Monthly Archives: June 2014

Beat the Heat

Depending on where in the country your rental property is, temperatures are now ranging from toasty to sweltering, and all over people are looking for ways to keep cool inside their house, apartment, condo or duplex. Methods vary both in terms of effectiveness and safety for those trying them, so here at the Hometown Rant, we’ve compiled a handy guide to keep you chilling out no matter how hot it gets outside.

The most obvious and simple way to keep cool in the summer is to turn on your air conditioning, but this only works if your rental property has air conditioning. Landlords renting out air-conditioned properties would do well to advertise that, since it’ll become a major selling point in the next few months. Renters of air-conditioned properties should probably turn on the AC now if they haven’t already, at least to make sure that the system is in proper working order. If you have to get someone in for repairs, you’ll want to do it now rather than in a few weeks when the heat is reaching unbearable levels and you’re too sweaty and angry to deal with it.

Keeping the place air conditioned can be expensive, so if you do turn it on, make an effort to keep the cool in. If you have the AC on, you don’t want to open the doors and windows, lest your precious cool air escape into the yard and beyond to be lost forever. People who really want to save money also might consider waiting to crank the AC until the absolute zenith of the summer heat, but until then, you’ll want to employ some other tricks to keep your house or apartment liveable.

Without centralized air conditioning, there are a few options. Window mounted AC units can help quite a bit, and landlords of rental properties that don’t have central AC might consider providing a window unit or two as a selling point. Window units tend to bee less efficient than central AC though, and they’ll run up your electricity bill, especially if you try to cool your whole house with them. If you’re only going to use one or two, put them in the rooms that get the hottest–probably the upstairs in a two-story house. Especially if you’re putting the unit in an upstairs window though, make absolutely sure that you’ve installed it correctly, so you don’t end up like Kramer.

If you aren’t going to use any sort of air conditioning, your best bet for keeping things cool is probably a system of fans positioned in key windows throughout the property. Keeping inside doors open as well can help create an air current that runs through the house and cools everything off. Remember–areas of stagnant air are your enemy, so if you any room seems particularly stuffy, see what you can do to get that air flowing again. Also remember that electronics create a lot of heat, so don’t leave your TV or stereo on longer than you have to, and keep your computer off when you aren’t using it. As a matter of fact, once you finish reading this you should probably shut her down and go play in the sprinkler. Trust us, it’s still fun, even if you aren’t a dog.

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Send it on over: Hometownrant@hometownrent.com

 

The Rental World Cup

The world cup is upon us, drawing people from all across the globe to circle around the closest television set and sit in soccer-induced trances for hours at a time, every once in a while letting out a cry of either elation or outrage. In terms of houses, apartments and condos, this means that the most important room in the house is about to change to whichever one t.v. is in. Luckily, here at the Hometown Rant, we’ve got the guide to help you maximize the futbol-ficiency of your rental property.

Landlords have less to do in this regard than renters, but there still are ways to take advantage of the global phenomenon, as well as to protect yourself from issues surrounding it. If you’re currently trying to rent out a property, figure out which room would be the best for watching sports, and use it as a selling point for potential renters, especially if you see them sporting paraphernalia of their favorite team.

It’s also a good time to make sure that your rental property is equipped to easily receive high speed internet and television, since if it isn’t, now’s the time of year that you’ll probably be hearing complaints. This is mostly an issue in older houses or apartment buildings, so be aware if that’s the type of property you own.

Renters, you’re the ones who’re going to be setting up the space and watching the games there, so you’ll have the most to do. It may sound like a lot of work, but don’t you want to put your heart on the line and bear your soul for your team without all the grizzly old regulars at the sports bar giving you weird looks because the only sport they acknowledge is baseball? Trust us, if you’re going to scream at a television, it should be your television in your house.

Most people these days own some kind of television, but if you don’t, or if you’ve been considering upgrading, now might be the time. In the age of 60+ inch 3D monstrosities, conventionally sized TVs are cheaper than ever, and more than adequate for all your viewing needs. Do you really need to see every pore and bead of sweat on Michael Bradley’s head popping out of the screen at you? Probably not.

If you’re planning on hosting people for the games, you’ll also want to make sure you have adequate seating. Seven layer dips and people sitting on the floor is a recipe for disaster. Trust us. You probably already have some couches, but if you need extra furniture, maybe consider getting some fold-up camping chairs for the friends of friends who’ll invariably show up unannounced.

The last thing you’ll need is either cable or the internet so you can actually get the games at home. Cable is probably the easiest way to go, but check with your Cable provider to make sure you get the proper channels. The other way is streaming via the internet, which can be cheaper, but also sketchier. ESPN provides legitimate streams for people with certain internet packages, and there are also a myriad of websites offering free streams if you can slog your way through the minefield of advertisements. Just remember, if it sound too good to be true, it is. Don’t click on it.

And hey, even if your team is already eliminated, never fear, it’s never too early to start planning your setup for Russia 2018, though you might want to wait a little bit for Qatar 2022.

The Backyarder’s Bible

The last few weeks here at the Hometown Rant, we’ve been talking about various obligations of renters and landlords that come with the advent of the Summer season. This week though, we’re shifting gears to talk about the fun stuff that comes with the hot weather. Contained within are the do’s and don’t for Renters and Landlords alike trying to maximize awesomeness in the piece of your rental property that isn’t indoors.

Renters, If you’ve been following our advice from the beginning, your garden should already have some tasty produce that’s ready to eat, so it’s time to get your grillin’ game on! You can skewer your Zucchini and Peppers and throw them right on grill, or top your burgers with hearty home-grown Kale instead of the crunchy water that passes for lettuce at the grocery store.

Landlords of houses with a yard might even consider providing a basic charcoal grill with the rental to sweeten the pot, and to make sure that if renters do want to grill, they’re using something that won’t burn the house down. Renters, this would be a good point to mention that grilling on a wooden deck is illegal in some states, so make sure you’re abiding by all local laws (and laws of common sense) when cooking outdoors. All this information should be in your lease, by the way, so look there first.

Now that you’re grillin’ hard, you’ll probably want to invite the neighbors over for a good time, but what are they going to sit on? You could drag over that couch that somebody down the street is throwing away, but do you really want to have to get rid of it once it rains a few times and the mildew moves in for good? No, you don’t. Invest in some lawn furniture that won’t begin to decay in a matter of weeks.

Landlords, you might consider doing this before you rent the property out, if only to dissuade tenants from using whatever they can find, eyesore or not. Plasti-rondacks are a cheap, relatively classy solution for your seating needs, though depending on how rural your rental property is and how high the expectations of your guests are, you might even get away with some nice stumps arranged in a circle.

Ideally, there’d be a fire in the center of your stump-circle, but once again renters, check your local legislation and your lease to see if that’s something you’re allowed to do. Most cities require a fire to be in a contained, raised pit, which is another good thing to invest in if you don’t have one already. I know it seems cheaper renters, but don’t just dig a hole and line it with rocks. You’ll only have to fill it in later, and getting the grass to grow there again is going to take longer than you want. Also, be careful of low-hanging trees and drunk friends. Both can cause big problems if they catch on fire.

Finally, don’t forget to have a good time out there! For Property Owners and Landlords, enjoy the yards of your own homes, and make sure that the yards of your rental properties are enjoyable too–it’s the part of the house that’ll make the first impression, and it should be a large factor in renters picking your property over all the other ones out there. For renters, sometimes maintaining a property can seem like a lot of work, and we forget to sit back and enjoy the space that we live in, but nothing beats a great backyard for taking a load off.

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Hit us up: Hometownrant@hometownrent.com

 

The Inspection Connection

It’s getting to be that time of year again. Summer is here and all across the land renters and landlords are deciding whether or not to renew their leases. Part of this process usually includes a property inspection, which can be stressful for both parties if it isn’t handled properly on either end. Luckily, the Hometown Rant is here to help you make sure that the inspection goes smoothly so landlords can keep their properties filled with renters who want to be there, thus maintaining the great circle of rental life.

The purpose of an inspection is theoretically beneficial for everybody–it provides an opportunity for the property owner to address any issues the renters might have with the property, be it a faulty appliance or a leaky foundation, and to make sure that the renters are holding up their end of the lease. There are a multitude of ways that it can go wrong however, and we’ve identified a few of the common ones below so you don’t fall into the same classic traps.

Most leases include a clause that states something to the effect of landlords must provide written in advance of a property inspection. Landlords and property owners: you chose to put that clause in there, so respect it. It exists to maintain the renter’s privacy, and to make sure the place is easily inspectable when you do stop by. Plus who knows, they might be an aficionado of reading shakespeare aloud in the nude, and if you barged in on that it could get weird.

If you’ve picked good tenants, they shouldn’t really have anything to hide, but they probably want to at least pick up the dirty clothes on the floor and do the dishes before you come over. We all let things get a little messy sometimes, but nobody likes it when their mess is exposed to the world. Renters, if you didn’t get the hint, clean the house or apartment before your landlord comes over. And before anyone comes over for that matter. Jeez, where are your manners. If you’ve been putting off your spring cleaning, stop. It’s now Summer. I’m sure you could think of a whole list of stuff you’ve been meaning to do around the house, and there’s no time like the present. Get off the internet and get it done!

Once a problem with the property has been identified, the issue becomes whose responsibility it is to deal with it. This information should be outlined in the lease, but sometimes there can be disputes about when an issue arose or whose was at fault in the first place. This is why it’s important for renters to keep on top of maintenance requests, and to have photos documenting the condition of the house or apartment when you moved in. Thanks captain hindsight! And always remember: Read your lease. Know your lease. If you abide by it, it will save you.

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Get at us: Hometownrant@hometownrent.com

The Subletter Letters

Summer is always a complicated time for everyone in the world of renting. People are moving out, moving in, going on vacation or just buckling down to make some extra cash at a Summer job. Often renters are looking to either find or fill some space just for a few months, and the most common way to do that is to sublet a room in the house, apartment or loft. However, if not done right, subletting can be a nightmare for renters and landlords alike, so this week on the Hometown Rant, we’re learnin’ you all on how to fill your extra space without causing you extra headaches.

So what exactly is a sublet, or sublease? For those of you who don’t know, it’s an arrangement whereby the original tenant on the lease allows a third party to lease the space from them, assuming all or a part of the financial responsibility of the first tenant. In other words, it’s when you let your friend stay in your room and pay rent while you’re back home for the summer. Lawdepot.com has a good FAQ for anyone still confused, but you shouldn’t be. The concept itself is pretty basic. The problems almost always come in with the implementation.

As a landlord, you should decide before you even find original tenants if you’re open to the idea of letting them sublet your rental property. Allowing tenants to sublet a room in the house or apartment will make your property more attractive, but it’ll also require a little more oversight from you, since in doing so you’re trusting your renters judgement about who to let stay on your property. That being said, the original tenant is still responsible for fulfilling their terms on the lease regardless of what the subletter does or doesn’t do, so if you’ve written your original lease properly, you’ll still have someone legally liable for the damage or the unpaid rent.

The people who really have to be careful subletting are the renters who are taking on the responsibility of becoming a sub-landlord themselves. When you let someone else take over your lease, you have to trust them to be able to hold up their end of it, since your name and money are still going to be on the line. Subleases are a great way to find out who your real friends are when they go sour, which is why you always want to draw up a contract have your subletter actually sign a sublease, even if you think they’re your best friend.

If they actually intend to follow through then they shouldn’t have a problem signing, and if they don’t want to, they’re probably actually a sketchball trying to put one over on you. Sorry if we forced the realization upon you, but trust us, it’s better you find out now than after they leave questionable stains on your mattress and let their junkie friends pawn off your furniture for drug money, then disappear without paying you thousands of dollars they owe. Hopefully you’re a better judge of character than that, but people can be deceptive. Make sure you have it in writing that they’ve agreed to pay you so you’ll have a leg to stand on if you do end up in court.

As a subletter, understand that whoever you’re subletting from has put their name on the line so you can have a roof over your head, and respect the house, apartment, loft or condo twice as much as you would normally. There’s a special place in renter hell for people who abuse the sacred trust of the sublease, and it’s not a place you want to be.

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Holla at ya boys: Hometownrant@hometownrent.com