Dog Bite Laws: What Renters Need to Know

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Whether on a tree-lined street or in an apartment in the city, the threat of a dog attack is becoming more likely. The influx of aggressive dogs in rental housing has increased over the past years, either due to negligence of the landlord in assessing the nature of their tenants’ dogs or due to the tenants’ failure to train and monitor their pets. Data that has been collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that there are almost 4.5 million dog bite victims in the U.S. each year.  The vast majority of canines will never bite someone seriously enough to break the skin. However, that does not mean that you can be careless in dealing with unfamiliar dogs. Disclaimer: This is not intended to act as legal advice. Please seek a legal professional to assess your particular situation and advise you accordingly.

The reality is that each and every animal could bite a person under any circumstance. If you’re a pet owner, this could cause you serious legal, financial, and emotional consequences, including the possibility of your beloved pet being quarantined or put down. Alternately, as a potential dog bite victim, you could be in for a painful event. Fortunately, there are several steps both parties can take to help reduce your risk.

Tips for Avoiding Dog-Related Legal Issues

State laws usually stipulate that any person who is legally visiting a private or public area can take legal recourse if bitten by a dog. In other words, if someone is visiting next door and is wounded by your pet (without provoking the attack), they would be able to sue you for all of the damages that they suffer.

Dogs that become classified as dangerous animals can be seized depending on their actions, and their owner will also face the possibility of fines and jail time. Some renters mistakenly believe that their landlord’s insurance will cover them, but this is not the case. The following are a few easy tips to protect yourself and your 4-legged companion:

1. Keep Your Landlord in the Loop – Renting a house comes with some responsibilities, including the fact that you need to ensure that all of your pets are legally allowed per the lease. This will protect you from being forced to make a decision between your pet and an eviction in the future, and it will also help your landlord stay safe when they visit the property. Make sure that you remind your landlord that you have a dog on the premises whenever they schedule a maintenance appointment. This level of open communication will dramatically reduce the risk of any unwanted incidents.

 2. Always Spay or Neuter Your Pets – Research indicates that most dog bites can be linked to an animal that was not spayed or neutered. Unfortunately, making the decision to skip this important medical procedure will result in a higher level of aggressive tendencies that can easily lead to an attack on a person or another animal. The ASPCA favors spaying, stating “unspayed females sometimes compete for the attention of a male dog by fighting. Spaying your dog can also eliminate the possibility of hormonally driven guarding behavior.”

3. Never Leave Your Dog Unattended – Some people think that it’s okay to stake their dog outside, but the truth is that this practice will make you much more likely to end up being liable for another’s injuries. If you do not have a fenced-in area for the dog to play, you will need to be with them at all times, and always keep them on a leash. Another factor for not leaving a dog tethered in an open area is that it could arouse an attack from another animal – potentially leading to a child or person being subject to harm in the frenzy of such a fight.

4. Focus on Proper Socialization and Training – Dogs might be touted as “man’s best friend,” but this does not mean that each of them is born prepared to live up to this title. You need to spend the proper amount of time training your pet and socializing them with other people. If you do so, they will respond in a gentler manner to future encounters with individuals who are not part of your immediate family.

Owning a dog is a large responsibility, so before you choose your favorite breed, do your research to figure out whether you are able to handle that breed’s tendencies. For example, huskies get separation anxiety, so that might not be the best choice for someone who works long hours. Similarly, border collies are high-energy dogs, which may not be suitable for small enclosed apartments especially if you are unable to provide them with the exercise they require. Also, be sure to plan on making the time and having finances available to invest in their proper upbringing. Fortunately, following these tips will make your pet much more likely to live a long and happy life without any violent incidents. As an added bonus, demonstrating a commitment to your dog via appropriate veterinary records and a good rental history will make future landlords more willing to accept you as a tenant prospect.

Photo Source: https://flic.kr/p/egemmZ

 

What One Shouldn’t Overlook When Renting an Apartment

85861896_417351848a_zWe all know that finding an apartment can often be overwhelming, not only for the fact that there are seemingly endless options to choose from, but also because you will have to sign a long-term lease that will hold you to this place for an entire year. Because of all this, you should establish what exactly are you looking you for before you begin the search. These hints should help you in your quest to find a new place.

Location

It goes without saying that the location is the first thing to consider when looking for a new place. Whether you want to live in particular neighborhoods or you are searching for an apartment which is close to specific points of interest or, you should determine the general area for your new place. In case you have a particular area in mind, examine, make sure to get a good sense of the overall character of the surrounding areas, getting acquainted with the environment and absorbing the feel of the neighborhood, prior to making your decision. Do some research by, for instance, visiting the area, talking to your friends, reading online discussion boards, or checking out local websites. Once you have narrowed down your search to a specific area, you have to decide where exactly you want to live in that area. Think of particular points of interest you want in your vicinity. Do you want to be within walking distance of, say, work or nightlife, or you need a park in which you can walk your dog? Identifying specific points of interest will further narrow down your searching area.

Rent

The next thing to consider is the rental fee you are willing to pay each month. You have to establish a price range, setting a maximum amount for the rent. Searching within a particular rent range will enable you to look only at viable options. This range should be determined based on the constraints of the lowest maximum if you are planning on sharing the place with others. Now establish the length of your rent, as many landlords will require of you to stay at least 6 months or a year. In case you want or need a month-to-month rental for any reason whatsoever, know that your options are likely to be reduced and expect higher fees, as well.

 

Amenities

The type and size of a rental building can significantly affect the range of amenities available. For this reason alone, you should specify the amenities that are important to you, making sure to distinguish your wants from your needs. First, establish what features must be there for you to even consider renting a place, ruling out all properties that can’t provide for your needs. Now, think of the features you would like to have, but could easily live without. If you successfully separate your wants from your needs, it will be much easier to determine what a desired place absolutely must have. It can be helpful to further sort the required amenities according to their degree of importance.

 

Potential Problems

When you visit the place you are considering, don’t forget to examine the condition of the appliances, plumbing fixtures and cabinetry. In case something is not in good condition, this can give rise to additional expenses. If a tap is leaking, for instance, you’ll pay more for the water bill than you actually have to. Even the smallest issue that you notice can easily lead to a bigger one with the passage of time, so it is better to learn about all potential problems before signing the lease.

 

Author Bio: Lillian Connors is a blogger and home improvement enthusiast ever so keen on doing various DIY projects around her house. She is also an online marketing consultant, closely collaborating with a number of companies from all over the globe.

 

Disclosure: Some of the info for this article was provided by Permanent Plumbing Solutions.  

Searching for an Apartment: A guide for Tenants

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Whether you’re an expert at locating the right apartment for you and your family or you’re a newbie, the search for the perfect apartment can be long, stressful, and often filled with hidden headaches and loopholes. Thankfully, the search for your apartment isn’t as hard as it seems, especially if you go over this handy guide before you start looking for your own perfect apartment

I.               Know What You Want

By starting your apartment search without really knowing how many rooms you want, which neighborhood you want in, or even if you want a condo or townhome, finding something will be an even more difficult job. Make out a list of everything you do—and don’t—want in your ideal apartment, then take that with you to your real estate agents, apartment managers, brokers, or owner, or keep close at hand when you search online for an apartment. Such questions to keep in mind:

  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want? Or more to the point, how many do you need?
  • What closet space do you need? (Keep in mind that many apartments don’t have as many closets as most homes do. It’s also easier to invest in a few shelves and closet organizers than to pay a monthly premium on extra closet space.)
  • What area or neighborhood are you looking at? Is this a big issue for you?
  • What other features are important to you (crown molding, nice cabinets, carpeting or tile floors, large kitchen, etc.)?
  • Do you need parking space within a garage or are you ok parking on the street? How many cars do you have? Will you need to have the parking paid for by the landlord?
  • What kinds of amenities are essential to you? Many large apartment complexes have luxuries like swimming pools, exercise rooms, spas, in-building laundry facilities, or even sports rooms (for basketball, etc.).
  • If you have pets, you will most definitely need to be looking at apartments that allow pets, whether it’s a cat, a dog, or even a reptile like a snake.


II.            
Figure Out a Budget

Deciding on a budget can be just as difficult as searching for the apartment itself. You need to figure out a price that you can afford, and that includes monthly utilities, including water, lawn maintenance, laundry fees, cable TV, renter’s insurance, and more. Many landlords want their tenants to make three times the amount of the rent; for example, if the rent is $1,200, then they want the potential tenant to make at least $3,600, in order to include other bills as mentioned above. If possible, include as many small bills and utilities as possible in the budget in order to ensure you have everything covered before you even go out to look at an apartment. Once you have a budget in mind, DO NOT look at any apartment that goes over this amount. It will only disappoint you since you won’t be able to afford it. Or it may tempt you into making bad choices like getting an apartment that you can’t afford and going into debt over it.

III.           Where to Look

There are various places for you to search for an apartment; it’s really up to you and what works best for your family and/or schedule. Many people like to look online first, then contact the landlord or broker and schedule a time to go out and take a tour of the space. Many prefer to contact an apartment brokerage firm or real estate agent who specializes in apartments/townhomes/condos and go from there.

Other places to look for vacancies include local newspapers (check out the Classified or Homes sections), rental signs in front of duplexes or apartment complexes, online bulletin boards like Craigslist or Rentalroost.com, and other online websites that list apartments that are for rent, or going to be for rent in the near future. Also, be sure to ask friends and family to keep you in mind if they hear of any upcoming apartments that will be for rent soon.

IV.           How to Stay Organized During Your Search

Because you probably have so many things to keep track of (budget, how many bedrooms/bathrooms you need, parking space info, etc.), it’s essential to be organized when you begin calling agents and looking at different apartments. Before starting your search, write out your wants and needs, your budget, how much you have to put down as a deposit, how many pets (if any), what amenities you want, etc.

Once you begin your search, you will need to maintain a new list to keep track of the apartments you look at and notes about each property. Here are some things you should write down after talking to an agent or touring a property:

  • The apartment’s address
  • Name of the landlord, owner, broker or real estate agent and their contact information
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms the apartment has, as well as the total number of square footage
  • Any pros and cons you see right away
  • Any additional notes you want to remember (such as promises the landlord made, what amenities the property has, specific things about the neighborhood, etc.)


V.            
Understanding apartment lease and rent agreements

Finally found the perfect apartment that fits both your budget and your needs? Great! Now it’s time to start reading the notorious lease agreement and try to make heads or tails of it. Fortunately, it is not as difficult as some may think it is. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • The lease. First off, you should understand what a lease is. This document is defined as a legally binding contract of the renting of land, buildings, etc., to another. Before signing any lease, make sure you understand all the terms in the document (and if you don’t, please ask!). Generally, the lease is usually written in simple language that can be easily understood.
  • The security deposit. This will most likely be touched upon both verbally by the landlord/agent/broker and also in the lease. This deposit is the money that is given to the landlord when first renting the property and is supposed to cover any damages that might incur over the course of renting the apartment. The amount of the security deposit is subject to many things, including what state the apartment is located in and what the landlord wants. Generally, it is equivalent to one month’s rent.
  • Terms of the lease. If the terms of the lease do not match what you and the landlord/agent/broker have already gone over (i.e. people named on the lease, date the rent is due, amount of the rent or security deposit, etc.), immediately bring it to their attention so it can be fixed before you sign it. Once the contract is signed, it is binding, so it may not do you any good to argue about incorrect facts then.

Pros and Cons of Renting an Apartment

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While there are those who see renting as simply wasting money, there are certain benefits to renting an apartment versus purchasing a home, condo or townhome. And just as there are advantages, renting does have its disadvantages as well. If you’re looking at renting an apartment, take a look at this list of pros and cons to help you decide whether renting is right for you and your family.

Pros

  1. Amenities and other added features. Many renters of apartments enjoy such options as swimming pools, exercise facilities, tennis courts, game rooms and even movie theaters. If you’re searching for an apartment to rent, make sure to ask about what amenities the apartment complex or community has to offer, and whether usage of these facilities is included in the rent.
  2. Maintenance and repairs. Unlike homeowners, renters have the luxury of having someone else take care of all those pesky little things that can go wrong – from broken appliances, leaky faucets, clogged toilets, and major repairs like cracks in the wall, or a broken water or heat pump, renting means that the landlord has to take care of these repairs and also offer regular maintenance. Larger complexes and apartment communities even offer a special department just for repairs and maintenance. Those who rent apartments also don’t have to worry about snow removal or yard maintenance.
  3. Freedom and mobility. Many people who rent apartments do so because of relocation due to their jobs, to be closer to family (due to caring for a sick parent, etc.), or wanting to live in a better neighborhood than they can afford if they would have to purchase a home. Renting an apartment makes it a lot easier to move than if you owned a house; you would have to wait until the house sold before moving to wherever you need to go. However, with an apartment, you can give appropriate notice to the landlord and then move without too much hassle or long wait time.
  4. Lower initial costs and fees. Compared to the amount of money you have to dish out when you first purchase a home, renting is definitely less expensive in the beginning. Renters usually pay a few hundred dollars for a security deposit, whereas those who are buying a house can pay thousands of dollars upfront in a down payment.
  5. Save money. Especially in a down economy, renters can save money when home values are plummeting. Even though it would make sense to purchase a home when the prices are low, if you wait until the values are getting ready to rise, you can save money in the long run.
  6. Smaller space, less hassle. Many renters seek to rent an apartment due to downgrading from a larger home, and find that a smaller space is easier to maintain. Seniors, empty nesters, singles and college students can all benefit from renting a small- to medium-sized apartment, giving them the advantage of having to take care of less space.
  7. Location. Ultimately, many people who rent apartments do so because it’s located in a particular area or neighborhood where they can’t afford to buy a home (or there just aren’t many homes available for sale). Whether the area is close to a job, a good school, or near family, many people find that renting is just a better option, especially if the housing market or economy is in a downward slump.
  8. Taxes and insurance. Renters don’t have to worry about real estate taxes, and the only insurance they need is renter’s insurance, which is much cheaper than homeowner’s insurance. There are no taxes for renters, but homeowners sometimes have to pay thousands of dollars a year in different taxes (such as property taxes, state and county taxes, school taxes, and local taxes).

Cons

  1. Parking. Many renters have problems with parking, especially if their apartment is located in a busy area of the city. Paying to park is a perpetual expense, and if your landlord has no designated area for parking, then you have to find a spot on your own, often quite a distance away depending on the area and how busy it is. This is a definite con for many of those who are looking to rent an apartment, especially in major metro areas.
  2. Decorating. If you love to personalize your living space, especially with lots of bold paint colors, many renters find that they are not able to decorate to their liking, since many landlords will not let their renters paint walls, or do any heavy decorating projects like you can in your own home. Decide if this is a deal-breaker for you when choosing to rent or not. Even if you do have a lenient landlord, make sure you first ask for permission to make the changes you desire. If you thoroughly enjoy home renovation projects and prefer to spend your free time working on decorating your home, renting may not be the best option for you.
  3. Pets. There are numerous landlords and property managers out there that don’t allow pets of any kind, the majority of restrictions being on dogs and cats. Landlords are generally under the impression that these types of pets will destroy their property, no matter how well mannered they may seem. If you have pets, you might have a hard time finding a rental, therefore making your search a longer and more cumbersome one. Also, landlords who do allow pets always want a pet deposit upfront, making the expense of renting a bit higher.
  4. Noise. If you like a quiet environment, then renting an apartment may not be for you, since many apartments might have loud neighbors and/or thin walls. Many renters have to deal with noisy neighbors, barking dogs, parties, etc., while living in an apartment. You may want to think of an alternative if you really need peace and quiet where you live.
  5. Rule enforcements. One of the most disconcerting reasons that many tenants move out of their apartments is living in a complex where rules were not enforced as they should be. The landlord may have “special” or favored residents who break rules and get away with anything, while the other tenants are forced to maintain those rules or get in trouble. There really is no way to know if a landlord may favor certain residents over others, so you always run the risk of renting a property where you may be treated unfairly compared to other tenants.

Regardless of what the pros and cons may be, you may sometimes have no choice but to rent an apartment. You can make the best of any situation by searching for your perfect rental unit based on your own lifestyle – pet-friendly or kid-friendly or just in a fantastic neighborhood that suits all your wants and needs! To find your perfect rental, go here.

Using all the Senses to Attract Potential Tenants

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All of our five senses—smell, sight, hearing, touch, and taste—can be used effectively by landlords to market their property and attract potential tenants. Landlords too often focus on sight alone to rent their property. However, the other four senses can also be used with more success and faster rental numbers. Here’s how to market using all of the five all-important senses:

  1. Smell. Any tenant who enters a property that has a musty or moldy smell will immediately notice and most likely not rent the unit. First off, make sure everything is clean and well maintained. You can then get creative – use vanilla-scented or “fresh linen” candles, use home fragrance sprays that also get rid of germs while simultaneously disinfecting the home, or bake bread or cookies in the unit before potential tenants arrive. The warm delicious smell is sure to invite several potential renters!
  2. Hearing. Even if your property, or a specific unit, is near a busy highway, there are certain things you can do to minimize the home’s noises for potential tenants. Try to put in double-pane windows to bring down outside noise; insulate around doors and windows; and also try showing the unit at a time when the noise is less blatant. If you cannot do the aforementioned, try playing soft, soothing music throughout the unit or home during showings.
  3. Taste. This is the trickiest of the senses to use when attracting potential tenants. However, it can be very effective if you have a plate of cookies (either home-baked or catered by a local place) for potential tenants to nibble on or even having wine for them to enjoy as they check out the unit. This can help put the tenants at ease, while also making your particular home memorable in their search for a rental.
  4. Touch. When you first meet the tenant, give a firm, not-too-strong handshake. Then, let them touch things in the property (open cabinets, take their shoes off to feel the tile or carpet, etc.). This will allow the tenants to interact with the property and familiarize themselves with the home in the same manner that they would use it.
  5. Sight. This is the main sense that most landlords use for marketing their property, and it is probably the most important one. Don’t just rely on the property or unit itself to attract the tenant. Try using finishing touches such as light decorating or “staging” to get the tenant to sign that lease agreement. Set out fresh flowers, light candles, use colorful throw pillows (for units that come already furnished), and be sure to point out any recent renovations you’ve completed.

How to Write an Effective Ad for Rental Properties

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Listing your property for rent—whether in print or online—is one of the most important and effective marketing steps you can take for renting out your unit. For maximum benefits and to stand out from the crowd of property listings, follow these simple easy tactics:

  1. Create a headline that makes renters want to read more. Most rental ads will start out with either the number of bedrooms/bathrooms or a succinct phrase like “Good, clean.” To really make your headline stand out, try using something like “Just miles from the beach,” or “Gorgeous hardwood floors throughout.” Use attractive features of the unit/property to really capture a potential renter’s attention.
  2. Use lots of photos. Renters love listings with pictures of the property. Focus on the kitchen, living-room, bathrooms, bedrooms, and any unique features of the unit (fireplace, hardwood floors, or gorgeous kitchen countertops). It might also be helpful to include pictures of great views from the property, if any.
  3. Write a complete, thorough description. Write the listing as if you are walking through the property. Start by describing the rooms, special features, the location, and also note if you have an application fee and how much it is. This lets the renter know the cost up-front so they won’t go into the application process and get surprised with the fee.
  4. End the listing with a call to action. A short call to action would include a phrase like “Make sure to take advantage of this month’s rent special” or “Get the first month’s rent for free if you answer this ad today.” This will entice potential renters to get in touch with you soon so that you can rent out the property quickly.