This is the time of the year that most people travel home if they have not stayed local. People flock in droves to the highways, bus stops, train stations, and airports to get to see those they love during this time of the year. Unfortunately, this means that millions of apartments and homes are left vacant for extended periods of time during a season where criminal activity is at an all-time high. There are a few things that you can do to make sure that your home is kept safe during your long holiday travels and we hope that these help to ensure that safety. First, make sure that everything is locked up as tightly as possible. Leaving your door unlocked may seem silly, but you cannot forget things like windows even if they are on the second floor. While most criminals don't carry their own ladders around, some can find items that may allow them access to areas that you may not have thought accessible. Even if there is a screen down and the window is locked, you never know if your routine has been monitored to see if you have a habit of leaving anything unlocked. Don't leave this to chance. It is always a good idea to keep any curtains or blinds closed as well while you are gone. If someone could look into your apartment and see if you are home or not, they can also see if you have something they would want to take. Having a light on a timer switch is always a good idea as well, since it gives the appearance from the outside that someone is home even if you are thousands of miles away. We also suggest that if at all possible, you have a neighbor look after your place while you are gone. Even just a glance out the window every morning may be enough to alert someone to anything suspicious. There's no need to keep binoculars trained on your door, but a cautious eye can go quite a long way. Having someone keep an eye out for your house and belongings while you're gone can help you to sleep better while you are out of the area. You never know when someone may be planning to force their way into your home while you're gone.
If you have ever lived in an older home in the winter, you probably remember having to leave your cabinet doors open on particularly cold nights to make sure that the pipes didn't freeze and burst. While the likelihood of this happening in apartment complexes and similar buildings is small, it is still possible. This is especially true of any pipes that run either under the building or along the outside walls. Obviously if you rent out older houses, this is something that you may want to alert your residents to as well in case they have never experienced this before. Pipes, even those with hot water going through them, can freeze during the winter. I can remember one winter I was living with my grandfather and part of one of the pipes that ran to the sewer froze. I swear I still have nightmares about that smell. One of the main concerns, however, isn't sewer pipes but pipes with no easy shut off. If these pipes freeze they can leak or even burst and still have water running through them. Having been hit in the face by water coming out of a burst pipe, I can tell you that is not a fun thing to experience. Thankfully it was warm inside when it happened to me, but it still was pretty miserable. You want to do all you can to make sure that this doesn't happen to you. Having pipes burst is also an expensive repair. It always seems to happen at the worst possible time as well, so the plumber can change even more than their usual rates. If you have seen a standard plumbing bill you know how bad it normally is and you certainly never want it to be higher than it needs to be. Keeping your heat on and cabinets open for free air flow is one of the best ways to help keep your pipes from freezing. You can also place space heaters in front of pipes that you are especially concerned about. Just be sure that you take the proper fire precautions if you are going to leave one overnight. You certainly don't want to over correct the issue and end up with a different one!
Unfortunately, no amount of screening will prevent every issue you may find with residents. Sometimes the people that we allow to move in are just horrible humans and they cause nothing but problems. While we don't really like to talk about them or speak ill of others, there are times where it is unavoidable. While those of us here at Talley hope that you never have to deal with one of these people, the balance of probability is that you most likely will. So what can you do when these people find their way into your rental property? 1. Issue A Warning. It may be a cliché, but you really do need to get everything in writing. If you have a resident who is causing some kind of issue, the first thing you should do is write either a letter or text or email and ask them to stop the problematic behavior. This may seem excessive, and you may simply want to talk to them about it the first couple of times, but if the problem persists, make sure that you have proof that you have sent them a written notice regarding the issue. 2. Restrict Benefits. As a rental property owner, you may be able to restrict the benefits that your resident can access. If your property has a pool or fitness center, you may be able to prevent them from using these amenities until the problem stops. Some apartment complexes will revoke parking privileges until the issue is resolved. It all depends upon what you are willing and able to do. 3. Evict. While this is naturally a last case scenario result, it is something that does happen occasionally. Eviction is costly and stressful for everyone involved but at times there may not be another option open to you. It is an extreme resolution, but depending upon the issue that the resident is causing, you may not have another choice. No one wants to think about getting a problematic resident, but it does happen to just about everyone. You want to know what your options are and what is available to you. While here at Talley we want everyone to be able to get what they need out of a rental agreement, there are some times where things just cannot be reconciled. Hopefully this won't happen to you anytime soon.
If you are an owner and landlord to an apartment complex, you have a lot that you worry about. You worry about people paying rent on time, about people sticking to a pet policy or a visitor policy or maybe even a noise ordinance that you have in place for the complex. You also likely worry about the safety of the complex itself. This is arguably the most important thing to worry about. You need to make sure that the building stays safe. You need to make sure it's up to code, that the wiring is fine, that the sidewalks are even, and any stair railings are securely fastened. If your complex has a pool, you need to worry about those who may be swimming, about hiring a lifeguard if your township requires it, about keeping the water clean, and about dealing with any "accidents" kids may have quickly. It can get exhausting and if you focus on worrying about all of this, it can drive you slowly insane. Unfortunately, the list never seems to get smaller but really that's a good place to start. Make a list of things you need to keep an eye on. Start with the obvious things, like the sidewalks, railings, parking lots, etc. As you think of things, add them in. How are the lights around the complex? Do you have a laundry room, and if so is it clean, bright, and safe? Do you have a plan for winter with the snow and ice? Continue like this until you cannot think of any more. If you have a board for your complex, maybe create a Google Doc so others can add their concerns as well. If you aren't living in the complex, it may be difficult for you to notice the little things that the residents do like a dead tree or a beehive that has started to develop in a back corner. You never know what may pop up, but having a couple of people who are observant help you can go a long way. If you have a complex, you already have enough to worry about. Times like these are when Talley can help you the most. We take care of maintenance calls and many safety concerns. Focus on what you need to and leave the rest to us.
As I'm sure you know by now, there are terrible people in the world. This is simply a sad fact of life. Sometimes these people are horrible on a large scale, while others are content to simply be nasty to a few people for no known reason. While we may never know why people are like this, there are some ways to help you catch those who may be trying to rent from you under false terms. People who claim a rental under false circumstances end up being the downfall to many wonderful landlords. Even the most intelligent can be sucked in by someone who is a good con artist. People who are acting in a criminal nature can be very charming and manipulate others without anyone catching on. While not everyone who acts this way automatically becomes a criminal, there are a few things that should send up a red flag or two. Here are some tips to look out for. 1. Bringing Their Own Credit Report. In today's world, anyone can use a program that edits documents to the point that you may not be able to recognize it as fake. While some people who bring their report in are just trying to be nice and save a little money, it is always good to double check what the companies actually say about them. It's very possible they don't have a good credit history and are trying to hide that.
2. Cash Up Front. While having some cash up front isn't odd, you need to exercise caution and common sense. If your client is offering you six months' rent up front and is ready to move in immediately, you're going to want to check up on them. Most people don't carry that much money around and just because someone has a large lump sum doesn't mean they have a steady cash flow, which is what you should be looking for. Dig deeper into their work if someone gives you an offer like this, no matter how tempting it may be. We want to make sure that you are protected, especially at this time of the year. Always check up on people and make sure that they are who they say they are because you unfortunately just never know what someone is trying to do.
Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, many of us are going to start expecting packages to show up at our doors. The end of November is a common time to buy presents for the coming holidays and many people opt for either online shopping or have to have their items shipped to them due to the high demand of certain things in stores. Personally I am waiting for a total of five packages right now and believe me, I probably look like a kid pressing their face to the candy store window every time the UPS truck goes by. Even though only one of these packages is for me, I want to make sure that I get all of them. The unfortunate thing is that people have a horrible habit of being atrocious humans to each other. This includes stealing packages that are left on doorsteps which is a common practice at this time of the year. While some companies make you sign for boxes that won't fit in your mailbox, others will just leave them outside without even ringing your bell or knocking on your door. It doesn't matter how safe your neighborhood normally is, either. Criminals know that this time of the year is ripe for easy takings and will travel farther to check doorsteps and porches to grab those unattended boxes. If possible, we always suggest that you ask a neighbor who is home during the day to keep an eye on anything that may be delivered. They may even want to bring the package into their home until you arrive and can retrieve it. I know that my upstairs neighbor and I have an agreement that we bring any packages left on the stoop inside the front door to prevent theft. These simple things can help prevent you losing any presents that you meant to give. It is always difficult to make sure that your packages are safe during this time of the year, but keeping an eye on the tracking of your package can help cut down on the possibility of theft. Talk to your neighbors and see if you can help each other out as well. After all, that's what this time of the year is supposed to be all about.
Most places above a certain point in this country will experience at least one snow day during the winter. Where I grew up, we would be lucky if we only saw five or six. Often we would be in school for an extra half month due to the snow preventing the buses from running in our area. Although most work places won't close down as easily as schools do, every now and then you will get those storms which shut almost everything down. Those are the days that most kids dream about but most adults dread. If you have an apartment building or complex, you may be able to help the adults reconnect to their childhoods and enjoy their snow day just as much as the kids do. If you have a snow removal protocol that allows for people to stay on the property, then it is always a good idea to have a few activities planned in a common area so that either the kids in the complex can be taken care of while the adults move their cars or where everyone can have a good time while the snow continues to fall. A crowd favorite is always going to be hot chocolate and marshmallows. Getting these things doesn't have to be expensive and now you can even get hot chocolate with the marshmallows already included. Having a projector screen and a family friendly holiday movie such as The Polar Express or Santa Claus is Coming to Town is also a great idea. This will keep the children occupied and give everyone some time off of worrying about what they can do while snowed in. After all, isn't this starting to sound like a pretty good idea to do by yourself for a day or two? The great thing about this is it doesn't even have to be during an actual snow day. If you want, you can plan this to happen one of the weekends of this month as a community event. Having a place where everyone can get together and have a good time is always something that can be appreciated by your residents. It certainly doesn't hurt to save the idea for a rainy, or snowy, day though.
Every building has a limit to the amount of people that it can hold. This is normally set by a fire marshal, but if you own the building you can set that limit lower if you want. For example, most apartments that have one bedroom have a two person limit. During this time of year, many apartments will see more than two people in an apartment during the day or even for a couple of nights. I don't know a single landlord that would have an issue with this, especially when it comes to people visiting for the holidays. However, how long is too long to be over that set limit? During the holidays, most people travel to see their friends and family. This can involve going thousands of miles to see someone for a few days before going back home. Sometimes, however, they may stay for an extended period of time. This is common if someone is coming from overseas or if there are multiple events that are spread over a comparatively short amount of time. For example, a friend of mine is flying from Scotland where she now lives to Texas so that she can spend Christmas with her daughter. She will then stay with her for another almost two months until her daughter's child is born. Staying that long in a hotel is not only uncomfortable for most, but also extremely expensive. However, is it okay to have a resident of yours have a guest for that long? We cannot answer this question for you as we do not have the special circumstances that are keeping your resident's guest there for an extended period of time. We don't even know if you would necessarily know if this was happening depending on how often you go over to check on your residents. However, it is something to think about. Just how long is too long to have someone staying in your rental property when they aren't on the lease? With the new year starting, it may be something you start to consider if you have a resident with a guest who is "only there until they get on their feet". Each situation is different, but sometimes changes do need to be made.