Monthly Archives: April 2014

Composted Up

A few weeks ago on the hometown rant, we were talking gardens and what to grow in them, but what about what your garden is growing in? Composting isn’t just for hippy tree huggers anymore! Now it’s for everyone who doesn’t want their grandkids to live like this. Tenants and landlords alike can save money while saving the planet, all just by making dirt!

Why compost? Isn’t it just easier to throw everything away? Well maybe, yes, a little bit, but nothing worth doing is easy. If you still need convincing, imagine archaeologists in the future digging up a landfill and cloning you by DNA swabbing the easy-mac you threw out still in the tupperware. Gross. Isn’t it better to turn your waste into fertile soil that won’t leave behind traces of your genetic material for future generations to glean out of the trash. It could happen.

But how do I do it? Some cities now have municipal composting, and if you live in one of them then you’re in luck. Just put your food and yard waste in the bin provided and let them do it! Easy right? If you don’t live in such a city then you can devote your least favorite corner of your yard to be a compost pile and it might become your favorite corner. These guys have a whole bunch of helpful information for you to get started. Keep in mind though that if you’re composting yourself, you have to be more selective about what you use. Also, the amount of material you can compost at once will be limited to the size of your storage area, so you’ll have to pay more attention to the waste you create.

If you live in an apartment, loft, duplex or other type of closer-quarters situation, see if you can’t get your neighbors to compost communally if you have access to some shared outdoor space. A good neighbor will lend you some sugar–a great neighbor will give you all of their rotting veggies so you can turn it into healthy soil.

As a landlord in a city without a composting program, consider equipping your property with the capabilities for home compost. Not only will it make the place more attractive to the easygoing and eco-friendly crowd, it’ll help cut down on garbage bills, which is a plus for everyone involved. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and let it rot!

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Get at us:

Is Your Refrigerator Running?

Seriously though. Is it? Of all the appliances that come with a rental property, the fridge is often taken for granted, but it’s by far the most important, and the one that can cause the most problems if it isn’t properly cared for. Renters have a responsibility to keep it in good shape, and if something does go wrong, landlords or property managers need to fix the problem quickly or risk a literally rotten situation for everybody involved.

So how does a fridge work? Well, it’s actually pretty sneaky. Basically, a chemical (freon in older fridges and tetraflouroethane in newer fridges, if you wanna get technical) is pressurized to its vaporization point, and when it turns into a gas it absorbs heat from the surrounding air, cooling the insulated compartment. This technology was proposed as early as the 1700s, but wasn’t made commercially viable until 1914 and wasn’t widespread in houses and apartments until after World War 2. Before that people had to salt their meat and eat their leftovers later that day, or they’d get all gross. Crazy right?

If you remember anything from the history lesson, it should be that there are scary-sounding chemicals in your fridge that are harmful to you and to the earth as a whole, so act quickly and decisively if you think there’s a leak. The HPA has a good checklist for what to do in the case of refrigerant leakageIt’s a tenants job to keep an eye out, and a landlord’s job to act quickly in fixing the situation before anyone gets hurt.

As a renter, and really anyone who eats food and uses a fridge, it’s also important to make sure your fridge is at the proper temperature. Your fridge should be between 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit and the food in it should be below 40 degrees F, otherwise it’s vulnerable to microbial infections, some of which can even kill you. Be especially careful of your raw meats, poultry in particular, eggs and dairy products.

Even at proper temperature your fridge won’t keep things forever so pay attention to what’s in there and get rid of it when it’s old. Keep a sharpie nearby and put dates on stuff you open so you don’t have to gamble with the old sniff-and-guess. Also, remember to check behind the pickle jar for that takeout box of chinese food that you got three months ago. Trust us, it’s not still good.

You should also unplug and deep clean every couple of months too, and freezers should be de-iced and cleaned at the same time in order to keep everything running properly and to prevent mold and rot. Here’s a way to judge: if you don’t feel comfortable licking the interior of your fridge, that probably means it’s too dirty to store food in. Keep it clean people, and if it’s not then you’d better go out and catch it. Or something.

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Get at us:


This week on the Hometown Rant, we’re talking lingerers. You know–boyfriends, girlfriends, and the occasional space-cadet friend with dreadlocks who’s just passin’ through, man. Entertaining guests at your house, apartment or loft is a normal, healthy way to build relationships, but at a certain point lines must be drawn, or renters and landlords alike are going to have a bad time.

When putting a property up for rent, landlords have a responsibility to rent to the correct (and legal) number of people for the house or apartment. Especially near colleges, it’s common practice to turn that study, garage, or  that Harry Potter closet under the stairs into another bedroom to cheapen rent, but having too many people living in the same house can be problematic and even downright dangerous. Overcrowding a house is often against fire safety codes, and if anything does go wrong, you as the landlord might find yourself liable, even if you don’t think you should be.

Likewise, renters who are trying to cram in a few extra bodies without the knowledge or consent of the property manager should expect trouble. Even if you don’t get caught and evicted, do you really want three hairy dudes living in your closet and hogging the shower every morning when you need to go to work? Even if they’re totally down to chip in for rent, dude, it’s probably not worth the dimebag or hand-blown glass marble they’ll try to pay you with at the end of the month. Find yourself some roommates who don’t list their previous occupation as following Phish around on tour.

When it comes to relationships, things always get sticky. Rental-wise. Jeez, get your mind out of the gutter. Everyone wants to spent the night with their lady/manlyfriend, but once you’re outright living together you should probably be renting together. If you can’t handle that level of commitment then maybe it isn’t meant to be. Otherwise you’ll just alienate the roommates by taking up the only parking space at the apartment and leaving dirty dishes in the sink. One of the dread-y dudes might blame you for totally breaking up the band, dude, but come to think of it, it’s probably time he hit the road anyways.

Ultimately, communication is key. Renters, tell your landlords if you’re having problems with overcrowding at the apartment complex. Landlords, make sure your tenants know how many people it’s safe to have living in their house, and make sure they know that guests are welcome until they don’t act like guests anymore.

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Get at us:

Going Hard in the Garden

Spring is upon us, and at Hometown Rant, that means getting our hands dirty. With like, actual dirt. Growing things is a great way to pass the time, and improving your yard can improve the value of your property and make it more appealing to potential renters, or make you more appealing to that cutie next door. Trust us, people doing yard work look unbelievably sexy.

As a landlord or property owner, take a look at your house and the yard outside. A good place to start might be a few raised beds. They’re usually no more expensive than the wood to build them, and plans are easy to come by. You can fill these with dirt from the rest of the yard, or let renters get their own more fertile soil.

As a renter, it’s probably best to check with your landlord before taking the spade to the lawn, but as long as you come at them with a plan beyond I just wanted to dig, man, they’ll probably be reasonable. Go to your local nursery and see what they recommend for your climate and your growing situation. A good list to start could be:

green beans -  fresh or cooked.

tomatoes – Fresh salsa? Home-grown pasta sauce? What more do I need to say.

peppers - You can go as sweet or spicy as you want. Where are you on the scoville scale?

arugula – the workhorse of the salad that grows like nobody’s business.

basil – get yourself a bit of garlic and some olive oil and you’ll have the pesto that’s the best, yo!

If you live in an apartment, condo, loft, house-boat or any other dwelling without access to a patch of dirt, you could look into growing some herbs indoor. Settle down Cheech, not that kind of herbs. That’s definitely a violation of your lease. Your setup can be as fancy as this, or as simple as this. As long as they get light and water, they’ll do their thing, and if you get in any iron chef challenges, you’ll kick the taste-buds off anyone using their old, shriveled store-bought herbs.

Get your grown on and then get your home cooking on and invite the neighbors over to your house or apartment. Nothing is more baller than eating something that you actually made from start to finish, and people will think you’re some sort of magician if you can literally make something out of nothing. What are you waiting for? Get out there!

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Holla at us, we’ll holla back: