What to Do When You Don’t Get Your Security Deposit

leaseWhen you sign a lease, you hand over your security deposit as part of the agreement process. When the lease is up, you give your notice, pack up your stuff, clean up after you’re done and you’re supposed to get your security deposit back too. But, what happens when that check never comes or the manager tells you you aren’t getting it back?

It’s important to know what you can do if you don’t get your deposit back. While there are times your landlord was just, there are other times you have options to get it back — regardless if the landlord was planning on giving it back or not.

Discuss Your Security Deposit Situation with the Landlord Before You Move Out

When you give your notice, discuss the security deposit with your property manager. Ask about how and when you will get it back, how much you are going to get back, etc. Refer to your rental agreement too and see what it says about you deposit. If your property owner’s response is different, remind them of the terms in the legal document you both signed. He would hold you to the contract, so you can gladly hold him to the terms too.

Follow Up

Sometimes things get lost. If you don’t receive your security deposit, discuss it with your manager after you have moved out. Let them know you haven’t received it and find out the status of that deposit. If they are not giving you clear answers or seem to be giving you the run around, you still have options.

Make Sure You Were in the Right

A lot of renters don’t get their security deposit back and think their property owner broke the law. But, how well did you care for the apartment? Did you follow all of the terms in your lease? Did you leave the place a mess? Did you do a final walkthrough with the manager to make sure that everything was noted properly? If you didn’t do your due diligence, you might not have a chance to fight your property owner in court for your security deposit.

The Law Gives You Options

If you are in the right and a landlord refuses to return your deposit, you have the law on your side. The law protects landlords and tenants alike, especially from property managers stealing their security deposit. Check the laws about security deposits and see how long a landlord has to legally return it or give notice you won’t be receiving it. Then, file a complaint with the housing authority as well as the state attorney general.

May 2014
POSTED IN Legal Tips

Tips for Touring Your First Apartment

Happy smiling couple moving into first new homeAs a first time renter, you’re going to have a lot of walkthroughs. But, do you know how to properly tour an apartment? While you might think everything looks good, how much time did you actually spend during your tour? It takes a little extra time to properly inspect a potential apartment, but by taking that time out of your day, you can ensure you get an apartment that suits your needs.

Check Out the Appliances

Your apartment is most likely going to come with a range, dishwasher and refrigerator. Check them all out, turn them on and make sure they’re working. There’s nothing worse than getting an apartment with a broken appliance.

Open the Closets, Cabinets and Drawers

You can tell a lot about an apartment just by looking in the storage spaces. First, you want to make sure you’re getting an apartment that can hold all of your stuff. See how deep the closest are, how many drawers you have to work with in the kitchen and the storage for food. What seems like a lot of cabinet space can fill up quick when you have dishes and pantry items to store. So make sure you’re not going to have to store a lot of your stuff on the counters.

Check Out the Layout

An apartment’s layout is important. You want something that will fit your furniture, but also make sense. See where the cable outlets are and whether or not you can move them —some apartments won’t let you relocate them and they won’t work with your furniture. Also, see how many outlets there are and the amount of space for your bedroom set.

Check for Signs of Poor Maintenance

Some apartments look great but don’t have the proper maintenance done. Look for signs of mold in the bathroom, especially on the ceilings and in the bathroom. Water stains on the ceiling are an indicator there is a leak somewhere in the roof. Also, if the apartment has a funny smell — cigarette smoke, pet urine or mildew — you will want to look somewhere else. Check out the carpets for extensive stains too — if the managers are OK renting a unit with filthy carpet, what else are they OK renting out?

Check Out the Community Areas Too

You like the apartment, but what about the rest of the complex? Visit the rental office, any community areas and even check out the pool and parking lot. How much space is there for visitors? Is there street parking or do you have a private parking lot?

May 2014

What You Should Be Putting on Instagram for Your Community Marketing

Architect Showing New House ProjectInstagram is a valuable tool for apartment managers. It helps build up your apartment presence and can even create a following. But, what do you post to Instagram? This social sharing network is all about pictures, so you have to be cautious about what you put up and what you leave out. You’re not looking to create a digital brochure, but more of a way to entice viewers to come check out the property or visit your website. If you don’t have an Instagram account, they are free and it’s time to sign up for one. Then you’ll want to use the right photos to start attracting your future tenants.

Take Advantage of the Seasons

When the seasons change, they can change the look of your community (for the good). Take advantage of those seasonal shots and get pictures of your signs, landscape and even flowers growing on the property. Have a pool that just opened for the summer? Get some photos and show them off on Instagram— and use it as a way to announce the pool is open to those tenants that are following you on Instagram already.

Show Off Your Green Skills

If you are trying to attract those eco-friendly renters out there, there is no better way than showing off your green side via Instagram. Show off the green cleaners you’re using, plants you have added and other steps you’re taking to go green. Hosting a recycling party or just added new recycling bins? Add pictures of those too.

Your Pet-Friendly Side

If you allow pets, you want to show that off in your Instagram photos. Capture moments of pets on your property and share them with your followers. Because a lot of renters just assume apartments aren’t pet-friendly, you might be able to snag those that didn’t realize you were a pet-friendly building.

Your Staff

Your staff is literally the face of your company. They are who tenants deal with and interact with, so don’t forget to include pictures of them. Make sure you get them in action, such as showing an apartment or repairing a tenant’s air conditioner. The more of your awesome staff you show, the more personable your community will seem to potential renters.

Events Hosted at Your Community

If you have events you host at your community, you need to include those in your Instagram photos. For example, you’re planning a summer BBQ for your tenants — snap a few photos and throw them up on Instagram to show what fun other renters are having being at your community.

May 2014
POSTED IN Uncategorized

How to Make Your Apartment Community Greener

Modern town houses of brick and glass on urban streetThese days more apartment hunters are looking for apartment communities that embrace the “green life”. While they do as much as they can to be green in their own life, they are more prone to rent from a property owner that shows an equal concern for the environment. In fact, a recent survey showed that 72 percent of consumers think it is important a business use sound practices to protect the environment— so if your community isn’t green, it doesn’t look to good for your reputation.

But, how can you go green without breaking the community budget in the process? Luckily, there are ways to take your apartment community to the green side — and some are a lot easier than you might think.

Create a Community Recycling Program

Recycling is an easy way to get your community more green. In fact, in Los Angeles you could receive tax credits for starting up a recycling program in your apartment building — if you aren’t legally required to do one already. Renters who care about the environment will be welcomed to the idea to recycle. All you have to do is order up some recycle bins and keep them around the community so residents can recycle their trash.

Have an Electronics Pick Up Day

Environmentally conscious consumers know that electronic waste is harmful to the environment. Schedule an electronics pick-up day by an electronics-recycling firm. These companies are equipped to breakdown electronics so they can be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. You can host this day once a year or three times per year to give your residents more opportunities to recycle.

Use Green Cleaners and Pesticides Around the Community

Green cleaners can be used around you community and especially in your community areas. If you have a pool, use a green cleaning method for your pool area. Also, for your gardens, use environmentally friendly pesticides (which are easy to find these days).

Give Out Green Welcome Gifts

Instead of giving out random gifts to new tenants, consider environmentally sound gifts, such as reusable shopping bags, plants or reusable water bottles.

Stop Using Paper

A lot of apartment communities are switching to paperless. That means paperless account statements, email newsletters instead of paper newsletters left on tenant doors and even digital signs outside. You can set up online payment systems too so that your renters can pay online and not worry about writing checks.

May 2014

So You’re Thinking of Getting a Pet? Consider This First

living with petsLiving in an apartment can get lonely — no one is denying that. So it’s only natural to want to add a pet to the mix — a dog to take on a jog or a cat to greet you when you get home. But, having a pet is a big responsibility to take on, especially living in an apartment. So before you go and get that new furry friend, consider these things first.

What Does Your Lease Say?

Not all apartments allow pets, so you had better check your lease to see what is allowed. Even those that do allow pets may have weight or animal restrictions — such as no dogs over 25 pounds or no birds. Also, some pets might not be allowed by your city, such as ferrets. So you’ll need to look at the local codes as well as your lease before you pick out any pet.

Check with your property owner directly even if it isn’t in the lease. You’ll want to clear it and get a letter clearing it. Plus, you’ll want to see if having a pet will affect your security deposit or if you have to put down more — some places require an additional deposit just for the pet.

Can You Really Afford Man’s Best Friend?

Pets aren’t cheap. Even smaller pets have their expenses. From buying food to getting vaccinations and their accessories, it will add up over time. In fact, a medium-sized dog will cost you about $600 to $700 per year. So, sit down and look at your monthly expenses and see whether you can actually fit in a new pet. Also, can you have an emergency fund for your pet? When your pet is sick or injured, you’re likely to pay the bill in cash, so having an emergency fund is important— vet bills can be in the thousands.

Do You Have the Time?

People get pets, but then don’t realize how much time they need to spend with them. You need time to feed, train, groom and just bond with your pet. Also, if you are the type that works graveyards, will your pet have to be locked up in the apartment all night and all day while you sleep? If you travel a lot, who will take care of your pet while you’re away?

Also, if you don’t have a small backyard, you’re going to have to take your pet out for walks every day — will you have time for that?

Is There Enough Space?

Think of everything that comes along with that pet and see if you have the space to spare. You would be surprised how much space a pet needs — from a birdcage to a fish tank to a doggy bed. If your apartment is really small, youmight want to hold off until you have the extra space.

As long as you are financially prepared and ready for the responsibility, having a pet to come home to is highly rewarding.

May 2014