Monthly Archives: January 2011

Home Matters: Safety

Here is a dreaded question that makes just about every person in the property management world shake their head: “Is it a safe place to live?”  It is a great question.  It is a needed question.  It is a question that professionals wish they could confidently and accurately address.  However, it is a question that every person must answer for themselves because only you know when you feel safe.  As you are considering a place to move into, whether you are renting or just squatting with a good friend, there are some steps you can take to reassure yourself you have chosen wisely.

  1. Call the police department and ask for a record of the activity in the area you are contemplating moving to.  They will give you a lengthy report that you will need to assess for yourself.  You may ask for another record for a neighborhood/area different from your first choice to give you a comparison.  But here too, you will need to make your own determination.
  2. While you are talking to the police, ask them what type of patrol they routinely conduct in your area.  While crime is a movable target and our servicemen have to drop regular beats to take care of emergencies, there is a planned schedule they work from in the quiet times.
  3. Visit the website Family Watchdog to see if there is a registered sex offender in the area.  That may not be an issue for you, but you have the legal right to know.
  4. Ask, ask, ask the neighbors their opinion of what it is like living in that area!  They know better than anyone!!
  5. Visit your place at night.  What type of street lighting is available?  What type of parking lot lighting?  What type of neighborhood activity happens?
  6. Understand that steps of prevention do not guarantee safety.  For example, gated communities may deter crime, they do not prevent crime.  You may be careful to always close the gate behind you, but there may be another resident who is very comfortable leaving the gate propped open for their buddy to come in later that evening.  Know that living in community brings the challenge of people’s differing interpretation of what is “right”.
  7. Check your own locks regularly for proper function-the locks on your doors and windows. Before you rent, check the locks that are available and be sure you think they seem secure.  Consider where you feel the most vulnerable in your home and spend some time securing that area.  You be in control of your feelings of safety.  And as silly as this sounds, lock your doors!  It’s a habit that you will be glad you formed.
  8. Establish your own routine for safety.  The Crimson Choice program at the University of Alabama encourages students as well as townspeople to cultivate an awareness of their surroundings before they walk from their car to their home or store.  Visit their website for some more of their suggestions.
  9. Consider joining or establishing a Neighborhood Watch Program.  It’s a great way to know the people who live around you and be on the offense rather than the defense.  If there is not a program already in place where you live, click here to get more information. Or call the Tuscaloosa Police Department at (205) 349-2121.

Feeling safe in our homes is important but only we can determine what that is like. With proactive steps we can make certain we have done what we know to ensure safety.  It is a responsibility you should take because your Home Matters.


*This post is the first from guest columnist Mrs. Fleta Edwards, Vice-President and Realtor for H.A. Edwards. We are pleased that she will bringing her expertise to our rental blog.

Do You Know Your Neighbor? “Will” Power

As part of our ongoing series, “Do You Know Your Neighbor”, we would like to highlight Will Nevin.  Will maintains the blog Duct Tape Wedding Ring that chronicles his journey to become half a man.

You may ask what it means to become half a man, and Will is all too happy to tell you how he went from 350 lbs to his goal wieght of 175 lbs.  That’s where the title “Will” Power comes from, because he accomplished his goals by making a commitment to healthy eating and exercise.  His blog now chronicles his commitment to maintaining that healthy weight and lifestyle.

Sounds pretty unbelievable, but this author who personally know Mr. Nevin can attest that his story is entirely true. Please head over to his blog and read his witty, frank, and often poignant accounts of what it is like to lose a massive amount of weight by making a drastic life change. He is an inspiration to anyone who sets a goal to accomplish something whether it is losing weight, training for a marathon, learning to dance, keeping a clean house, climbing Mount Everest, you name it!

Say hello to Will the next time you see him!

Stocking a Kitchen: Nice to Have

A while back, I wrote about the things that I found essential to a starter kitchen here.  Those items got me through many years of basic cooking.  However, as my skills (and tastebuds) refined, I began to attempt more complicated methods and recipes.  Naturally, I found that I needed additional equipment. Below is a list of equipment that I find particularly useful in a kitchen, but that are by no means necessary.

Stock pot/Boiler
As a French major, I took a class on Louisiana and got the wild idea that I should try to make a big ‘ole pot of gumbo.  That was the first time I realized that a boiler was useful.  It is much larger than a saucepan and is also useful for chili, large quantities of pasta, or just about every Cajun/Creole dish you can cook. (See where my tastebuds lie?) If you like soups, stews, or large quantities of pasta, I highly recommend a decent boiler.

Blender/Food Processer
The blender and the food processor share many similar functionalities mainly the blending and mixing of food.  For most people, they can be used interchangeably.  However, you should know that the blender is for mixing soft foods or liquids, so if you want to make smoothies, icy beverages, and even blend soups like black bean soup, then a blender is for you.  However, if you want to chop vegetables or blend beans for hummus, then you should go with a food processor.

Coffee Maker
For me, a coffee maker is a necessity, but for others the addiction isn’t strong.  Even if you don’t drink coffee, it is nice to have a coffee maker if you entertain or have parents that enjoy a cup of coffee. A small 5 cup maker is 20 dollars or under, so it’s not a huge investment. You don’t even need to keep coffee filters. I have successfully used a double thickness of paper towels in a pinch.

Toaster/ Toaster Oven
Some people may consider a toaster a necessity, but since you can toast in the oven, I consider this a nice to have item.  I own an awesome toaster/toaster oven combo that lets me toast both sides of my bread before melting cheese on top. Genius!

Chef Knife
At some point in my culinary journey, I was introduced to Anthony Bourdain—chef, writer, tv host. Ever since I read his first book Kitchen Confidential, I was in love.  He also convinced me to learn how to use a chef’s knife with one simple statement, “Please believe me, here’s all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chef’s knife, as large as will fit in your hands” (76).  He was right. Once I learned how the knife felt and worked in my hands, I only ever use my chef’s knife and occasionally my pairing knife for EVERYTHING!

Cutting board
I swear by a cutting board that is dishwasher safe.  I really don’t think it matters what material it is made of, even though there are many people that will tell you otherwise.  The only thing I recommend for cutting boards is that you keep one for cutting raw meat and another for everything else to cut down on cross-contamination.

Wanna make the fluffiest omelette or scrambled eggs in town? Get a whisk! They are useful for mixing cake batter, brownie mix, jello, etc., but I like to use mine to make eggs that rock!

Hand mixer
You can use a whisk to mix most anything, but when you are beating the lumps out of a cake batter, a hand mixer saves your arms and shoulders a lot of trouble.  Hand mixers are also great for making fluffy mashed potatoes.

Tea kettle
If you are a regular tea drinker (hot or iced), a tea kettle really makes things easier when pouring boiling water into a pitcher or cup.  You can purchase one of the fancy electric models, but the old fashioned stove top models have always served me well.

Are you a wine drinker? Do you have guests who like to drink wine? You should probably have one of these.

Yes, you could drink wine out of the gameday cup collection in your cabinet, but if you are stocking your kitchen with non-necessities, why not go ahead and get something a little classy? A set of four wine glasses are very inexpensive.  If you are worried about breaking the stems then there are stemless models available.

Spice rack
Every cook is going to have differing opinions on what constitutes the basic spices one should have besides salt and pepper. I have found one website that lists a good list of basic spices here and another that lists spices that are necessary to cooking different ethnic cuisines here.  If it were me, I couldn’t live without my sea salt, black peppercorns, oregano, basil, cumin, bay leaves, and paprika.

Electric Skillet-“Controversial” amongst the bloggers
I say controversial amongst the bloggers because Kate uses hers to cook the pre-made pasta dishes that are perfect for a quick meal. In using the electric skillet, she eliminates the need for using the stove. I however use a skillet or wok for anything I would fry.  As with all cooking, it is up to the preferences of the chef!

Crock pot
As many of us are very busy and don’t have time to cook when we arrive home, a crockpot becomes a great way to start something in the morning before we leave and then cook it all day long until we are home.  There are tons of crock pot cookbooks on the web, in the bookstore, or in your mother’s head.  The smaller models are useful for keeping Velveeta cheese dip or little cocktail wienies hot during a party.

 Bag Clips
I have used paper clips and rubber bands in the past, but a good couple of bag clips seems to keep my chips and pretzels that much fresher. If you have a tendency to lose small items, there are clips that have magnets on the back and can live on the fridge when you’re not using them.  Just one caveat, I have gone to get one of my fridge magnet clips, only to discover that they were being used to hang something important on my fridge!

Pizza Cutter
A knife will cut a pizza, but a pizza cutter just does it better.

Hope that inspires you to expand on your kitchen and your culinary repertoire!

 À la prochain,


Renewal FAQs

Many of you are receiving renewal notices in the mail, and we here at the office understandably have been receiving your questions.  Here are the answers for some of the more frequently asked questions.



  1. When is it due?
    The renewal letter and addendum that you receive in the mail will have the date in large, bold letters. Please look carefully.
  2. Do I have to turn something in?
    If you plan to leave at the end of your lease term, you must ABSOULTELY, POSITIVELY turn something in, or we will assume you are staying and automatically renew your lease for another year as stated in your lease.  We understand that sometimes you make an error and miss that deadline, so if you come in and apologetically say that you missed the deadline, we are happy to work with you a week or so after the deadline.If you plan on staying, we like to have the addendum back as soon as possible so we can go ahead and update your account.  You will be automatically renewed if we never hear back from you.
  3. Do I have to renew for a whole year?
    All campus properties MUST renew for a full year lease term.  The off-campus properties of Cedar Crest, Quail Valley, and Windsor Hill can be negotiated with our property managers.
  4. What if I live in a campus property, but will only stay for six months?
    If that is the case, when you send in your renewal, indicate that you want to put your apartment up for re-let. (For more information, please visit our post on re-letting).  We have a good number of students that come in January looking for campus properties, so the likelihood of getting your apartment re-let are good.
  5. Does my co-signer have to sign too?
    It is preferable that all parties sign the addendum and return, but one signature is enough.
  6. What if I want to stay, but one or more of my roommates do not?
    First, the addendum needs to be brought into the office, and both roommates need to sign and indicate who is staying and who is leaving.  Then you have one of three options.

a)      If no other roommate will be added, no further action will be required.

b)      If another roommate will be added to the lease, the new roommate needs to come into the office with an application, co-signer application if applicable, and the $35.00 application fee.  When the new roommate is approved, the lease will be re-drawn, and all parties involved will re-sign.

c)       If the remaining tenant and co-signer agree, the new roommate can be added to the account but not sign a new lease.  If you choose that option, the new roommate will not be financially or legally obligated to the unit should any problem arise.

More importantly, the two original tenants need to decide what to do with the original deposit.  The outgoing tenant can leave the deposit with written instructions signed by both parties stating what to do with the deposit at the end of the lease.  The other option would be for us to refund the deposit to the outgoing roommate, and the incoming roommate would be responsible for paying that half and bringing the account back to balance.

Hope this answers your questions and helps you make an informed decision about renewing your lease with us.