Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Rant’s Guide to Audiophilia

Hey there all you renters, landlords, property owners and managers. Bob Marley once said that one good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain, but sometimes when you’re a fan of metal and your neighbor is an old lady who likes swing and big band, Bob might be wrong. This week we’re talking music and renting, how to be a responsible audiophile.

As a landlord, property owner or manager, be familiar with the sonic qualities of the property in question. The main factors here are thickness of walls, and proximity of neighbors. If you’re renting out a little cabin in the middle of the woods, you probably don’t have to worry about your tenants disturbing anybody. If you’re renting out an apartment in the city, you might want to notify the applicant who lists his occupation as EDM DJ that it might be a problem if he’s practicing his dubstep drops late into the night.

As a tenant, you want to weigh your options when deciding on a property. If you’re a vinyl collector who likes to stay up late, you might not be able to fit you and all your records in a tiny studio apartment next to people who have to work early in the morning. If you’re a college kid that likes to throw parties on the weekends, you probably shouldn’t rent a house for you and your friends in a neighborhood with a lot of families, or if you do, know that you might be getting visits from the boys in blue, and noise complaint tickets add up quick. Obviously, you won’t always be able to make your choice based on its convenience for listening to the music you like, but it should absolutely be a factor in your decision.

If you’re already in a house, apartment, condo or duplex, there are certain measures you can take to ensure that you’re able to play your music at the volume you so desire, without making your neighbors hate you. The easiest way is probably just to go talk to them. You should be on good enough terms with the people next door that they won’t hesitate to call you and ask you nicely to turn it down if they find it too loud. That being said, if your neighbor asks you to turn it down, do it. They could have just as easily called the cops, and they didn’t out of respect for you. Return that respect, or you probably won’t be shown it in the future.

If you know you’re the kind of person who is going to make a lot of noise, don’t worry! There are steps you can take to minimize your natural tendencies. Wikihow has a good guide that includes a range of steps you can take, some of them more permanent than others. Once you’ve got that set up, check out Crutchfield’s guide to creating a proper listening environment in whatever space you have. Happy Listening!

 

Installations That Will Outlast Even the Worst Renter

Hey there all you renters, landlords, property owners and property managers. This week we’ve got a special guest for you! Our friend and contributer Amanda has recently had her own experience getting a property ready for rent, and she’s back with more solid advice for any owners, property owners or property managers in a similar situation. Peep game:

 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These are words that I live by,  and words which every landlord should too. Preventing damage from occurring in the first place will always be cheaper than attempting to repair it after the fact. Of course, this doesn’t hold true for every item in a rental, so you need to know where to spend your money to get the most value for your investment.

Install the Right Electrical Fixtures

Electrical fixtures, from lights to wall plates, are easily damaged by careless renters. This is not the place to go with upscale, delicate items if you’re renting out. Consider instead tamper-resistant fixtures and materials that can hold up to both intentional and unintentional impact, and can save you from any electrical accidents in the future. Everything from lights to wall plates can be purchased with a “tamper-proof” security device. Go with lights that have metal reinforcement, wall plates that require special tools to remove and install, and switches made out of something other than brittle plastic. Though these items may cost a little more, they are likely to pay for themselves in terms of material and time spent on fixing damaged electrical items.

Windows

Good windows will save money in two ways. First, they lower utility bills. If you include utilities in the cost of your rental, which can make the property all the more appealing, then you want to save every penny you can and go with energy efficient styles. More important than utilities, however, is durability. While some windows will crack if you look at them wrong, others are tested to withstand the direct impact of a 2×4 traveling at 30 miles per hour. It would be hard for all but the most determined tenant to break the latter window. Given that a single window can cost upwards of $400, before installation, you want to avoid having to replace them at all costs. According to Nationwide Window, invest in and take proper care of vinyl windows for durability, low maintenance, and efficiency so that you don’t have to think about them again… ever.

Drywall

Drywall is probably the most frequently damaged item in any apartment. Sometimes it is damaged by accident and sometimes it gets damaged on purpose by a disgruntled renter. You can use the cheapest drywall on the market if you think that drywall will be damaged no matter how much you invest, so you might as well spend as little as possible and expect to do extensive repairs. This means that drywall repair is perennially on your to-do list, which can sap energy from other projects. Or you can go with the drywall philosophy that argues that wall materials can be made to withstand more than most people think if invested in properly. For instance, 5/8″ drywall will hold up a whole lot better than ½” or ¼” drywall. If you really want a durable covering, go with plaster, which is as hard as a rock when done right and easier to patch if it does get damaged. It also has more finished appeal, that could attract a better clientele. At the very least, plaster should stand up to dozens of tenants for decades, with little more than a fresh coat of paint now and again.

The Nitty-Gritty

When renting a unit, the first thing you need to think about is protecting your investment. Remember that not all damage is the result of intentional acts. In fact, most damage results from simple daily use. Floors, for instance, are a high-traffic item that can wear out quickly. Remember, there are two types of homes – shoes on or shoes off. Obviously carpeting shouldn’t be avoided if at all possible. Consider that solid products are much more durable than laminates and the cheaper items almost never hold up. Laminates may be cheap to install and look good for a few years, but they will quickly deteriorate, especially if your tenant doesn’t keep them clean. Cheap floor coverings generally won’t last through one tenant, let alone dozens. You don’t have to install the most expensive items on the market, but you should be willing to pay more for durability when it can mean a difference to your bottom line over the years. Simply put, rentals may seem like a place where going cheap makes sense, but going cheap means putting in a lot more ongoing maintenance rather than sitting back and letting your investment pay for itself. Spend upfront to avoid spending more down the line. Don’t forget that the cost of materials and maintenance goes up over time as well, so doing things right the first time around is almost always your best bet.

 

Thanks Amanda! Solid advice! Good luck with your rental remodel, though it sounds like you’re making sure you won’t need it. Let us know how everything goes!

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

 

Security in the Digital Age: A Hometown Rant Guide

Hey there all you renters, landlords, property owners and managers! We’re back! Did you miss us? For the past month or so we’ve been down due to an ongoing brute force attempt to crack our WordPress page, but we remain unintimidated in the face of such aggression, defiant in the face of the digital terrorists.

Since we’ve been the target of malicious internet activity, this week we’re talking about online security to help you keep the network in your house, apartment, condo, duplex or other rental property secure, which will help keep your information safe from all those who would seek to steal it.

As a landlord or property owner, chances are you won’t be the one who actually sets up the network, unless you manage an entire apartment complex or other type of property that provides communal WiFi. If you do have such an arrangement, you’ll definitely want to secure the network with a password, and if your building is large enough, you may even want to consider hiring somebody tech savvy to set up a system that allows each unit to have its own password.

As a tenant, chances are it’ll be up to you to get your house, condo, apartment or duplex online, which will entail calling one of the service providers in your area. Some work better in certain places than others, so you might consider doing some research as to who is the most popular/best functioning provider in your area. Service providers usually offer a variety of plans as well, which is something else to consider once you’ve decided who you want to go with. Things to keep in mind when making your choice include the number of people who are going to be living in your house, apartment, condo or duplex, how many of those people you expect to be online at once, and what you all are going to be doing once you get here. If you mostly read articles and look at pictures, you probably don’t need the pro-gamer all-star package that usually costs quite a bit more.

Most providers make it pretty easy to put a password on your network–routers these days often have a setup function that will prompt you to take at least the most basic precautions towards protecting your network, or at least keeping the neighbors from freeloading off your signal.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many online criminals rely less on breaking into systems to acquire information, and more by convincing a legitimate user to give out access information, a practice commonly known as phishing. Never give sensitive information to anybody online unless you’re absolutely sure they are who they say they are, and remember, if a website tells you that you’ve won something, it’s probably a lie.

Seriously though, congratulations! You’re our millionth reader! Send us your rental questions, comments, concerns, love letters and hate mail to claim your free prize!