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What to Consider Before Becoming a Landlord

Renting property can be a profitable business, if you do your homework first. Before you decide to become a landlord, learn a little more about what’s involved in getting into the rental business, and if it’s the right fit for your lifestyle.

Financial Investment

First and foremost, renting property involves a sizable financial investment. A landlord must make sure they have the resources to commit financially for both the initial purchase of property and upkeep. Not counting this cost can quickly sink you into debt rather than filling your pockets with cash. If you’re not sure where you stand financially, set up a meeting with your bank to see what your options are.

Time Commitment

Landlords should be ready to commit a lot of their time to the business. Time is required to deal with new and existing tenants, maintenance needs, hiring extra help, and keeping financial records. Being a landlord is a full time job and then some.

Location and Type of Property

Laws and Regulations

Landlords have to comply with local laws and regulations for renters, as well as ensure their buildings are up to code. Read up on the governing laws that regulate landlord-tenant relations for your town, ensuring that everything you do as a landlord is in compliance with the law. Understanding your responsibilities and rights will save you a lot of potential headaches.

Proximity to Your Rentals

It’s a good idea to live fairly close to your rental property. A landlord may sometimes be needed at odd hours, or may have to get to a building in a hurry in case of emergency. Maintenance and management is also much easier if you don’t have to drive an hour across town to get to your property.

Like any other business venture, having knowledge is crucial to the success of a rental business. Do not plunge into becoming a landlord blindly. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can about renting property, learning how the whole business works. Taking a basic business management course at a local college will also be a huge help.

Being a landlord is not an opportunity to sit back, relax, and expect cash to magically flow into your bank account without much work. Although it can be quite lucrative, it is a serious business venture that requires the commitment of your finances and time to be successful.

Seven Things Renters Should Do When They First Move In

Moving between rental properties can get overwhelming pretty quickly. The old place needs to be clean, cleared, and finalized. And at the same time, everything has to be moved into the new rental. It can be a lot, but there are a few tricks at tips that can make the entire process more efficient and less stressful.

1 - Get Grounded

Life can get pretty chaotic once the boxes and furniture start coming off the truck. Therefore, take a bit of time before unloading to get organized and rest a bit. Collect all of the paperwork related to the new rental keep it in a large envelope, so they will be easy to find and refer back to later. Also, expenses such as the cost of the rental truck might be tax deductible.

A few quiet moments are also essential for self-care. Take time to eat something, relax, and hydrate. These moments might feel like they have been wasted, but they will supply the energy necessary to finish moving. It will also help mitigate some of the stress.

2 - Tour the New Rental

Before filling the various rooms with boxes and furniture, take time to get familiar with the new property. Locate emergency shutoffs such as the breaker panel and water valves. It's also helpful to find the light switches, so they don't get blocked by furniture or get lost in the dark.

3 - Do a Walkthrough and Record Everything

Before moving anything into the rental property, take a few minutes to film each room in detail. Document any damage or stains, and record the condition of the walls and floors. These detailed records then become proof if there are issues when moving out in the future. A list of any essential repairs the property needs can also help.

4 - Clean Again

There's no point in unpacking things into a dirty room. And having to clean around everything will just make the task of moving take longer. So, before moving boxes into the rental, give the entire thing a thorough clean. Wipe cupboards, walls, closets and any other areas that often get forgotten.

5 - Map Out Each Room

Nothing is more frustrating when unpacking than having to play a life-sized game of Tetris to get the furniture into place. To avoid this problem, plan each room beforehand. Take a tape measure, measure the furniture, and plan where each piece will go. Then, use sticky notes or masking tape on the walls to mark the location of each item. This method allows anyone to put the furniture straight into place as soon as it's inside.

6 - Explore the Outside World

Moving is hard work. Take lots of breaks to ease the stress and exhaustion. And what better way to relax for a few minutes than to wander around outside for a few minutes? Look for the garbage bin and other helpful items that will be needed while unpacking. And if the rental property has a backyard, check the condition of the fence and ground for anything that might require immediate repair. During longer breaks, don't be afraid to say hello to neighbors and see what sorts of amenities the neighborhood has to offer.

7 - Make a List

While unpacking and getting settled in, tenants often notice little changes that can make the property more convenient or comfortable. Decor items like removable wallpaper, for example, can make a boring room more interesting. A clothesline or storage caddies can add functionality to wasted space. By making a list and including additional information such as sizes or special requirements, it will be easier to pick up these items on the next trip to the store.

While moving to a new rental property can be exciting, it can also be a lot of work. By planning ahead and using some clever tips, it's possible to make moving a lot more enjoyable and significantly less stressful. Who doesn't like that?

Selecting a High-End Apartment

Nearby schools, distance from work, amenities and nearby shops are all details that will narrow down your choices on where to begin your search. The following guidelines will aid you when selecting a high-end apartment once you have chosen the buildings you prefer.

Choose a higher floor: The ground floor not only has the most noise, but will also be the most vulnerable to break-ins. The views and air quality improve considerably the higher you ascend. Furthermore, you will find diminished street noise. The top floor will have the added bonus of no upstairs neighbors, increased sunlight and pure rainwater direct from the skies.

South-facing vs. north-facing: If you are a sun worshiper, choose a south-facing apartment. Your plants with thank you for it. On the other hand, if you are not fond of sitting in the sun, a north-facing apartment will grant you with day-long shade. The summers feel cooler in north-facing apartments.

Energy class: New builds are equipped to save on energy costs by using the most energy efficient windows. Additionally, double-paned or triple-paned windows filled with Argon gas are also soundproof.

Air-filtration: When you have energy efficiency, you will also need quality air-filtration. The higher the energy class, the more your apartment is sealed from the outside elements. Mold can form quickly if not aired out properly.

Door Camera: High-end apartments have higher security needs. With multiple neighbors using the same front door, you need to ensure that you know who you are letting into the building. A door camera will allow you to see the person, the package they are carrying, their ID and if they are alone or in company.

Quality materials: Your new high-end home should fit your upscale lifestyle as well as your taste. Look for neutral tones that fit your décor. Inspect the baseboards, crown molding, tiles, the kitchen backsplash and sinks to ensure that everything has been installed properly.

Neighbors: Find out who lives in the building and on your block. If the apartment is not soundproof, a neighbor with small children or a barking dog might not be the right choice for you, unless you happen to have a similar situation. Speak to the people in the building to get an idea of whether you will enjoy living next to them.

Finding a new home can be made easier when you know what to look for.


So you're ready to move into a new place and you think you've found the perfect apartment. All that's left is to sign the lease. But wait! Pause that pen and read through this post before you make any permanent marks.

What are you paying for? Be sure to check the apartment's website, paperwork, or ask your leasing agent what is included in your monthly rent. Does it include some or all of your utilities? Or will you need to pay for garbage, sewer, water, and power separately? Some apartments will even include renter's insurance in your monthly payment (If they don't, you may want to look into bundling that with your car insurance provider). Basically, make sure you know what you're getting for your money. A higher monthly rent might actually be worth it if it includes all your utilities, wifi, and more. Then again, your rent might only cover your apartment.

Are there amenities? You've probably read through the list of amenities available at the apartment you're considering, but it's important to make sure those amenities are actually useful to you. For example, if the apartment has a fitness center, but you're loyal to your gym, it's not much of a perk. On the other hand, if you're excited to use that fitness center, be sure to look at the times it's open. If it's only open during normal office hours, say 8:00 to 5:00, but you work all day, when will you be able to use it? Amenities are awesome, but they're only worth the cost if you'll actually benefit from them.

What if you need to break your lease early? Maybe you just got a great job, a raise, or were transferred and that's why you're getting ready to sign this lease. At the moment, you see yourself staying here for the full term, whether that's six months, a year, or maybe even 13 months. But let's be real--nothing in life is really guaranteed and things could change unexpectedly. You might find yourself needing to move before your lease is up. Even if that's not the plan, it's a good idea to talk to your leasing agent about the possibility of early termination and any associated fees--just in case.   

How You Can Find an Apartment that Appeals to You in the Long Term

Unfortunately, apartment hunting is quite different from the hunting for dietary resources that our hunter-gatherer ancestors depended upon for their livelihoods. For example, while a tree that is full of ripe fruits or a plump wildebeest could have been depended upon by our ancestors for providing what their initial appearance promised, that is not the case when it comes to modern apartments, unfortunately.

An apartment can seem fabulous when you see pictures of it or when you hurriedly breeze through it with the real estate agent. Yet, the same apartment can fail to deliver on this initial impression of fabulousness in less than a week after you move in. But the good news is that you can find an apartment that continues to appeal to you in the long term. Here is how you do it.
• Go and see the apartment literally, as opposed to virtually. While pictures and virtual tours are excellent methods through which you can learn more about an apartment, you need to see the place in person to figure out if you want to live there. Keep in mind that anyone can do wonders with Photoshop and nifty camera angles. So, you need to actually see where you will be living before you write that check.
• Take your time during the property inspection. Remind yourself that there are plenty of apartments and it is rare to find the right apartment as soon as you start looking. So, it is all right to take some time to find the right apartment. Make sure to sort out your schedule before you visit an apartment because you need to have sufficient time to take a leisured stroll through the apartment. It is best to see an apartment in the morning and after sunset. Remember to drive around the neighborhood, so you can figure out if you will enjoy living there.
• Make a list of questions that you need to ask about the apartment and keep that list handy. Ask all the questions that you need to ask and do your own research when necessary. You should be satisfied with the answers to your questions before you make a decision on the apartment. Here is a list of questions to help you get started on your list.

1. Does the location of the apartment work?
2. Is the apartment priced within your price range?
3. Will the apartment have enough space once you move your furniture into it?
4. Can your pet live there? 
5. What are the amenities?
6. What are the amenities that you need, such as a washer and dryer?
7. Does the apartment have the amenities that you need?  
8. Does the apartment have an on-site laundry?
9. Is the apartment located in a safe neighborhood?  
10. Does the apartment have hard water?
11. Does the apartment get enough natural light?
12. Is the apartment too noisy?
13. Are there location-based issues, such as a street light that shines into the apartment at night?

Remember that finding an apartment that appeals to you in the long term is a process!  You can avoid being unpleasantly surprised by your future apartment by doing the right things and asking the right questions before choosing it. And if you think about the impact that your apartment will have on your overall well-being, this is sure to be well worth the effort.

How Renter’s Insurance Can Protect Your Place and Your Possessions

Whether you are a recent college graduate moving into your first apartment, an empty nester moving on to a smaller and more comfortable abode or a new retiree downsizing into a simpler (and less expensive) lifestyle, it is important to protect yourself and everything you have worked for. No matter where you live or who you are, it is important to protect yourself with the right insurance.

If you are moving into an apartment complex, that means having sufficient renter's insurance in place. Many renters, even residents of high-end apartment complexes in and around Portland, TX, are unaware of their insurance needs, and that could put them at risk should disaster strike.

Some renters simply assume that their landlord, or the owner of the high-end apartment complex, will carry insurance, and that is almost always the case. What they fail to realize, however, is that insurance covers the property itself, not the possessions of the renters inside.

If you want to protect your possessions and shield yourself from liability, you need to have sufficient renter's insurance in place. The renter's insurance policy you choose should cover everything you own, from the flat-screen TV on your bedroom wall and the computer on your desk to the brand new couch in your living room and that stylish dining room table.

Finding the right renter's insurance policy is not always easy, and it pays to shop around. If you want to get the best deal, you need to know how much stuff you have to protect, and that means compiling a detailed inventory, along with estimated values for each item in your possession.

You can make your life, and the inventory, easier by photographing and videotaping each room in your new high-end apartment. Armed with this information, you can work on finding a renter's insurance policy that will protect your stuff and give you the peace of mind you deserve. And once that policy is in place, you can rest easy, surrounded by your loved ones and your wonderful new neighbors.

Five Ways to Reduce the Costs of Moving to a New House

Whether you are relocating to a new city or just across town, the moving process can be quite expensive. Luckily though, there are a few things that you can do to reduce those costs.

1.    Search for the best deal

Compare the packages offered by different moving companies in order to find one that offers the best value for money. Taking the time to do this can save you lots of money, in addition to ensuring that your move is quick and hassle-free. Bear in mind that smaller moving companies or those that are new in the market are likely to offer a better deal than established, big name movers, so try to be on the lookout for them.

2.    Schedule your move for the low season

The summer months and early autumn tend to be the peak moving season and transport costs often inflate to reflect this. Moving companies usually charge more during this season due to the high demand for their services. If you are not strapped for time, schedule your move during low season (usually during the winter months) and you can shave a few hundred dollars off your moving bill.

3.    Do your own packing

Avoid hiring people to do your packing and handle this task yourself instead. You can enlist the help of friends and family who will not need to be paid in cash but in kind. Doing your own packing also gives you the opportunity to find out which items you should keep and which ones need to be tossed out before your move.

4.     Self-move

If you do not have the funds to hire a moving company, your best option is to conduct a self-move. This basically means that you borrow a truck or car from friends and do your own packing and moving. You can also ask friends to help you with this task as it can be tedious and take much longer if you try to handle everything yourself.

5.    Save on packing supplies

Cardboard packing boxes, bubble wrap, moving blankets, and other supplies can really eat into your budget. To prevent this, consider using common household items such as blankets, newspapers, old boxes and others to do your packing.

In Closing

While moving to a new home can be quite expensive, it doesn’t have to be. By following the tips outlined above, you will be able to keep your moving costs as low as possible.

Eviction! It’s a Scary Word for Landlords and Property Managers

The word "eviction" is scary for all sides. When it is talked about, it is often from the viewpoint of a tenant who is worried about how to avoid it.

However, landlords can find the word frightening as well. Nobody wants to evict a tenant, and doing it wrong can result in a lawsuit and even a reputation as a slumlord. In some cases, you might actually face trespassing charges even though you own the property. So, what should you do? First of all, you can help avoid having to evict by doing the following:
1. Screen tenants well in the first place so as to avoid bad risks. Make sure that you check your tenants' employment or income history, criminal record, and credit score. Be careful to avoid discrimination, of course. It's wise to come up with a way to assess income for prospective tenants who might not have a traditional job. Never rent to friends.
2. Go over the lease with new tenants so that they know the key provisions, rather than trusting them to read it.
3. Make sure your lease does not contradict itself, is clearly written, and will stand up in court. It's worth having a lawyer go over it, or even write it in the first place to make sure your lease is legal. Your lease should always contain a severability provision in case something becomes illegal or is deemed unenforceable. Try not to put your tenants in a position where they have no way to fulfill a requirement of the lease.

When you have an issue with non payment or with another serious lease violation, go through the following steps:
1. Make sure you have grounds to evict. If your grounds are nonpayment, then that is simple enough. However, if you are evicting for another lease violation you need to make sure that you have those grounds written down and that they are solid. You should always give tenants a fair chance to fix a lease violation before moving to evict.
2. Talk to the tenant. It's worth trying to reason with them, and in some cases if the issue is nonpayment you can resolve it. If not, a tenant may well leave on their own in order to avoid the effect being evicted might have on their credit score.
3. Give written notice to the tenant. This is called a termination of tenancy notice or a notice to vacate. Check the rules for your state. Some states require that the notice is hand delivered to the tenant in person. If you are evicting a tenant who has abandoned the property, the rules are slightly different. State laws require a certain amount of time for written notice and in some cases they will require a period during which the tenant can get rid of the illegal dog or fix the problem. Regardless, the notice should always include a deadline and the amount owed if any. It's a good idea to both hand deliver the notice and mail it, as the mailed version will show proof that you did it on the required date.
4. File for eviction. You should do so the morning after the notice period runs out.
5. Prepare for the hearing. Bring any evidence you have that supports your case against the tenant. As a minimum,you should bring the lease agreement, the payment records for that tenant, and any bounced checks. If the eviction is for something other than nonpayment, you should bring any proof you have that the tenant is a nuisance or violating the lease. For example, get complaints from neighbors about noise in writing.
6. Evict the tenant. You can't simply physically remove them yourself. In addition to being potentially dangerous, this can cause legal problems for you. They generally have anywhere from 48 hours to a week to actually get out. If they are not out, you should get the sheriff or police to escort them out and remove their belongings.

If you are planning on evicting a tenant, you should get legal advice from a lawyer familiar with tenant and landlord rights in your state and city. However, if you follow the guidance above, you should be able to avoid most problems. Remember that eviction should always be a last resort for dealing with a problem tenant.

10 Ways to Make Your Apartment More Like Home without Annoying Your Landlord

When you rent your place of residence, you face restrictions that homeowners may not even consider. If you make too many modifications, you risk running afoul of the landlord, and those issues can loom large as you try to make your new apartment more like home.

Given the restrictions of rental life, it might seem like stunning home décor is simply out of your reach, but there are things you can do to make your new space more homey, all without annoying the landlord or property owner. Here are 10 ways to make your apartment more like a home.
1. Plants and flowers - there is nothing like the beauty of nature to make a house a home, and the same goes for your apartment. Bringing in plants and flowers will spruce up the space and bring the beauty of the outdoors inside your four walls.
2. Fish bowls and aquariums - your landlord might look askance at a cat or a dog, but few property managers will worry about a few fish. A small aquarium or a couple of fish bowls can let you enjoy pet ownership without the hassle, or the ruined carpets.
3. Wall-safe picture hangers - Putting lots of holes in the wall is a great way to lose your security deposit, but there are wall-safe ways to hang artwork and family photographs. These simple hanging methods can turn your impersonal apartment into a cozy home.
4. Choose your furnishings with care - with limited space to work with, every piece of furniture needs to count, so choose your pieces with care. Look for furniture that works well in the space you have, focusing on pieces that can do double duty, like that tiny table that transforms from snack tray to study space.
5. Let the light in - natural lighting can make a world of difference, so choose window treatments that let the sun shine in. If natural light is not an option, super-bright LED lighting can get the job done almost as well.
6. Set up a private space - having your own space is important, so look for ways to enhance your privacy. Even a small corner of a room can be a private space if you furnish and decorate it the right way.
7. Use scent to set the mood - you do not have to be an aromatherapy expert to recognize the power of scent. From scented candles to plug-in and battery-powered diffusers, there are plenty of landlord-friendly ways to make your apartment smell more like home.
8. Ask for permission to paint - If you absolutely hate that purple bathroom or bright red bedroom, ask the landlord if you can change it. As long as you clean up and protect the space, chances are the landlord will readily agree.
9. Build a personal display - from collections of framed family photographs to mementoes from your favorite vacation, these treasured items deserve a special place in your home. Such a display nook can enhance your surroundings and make your apartment feel more like home.
10. Clear away the clutter - if your apartment is cluttered with extra stuff, it will look even smaller than it is. Examine each of your extraneous possessions, jettisoning any that do not bring joy to your life.

Apartment living can have many important benefits, from easy mobility to the convenience of calling the landlord when something breaks. And while living in an apartment may be different from owning your own home, there are things you can do to make your space more personal. The 10 tips listed above can get you started, so you can turn your generic apartment into a wonderful home.

Unexpected Things That Can Cost You Money as a Landlord

Whether you are looking for a passive income, supplementing your retirement savings or building wealth for the future, owning rental properties can be a smart move. Vast fortunes have been made in real estate, and some of the most successful businesspeople have built their empires on apartment buildings and rental homes.

But before you join the ranks of those wealthy landlords, you need to learn the ropes. Jumping into the real estate game without the right preparation could leave you vulnerable - and end up costing you more money than you make. Here are six unexpected things that can cost you money as a landlord.

#1 - An Empty House or Apartment

A vacant rental home or apartment costs you money in two ways. Every day your rental space sits idle is one more day it is not earning any money. At the same time, the costs associated with owning the property, from maintenance to real estate taxes, are still stacking up.

It may not be as easy to keep tenants in place as you think, so do your homework and be prepared for the inevitable. Hopefully you will get great tenants who stay for decades, but chances are there will be some vacancies along the way.

#2 - An Emergency Repair

From a broken furnace to a clogged toilet, emergencies happen, and when they do you will need to respond. Emergency repair costs can add up quickly – and take a serious toll on your budget.

You may not be able to predict the next emergency, but you can be certain it will happen. Building some additional funds into your landlord budget will help, so you will not be blindsided by the next repair bill.

#3 - Damage by Tenants

It is a sad fact that tenants tend to treat their homes worse than homeowners. The reason is obvious – renters do not have a vested interest in maintaining the property, since it is the landlord who benefits.

Given this reality, landlords should expect some level of neglect, but sometimes that neglect crosses the line into actual damage. Tenants can do a lot of damage to your property, and the cost of repairs could easily exceed any security deposit they provide.

Tenant damage is one of the biggest issues out there, so screen your renters carefully, check references and do what you can to reduce the risk. You may not be able to completely eliminate the danger, but you can take steps to mitigate it.

4 - A Plunge in Property Values

The total return on a rental property includes two components – the annual rent roll and any appreciation in property values. But home prices and apartment building values do not always rise – the 2008 housing crash and subsequent recession are proof of that.

A sudden plunge in property values could cost you serious money as a landlord, and put you underwater on your mortgage. It is important to be prepared for this eventuality, so you can recover if property values temporarily fall.

5 - An Increase in Property Taxes

Across the country, property taxes fund everything from local school districts to senior citizen programs, but they can hit landlords especially hard. Worst of all, property owners have little, if any, control over the size of their property tax bills.

Other than voicing concern with elected representatives and attending local meetings, there is not much landlords can do to control their costs. A sudden rise in property taxes could cause your costs to soar, reducing or eliminating the profits you had been counting on.

6 - Higher Property Management Fees

Hiring a property management company is a good way to take the pain out of being a landlord. When you hire a property manager, they can handle everything from collecting rent to fixing broken plumbing, but those services come with a cost.

An increase in property management fees could reduce your profits and harm your fledgling real estate empire, and as with property taxes, you have little control. You can always shop around for the best deal, but finding a more affordable property manager who is also reliable is no easy task.

Whether you are an experienced landlord or just getting started, it is important to understand all the costs. Being a landlord can be an expensive undertaking, and the rent you receive will not always cover your costs. The six unexpected costs listed above could reduce your profits and even put you in the red. If you want to succeed, you need to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.