Archive for the 'apartments' Category


Breaking A Lease Agreement


When you sign a lease agreement, most likely you’ll be signing on for a set period of time, such as six months or one year. That means you’ll have to stay on for this amount of time or risk breaking your lease.

While many people do intend to stay long-term in their apartments or homes (after all, moving all the time can be costly) there are some unforeseen circumstances where you might be forced to break your lease before it us up, such as illness, job loss or other emergencies. If you absolutely have to break your lease agreement, here are some of the things you should consider.

Before you try breaking your lease, there may be other things you can do first. You can ask your landlord if you can transfer the lease to someone you know (and have them move in and pay off the remaining rent for the lease term) or find a sub letter, who will be your responsibility for the time of the lease. In many cases, landlords hate breaking lease agreements because they don’t want to lose the income from the rent and/or don’t want to be bothered with having to look for tenants. If you make it as easy as possible for them, you may be able to get out of your lease unscathed.

Circumstances When You Can Legally Break Your Lease

There are three main circumstance wherein you can break your lease without penalty:

1)   If the apartment or whom suffers serious damage through natural disasters, crime or other instances through no fault of your own.

2)   If you suffer serious health issues which require you to live in an assisted living facility.

3)   If you are called into active military duty after you’ve signed your lease

In these three cases, you can legally break the lease and your landlord cannot go after you for penalties.

Landlord Deficiencies:
If your landlord has been deficient in his or her duties, then you can also break your lease since he or she is not keeping up their end of the bargain. For example, if you’ve repeatedly sent requests for repairs and they ignore you, or if they’re supposed to pay for the utilities but haven’t (or have been keeping the payment for themselves if you give it to them) then you have just cause to break your lease. Make sure you keep good records (like written or e-mailed requests for repairs, etc.) so you can make your case, in the event that you have to go to small claims court or have been served with other legal documents and actions.

If you just want to break your lease because you want to move somewhere else, because you can’t pay or perhaps going through a divorce or separation, you may find it harder to break your lease. However, first talk to your landlord and offer the aforementioned alternatives, that way you can have a peace of mind when you coordinate other aspects of your move like locating moving companies.


How To Get Along With Your Roommate


Congratulations on your exciting moving experience. Having a roommate in an apartment can be a tough experience. Even before you figure out your situation with your movers, you need to establish some necessary rules directly. You also have to learn how to confront problems in a nice manner so that your household will be peaceful. It is better to live with someone peacefully. You have to make some effort to establish a good roommate relationship, especially if you live in a dorm. It will help you enhance your college life experience. These are some suggestions on how to get along with your roommate. You need to know you roommate. Do not create unjust judgments, but find time to essentially talk and mingle with your roommate so that you can know her or him better.

Start a conversation. You can express your own habits and preferences. It is also important to know your roommate’s preferences. If in case, you are used of staying up late and you usually get up in the morning late, and he sleeps at 9 p.m., you have to make sure that you both know this and you can find a compromise. You need to cooperate with your roommate. If he usually sleeps early and you usually sleep late, make a system that can allow each of you to feel as if your needs is the same. You need to respect the opinions of your roommate, including his needs and wants. If he has an important exam or event the other day, do not insist on staying up late at night with the radio blasting and the lights on.

Set up a schedule. In order for the two of you to establish things easier without hurting one another, you should set up the rules and a schedule for chore delegations and study hours. Sticking to and planning your schedule can avoid misunderstandings and conflicts along the way. It can ensure that chores and study needs are compatible. If there are conflicts, you have to resolve them quickly. Do not let any problem fester. It will just lead both of you to further problems or complications and eventually hurt feelings that can possibly be the reason for either of you to move out. You have to remember that you are each a separate individual, both of you have distinct living styles and tastes and you cannot expect that your roommate will automatically get use to the way and manner you desire to live. You have to be open minded and flexible. Being overly inflexible about bedtime, cleaning or noise issues will bring no good. It will just create a gap between the two of you.

Make an effort to create friendship. You can do things together. It does not mean you have to share bathroom at the same time. It means you have to interact with your roommate. Do something enjoyable together and try to know her or him well. By watching a movie together, you can learn more about your roommate. Your relationship with a person or with your roommate will depend on the effort you put in to share interests with her or him.

At the start having a roommate is really tough but if are able to establish a good relationship with him, it is fun. You have to go along with the situation, create a positive energy between both of you. It can be an opportunity for yourself to learn and possibly, to create long lasting friendship.


How to Stage your Home

This guest post was provided by Central Austin homes maven, Allison Allen.

One of the most steps to selling your home is making it attractive to prospective buyers. Showing the house is one thing, but showing it well is a whole different ball game. Even the most seemingly insignificant adjustments can transform your cluttered clamor into the house of people’s dreams.  Here are some tips to help you get started.

The first thing to do: remove clutter. Nothing hurts home showings worse than clutter and disorganization and there are plenty of easy ways to de-clutter.

Turn unsightly household objects into home buying appeal. If you have a bunch of old magazines and books lying around, organize them into a bookshelf, or use them to accent other home décor. Old books make great lamp stands when stacked. If you haven’t used the stuff lying around your house in a while, then get rid of it. Whatever attachment you felt towards those things will soon be replaced by a sense of relief for your clutter free household.

Clutter doesn’t just come from knick-knacks and other things lying around, it can also come from having too much furniture packed into your living rooms and bedrooms. Although it my have been a nice set up for you, the potential buyer will be distracted by the lack of space. The less furniture that you have, the bigger the house will look, and that’s a good thing when showing a house. The more space the buyer sees they are getting for their buck, the more willing they will be to meet with asking prices. Before you show your house, take some of your excess furniture and store it away until the move. It will let the house breath and make the space much more accessible to the potential buyer.

Once clutter is removed, and the house is looking nice and open, it is usually a good idea to replace fixtures just to give it that “new house” look. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to really give your home a visual kick

Just as important as the inside of the house, the outside must also make a great impression on the potential buyer. Basic steps are to landscape and touch up any blemishes on the exterior of the property. Mulch that flower bed and plant something! Got dirty gutters, clean them! Nothing will hurt a house showing more than a beautiful interior and the second they step into the backyard, there’s potholes, patchy grass, and dirty windows—another inexpensive, sure-fire way to help your For Sale by Owner experience.

But perhaps most importantly in the staging process is the first impression, or as we say in the real estate business, “curb appeal”. The entrance to your home will set the tone for the rest of the house. So, tidy up that entryway. Maybe even give that front door a nice bold coat of paint on it so that the entrance will be fresh and inviting.

When selling your home, the most important element of the selling process is how the home shows. No matter your price, an ugly, uninviting, cluttered home won’t sell and it won’t look good on the part of the seller. So remove that clutter, dust of that lampshade, polish that doorknob and present a respectable and asking-price-worthy home to the buyer. Hey, you never know–after you’re done staging, your home might look so good you’ll want to stay.


Tips and Advice When Living with a Roommate

Check out our tips before you move in with a roomie.


Living with a roommate is both exciting and daunting. You might have grown up having your own room, or sharing a room with a sibling, but living with a complete stranger is a task that should never be taken lightly. Conflicts arise only when things are unclear. Sometimes anything petty, like eating his or her food, or leaving dirty dishes in the sink can cause many fights.  An important piece of advice: keep communication lines open and be clear about everything with your roommate from the very beginning. This helps to avoid such conflicts and misunderstandings.

Here are some areas where rules must be set so that you and your roommate can maintain a good relationship and keep peace and harmony around your shared apartment.

Personal and “public” stuff.
This must be clear between you and your roommate: which among your stuff is available for common use and which is restricted. Do you share your books and CDs? Will you allow your roommate to use your kitchen utensils? Are you sensitive about the use of your shaver? These are some of the issues that must be addressed.

Visiting hours.
Your apartment building may set their own time for this, but you and your roommate must also agree with regards to your own apartment. Issues to address include: What time is considered to be available as visiting hours? Who may be accepted as visitors? How long can guests stay over?

Some people love loud music while others don’t. Some like TV, while some hate it. Be sure to have an agreement as to how loud s the music can be played inside the room at up to what time should the television turned on. You might have to battle on who takes control of the remote.

Housekeeping schedule.
If you don’t have any experience in housekeeping, it may be a pain. This time it’s a necessity for both of you to keep it clean. Your mother won’t be around to pick  up after you. Make an agreement on the assignment of tasks and a schedule: Who deals with cleaning the floor, putting out the trash, dishes? The important thing is to be fair.

Lights out.
It is important to set a time for the lights out so both of you may properly manage the time. You may follow different timelines for your stuff, so plan your schedule. Say, activities that may need lighting should be done early on so that you will not need to go beyond your scheduled lights out time.

Bills payment.
There are cases where you may have to pay for some bills like water, electricity, as well as cable and internet. Since you might be sharing the use of these, be clear on how you would split the bill for each.

Kitchen and toilet supplies.
Have an agreement on how you will purchase or use your toilet or kitchen supplies. You may decide whether you should take care of buying your own supplies or just splitting the cost of those between each other.

It will save you a lot of trouble if you can arrive at a consensus on the areas enumerated above. Make sure that you always have an open line of communication with each other. Be proactive and take time to discuss problems with your roommate as soon as possible. Both of you should be able to live in peace and harmony.

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Homeowners: What to Look for in a Potential Renter


When deciding to rent your home or apartment there are numerous questions and a screening process that potential tenants should have. Before you advertise your place you should know exactly what you want in a tenant, and what the rules will be.

Of course you are going to run a credit check and a background check on anyone who fills out your application. But before you even get to that point, there are questions you can ask any potential renter that may help you decide if you even want to get to an application. Get a feel for their answers, such as hesitations or just a gut feeling you may have that they are not being totally honest with you.

• Ask them their full names. If they just want you to call them by their first names, this might indicate they have something to hide.

• Ask them where they work, and if you can contact their employer. Obviously you want tenants that are employed, and if they are not willing to let you talk to their boss, maybe they don’t have one.

• How many people will be living in the apartment or house? Are there children and if so, how old are they? You don’t want a family of eight moving into your one bedroom apartment.

• Do they smoke? If they do, will they be smoking outside? Smoke can really mess up the walls and any furnishings you might have.

• Why are they moving? Does their answer sound reasonable?

• Explain that you will need to contact their landlord. If they have a bunch of excuses why that is not a good idea, that will be a huge red flag.

• Do they have any pets, and if so, what are they? If you have a no pet policy, this should be explained upfront.

• Ask for their social security number. They should have no trouble providing it.

You will probably want to think of some other questions on your own that pertain to issues you may have. Just remember that there are certain things you can’t ask. Be sure and check out the laws for the Fair Housing Act. The more information you can get upfront, the more time you will save screening out people who are just not right for your rental property.

print A New Apartment Review and Social Networking Website integrates real estate rental reviews and through social networking features where they can search and post reviews of apartments, rental homes, student housing, vacation rentals and more. is also a trusted partner of, a complete moving resource where consumers can receive competitive moving quotes.

The newest user review and social networking website went live late November 2010. The review platform is based on tenant experiences, past or present, renting apartments, on or off campus student housing, rental homes, vacation rentals and more. The site allows users to search and post reviews in every city in the United States. Users can also post pictures of the apartment and rate it using a unique 5-star rating system that ranges from “Not That Bad” to “Absolute Nightmare.” Although the name,, implies and actually encourages negative reviews, users can also post positive reviews. “The reviews that users post are meant to help future tenants become more aware of possible issues and ask the agent or landlord tough questions before they sign a lease,” says Cerny, a Chicago based real estate professional and co-founder of the site. Landlords are welcome to respond to posts about their properties if they believe a review is inaccurate or if a problem has been corrected.

It happens all too often, an interested party walks through a beautifully furnished unit with an agent or landlord and decides to sign a lease because everything looks perfect. It is very obvious that the agent or landlord is not going to mention that they receive numerous noise complaints about the neighbors throwing parties all the time or that the unit has a mold problem in the kitchen ceiling which they continue to simply paint over. allows users to easily share their experiences in order to help future tenants make an informed decision about signing a lease after they read the apartment reviews. The goal is to make leasing agents, landlords and property managers more accountable by disclosing more information to prospective tenants.

Besides the review side of the website, it is built around a social networking core, which includes a conversation forum, public blog and a classified ads section. The main difference between and their competition is that they appeal to the next generation of internet users with numerous social networking features. Unlike the competition that has dated features and no social networking, uses Facebook connect along with the AddThis sharing service. Both of these features will allow users to stay connected with friends by sharing posts and messages instantly on their favorite social networking sites.

The layout and review system of is similar to the popular review site Yelp. The main difference is that its niche is rental property reviews and not reviews of every single business in the world. It will only be a matter of time before we start to see other review sites startups that focus on niche markets since quality on a specific topic, business or interest will always trump quantity.

For more information regarding this website, please visit

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Pre-Rental Checklist

Before you rent, make sure to check out our pre-rental checklist

By Staff

Is it safe? Is it clean? Are the essentials located nearby? Those are the types of questions to ask before you pick a new place to rent and before selecting moving companies. Here a list of things to watch for when you’re looking at apartments for rent or homes for rent.

Outside the Apartment:

Do you feel safe in the neighborhood and the surrounding area? That’s the first and most important question by far, and is always the first question to ask yourself.

If you visit the apartment during the day, think about how will feel coming home late at night, or early in the morning. If the thought makes you scared, move on. No amenities or cheap rent can compensate for the feeling of insecurity.

As part of this, ask your neighbors about safety, and check in with the local police about crime statistics.

Is the building close to major roads and public transportation? Do trial runs for how long it would take to reach your work, your daycare, or other frequently visited placed.

Is the building clean and well-kept? Are entryways and hallways well lit? Are unsavory types hanging about? How the building is kept up is a pretty good indicator of the vigilance of the apartment manager.

Is the laundry nearby? If you don’t have a car, it better be close, preferably in your building. Picture yourself trudging there every week or so and ask yourself how you feel about that.

Where are gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants, banks, drug stores, dentists and gyms – is the distance friendly or far away? If you’re on public transit, figure out how long it will take to get to these various places that you might visit often.

Inside the Apartment:

Before signing a lease and moving, make a quick check of the apartment, not only the appearance and cleanliness, but see that things actually work. Don’t take anything for granted – something that doesn’t work now you’ll have to deal with right away when you move.

Bathroom: Check the water pressure in the sink and shower, and flush the toilet to make sure it operates properly. Also, make sure the hot water works.

Walls: If the building’s near a road, can you hear the traffic? Can you hear the neighbors next door? If near an airport, how is that noise?

Appliances: Check the fridge, the heating and air conditioning, the stove and oven and any other appliances that might be in the apartment.

Windows: Make sure they open and close easily, and make sure there are no holes or cracks in the glass.

Electricity: With any switch you see, try it out to make sure it works.

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Your Apartment Rental Checklist

Be sure to refer to our checklist before you move into your new apartment!

By Staff

Congratulations on your exciting new apartment! Before you start calling moving companies, it’s important that you make a thorough check of your apartment before moving in. To help you, we’ve put together the following easy and quick safety checklist of the things to look for.

• Look for the nearest fire extinguishers. One should be centrally located for you to access; know where it is. If you can’t find them ask your landlord where they are.

• Check for smoke alarms. Go through the apartment and do a smoke alarm inventory. Do they have one in each room and hallway? If you’re missing any, ask the landlord about them. If they’re there, talk to the landlord about when the batteries were last replaced, and test them every month.

• Before moving day, ask about having the locks re-keyed.

• Install deadbolts on exterior doors.

• Consider renters insurance to protect your belongings and your personal liability.

• Is the oven and broiler clean? This can be a fire hazard if not.

• If you have a balcony with sliding doors, that’s an easy way for burglars to break in. Ask your landlord about installing anti-lift and anti-slide devices on them, especially if you live on the ground floor.

• Check the paint. Is it chipped? Broken? Worn down? Ask about the paint and whether you can re-paint the walls, add pictures, etc?

• Look for the outlets.  See how many there are and test to see if they work.

• Test the water. Turn on the water in the kitchen and bathroom and perform a simple test to determine that hot is hot and cold is cold. This is also a great way to test out the water pressure.

• Open the fridge and freezer to determine the level of coldness.

• Be especially careful with basement windows. They should have extra protection, such as metal bars or be made of burglar-resistant glazing to discourage intruders. For fire safety, however, they should have quick-release mechanisms to allow for a quick escape in case of fire.

• Make sure your windows have keyed locks or security pins or nails in addition to standard locks.

• Don’t place anything valuable items near windows or glass doors; it’s much easier to break into by simply breaking the glass.

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