Monthly Archives: May 2014

Be The Beast of the Lease

The beginning of the summer is a hot time to move into a new house or apartment, and along with that comes every every landlord and renter’s favorite thing: signing binding legal contracts! Hooray! In a perfect world we’d be able to just say hey man, I’ll give you some money if you let me stay here for a while, and that would be that, but unfortunately people aren’t always as trustworthy as they claim to be on the internet. Who knew? Luckily, the Hometown Rant is here to help both renters and landlords make sure that renting is the mutually beneficial, almost symbiotic relationship that it should be.

If you’ve been a landlord for a little while, you probably already have a standard lease drawn up that you use with your clients. That’s great! If not, you should probably get on that before you agree to let people live in your house, apartment or loft. The ever-useful wikihow has a nice step-by-step guide for writing your own from scratch, and a quick Google search will yield you more sample leases than anybody could ever sign. Find one that works for you, and if you can’t, edit one until it does.

The bare minimum you need is a document that identifies the names of the parties involved, the location of the house, apartment or loft in question, when rent payments and deposits need to be made and how much they cost, the responsibilities that each party assumes for maintenance and upkeep, and the penalties should either party violate their end of the bargain. Also, a place to sign. But you knew that.

The section where leases tend to differ is the section outlining the responsibilities of both the landlord and the renter, and it’s also the section that tends to be the most often broken by one or both parties. This is the section where you’ll specify who pays for garbage, who’s responsible for calling (and paying) the plumber when the toilet explodes, who is responsible for maintaining the yard, whether or not pets are allowed, and all sorts of other benefits and stipulations that will make or break the deal, so it has to be done right.

Landlords writing leases need to be clear about what they will provide as well as what they expect tenants to do in order to maintain the property. DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE BOLD PRINT IF YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE SOMETHING GETS SEEN! Don’t go overboard though, or you’ll lose the effect. As the owner or manager of the house, apartment, loft or condo, you have the final say about what can or can’t be done there, but remember that you want your rental property to be attractive for potential renters, so don’t get too ridiculous with your rules. If you do have policies that people might not like, maybe provide some services in exchange.

In this day and age, we agree to things all the time without actually reading them, but RENTERS, IF YOU READ ANYTHING EVER, READ YOUR LEASE! IT ACTUALLY MATTERS!  If you don’t, you won’t know what you’re supposed to do, and you won’t get what you deserve! That’s no way to be!

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Hit us on the low-low:



We’ve already covered bed bugs here at the Hometown Rant, but as spring rolls into summer, a whole new family of insect crawls into houses, apartments, lofts, duplexes and condos across the country… ANTS! GIANT RADIOACTIVE ANTS! Ok, maybe not, but depending on the type of ants, you could in for anything from bugs in your food to major structural damage in your rental property. Luckily, Hometown Rant has the answers.
One good thing about ants is that they tend to be pretty obvious. They won’t come alone, and you can usually follow the trail of them from where they’re coming from to where they’re going. As a landlord, this means it might be tough to conceal an ant problem from potential tenants, but you wouldn’t do something like that, would you? In any case don’t worry, the little buggers are at least predictable.

The first step to getting rid of ants is to identify the type of ant you’re dealing with. Bayer provides a nice illustrated guide for figuring out which species is invading your rental property. Ants not on the Bayer list include Henry Pym, Ant Man of the avengers, and DJ Ant of Atmosphere. Once you know which type of ant you have, you’ll know what you’re up against. Most ants are just hungry for the food in your kitchen, so that’s where you’ll want to start. If your cabinets have crumbs and open containers, wipe up the crumbs and close the containers! The more airtight, the better. Simple, right?

Then, get yourself some ant bait and leave it where the ants will find it. It’s designed to be delicious and deadly, and to take long enough to kick in that they’ll bring it back to their nest and let everybody get a piece. You can kill individual ants all day, but if you don’t hit em at the source you, you’ll never see the last of them. Baits are better than straight up pesticides too, because even if you spray them right at the nest, chances are some of the ants will escape and start a new nest somewhere else in your house or apartment, and then you’re just going to have the same problem in a few weeks.

What you really need to worry about as a renter or landlord is the ants that aren’t out for food, at least people food. Carpenter ants nest in wood, and can cause major damage to your rental property if left unchecked. Wikihow has a good guide for how to deal with carpenter ants, but the gist is the same: find the nest and destroy it with sneaky poison. It’s the American way! Also, if you’ve identified a crack or crevice where the ants were getting in, plug it up with some caulk so future ant colonies can’t come back in the same spot. Now you renters and landlords can get back to whatever it was you were doing, minus the ants! Isn’t that better?

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

Meet Thy Neighbors

It’s the first commandment of owning or renting a house or apartment, and not abiding by it can be disastrous for both renters and landlords alike. Luckily for all you awkward internetroverts out there, the Hometown Rant has you covered. It will involve leaving the safety of your computer chair, but you could probably use the Vitamin D anyways.

As a landlord, you should know who lives around the house or apartment, since it’ll affect who you rent the place to. If you know your rental property is next to a family with young kids, you probably don’t want to rent that property to the college-age party bros or the nudist art collective. If you know that the primary demographic of your apartment complex is up and coming twentysomethings, you’ll be able to filter your applicants to find a renter who’ll fit into the community

As a renter, you should be concerned with who your neighbors are because like it or not you’re going to have to interact with one another. This goes double for renters of duplexes, apartments or condos who literally share walls with other people. The only way to facilitate a healthy and enjoyable living situation is to be able to trust the people around you, and to be able to talk to them if you have an issue. If you wait until you have a problem to bring it up, you might find that they react like this.

But how do you go about meeting these strangers living all around you? The easiest way is to walk up to their door, knock on it, and introduce yourself. Maybe bring them some sort of baked good or alcoholic beverage, depending on how old they are. If that seems too awkward to you, you could try a different approach. Spend time in that yard you’ve been meaning to do some work in, and wave in a friendly manner at people walking by. Then you’ll at least be the guy or gal who waves all the time instead of the weird Boo Radley impersonator that the neighborhood kids make up stories about.

Another good way to meet people is with a dog. It’s probably not advisable to go out and get a dog simply for that purpose, but if you already have one lying around, it’s a great way to put that lazy freeloader to work. Take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood or at the local park and let the pooch make the introductions. Dress him up. Let people pet him or rub her belly, and introduce the dog before yourself. Boom. Instant conversation starter and focal point of ensuing discussion (oh you have a dog too? What a coincidence! etc…) This will work for meeting all types of people, but it’s especially good for introducing yourself to that hot guy or cute gal who lives down the street.

You don’t have to be best friends with everyone on your block, but you do want to be known in the neighborhood as an all round good dude/dudette, or at least a reasonable individual who isn’t a shut-in freak-show, which is what people will probably assume if you don’t get out there and say hello. What are you waiting for? Get out there!

Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Don’t be a stranger:


The Hometown Rant Guide on How to Pick Em. Part 2 – Landlords

Last week on the Hometown Rant we broke it down for renters looking for other people to take that spare room in the house, apartment or loft. This week we’re going at it from a different angle to help landlords and property owners find trustworthy tenants for their rental property. Renters should stick around though, if you want to be the one signing the lease on the house or apartment you’ve been staking out for the last few weeks.

If you’re a landlord or property owner and you’re reading this blog, that means you’re probably already advertising your rental property online, which is a good first step. If you haven’t already posted your property up, what are you waiting for? Get on it!

Many landlords post properties on multiple websites, which can be a good idea if you want to cast a wider net, just be aware that . Dedicated rental sites lik e are nice because they only deal with renters and rental properties. Craigslist may reach a wider audience, but do you really want to rent to the guy who’s also browsing for taxidermy hamsters  and old spinach wraps? Maybe not.

Once you’re online, all you have to do is sit back and wait for the applications to roll in. Then your job becomes sifting through them. But how should you decide who to rent to? Pay extra attention to certain answers on your application, particularly employment history and rental references. If the renter is a legit dude or dudette, they’ll have provided contact info for someone who can verify their legit-ness. If an applicant doesn’t provide references even when you ask, there’s probably a reason. If the renters are young college students and don’t have a source of income, you might want to get parents to co-sign, that way you’ll get reimbursed if the newfound freedom turns your house into animal house.

Another good way to screen applicants online is by looking at what they include besides the rental application that you provide. A friendly note with the application is probably a good sign. An email address like might be a red flag. As always, never trust anyone who types in all capitals.

Of course the best option is always to meet the applicants face to face for a walkthrough of the house. Even though the internet is the future of everything, there’s no way to get a read on somebody like actually physically interacting with them. Weird right? Actually having met your tenants can also make it easier to solve whatever issues may arise later in the duration of the lease, since both parties will be more accountable to one another. If not, you might end up like this guy.

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

The Hometown Rant Guide on How to Pick Em. Part 1-Renters

Chances are if you’re browsing, you’re looking for either a property to rent, or people to rent a property you own. Either way, you’re in the market for some other people. The question now becomes this: how do you pick those people? Finding good roommates is just as important to renters as finding good tenants is to landlords, but in renting, as in love, sometimes it can be hard to make sure you’ve found someone who is compatible with you. Luckily, Hometown Rant has a down-and-dirty guide to getting the right guy or gal. This week we’re focusing on Renters finding roommates, and next week we’ll talk landlords finding tenants.

If you’re renting a house, apartment or loft, it’s usually best to go in on a lease with a friends you know and trust, but that isn’t always an option. Sometimes you might think you know someone, and then they turn out to be a closet fetishist and/or a smooth jazz enthusiast. Not that those are necessarily bad things, as long as you’re into them too.

If you have a chance to study your future roommates before you move in with them, pay attention to their hygiene habits and their sleep schedule, since both of those things will soon affect you. These factors will be compounded if you’re sharing less space, so keep that in mind if you’re renting an apartment as opposed to a house.

Unfortunately, there will always be the times when you need one more person to fill in the fourth bedroom of the townhouse, and you don’t have any more friends who need a place to stay. You just might have to sift through a pile of online personal ads. Ho boy. With a discerning eye though, you can learn to separate the wheat-y roommates from the proverbial chaff. Let’s practice. Below are three sample personal ads. Your job is to pick the one you’d want to live or let rent your property:

A) Chill dude looking for chill spot.

Hey bros and brodettes! I’m a lateish-twentysomethings dude looking for a house or apartment to keep it extra real in and around. I like extreme sports, regular sports and beers, respectively. Roommates must have tight bods and fresh wardrobes so I can be seen in public with them. I’m willing to be the life of the party! Holla at a dude!

B) Artist and Cat-Lover seeks quiet sanctuary

I’m a semi-professional watercolor painter and part-time semi-nude model at the art studio, where I pose with my cats. There are three of them, and I love them like the children I never had. I’m quiet except when especially inspired by one of the many romance novels I collect and read. I’m willing to pay rent in handpainted portraits of my cats if you desire such an arrangement.



The answer is, there is no answer, at least objectively. Except probably not person C. You should never trust anyone who has no picture and uses all capital letters. If you’re a bro or brodette with a tight bod you might want tenant A. If you’re an art/cat enthusiast, you might want tenant B. If you’re something totally different, then you might want to keep looking. Just remember, it’s never a mistake to judge people on their lack of punctuation.


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