Category Archives: Procedures

How to: Change Your A/C Filter

Don't let this be you! Ick!

With the warmer months approaching, we are going to start running the A/C in our apartments.  So, I thought we should discuss the maintenance/changing of air filters.

For Window Units:

  1. Take the filter out of the window unit.
  2. Turn the filter so that the debris side is facing away from the water. Run it under water and the dust should push right off.  (The mighty Quinn, head of maintenance, recommends using the bathtub to do this chore.)
  3. Let it air dry completely and replace back in the unit.

For Central Units

  1. Depending on your unit, you will need to find the location of the A/C unit.  For some it is in the mechanical closet in the actual A/C unit.  In others, it is behind the grate in your hallway.  If you can’t locate the filter in your hallway, then it is in your kitchen.
  2. Once the filter is located, you will need to pull out the filter.  In some units there will be threaded knobs you will have to unscrew, but it is pretty much self-explanatory.
  3. Pull out the filter and determine the size.  Go buy a new one.* Wal-Mart has the biggest selection of filter sizes and brands. You might want to buy in bulk because…
  4. You will need to replace the filter every 30 days.  Replacing your air filter every 30 days is important because…
    1. It improves air quality in your apartment by removing dust and allergens.
    2. It reduces the amount of energy needed to cool your apartment by improving the unit’s efficiency.

If you want more information, there are tons of videos on you tube about changing an A/C filter, and as always, if you can’t locate the unit, we will be happy to help you!

À la prochain,

Kim

*If you live in the 300 and 400 building of Windsor Hill, then you are lucky! The filters in your units are a weird size and only we can order them.  Let us know and we will provide them so you can replace them.

Thunderstorm and Tornado Safety

When I was in undergrad, my friend and I had a tornado plan: Since our apartment was so close to the stadium, the spirit of Bear Bryant would keep the stadium safe and by extension our apartment. NOT the best plan.

With the spring weather period approaching, I thought we should discuss issues associated with severe thunderstorms and tornados so you can make an informed and APPROPRIATE severe weather plan.  Continue reading

Winter Weather Safety

Our favorite part about winter weather--Frosty!

Snow! Since winter weather is such a rare occurrence in Alabama, we get excited about the potential for snowball fights, and forget that winter weather can be very dangerous.  While a winter storm can include snow, it also includes ice, black ice, and freezing temperatures.  By knowing the potential dangers and how to deal with them, you can have fun and stay safe. Continue reading

How to: Re-set a Breaker

This is an example of what a typical breaker box will look like.

For the first in our series of how-to, we are going to teach you how to re-set a breaker.

  1. Find the breaker box. If you don’t know where it is, call us and ask us.
  2. Determine if it is the GFI breaker or GFI receptacle. (Receptacles are located on the wall in all Windsor Hill bathrooms).
  3. If not, locate the switch that is in the off position (they will be labeled) or that is partially popped out of place.
  4. Put switch in off position then back in on position.
  5. This is an example of a typical GFI receptacle. The red button is the reset button.

    If that doesn’t work, then call us and report the problem. Please mention that you have reset the breaker, but ONLY IF, you have indeed done it.

That’s it! Now you know how to re-set that breaker and will be able to instantly fix those small  electrical problems.

*Our head of maintenance extraordinaire, Quinn Stephens,  will be consulting on the how-to posts, so you know you are getting quality information!

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.

Fleta*

*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.

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.

 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