The GLLA Communicator

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Plastic Milk Jug

Glass was once the king of containers. But that era died with the milkman. Today, jugs are HDPE, or high-density polyethylene, a lightweight and flexible plastic that's easily formed into a variety of shapes and sizes. When recycled, these jugs are often put to good reuse as the major ingredient in plastic lumber. But why not give a jug an extra job first? All you need isa sharp utility knife or shop scissors to cut them.
-Mark Feirer, TOH
⊗ Scoop nails. Clean up the mess with a milk-jug scoop. Make one by slicing a liter jug diagonally from the base of the handle to the opposing bottom comer.
⊗ Chill out. TOR general contractor Tim Silva fills quart jugs _ full with water and freezes them to use in his job-site cooler. The contained ice won't make sandwiches soggy, and when it melts, you have water to sip.
⊗ Spread salt. Slice the bottom off a capped jug and fill the top with ice-melting granules. Grip the handle and flick your wrist to toss ribbons of salt over a slippery sidewalk.
⊗ Yank a commode. Plumbers use a wet/dry shop vac to suck water from the toilet tank and bowl before removing it. But bailing with a quart-size container will do the job almost as quickly. A sponge absorbs remaining moisture.
⊗ Weight it down. Arizona contractor Michael Sondgeroth uses water-filled gallon jugs to hold a plywood countertop substrate in place while the glue dries.
⊗ Shim it. Strips and squares cut from the flat side of a jugmserve as moisture-proof shims or oversize washers.
⊗ Stymie a storm. Rope pairs of water-filled gallon jugs together and use them as anchors to hold a tarp over a small pile of firewood to keep it dry.

Start a seedling. Cut the bottom off a gallon jug and upend it to serve as a cloche. Remove the cap as needed to control temperature in the mini greenhouse.

Challenging Situations, Illegal Activity and Working with Police

After determining the prime time for the suspected dope dealing activity, contact the officer who rides the beat of your problem tenant during the hours of peak activity. If you have established that peak activity is Friday and Saturday night between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am (which, by the way, is a very busy time for uniformed police), you should make arrangements to meet the officer who rides your beat during his scheduled shift. Ask to meet him somewhere other than your rental property. This causes you inconvenience, but it sure demonstrates to this officer the seriousness of your concern.
Never tell the officer that he or she has a problem at your property. Police are people too. Many taxpayers talk down to police officers with comments such as, "You work for me, I pay your salary." This flips on the us-and-them mind-set and you have already lost. Most police officers really do want to help. Use this motivating factor to get results for you.
Start your conversation with an attitude of "I need your help. I have a problem." Do more listening than talking. They feel better if they talk. They will like you better if they talk. If you do all the talking, you will feel better and they may be tuning you out. They hear this stuff all the time. Be patient. As a rule of thumb, the longer you let police officers talk and demonstrate their knowledge to you, the more apt they are to offer out-of-the-ordinary assistance to your problem while working their shift. Your property will get extra patrol and attention. Do not ask them to ride by, stop by, or sit on your property. The challenge here is to get officers to offer this to you as a way for them to help.
Offer police officers a way to contact you if needed. 90% of the time, they won't call, but offering 24-7 availability means a lot to officers working the late shift and shows your level of concern about the problem. Offer your cell or home number confidentially.

Prepare Your Tenant Before Meeting To Sign A Lease Agreement

To avoid an unprepared tenant at the lease signing, be sure to instruct him on what to bring with him beforehand. We like to always require the tenant to bring a copy of his driver's license, social security card, and the balance due in certified funds money order or cash. Also, if there are any other adjustments, we'll advise them at that time. Items required for tenant and lease signing:
• Drivers license (each adult).
• Social Security card (each adult).
• Balance due in certified funds.
• Any outstanding documentation. money order or cash.

HOW TO LEGALLY PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST PROBLEM RESIDENTS

Many landlords are faced with lawsuits arising from problem residents that can easily be avoided with a well-written and thoughtout lease. This lease should spell out the legal rights a resident has while renting the property. Below are some recommendations on what a landlord should consider for protection against potentially devious residents.
Have a resident screening process in place. Before signing a lease with a new resident, make sure you have a sufficient screening process in place utilizing objective legal guidelines that a resident must meet in order to be approved. An objective tenant screening procedure is important to insulate the landlord from discrimination and related type complaints.
Make sure lease terms are specific and unambiguous. Ambiguous language leads to lawsuits and leaves the meaning of the lease up to a judge or jury to decide. A lawsuit determining the meaning of the lease would result in an unnecessary delay in the removal of a problem resident, costing you both time and money.
Spell out your guest policy in the lease. This includes how long a guest can stay before he or she needs to be added to the lease. Sometimes, residents will try to get away with having a guest stay for an extended period of time without being approved as a resident by the landlord. Having this policy in place allows you to take the necessarylegal action if the tenant does not comply.
Limit rights to sublet. Require that the landlord approve any sub-tenant. Such approval would incorporate the resident screening process you have put in place.
Keep an eye on the property. This will insure that the resident is in compliance with and not breaching any of the terms of the lease. Put a clause in that allows the landlord the right to access the premises (upon reasonable notice).
Keep detailed records. Record keeping includes anything that pertains to the lease and the landlord/tenant relationship. Documentary evidence, when prepared in the ordinary course of business, is very powerful evidence when used in court. These will give you documented proof of issues the landlord has with the resident and all actions taken to resolve the problem.

AVOID ONE OF THE MAJOR LANDLORD LAWSUIT CATEGORIES

Discrimination of one of the top 5 major categories which landlords find themselves involved in lawsuits. A large percentage of landlords are familiar with the Fair Housing Act in general. And the Fair Housing Act may appear to be more common sense. Most landlords would never think of blatantly discriminating against people of a different race or religion, or on the basis of gender. However, it’s important to note that the Fair Housing Act extends beyond the screening process into advertising as well, so watch the wording in your ads. This is where more and more landlords and property managers are making critical mistakes. You may not be aware that there are people who scour the classifieds looking for inappropriately worded ads so they can pounce on landlords and property managers and threaten them with a lawsuit. While someone must have standing to bring a lawsuit, these scoundrels often work in coalitions to ensure that all their bases are covered.
Note: If you own rental property in a predominately Jewish community its proximity to the local synagogue could be a major feature. But if your ad says, “Within walking distance of the synagogue,” you could be sending the message that, “Gentiles need not apply”--even though this wasn’t your intent. And also keep in mind that you may not discriminate on the basis of whether a couple is married and whether or not children can live in the rental property. And if your advertising implies that you in any way give preference to those without children, that too can be seen as illegal discrimination. You may also not discriminate on the basis of age. Often, novice landlords aren’t aware of these various areas of concern and this often creates a bad situation for well-meaning landlords who are out of step with the law.

Service vs. Comfort Animals: Landlords Need To Know

By Diane Arenella, SPOA Board member
You may have a no pets policy, but what if a tenant moves in with an animal or gets one at a later time? The tenant claims it is a service animal, a support animal, a companion animal, or a comfort animal. What can a landlord do? What can’t a landlord do?
The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA defines“service animal” as a dog trained to perform tasks that benefitan individual with a disability, such as a seeing-eye dog for blind persons. The Federal Fair Housing Act or FHA uses ADA guidelines for service animals, but includes special provisions for “comfort animals.” These animals, which can be any species, are not trained, yet they provide emotional support for the tenant with a disability.
Rules that apply to trained service animals (dogs only):
• A landlord may not ask for a pet deposit for a service dog, but the tenant is responsible for damage done by the dog. If the tenant is unable to clean up waste from the dog, the tenant must hire someone who can.
• A landlord can require proof of the disability from a doctor and proof that the dog is a trained service dog.
• A landlord can exclude a service dog that is a direct threat to common areas (for example, it soils common areas), does physical damage, threatens other tenants, or is a barking nuisance.
Rules that apply to untrained comfort or companion animals:
• It is not clear if a landlord can require a deposit for a support animal. To be on the safe side, don’t.
• A landlord may ask a tenant for written proof from a medical provider stating the tenant is disabled and the animal is needed to aid the tenant in living with the disability, but the landlord may not ask what the disability is.
• As with service animals, the comfort or companion animal cannot be a nuisance, soil common areas, do physical damage, or threaten other tenants.
A landlord might not accept a trained service dog for possible reasons such as:
• Does the breed affect the landlord’s insurance?
• Is the building four or fewer units and owner-occupied?
• Is the rental unit a single-family house and the landlord does not own more than three single-family houses, does not use real estate brokers or agents, and does not use discriminatory ads.
To findout if the law applies to your situation, it is best to consult a qualifiedattorney, the state attorney general, or the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), 617-994-6000, www.mass.gov/mcad.
The Life of a Landlord
Passive income. Flexible work schedules. Sunny beaches and fruity margaritas. Living the dream!
Well, not exactly.
Being a successful landlord is one of the most risky and demanding jobs out there. Marketing, screening, lease renewal strategies, maintenance, accounting, Fair Housing laws, evictions ... all part of the daily grind. Every day a rental is occupied you’re generating cash flo. Every day a rental sits vacant you ‘re burning benjamins.
For many accidental landlords and first-timeinvestors, the reality of “Landlording” turns out to be much more than they bargained for. The pressure of juggling multiple responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming. If I haven’t scared you off yet, you’ll be glad to know there areproven systems and strategies you can put in place to handle everything that comes with being a landlord.
In this infographic, myself and the team at Jacob Grant Property Management share 20 things you need to know to become a successful landlord. Each tip is derived from over a decade of experience managing hundreds of rental properties across East Idaho.
1. Use lease targeting to reduce vacancies
• Leasing efforts are impacted by seasonality.
• Lease targeting is the practice of strategically scheduling lease end dates to correspond with seasonal prospective resident traffic.
• If most prospective residents in a market want to move in the spring and summer, lease end dates should be scheduled for spring and summer.
• By scheduling the majority of lease end dates for times when the market is providing the most prospective tenant traffic, occupancy can be substantiallyincreased.
2. Treat your rental like a business
• Being a landlord is different than being a private homeowner -it’s a business and should be treated as such.
• Approach landlording with the same respect, diligence, organization and planning as any other business venture. For example, do you have any repeatable processes in place to screen quality tenants? What systems do you use to manage maintenance requests if you are out of town on vacation? Are you setting aside 10% of your monthly rental income for upkeep and repairs?
• These are all things you need to consider before you become a landlord.
3. Screen like your business depends on it

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a landlord is renting to the wrong person. This can lead to late rent, damaged property, evictions and costly turnover. Screen your tenants like your business depends on it -because it does. There are a series of steps that you can take to make sure you are attracting quality tenants to your property.
• Stable income at least 3x the cost of monthly rent. This ensures that tenants are able to cover rent, as well as pay additional living expenses and utilities.

• Run a credit check: Score qualifications will depend on the typeof rental property. If you offer your rental property to someone with a lower credit score, be sure to increase the move-in deposit and ask for a co-signer to provide additional coverage.
• Background check
• No recent evictions
• Positive referrals from previous landlord
• Follow Fair Housing laws