Tag Archives: Maintenance

Cool it down!

Hey there all you renters, landlords, property owners and property managers. This time we’ll talk about how to keep our houses, apartment or duplexes cool.

If you have enough money you can hire a slave who is fanning you while you eat grapes, however if you are a mortal more like us, you can follow some of the following tips.

Stop modeling for your neighbor: All windows must be covered, put thin fabrics in the windows facing north and south, and for the rest use heavy fabrics that cover sunlight. So you have all the light without all the heat.

Do not be stingy and turn on the air: Fans are great because they help with moisture and cool the house, however, if the temperature is higher than 77 ° F, better turn them off, because they’ll only be moving hot air. Fans will work better after sunset.

Shake it off!: If you use air conditioning make sure it’s clean. If dust accumulates in the filters, the machine has to work harder, therefore it will use much more electricity. Besides that, you can prevent several diseases caused by bacteria accumulated in dust.

Go for a walk and close your house: Throughout the hours of extreme heat close your house. Close any place where hot air can enter. Once the temperature drops you can open everything and turn on the fans.

Don’t turn it off!: When you have the air conditioning on and the room is cooled, it may seem like the most reasonable thing to turn it off, however, you’ll only be spending more electricity. It’s better to mantain a steady temperature so the machines are not working overtime.

Read a book: The appliances radically increase the temperature of your house or apartment. You may not feel it, but television radiates heat. Unplug all appliances you are not using and go read a book.

With these simple steps, we guarantee that you’ll keep your house cooler. If not, at least you will entertain yourself closing windows and turning on fans.

The Final Showdown: House vs. Apartment

Hey all you renters, landlords and property owners out there. This week on the rant, we’re turning once again to you, our readers, specifically one reader by the name of Amanda, who recently moved into a rental house for the first time instead of a condo or an apartment. In doing so, she discovered a whole host of new responsibilities that go along with a larger property. She wanted to share her experience, so she wrote to us, wondering if we could help her help all you other apartment and condo renters out there who are thinking of taking the big leap. Here’s what she had to say:

Home Maintenance: House vs. Apartment Living

The difference between renting a house and renting an apartment is more than just having your own yard and some additional space between you and your neighbor. While those two benefits of renting a single-family detached house are quite appealing, they come along with some increased maintenance responsibilities that apartment residents do not have. You should carefully consider the pros and cons of each before choosing which one is right for you.

Tending to the Landscape

All of that additional space requires upkeep by someone. It is usually the responsibility of the renter to cut the grass, trim bushes, and weed the flower bed. Sure, you won’t have property landscapers gearing up their noisy equipment outside your apartment bedroom window at the crack of dawn anymore, but now the yard management is in your hands. Having your own back yard is great, but it is going to have additional cost. During the summer months, you will have to devote a few hours each week to care and maintain the landscape whether that involves pruning up plants, trimming the grass, or simply raking and cleaning off the gravel. If this is an enjoyable hobby for you, great. If not, you may find yourself spending more time complaining about the responsibilities of a large yard than you do enjoying the benefits. And if your home is in an area with HOA regulations, you’ll definitely have to take extra care to ensure your property is looking pristine in order to avoid any fees.

Apartments often have common park areas, playgrounds, and walking trails. Community garden areas are becoming more common. These are maintained by the apartment management and the cost is part of your regular rent payment. You are able to enjoy them without having to expel any energy maintaining them. When it comes to inviting over a large group of friends for a backyard cookout and some volleyball or horseshoes, an apartment cannot compete with having your own outdoor space with plenty of parking for everyone. How often you host such activities should be weighed against how many hours you want to spend maintaining the yard.

For Some, It’s All About the View

Apartment residents typically have walls that back up to their neighbor’s living area. This results in windows on just one side of each unit. The developers take this into consideration and strive to make each unit have access to ample natural light. Still, some units will have a view of the park and some will look out on the trash bins. Heck, some will only have a view to the side of another apartment building. The good news is that apartment dwellers have fewer windows to clean and less heat loss through those windows than people living in a house.

Many rental houses are older and do not have thermal pane windows. In addition to the time spent cleaning windows, home renters can expect higher energy bills. About 56 percent of a households energy usage goes to maintain a comfortable inside temperature, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And although the cost may be a bit more than apartment dwellers, the views and windows in majority of rooms is a huge perk to make it worth the extra cost.

The Household Handyman

For those renting out older houses, keep in mind that there may be more maintenance to perform that can’t be fixed with a simple work request to the property handymen. These older homes can have older wiring and plumbing that will need your attention at some point or another. They may not have the lines needed for cable and high-speed internet and it could cost an extra fee in order to install outlets that are adaptable with current times. Meanwhile, most apartment complexes have easy access to the latest technology and some even include free internet or cable in the rent.

Requirements for multi-family buildings are often much stricter than the standards for landlords of single-family houses. If you rent a house, you may be responsible for any utility issues that may occur. But depending on your rental agreement, with landlord approval you can make renovations as needed to help you cut costs in the home. Easy upgrades around the home like smart thermostats or tankless water heaters can cut energy costs by 40% for a home, making home utility costs near those of living in an apartment. Most apartment complexes have full-time maintenance staff on call to correct even minor problems. When renting a house, you may be responsible for the additional water usage of a leaky pipe or dripping faucet, in addition to the cost to repair the problem.

Before signing a lease for an apartment or house, make sure you understand what maintenance issues are covered by the landlord and which issues are your sole responsibility. Simple things like trash collection are taken for granted by residents of apartments. People renting houses need to know who will remove leaves and yard waste and they’ll have to be responsible for putting out their own trash. Apartments are often owned by corporations and managed by companies while houses are frequently rented by individual owners under a property network. Be sure you know what your rights are as a tenant and ensure you read over all your responsibilities upon signing your new lease. If you’re ready to take on the extra responsibilities of renting out a house, then sign on the dotted line, but if you’re still not ready or find that you don’t have the time for the extra maintenance that will be needed, perhaps apartment living is just right for you.


Whew, thanks Amanda. It’s a lot of information to take in, but definitely worth a read if you’re a renter considering moving into a house, or if you’re a landlord or property owner who wants to tell potential tenants what the differences between houses and condos or apartments might be.

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

Lord of the Flies

The Summer heat has set in most everywhere in the country, and with it come the seasonally associated critters. for renters and landlords alike. One such critter that becomes exceedingly common in the summer months is the fly, infestations of which can range in severity from being mildly annoying to spreading dangerous diseases that could potentially kill you maybe. Don’t worry though, this week the Rant is dedicated to helping you rid your house or apartment of the buggers once and for all.

Flies come in quite a few varieties, but some are more common than others, and each type has different particularities. The first step to getting rid of your flies is determining which type you have, though be warned, there may be more than one. Orkin provides a nice illustrated guide as a good place to start.

Fruit flies are one of the most common types of fly, especially in the summer. They can find their way into almost any house or apartment, and they  typically go for the kitchen. Fruit flies feed mostly on fruit (go figure), vegetables, or other produce that’s nearing the end of its life. As a preemptive strike against them, make sure that fruit and veggies don’t sit too long on your counter, and if your produce is starting to turn, get rid of it ASAP. If you’ve already got fruit flies, make sure their food sources are cleaned up and then make yourself a few traps. In our experience the red wine trap works well. If you can get your hands on some Mad Dog 20/20, it’s even better, though be warned that flavored fortified wine beverages should under no circumstances be humans.

Larger flies like house flies and blow flies are usually less prevalent, but far more noticeable, and usually indication of a larger and grosser food source. They’ll eat other organic material, but they prefer rotting meat, so if you start to see larger flies appearing on the premises of your rental property, make sure that your trash cans have all been emptied recently, and your fridge and cabinets are both free of rotting food. If your kitchen and garbage is clean, search around your yard for any possible breeding sources. If you have a compost piled up in the back, that might be one. If you have a pet who poops in the yard, make sure to pick it up, or soon enough it’ll have turned into a festering fly-nest that spawns poop-covered flies who want to live in your kitchen. Gross, right? Bottom line is that you have to get rid of the breeding source if you want to live in a no-fly zone.

Traps and prevention are all good, but they take time, and we know that you’re probably wondering, how can I get rid of the fly or flies that are bugging me right now? At this point you have two options: you can either go to your local butchers for a pig head, put it on a stake in your living room, and proclaim yourself lord and master over a new rented jungle kingdom, or you can become a sniper with a rubber band. Actually we only advocate the latter. But seriously, the flies never see it coming, and best of all, exterminating pests becomes fun! If you have kids, give them a bag of these, or if you want to get crazy, get one of these bad boys. Good luck, and happy hunting!

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


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: Hometownrant@hometownrent.com

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:  Hometownrant@hometownrent.com

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:  Hometownrant@hometownrent.com


Sleep Tight!

Hey all you homeowners, renters, landlords and ladies, Here at Hometown Rent Rant, we’re trying not to bug out, and you should be too, unless you like spending your hard-earned cash waging war against insect kind on your own home turf. Bedbugs are a huge problem for everyone involved, and if you’re smart you’ll make sure that your house or apartment stays totally uninfested.

Anyone who is renting out a dwelling, be it house, apartment, loft, condo, duplex, house-boat, tree-fort, castle or bungalow has a responsibility to make sure it is bug-free before renting it out. Fortunately, bedbugs only really like living in beds, and furniture, and other soft things like luggage. As long as you or your last tenants didn’t leave a bunch of stuff in the house, you should be fine. Just make sure any couches or mattresses are bug-free by giving them a visual inspection.  if you want to be sure, steam clean or heat treat those babies. That way if your house or apartment does end up with bugs, you’ll know it wasn’t you. If you can get your tenants to attest to this when they move in, that could cover you later.

Renters: you’re the ones who live in the rental property, so you’re the most likely to bring in new bugs, and the most affected by their presences. Side effects of bed bug infestation can include nasty itchy rashes and even psychological damage. The last part might sound a little extreme, but try going to bed imagining that there are tiny bugs drinking your blood in microscopic amounts. You might just end up like this guy.

If the house or apartment you’re renting is bedbug free in the first place, (which it most definitely should be,) then your only job is to not bring any bedbugs home with you. Sounds easy enough right? All you need to do is be careful what you bring home. I know that sofa sitting out on the fraternity lawn looks like it could use a good home, but so do the thousands of tiny bloodsuckers living in it. Same goes for that incredibly cheap armchair from goodwill and the free box of trendy clothes left on the curb down the street. Think about it–there’s probably a reason someone’s trying to get rid of all that stuff. Don’t be the poor sucker who’s going to give those bedbugs a home in your rental property, and don’t expect your landlord to pay for exterminators. If the house was bug-free when you moved in, then it’s on you to keep it that way.

Some of you may be thinking  well this advice is all fine and dandy, but I already have bedbugs chewing on my unmentionables! What do I do now?  Well first you probably want to take a hot shower. Then you want to treat your house, apartment, condo or loft, including mattresses, furniture, clothes, and whatever else you think the bedbugs might be living in. Remember, they like soft, dark folds in things. Hit ‘em where it hurts before they hit you where it itches.

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


The internet loves them, or at least loves pictures of them. This may be because unlike real cats, you don’t have to feed the pictures and they don’t pee in your house or apartment. In order to take pictures of cats for the internet though, you are going to need a real cat or two, and with great cats come great responsibilities for both renters and landlords.

If you’re a property owner, at some point you’ll probably have cat owners who want to rent your house, apartment or loft. You may be thinking sure, I’m a chill guy/gal, who am I to deny a poor little kitten? But before you make a decision you want to know what you’re getting into, because cat pee is forever. Until you get the floors redone. Speaking of floors, you might want to save your freshly carpeted townhouse for people who aren’t cat owners, and let the people who are take the apartment with the hardwood and tile floors. Trust us, they’d rather wipe piss of the floor than try to dab it up out of the rug.

If you have the luxury, try to meet the cat that’s going to be living in your rental property. Seeing someone’s pet is often better than any background check. If it’s clear that someone can’t even take care of a cat, how are they going to take care of your house or apartment, especially if it’s going to have a mangy cat living in it now too? They probably aren’t. Don’t rent to those people. They’ll probably ruin your property.

As a cat owner and renter, don’t be one of those people. Read up on what the American Humane Society has to say about indoor vs outdoor cats, and make a decision about how much freedom you’ll give your cat, based on the house, apartment or loft you’re renting. There are pros and cons to each. Weigh them heavily. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner and lint rollers if you don’t want to eat, sleep in, and breathe cat hair. This is especially true if your cat is always indoors. Alternatively, get this cat. You’ll also probably want to get a scratching post if you value your furniture or it comes with the house or apartment. Cats are animals, and have an innate need to tear stuff up. Make sure it’s not your landlord’s leather sofa.

The big issue for most negligent cat owners is the litterbox. The Humane Society recommends that you scoop the feces out daily. We know it’s gross, but think about it this way: would you poop in sand and leave it sitting out in your loft for more than a day? Gross. No way. Get it done before your cat decides he wants to crap somewhere new for a change.

Also be warned, if your cat starts hanging out with the feral cats that the old lady down the street keeps feeding, it might start doing drugs, or at the very least pick up some unwanted guests. Make sure Snuffers is up on her shots, and if Patch Adams gets fleas, give him a bath with flea and tick shampoo before the bugs get out in your apartment, and remember to take pictures while he’s all wet and bedraggled. Those are worth big-time internet money.


Give Your Home an Expensive Look

Have you ever wanted to make your home look expensive without having to spend big bucks on it? If so, then here are a few tips to help you do just that.

  • Give your home a sophisticated look. Use silver color in your decorations instead of gold.
  • Instead of using carpets, add a modern look by using vinyl for your flooring.
  • Flowers always add a welcoming look to a home, so make sure to include flowers as decorations.
  • Use white as background and add colored décor pieces to make it look attractive and invigorating.
  • Get rid of that extra clutter present in your room, keep it prim and proper, and clean regularly. You’d be surprised at how expensive a home can look when given proper attention.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can find more detail about simple ways to make you home look expensive at http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/5-cheap-ways-to-make-your-room-look-expensive5.htm