Monthly Archives: August 2014

Feng Shui: Is it Feng Shuinal?

Hey there all you renters, landlords and property owners out there! If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered now and again about feng shui. What is it? Where does it come from? Can it improve your house, apartment, condo, duplex or tree dwelling? Lucky for you, the Hometown Rant has sifted through the clutter to find the inner qi, and with it are the answers you’ve been searching for this whole time. They lie within.

Let’s start with the basics. A quick trip to wikipedia will tell you that feng shui is a philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment. Sounds like a noble goal right? We think so. But how can you harness your renter or landlord qi and channel it through your rental property for maximum benefits.

Originally, feng shui was all about orienting human dwellings according to astronomical observations, and later it also came to include compass directions, aligning structures in relation to the earth’s magnetic field. In 1951, professor Max Knoll suggested that qi, the central life force according to feng-shui, is actually solar radiation, and that the levels of qi fluctuate according to space weather. Whoa.

If you’re not sure how all that relates to you and your rental property, don’t worry. We don’t know either. Feng shui’s transformation from ancient chinese art to headey pseudo-scientific discipline to kitschey hipster home decorating mantra is one that could only have taken place across centuries, like a metaphysical game of telephone. If it’s stuck around this long though, it must be that some of the principles have some merit to them. Most human structures are oriented loosely based on the magnetic compass–in most cities, terrain permitted, roads run north-south and east-west.

You may have noticed this already, but if not, figure out which side of your rental property faces east. The sun will shine in the eastern-facing windows in the morning, so that might be a good room for an early riser. If you’re a property owner or landlord looking to add a porch to your house or cottage, you might consider putting it on the western side so your tenants can watch the sunset.

Fengshui.com has a whole list of further reading about how to make your home positionally feng shuisionally sensational for you to peruse, but again, some principles are more useful than others.

Things like reducing clutter in your home or apartment are great suggestions–embrace your inner ascetic and throw out all that old junk mail and that weird painting you got at the thrift store. Other things, like placing wooden feng shui elements in the eastern area of your house to improve your health, may not be as useful as actually going to the doctor and getting that rash checked out. In fact, yeah, you should go do that.

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

The Water Closet Chronicles

Hey all you renters, landlords and property owners. This week on the Hometown Rant, we’re talking bathrooms. You know, the head, the john, the sh*tter, the ol’ W.C. There’s a reason it’s the room with the most nicknames–it’s the most important part of the house that nobody wants to talk about. Here at the Rant though, we’re rolling up our sleeves, plugging our noses, and going in.

From a landlord’s perspective, the bathroom should be the room in the house, apartment or condo that gets the most attention after the kitchen, which if you think about it is pretty appropriate. This is because like the kitchen, the bathroom contains plumbing, which is pretty much the dividing line between man and nature. If the plumbing is out, people might as well rent a yurt or wigwam with a scenic view. You’ll want to make sure that everything in the bathroom is working properly before renting out the house, and if tenants have any problems, get them fixed asap. If you thought regular water damage was bad, you should smell sewer water damage. Ugh.

On the flipside, potential renters looking at properties should make sure to inspect the bathroom before making a decision. Sit on the toilet awhile, and see if you can picture yourself living there long-term. Stand in the shower and check out the acoustics. We recommend James Brown or Luciano Pavarotti. Or how about both?

There’s also a reason that rental properties are listed by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Even if you’re cool with your buddy Steve renting the crawlspace, do you really want to share a bathroom with him and 4 other dudes every morning? Number of bathrooms is a seriously limiting factor in the number of people that can occupy a house, apartment or condo, so plan accordingly.

On another note, the bathroom is one of the places where there may be evidence of past tenants who didn’t take very good care of the property. Take an extra good look around the bath and under the toilet and make sure that you’re not being held responsible for the last people’s disgusting bathroom mess before signing anything.

It works both ways too. As a tenant, make sure your bathroom is kept clean and tidy, because it gets gross fast. People showering and shaving and doing their business naturally creates bodily messes that need to be cleaned quickly or they’ll start festering. And nobody wants a festering bathroom. Your roommates will detest you for making them clean up after your messes, and your guests will judge you mercilessly if they have to stare at hair bits and pee dribbles all over the sink and toilet, hopefully respectively. Don’t be those tenants. Respect your water closet and it will respect you!

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

Civil Unrest and You: A Renter’s Guide

Hey Renters, Ranters, Landlords and Property Owners. These are turbulent times we live in. One has to look no further than the front page of any newspaper to see that all across the globe, conflicts are raging and people are leaving their houses, apartments, condos and duplexes, and taking to the streets. Some of these protests and demonstrations are peaceful, while others can turn into full-scale riots. Luckily, the Hometown Rant has the guide to helping you protect yourself and your rental property during all demonstrations, riots and uprisings.

The first question you should ask yourself when facing potential cases of civil unrest is, what is the cause that’s being supported or protested? If you’re appropriately for or against said cause, you may want to consider joining the movement. Civil disobedience is one of the most powerful aspects of the democratic system, and exercising your rights is your obligation as a good citizen. There’s a difference between peacefully protesting police shootings, and trying to loot yourself a new pair of running shoes during the confusion. Don’t be the latter. Those people are the reason the cops carry guns in the first place.

As a renter, If you do plan on taking to the streets in a peaceful and organized manner, you’re going to want to make sure that your house, apartment or condo is locked and the lights are off, so as not to attract any unwanted attention. If your rental property is situated within the area of unrest, you may want to leave a note on your door or a sign in your yard so that fellow protesters know that you’re one of them. Don’t leave any valuables in your car, and if your local team has just won the world series, don’t park your car on the street at all.

If you don’t agree with the cause, or things are getting too crazy, you probably don’t want to leave the house, apartment or condo at all, but you still should probably lock your doors and turn your lights off anyways. Or you could make sandwiches and offer them to anyone who breaks in, simultaneously catching them completely off guard and hopefully restoring their faith in basic human morality. If that doesn’t work, you might have to give up your flatscreen.

As a landlord or property owner, keep your eye on the news for any mentions of civil unrest near a rental property that you own or manage, and let your tenants know if any marches or demonstrations are being held in the vicinity of the property, though they will probably already be aware. If things turn nasty though, be prepared for possible damage to your rental property inflicted by unruly civilians, over which the tenants may have no control. While unfortunate in the short-term as property costs take a dip, if you can invest prudently you might be able to snatch up a few more rental properties while the market price is low. It may seem a bit shrewd, but trust us, it’s the American way.

Whoever you are and whatever you decide to do when civil unrest comes knocking at the door of your rental property, make sure that you stay safe and compassionate in protecting yourself and others, your property, and the values that you hold true.

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

Moving on Out

Hey all you tenants, landlords and property owners. We’re coming up on the cusp of decision season this time of year, when all across the land people are deciding whether or not to renew their lease, or to continue renting to a particular set of tenants. If you’re happy where you’re at, great for you! This post isn’t so much for you guys, but read it anyways and squirrel the information away for when it’s your turn. For the rest of you who’re thinking of breaking it off to go out in search of a new house, apartment, condo or duplex,  or a new set of tenants, don’t worry. Hometown Rant has the guide to make your move smooth.

If you’re a renter moving out of a house or apartment, hopefully you’ve still got a few weeks to get your affairs in order, because that’s our biggest piece of advice. Trust us, you have a lot more stuff than you think you do. You’ll need time to figure out where it’s all going to go. We should also point out that this is a good time in your life to have friends with places for you and/or your stuff.

Ideally you’d have a new rental property ready to move into as you move out of your old house or apartment, but the nature of finding places and signing leases tends to mean that you might have a waiting period before you can move in. If you don’t have a convenient place to go, you could contact your current landlord about extending your lease for a week or two (and perhaps paying a little extra) which could be a win/win for both of you. Just make sure that you ask with enough time to make backup plans if your landlord can’t accommodate you.

After you’ve figured out what to do with all your stuff, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and do some cleaning if you ever want to see your security deposit again. Check your lease to figure out what exactly your landlord expects from you, and ask them if you have any confusion. Standard fare includes cleaning appliances, carpets, windows, etc, so even if you keep your house, apartment or condo neat, you’ll probably have to get a few things that you don’t normally touch. Refrigerator splash pans anyone?

On the other hand, all landlords and property owners: make sure you’re moving out guidelines are clear, and perhaps even make up a checklist to send to tenants so that they know what you expect from them. The condition of rental properties moving out and subsequent deductions from the security deposit are one of the most common causes of conflict between renters and landlords, so you want to do everything you can to make sure that everyone is on the same page beforehand.

Refer to our archive if you need more advice about cleaning or finding a new place to live or new tenants, and check the local postings on hometownrent.com to help get you into the dwelling of your dreams!

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