roommate agreement

All You Need to Know About Roommates

roommate agreement

When you’re just starting out on your own money can be tight, especially when it comes to living in cities. That’s why many people opt to live with roommates in order to share costs. It can be a great way to save some money on living expenses, but it can also be fraught with peril due to the ups and downs of interpersonal relationships. If you choose to live with a roommate here are some things you need to know before signing a lease.

What is a Roommate Agreement?

A roommate agreement is basically a written document that puts down the responsibilities of each roommate. It is often made without the landlord present. This can range from financial responsibilities to personal ones. It often outlines how rent and utilities are to be divided, but it can also be modified to include chores, food sharing, quiet times, and the policy on guests.

The three biggest things included in the roommate agreement are rent, security deposit, and utilities. These financial items are critical to any agreement.

Is a Roommate Agreement Legally Binding?

The answer to this can be tricky. A lease with a landlord is legally binding from beginning to end. If there is legal action against a tenant that broke a roommate agreement a judge will likely only hold them responsible for certain items. For example: If the roommate moves out early because they had to take a job elsewhere, leaving you to pay all rent and utilities, the court may order the roommate to pay you back in full.

The court likely won’t get involved if some of the more personal terms are violated like playing the TV too loud. Another important factor is if the roommate files for bankruptcy or has no money. If they don’t have any funds it is unlikely you will be able to collect on any judgment.

The phrase “caveat emptor”, or “buyer beware” is important before agreeing to live with a roommate. Be sure that it is someone you know and trust if it is at all possible. That makes the entire rental experience much more enjoyable for all parties involved. If you are meeting someone for the first time be sure to do your homework and find out more about them. In this day and age of the internet and social media you can learn a lot about a person before living with them.

In the event you do have to go to small claims court for failure to pay rent and utilities a roommate agreement can be a handy tool in your favor. It can help you get the share of the bills the other party agree to pay, but it is by no means a guarantee. By getting to know the person and trusting them you can make sure you have a much better experience, and it will end up as a much better experience for the second party as well, because they likely need a roommate too!

storage shed

What to Move to Self Storage in Summer

storage shed

Warmer weather is just around the corner and that can mean it is time to reduce clutter around your home. If you have a self storage unit it can also mean it is time to switch up what gets stored there. Summer patio furniture and more can come out and winter items like that snowblower can go in. The flexibility that self-storage units offer can be very helpful with the change of seasons. Seasonal items are great for that, and as summer approaches here are some items you can consider moving to self-storage so they are not in the way.

Holiday Decorations

Are the Christmas tree and lights taking up space that is needed in the garage? Put them in a storage unit! You’re not going to need them until November anyway.

Winter Clothing

If you already have a storage unit you can put away bulky winter coats and blankets. Just make sure to protect them properly with plastic bins and vacuum sealed bags.

Snow Removal Items

This includes snowshovels, snowblowers, and more. For snowblowers, be sure to drain the tank of any fuel and disconnect the battery. That way it will be ready to go next winter with little maintenance.

Vehicle and Patio Covers

Summer is the time to be outdoors, so don’t let the bulky covers for your outdoor furniture get in the way. Put them in storage with the rest of the cold weather gear.

Snowmobiles

Many people like to store their motorcycles in the winter, and if you have a snowmobile it is a great trade-off. You can bring out the bike while you put the snowmobile away for the summer. Just be sure to drain the gas tank and disconnect the battery before storing.

Space Heaters and Snow Tires

These are both specialty items that just get in the way during warmer weather if you have them. Safely store them in a storage unit and they will be ready to go next winter.

As always, if you have any questions about what can and cannot be stored, feel free to contact your storage professional. They are there to help you with any questions or concerns you may have.

Bathroom decorating

Bathroom Decorating Ideas for Your Apartment

Bathroom decorating

There are certain trade-offs when it comes to apartment life. You know that your space is limited. This is as true for decorating ideas as it is for storage. Both of these factors come into play when it comes to taking care of the bathroom in your apartment. You may never have enough space in your apartment bathroom, but there are tips and tricks that can help you both maximize your space and have the bathroom looking great.

Work on Your Display

If done the right way, the bath products you have in your bathroom can be part of the display itself. The trick is to not have too much on the vanity itself. Most bath products come with their own colorful packaging. Items such as bath salts, cotton swabs, and more can be displayed in mason jars that are both aesthetically pleasing and handy containers. Make sure that your display is also functional. What you leave out can make your bathroom cozy while also being functional.

The Medicine Cabinet

Your main place of storage in the bathroom is the medicine cabinet. It not only holds hygiene products, but it also holds medications, hair accessories, and more. A great way to maximize space is to purchase a stand-alone medicine cabinet that goes over the toilet. Some of these units are quite large and can even hold extra towels, soap, and more. Most hardware stores have dozens of options for stand-alone medicine cabinets.

Add a Plant

It may not seem like m8uch, but if you add a plant such as a fern or cactus it can serve many purposes. First, it adds a splash of color that can be a visual focus in the room. Second, plants can help reduce the moisture levels in a room that is already high in humidity. They help absorb the moisture from a steamy shower and make the room more comfortable. As a bonus, they don’t take up much space, either.

Use Stackable Containers

Whether it is under the sink or in the medicine cabinet, stackable containers help you maximize every square inch of storage. By using vertical storage space you can double or even triplet he area available. Many stores have containers designed to fit into tight spaces in the bathroom such as between the wall and toilet.

Add a Personal Touch with Art

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but framed prints or other artwork can be a great final touch. Empty wall space is a great area for a piece of art, and it can be anything. Be creative and look at making a collage of photographs. This is a quick and inexpensive way to liven up the room.

These are just a few of the way you can really dress up your small apartment bathroom.

The Best Time To Rent A New Apartment

Renting a House vs. Renting an Apartment

When it comes to renting you have many options for a home. There are apartments, townhouses, houses, and other options, but what is the best? Each type of unit has its own advantages. Apartments generally allow you to save on cost, while houses often offer more space for your belongings. Location is also important, as apartments and townhomes are usually closer to the center of major cities while homes can be found elsewhere. When it comes to a house vs. an apartment, what is the best to rent?

Costs and Expenses

Apartments and houses each have different types of expenses. This is on top of the rent you have to pay, which is also even different. Generally, houses are more expensive than apartments for both rent and expenses. Houses typically have more space, so heating is therefore more expensive. Apartments can be all-inclusive, however, which means that all utilities are included within your rent payment. This can end up being better in the long run because the amount you pay per square foot can be better.

Transportation is also a concern. If you rent a house the parking is often a part of the rental, but it is not always included with an apartment. Some places may only have a limited amount of parking spots available.

Space

The biggest factor in deciding between an apartment and a house is the amount of space you need. If you have a larger family, a house is probably the way to go. A house almost always offers more room, but if you are moving out on your own an apartment can be best. This is especially true if you are living on your own for the first time, as the building will have a professional management staff that can handle any problems you may encounter. If you rent a house the landlord is likely the only person you can trust for repairs.

Amenities

One of the top benefits of renting an apartment is the amenities that come with them. Many apartment complexes and buildings have fun amenities such as a fitness center, pool, sauna, and entertainment room. Many times these rooms can be rented or checked out for your own small gatherings. A house often does not have access to these things, but if it is in a good neighborhood it may have parks and sports fields nearby.

There are, of course, several things to consider beyond these, such as the amount of rent you can afford, the location of where you want to rent, and more. Once you take all of these things in consideration you will be ready to make your decision.

storage shed

Choosing Between a Storage Shed and Storage Unit

storage shed

Every home can use more space. Deciding between building your own storage shed and renting a storage unit can be a tricky choice for many homeowners. Each type of storage solution has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. Here is what you should consider when deciding between a storage shed and a storage unit.

Cost

The good news is that the cost of a storage shed is all up front. It can be a bigger initial investment, as it could cost a couple thousand dollars, but it depends on the length of time you will need storage. The average cost to rent a storage unit is $91.14 a month. You could store your items in a storage unit for 9 months at an average cost of $820.26. This varies by the size of the unit and the facility, but if you only need short-term storage it may be more cost-effective to rent a storage unit.

Security

Storage units have varying levels of security in the form of cameras, gates, locks, and more. Many facilities also have managers that live on site and conduct routine security patrols. With a storage shed on your property all security is up to you. You can add locks and connect it to your home security system.

Access

A major advantage to having a storage shed on your property is that you have access to your belongings at all times. For items like garden tools, sports equipment, and more having everything on site is great. Many storage facilities offer 24-hour access, but they are still off-site and you have to travel to access your belongings. You still have to maintain the shed, however. You have to paint it, make repairs, and such. With a storage unit, the storage company handles all this.

Pests

Part of the storage company’s responsibility is to spray for bugs and keep other pests out of its units. They often have a standing contract from pest-control companies to take care of these things, while your own storage shed leaves this as your responsibility.

After careful consideration of each of the criteria above, there are still other things to consider. Is the convenience of a climate-controlled unit something you need? What life-phase are you in? Everyone has a different opinion on what is “convenient”, so be sure to take the time to think it through. Everyone has different needs when it comes to storage, so it is important to consider all factors.

roommate agreement

Apartment Decorating Ideas

Apartment decorating ideas

Walls are meant for decorating. In apartments they are a great way to make your place truly your own. Unfortunately, turning the walls of an apartment into Swiss cheese with a bunch of nail holes is a great way to not receive a security deposit back. Not everything that ends up on your walls needs a nail, however. There are a number of ways you can spruce up your place with a unique look without leaving a ton of marks on the walls.

Use a Pegboard

Pegboards come in a variety of sizes with dozens of holes that can be used to hang almost anything. You can even get a pegboard big enough to cover an entire wall! Whether you leave a pegboard the color you find it in or paint it ahead of time, it is a great way to make a place truly your own. With various hooks and other methods of hanging things a pegboard can also double as a storage space.

Try Velcro

Velcro is a great way of hanging small items with no mess and no holes in the wall. Just get a lengthy strip and put one side of it on the wall and the other side on your artwork. Not only will you be able to easily hang each piece this way, it makes it easy to move things around. Things can even stay more securely on the walls as well.

Strategically Use Bookshelves

Bookshelves can be used for more than just books. If you only have a limited amount of books the rest of the shelf space is a great place to display artwork, knick-knacks, and more. Inexpensive shelving is available from several retailers. Make your place unique by purchasing some and displaying models and more. You can find small items at dollar stores that work well as accent pieces.

Use Decorative Tape

Decorative tape is a great way to add accents to rooms without messing up the walls. It can come with a variety of patterns and is available for less than $5 per roll. You can even get solid colors and make your own patterns to create your own designs that will truly stand out. Best of all, when it comes time to move out, decorative tapes easily peel off the wall. It makes for less stress and no mess.

These are just a few of the ideas that keep your walls free of holes and help you make your space truly your own.

self storage summer

What to Move to Self Storage in Summer

self storage summer

Warmer weather is just around the corner and that can mean it is time to reduce clutter around your home. If you have a self storage unit it can also mean it is time to switch up what gets stored there. Summer patio furniture and more can come out and winter items like that snowblower can go in. The flexibility that self-storage units offer can be very helpful with the change of seasons. Seasonal items are great for that, and as summer approaches here are some items you can consider moving to self-storage so they are not in the way.

Holiday Decorations

Are the Christmas tree and lights taking up space that is needed in the garage? Put them in a storage unit! You’re not going to need them until November anyway.

Winter Clothing

If you already have a storage unit you can put away bulky winter coats and blankets. Just make sure to protect them properly with plastic bins and vacuum sealed bags.

Snow Removal Items

This includes snowshovels, snowblowers, and more. For snowblowers, be sure to drain the tank of any fuel and disconnect the battery. That way it will be ready to go next winter with little maintenance.

Vehicle and Patio Covers

Summer is the time to be outdoors, so don’t let the bulky covers for your outdoor furniture get in the way. Put them in storage with the rest of the cold weather gear.

Snowmobiles

Many people like to store their motorcycles in the winter, and if you have a snowmobile it is a great trade-off. You can bring out the bike while you put the snowmobile away for the summer. Just be sure to drain the gas tank and disconnect the battery before storing.

Space Heaters and Snow Tires

These are both specialty items that just get in the way during warmer weather if you have them. Safely store them in a storage unit and they will be ready to go next winter.

As always, if you have any questions about what can and cannot be stored, feel free to contact your storage professional. They are there to help you with any questions or concerns you may have.

Renter resume

Completing a Renter Resume

Renter resume

You may not think of having a renter resume or even know what one is, but it can be a critical part of renting any new apartment. It is considered to be the starting point of the rental process and it is a useful tool that landlords and property managers use to screen potential tenants. If you find an apartment unit that you really want, but might be hard to get, a well-made rental resume can be the difference in getting the apartment you want. Here is how you can make sure your rental resume elevates you to the top of the rental applicant list.

What Goes in A Rental Resume?

A rental resume is only part of the screening process along with credit and background checks. It is much like a resume for employment, but just includes different information. It is important to include the number of people that will be living in the apartment, a statement on why you want to live in the unit, your background (including education and employment), and your rental history.

The rental history is one of the most important pieces of information that property managers use to evaluate prospective tenants. Property managers and landlords want to know that you will be a reliable tenant with great behavior. In this section you should include all of your rental history with addresses as well as contact information so that managers can confirm you were a good tenant. It is also a good idea to include the reason why you are moving.

What About References?

Much like a job resume, references are important for a rental resume. Again, you want to make sure that you stand out and that you have people that will vouch for your character. This helps property managers determine if you will be a good tenant. If you can get someone to write you a letter of recommendation that is even better. Your references should include your name, relation, phone number, and e-mail address.

Additional Documents

You should have additional documents available upon request. This includes income verification, any other letters of recommendation, and proof of financial reserves. These are all types of documents that would be part of a standard rental applications. Make sure that you state on the resume that you have these documents available upon request. Bring them with you when you have an appointment with the leasing agent, as well.

Much like finding a job, getting a lease on an apartment take preparation and presentation. Be sure you dress to impress, have your resume in order, and ask plenty of questions. When you show that you have your information in order it will help you land the apartment you desire.

Section 8 Housing

What You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing

Section 8 Housing

The Section 8 Act of 1937 is a landmark piece of legislation that has helped millions of Americans find affordable housing for more than 80 years. Currently, it offers rental housing assistance for almost 5 million Americans, but the ins and outs of it can be tricky to navigate. It is still an incredibly helpful government program that helps millions of people afford housing every year.

What is Section 8 For?

Section 8 is intended for individuals who are forced to pay an above-average amount of their income for rent. It basically boils down to individuals that the need for a place to live means sacrificing other basic amenities such as food and clothing. These subsidies help such individuals afford housing units.

 

How Does Section 8 Work?

The main way that Section 8 works is through a voucher system. The vouchers can work in two ways:

  • A “project-based” voucher that is used only within a specific apartment complex.
  • A “tenant-based” voucher where a tenant may choose any unit in the private sector.

 

Under this program, individuals or families with vouchers may find and lease a unit and pay a portion of the rent. This portion is based on the adjusted income of the tenants and most pay approximately 30% of their adjusted income on rent.

What is Adjusted Income?

The adjusted income of an individual or family is determined through a formula. It is the households total gross income minus deduction for dependents under 18, full-time students, and disabled persons. Age (if elderly) is also a factor, as well as certain disability assistance and medical expenses. This is determined through an asset test that is administered when looking for a property. After income calculations, most Section 8 allowances will subsidize roughly 70% of a person’s rent, reducing the portion they are responsible for to 30% of the total.

Where Can Section 8 be Used?

Section 8 is a federal program, so most Section 8 vouchers can be accepted anywhere in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Residency requirements are a factor, however, so in most states you must live there for 12 months before you can leave. Local states and municipalities have their own rules as well. Another key factor is that income changes (such as a raise or promotion) or changes in living situation (such as having a child) must be reported or they can result in being expelled from the program.

How Do I Find Section 8 Housing?

Individual states have their own pages through the national HUD websitethat offer a wealth of resources for individuals seeking Section 8 assistance. The HUD also has its own pageof detailed guidelines and regulations on you can obtain or keep any Section 8 benefits.

The bottom line is that Section 8 Housing is designed to assist individuals in finding affordable housing anywhere in the country. Many local offices are also available to help with any additional questions you may have.

pet agreement contract

Signing a Pet Agreement Contract

pet agreement contract

Your new apartment is meant to be a home for all of your immediate family, and that includes your furry family members. Many apartment buildings and complexes are now pet friendly, meaning you can bring your cats and dogs with you when you move. Many times residents have to pay an additional fee up front and their rent may have an extra charge each month, but those are things outlined in the “Pet Agreement” portion of the lease. You may not know what is involved in a Pet Agreement, but here are some of the common parts of a basic Pet agreement contract that is in most leases.

Type of Pets Allowed

Pet agreements are designs to protect both tenants and property managers. It outlines the rules for owning a pet on the property for all tenants, including non-pet owners. It helps state which types of animals are allowed to be pets. Some properties won’t allow “dangerous breeds” of dogs such as pit bulls. These agreements also may set a weight limit on dogs. It is also common to state that the only pets allowed are those owned by the tenant, so guests cannot bring their pets when visiting.

Some landlords and property managers may only allow dogs and cats, while others can allow more exotic animals. Something as simple as a goldfish generally doesn’t apply to a pet policy, but lizards, snakes, and other exotic animals.

Licenses and Vaccinations

A Pet Agreement also outlines that a pet owner should follow proper health and identification processes. This means making sure pets have a proper ID tag on their collars and that they also have all of their vaccinations. There are  local ordinances require concerning regular cat and dog vaccinations and licenses, so property managers will insist on proof of compliance.

Pet Fees

Keeping up after pets is important, so a pet agreement will outline any additional fees necessary as well as the rules for keeping pets under control. Tenants are required to clean up after their pets both inside and outside the apartment. Some may even require pet owners to carry renter’s insurance in order to cover damage caused by pets. If there are additional fees such as a pet deposit or an additional monthly charge on top of rent it will also be outlined in the Pet Agreement Contract.

Finally, a pet agreement contract is often subject to change. Sometimes a landlord will have a “grandfather clause” exempting tenants already in the building from having to comply with the new rules for pets they already had before the changes took place. Typically, property managers will give 30 days’ notice before any changes to the pet policy will take effect.