbours.

2. Making a Timeline and a Checklist

Planning for a move is never easy so be sure to make a timeline for the tasks you need to do.

You need to prepare at least a month before your move to make sure all activities will be followed in the timeline. This will give you enough time to gather all necessary packing supplies and to pack each item carefully. You also have enough time to do all tasks from cleaning the whole unit to moving out the items to avoid any procrastination that may cause problems, especially during your moving day. 

Making a checklist is a smart way to avoid forgetting important things before your move.

Be sure to include in the checklist the items you have for each room, your cleaning progress, setting up utilities, scheduling a move-out inspection, hiring a trusted removalist and the preparation of your new home.

3. Schedule a Move-out Inspection

Contacting the property manager and scheduling for a move-out inspection before your move is a good idea to avoid any surprises once you received the statement of your security deposit. This way, you will have a chance to ask for any possible repairs required or additional charges that you are not aware of and ask for advice for any particular areas to clean such as toilets, under the kitchen sinks, or in drawers that people usually forget. You will be able to do all required repairs and at the same time, you will receive vacating cleaning guidelines from the property manager to have a smooth and easier apartment move.

4. Make a plan for repairs

Checking your lease document is essential before moving out to avoid any issues or problems. Having a normal wear and tear on the surface and appliances occurs in every apartment. But for any damages that are beyond the normal wear and tear, then you are responsible for paying or making any repairs. You should check the specifications of the condition that you’re required to leave your apartment. This may include painting walls back to their original colours, patching nail holes in the walls, and most especially fixing any other damage the apartment has undergone since you moved in.

5. Deep Clean the Whole Unit

It depends on the agreement you have signed if you need to clean or not. Some leases charge a fixed cleaning fee but if your apartment doesn’t hire cleaners, be ready to deep clean the whole apartment. If you are thinking of leaving behind a piece of furniture or any designer curtains that can be used by the next residents, you need to think twice. Even if it’s tempting to leave these items, particularly couches, rugs or any cleaning supplies, remember that you need to leave the apartment free from any of your belongings.

When it comes to cleaning, remember to work from the top (ceiling fan, windows, walls) to the bottom (floors, baseboards, carpet). This allows dust and dirt to fall to the ground while you are cleaning, so you don’t need to sweep or vacuum multiple times which will consume a lot of your time. Be sure to follow all tasks on the checklist you’ve created before your final moving day.

6. Documentation 

Even your property manager already conducted a move out inspection, documentation of the process and the situation of your current place before moving out is a crucial step for an apartment move. Why? This is because taking pictures will serve as evidence that will prevent you from being charged for the damages created after you move out and avoid any problems and conflicts with the landlord. 

Remember to take photos of each room once all the belongings are out. This will serve as proof that you left the apartment in a good, clear and clean condition by showing all of your hard work to thoroughly clean the space in your photos. Keep the photos until you have already received your security deposit back.

I know you are excited to move in and decorate your new apartment, but make sure to take photos as well or even record a video of the current situation. If you see any damages before moving in, even if it’s okay with you, still you need to report it immediately to the landlord for them to check and do the proper actions needed. This will avoid any conflicts with the new landlord and of course, additional charges for the damages that you didn’t do.

7. Hiring a Trusted Moving Company

When arranging for an upcoming apartment move and needing some help, you have two options. You may recruit family and friends or hire a trusted moving company. Moving with family and friends is like a double-edged sword. It might be less expensive and will help you to have a closer relationship with your family or friends before you move out. But without enough experience and knowledge on the process, this may lead to moving mistakes which may cost more money and worse, injuries to you or anyone helping your move.

On the other hand, hiring a trusted and professional moving company is a smart choice. The move will be executed and handled with care and efficiency by the people who have enough knowledge, experience and equipment. If you have limited time, this will make your move faster and most especially avoid any physical injuries to you and to the people helping you out, giving you a stress-free apartment move. 

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7 Tips for a Smooth Apartment Move
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7 Tips for a Smooth Apartment Move
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Before getting pumped about moving into your new apartment, take some time to check these simple moving tips for a smooth and stress-free move.
Holli Beckman
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Apartminty
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Source: blog.apartminty.com