Category Archives: Kate

Making Holiday and Vacation Preparations

With the Holiday break approaching (Yay!), we thought we would give you a list of things to do before you head out for your various destinations.

Remember that while this list was posted before the Christmas holidays, it is a good idea to go through this list anytime you head out for an extended period of time such as spring break, summer vacation, etc.    

General

  1. If you are going to be gone during the 1st through the 6th of the month make arrangements to pay your rent. You can pre-pay or mail a check to our office. 
  2. Many of you have noticed the abandonment clause in your lease. We expect you to be gone for the span of a week or two during the holidays, and as long as your rent is current, abandonment is not an issue.  We just need to know if you’re going to be gone for more than a month.

Safety

  1. Take all belongings such as laptops, valuable jewelry, etc.  in case of a break-in.
  2. You can set a light or two on timers to give the illusion that someone is at home.  Target or Wal-Mart have cheap ones for around 7 bucks.
  3. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to have the post office hold your mail delivery or arrange for a friend to pick it up periodically. Don’t forget about newspaper delivery too!

Climate Control

  1. In the winter, make sure your thermostat is set to 55 degrees to ensure pipes do not burst.  Remember that if your pipes burst, they will be repaired at your cost. Be responsible and leave the heat on!
  2. In the summer, make sure you keep your thermostat at 78-80 degrees to ensure that mold and moisture do not grow while you are gone. (This actually did happen to the neighbors of some friends one summer).
  3. If you have window A/C units you can put them on timers so that you won’t have them running constantly, but only during the hottest parts of the day.

Other Things to Consider

  1. Unplug all appliances such as coffeepots and toasters to ensure that you didn’t leave them on. Just don’t unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Unplug all electronics in case of a power surge. (Also, unplugging electronics will save on vampire energy.)
  3. During the summer, the right combination of sun and rain can cause a well-manicured lawn to become a jungle quickly.  In order to prevent a tenant charge, you might want to arrange for lawn care. 
  4. I know this probably goes without saying, but please make arrangements for your pets if you are going to be gone for more than a few days.

À la prochain,                                                                                        Thanks,
Kim                                                                                                             Kate

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Turning in Maintenance Requests

One of the most common calls we receive from tenants is the maintenance request.  My hope is that this post will help you turn in a maintenance issue quickly, efficiently, and painlessly.

Maintenance Issue during Office Hours

To turn in a maintenance issue during our office hours of 8-5 Monday through Friday, you need to call our main office number at 205-345-1440.  When our office staff answers the phone, simply tell them that you would like to turn in a maintenance request then give them the following information:

  1. Your name
  2. Where you live–this means the property AND the apartment number.
  3. Then give us a detailed description that tells us the problem, the location of the issue, and any steps you might have taken to solve the issue.

Here are some examples of incorrect and correct maintenance requests:

Incorrect

“My A/C doesn’t work”

Correct

“Hi, I would like to turn in a maintenance request…This is Mickey Mouse at 314 Bryant Drive…my A/C is blowing, but the air is not cold. Thank you”

Incorrect

“My faucet is dripping.” or “My faucet won’t stop running”

Correct

“Hi, I would like to turn in a maintenance request…This is Big AL of 622 Quail Valley…the bathroom sink in the hallway has a constant drip coming from the spigot.”

Or

““Hi, I would like to turn in a maintenance request…This is Lucy Ricardo of 315-D Cedar Crest Square…the bathroom sink upstairs has a steady leak coming from the pipes underneath the sink. I have placed a bowl underneath to catch the water and would appreciate your attention to the matter as soon as possible”

Finally, we do care very much about getting your issues fixed in a timely manner, but you should know that maintenance is like medical triage. We get to the list, but if an emergency comes in that gets priority.  Issues that are considered priority are busted pipes, A/C during summer and heat during winter (esp. for our elderly tenants), defrosting refrigerators, and boarding up windows after a break-in or severe weather.

Emergency Maintenance Issue

First, you need to determine if it is in fact an emergency. Leaks that might flood the apartment, problems with heating or cooling in severe temperature extremes, defrosting refrigerators, and boarding up windows after a break-in or severe weather are considered after-hour emergencies just as they are considered priorities during office hours.  If your situation fits, call the main number 345-1440, and an answering service will send out our maintenance crew. If you are unsure if a leak fits the criteria, call the answering service, and a trained technician will make the call for you. Just know that if you misrepresent the situation, you will be charged $60.00 per hour.

Thanks,

Kate

Re-letting Your Apartment

Sometimes an occasion arises where you need to move out of a rental property before the end of your lease term.  Unfortunately, we cannot let you cancel a legally binding contract, but we have procedures in place that let you re-let the property and turn over your lease to another tenant.

First, you need to decide when you will be leaving the apartment.  Once that decision has been determined, come to our office and fill out a re-let form.  A re-let form states your intention to vacate the apartment at a certain date and put your apartment back on the rental market.  The re-let form also lets you offer any incentive (like transferring your deposit ) that you think will make your apartment more marketable.  Putting your apartment up for re-let requires a $50.00 administrative fee so make sure to bring cash, check, or money order.

Once you have declared your intention to put your apartment back on the market, you have three options for finding a new tenant.

  1. You can find a tenant yourself.  If this is your preferred option, then you need to have the new tenant come in and go through the application process. If they are approved, we will draw up a lease and you are officially out of your obligation to us.
  2. You can let us find a tenant for you.  We will advertise and show your apartment, plus handle the administrative processes. If you choose this option, you will owe us a commission equal to one month’s rent.
  3. You can do both.  While we are showing your unit, you can also search for a potential tenant.  If you end up finding the new tenant, you will owe us a commission of half a month’s rent.  However, if we find the tenant, you are still responsible for a commission equal to a full month’s rent.

There are pros and cons to each method, and I encourage you to think them through fully before making your final decision. 

Most importantly, you are still responsible for your lease until a new tenant has signed a new lease and paid the new account balance.  We at the office will make every reasonable attempt to help you secure a new tenant, but sometimes depending on the time of year or location of the property, it takes time or doesn’t happen at all.  Just keep this fact in mind.

Hope this helped clear up one of our most frequently asked questions!

Kate

Finding the Right Home for You

Renting a new home can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if it is your first time to do so.  There are a lot of things to take into consideration, and this is a big decision.  It is beneficial to know what you are looking for before you begin to look.

With that said, there are some preliminary things you can do to make communication easier between you and the leasing agent.  There is nothing more disappointing on both ends than when you aren’t looking at the right apartments for what you want. Make a list of things you need in an apartment and things you want in an apartment.  Consider things like price range, location (walking distance to class, etc.), and what appliances are important for you to have in your home (such as dishwasher and washer and dryer).  If there is a possibility that you will have a pet in that home, let the agent know that as well.  Also, think about what you will live without in order to have something else.  Having all of these ideas in your head beforehand will definitely make the showing and choosing process easier.

After your initial conversation with the leasing agent in which you briefly discuss your needs and wants, he or she will have narrowed down which apartments are best suited for you, and probably will have scheduled an appointment for viewings.   During this appointment, there is more in depth information that will be helpful for you to know about each property.  If you have never rented before you may not know what to ask, so here are some questions I feel everyone should ask, and that may help get you started on a more personalized list:

  1. When is rent due, and when is it late?
  2. What utilities are required for this property?
  3. Who is responsible for maintenance on the apartment or house? What will you (the company) take care of and what will I? This is especially important, because for example, you may be responsible for mowing the grass at a house, and you should be prepared to do so.
  4. Who is responsible for pest control?
  5. What is the pet policy?
  6. Can I paint or make minor alterations to the unit?

I hope this helps you focus and prepare before you set out to find a rental property, and you should ask these questions of any company, not just us.  Renting and living on your own is fun and exciting, and hopefully we can help you make the process easy too!

–Kate