10 Ways to Make Sure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 10.00.59 AM



Nothing eases the pains of moving like a fully refunded security deposit. Make sure you get your cash back with these expert tips.

Getting your security deposit back after you move may feel like an impossible feat, but it isn’t. Remember that your security deposit is essentially your money, so not all hope is lost when it’s time to move out.

“It’s the landlord’s obligation to return [the deposit] at the end of the lease,” says Abbie Philpott with move-out company Pleased to Clean You.

Here’s some expert advice for making sure your security deposit money goes back into your wallet — where it belongs.

Start planning when you move in

Take precautions when you move in to save time (and money) when you move out. To avoid getting charged for damage, use removable poster putty or removable hooks to hang things, and use felt pads to protect wood floors from scratches.

Stay organized

You know all of those rental-related documents you received when you moved in? Olivia Joyce with end-of-tenancy cleaning company Move Out Mates suggests reading them thoroughly and keeping all of them in one place.

“Research the proper procedures for ending your rental agreement, and comply with them,” she says.

Document everything

Unfortunately, “fair wear and tear” is subjective.

“I’ve seen cases in which landlords stretch this phrase to the limit,” Philpott says. She urges tenants to photograph everything in the rental property to serve as proof of the property’s condition.

While photo documentation is great, sometimes it’s not enough.

Take a video walkthrough of the unit when you first move in and again when you move out,” suggest John and Melissa Steele with Team Steele San Diego Homes.

If the property manager tries to keep your deposit, your video will serve as proof that you kept the rental in quality condition.

“It makes it very hard for them to argue with you,” the Steeles add. “It has helped us save a few hundred dollars, and it only takes a few minutes.”

Further, keep a record of each time you contacted your property manager to report maintenance issues. And whenever reporting maintenance requests, do so via email or through a reporting system that sends you a confirmation. This serves as proof for your record keeping.

Contact your landlord

Confirm how far in advance you need to alert your landlord about your move-out date. While your rental agreement may already note this, a quick conversation serves as both a helpful confirmation and a courtesy to your landlord.

Clean thoroughly

In addition to the standard vacuuming and dusting, plan to do a serious deep clean if you want all of your deposit money back.

“This means behind and beneath appliances, plus details like light switches, door frames and more,” says Joyce.

And don’t forget to confirm whether your rental property is required to be professionally cleaned. If so, keep your service receipt as proof for your landlord.

Move out on the same day as your roommates

If possible, coordinate a move-out day with your roommates.

“You don’t want to leave it up to your roommate to make sure the apartment is perfectly cleaned and ready for the next tenant,” says Seth Wanta, Chicago resident. “You also don’t want your roommates to move out before you, leaving any junk for you to clean up. Make it a team effort!”

Do a mock inspection with friends

Invite some trusted friends over and go through your move-out checklist together. You may be surprised by how many things you would have missed if you went through your checklist solo.

Joyce suggests marking every damage or deterioration, because some of them are the landlord’s responsibility, while others should be deducted from your deposit.

Once you know who’s responsible for what, you can fix any issue that occurred during your occupancy.


Have your landlord do a mock inspection

Ask your landlord to do an unofficial inspection before your move-out date. This not only helps you assess what needs fixing but also allows both of you to get on the same page about what needs additional cleaning or repairs.

Give yourself a few days between this inspection and your move-out day so you have time to correct anything your landlord may be unhappy with.

Do necessary repairs

Small repairs like replacing light bulbs, filling nail holes and unclogging drains are small things that make a big difference.

“They’ll take you no more than an hour to complete, but they’ll raise the general condition of the property,” says Lauren Haynes, a supervisor with Star Domestic Cleaners. “The landlord will definitely appreciate the work done and will be less likely to claim deductions from the deposit.”

Additionally, Kristen Chuber with Paintzen advises painting a coat of the original paint color on any walls with scuffs or holes. Chuber suggests either going a DIY route for around $50 or hiring a service and asking for cheaper “whiteboxing” rates.

“Depending on the condition of your walls, this could be more cost-effective than losing that money out of your deposit, especially if your rental is small,” she says.

And if you don’t have the funds for either option? “The next best thing I’ve seen is the Magic Eraser,” Chuber adds. “It’s been my BFF when it comes to getting rid of scuffs and marks.”

Research local laws

It’s illegal in most states for a landlord to keep your security deposit without explanation, so research renter’s rights related to security deposits at the city, county and state level.

Good starting points for this information are the websites of your state’s attorney general and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. While your property manager should already be aware of these regulations, you should be too. Landlord-tenant laws exist to help you, but be your own advocate.

Finally, while following these 10 suggestions will certainly go a long way, so does being nice. Patience and politeness are memorable qualities, especially if you live in a large apartment complex where plenty of other residents are moving out around the same time as you.

If thinking about the process of getting your security deposit back is daunting, rest assured that it doesn’t have to be. With some planning and clear, considerate communication, you’re well on your way to getting your hard-earned deposit money back into your hands.

All photos from Shutterstock.


Source: Zillow Porchlight 


Fire by Dryer! Why These Appliances Can Make Your House Go Up in Flames

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 9.38.16 AM

By  | May 29, 2018


Appliances make household chores so much more tolerable. Dishwashers clean dirty glassware and eliminate the need for scrubbing. Ovens help you make dinner in minutes flat. Dryers … well, you get the gist. They’re incredibly helpful and will last for years—decades even—when used and maintained correctly.

But did you know that appliances can also burn your home to the ground?

Not to be overly dramatic, but appliance fires are a real concern to those who operate household appliances, especially those that generate heat, like dishwashers or space heaters.


So let’s take a look at appliances that could start a fire—and what you can do to reduce your chances of becoming a statistic.

Older appliances are more hazardous, but modern devices can have problems too

Modern home appliances are safer today than they were a generation ago, according to Kenneth Kutchek, PE, CFEI, a Detroit-based electrical engineer at Robson. “Older appliances can pose a fire hazard because they may lack modern safety protections, such as over temperature protection, over current protection, auto off controls, self-regulating heating elements, and anti-tip switches.” He also says that older appliances may have been heavily used during their lifetime.

However, Kutchek acknowledges that problems exist even with modern, popular brands. “Foreign manufacturing and foreign component suppliers have had increasing quality problems associated with extremely rapid growth,” he explains.

What causes the fires?

There’s no single culprit responsible for appliance fires; it’s a mixture of design flaws and improper use, aka human error. Dryers, for example, can catch fire because of common electrical malfunctions, according to Kutchek.

But stove fires are most common of all, and usually happen when someone is being negligent while cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments all around the United States respond to an average of 466 home cooking fires each day. “Forty percent of home fires are related to cooking, and unattended cooking accounts for one-third of these fires,” says Kutchek.

Which appliances can catch fire?

So, which appliances do you have to watch out for? All of them, but mostly kitchen appliances. Kutchek offers this (lengthy!) list of household appliances that have the most potential to go up in flames:

  • Refrigerator
  • Oven
  • Stove
  • Dishwasher
  • Garbage disposal
  • Microwave oven
  • Exhaust hood
  • Coffee pot/coffee maker
  • Toaster and toaster oven
  • Hot plate
  • Steamer
  • Slow cooker
  • Pressure cooker
  • Waffle iron
  • Blender
  • Can opener
  • Clothes washer
  • Clothes dryer
  • Iron
  • Air conditioner
  • Space heater
  • Dehumidifier
  • Box fan/oscillating fan
  • Ceiling fan

Causes of appliance fires

These issues can affect all electrical appliances in your home. To give you a clear picture of the causes of appliance fires, we broke these lists up by product defects and user errors:

Product defects:

  • Lack of safety protections
  • Poor manufacturing quality
  • Overheating due to poor wiring design
  • Poor heating insulation
  • Poor-quality components

User error:

  • Failure to use the product according to the manufacturers instructions
  • Continuing to use a worn or damaged product
  • Failure to keep combustible items, clutter, and debris away from appliances
  • Failure to clean and maintain appliances
  • Buying cheap, low-quality, off-brand products from foreign countries that do not meet U.S. safety standards
  • Overheated extension cords that are too small, too long for the purpose, or are hidden under rugs

How to avoid appliance fires

Some of the causes of appliance fires provide clues for how to avoid them. “Most people do not follow the recommended installation, use, and care of their appliances,” says Ken Canziani, IAAI-CFI, senior fire investigator at Unified Investigations & Sciences, Inc. in Sacramento, CA. “Many issues or fires can be prevented if people are aware of and follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines.”

Many fires originate from dryers, which is why it’s important (and easy!) to keep the lint filter clean and emptied. “Lint builds up in the dryer, and not all of it is captured by the lint filter tray,” he says. “A buildup in the exhaust duct or base of the dryer can come into contact with the heater and ignite.” He also advises against putting cloths or rags with chemicals or oils on them in the laundry, since these items are combustible.

It’s also a good idea to check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s list of recalls to see if your appliance is on it. If a product has been recalled, you should stop using it immediately.

Kutchek provides these additional tips to keep your home safe and fire-free:

  • Replace frayed or damaged power cords. Power switches can also become worn or damaged over time. Repair or replace appliances if worn or damaged.
  • Take the time to read the appliance owners manual, and use the appliance according to the manufacturers instructions.
  • Do not operate appliances unattended. This includes ranges, ovens, dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers, slow cookers, dehumidifiers, and space heaters. Yes, this may be inconvenient, but its better to be safe than sorry, because too many fires start during the night, or when no one is home.
  • Keep combustible objects clear of heat-generating appliances. This includes curtains, towels, paper towels or napkins, cookbooks, and paper bags.
  • Keep appliances clean. Clean grease and other flammable debris from stovetops, range burners, and range hoods. Clean and vacuum under and behind refrigerators and ovens. Clean and vacuum under and behind clothes washers and dryers. Clean crumbs from toasters. Clean dryer lint traps regularly. Clean lint out of the vent pipe and outlet at least once a year (or more often if you notice that clothes take longer to dry). Clean air intakes on air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and space heaters.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use.
  • Do not use extension cords with your appliances. But if you must, be sure to use the proper size of extension cord (with proper current rating). Inspect extension cords for damage before each use.
  • Verify that a smoke alarm is installed on each level of your home and in every bedroom. Test and verify that all smoke alarms are operational. Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years.



Source: Realtor.com

7 Pool Safety Tips to Ensure You Have a Splashing Good Time This Summer

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 10.30.56 AM

By  | May 25, 2018

Pools are fun. But pools are also dangerous, and maintaining yours is a big responsibility. From handling potentially hazardous chemicals to safeguarding access and stocking all the right safety equipment, pool upkeep is no joke. However, the more preparation and attention you put into your backyard pool area, the safer your home will be.

The following pool safety tips will help make your summer season in the backyard the best one yet.

1. Put up barriers

A pool barrier will delay the time it takes a child to get into your pool, and may help prevent drowning. Each city or state has its own pool fence laws that spell out standards, such as minimum fence height, spacing, gate specifications, and more. In some communities, you may not be able to get an insurance policy without a gate. The general standard is that fences must be a minimum of 4 feet high (5 feet is ideal), but check with your local zoning or building authority for the specific laws in your area.

Pool covers can also prevent accidents, and should be used year round. Maria Bella, an aquatics and drowning expert at Robson Forensic in Lancaster, PA, recommends purchasing a pool cover that meets the ASTM International standards. ASTM International is an organization that develops and publishes technical standards for many varieties of products.

2. Consider a pool alarm

A pool alarm will notify you when anything that moves enters the vicinity. Some pool alarms are placed inside the pool and detect wave activity—up to 15 pounds of water displacement—and will emit a loud sound if motion is detected.

Bella also recommends the Safety Turtle wireless alarm system for kids. When they’re playing outdoors, they wear wristbands outfitted with a sensor; if the sensor gets wet, an alarm will sound. 

3. Make sure your pool is up to code

A pool inspector who is credentialed by the National Swimming Pool Foundation or the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals should be able to tell you if the pool itself or the surrounding deck material is cracked, damaged, or dangerous. You also can try finding a code official by contacting your local building or health department.

Safety requirements vary based on where you live, but the following general requirements should be fulfilled:

  • Gates need to be self-closing and should latch to lock.
  • Fences need to be at least 4 feet high and enclose the entire pool.
  • The main drain or bottom suction outlettypically located in the center of the poolcan be a drowning hazard if the cover is not properly secured.
  • With any water features like slides or diving boards, youll want to follow the manufacturers safety guidelines.
  • If part of your enclosed barrier includes one wall of your home, the windows on that side of the house may not open more than 4 inches.

4. Safely store chemicals

All pool chemicals need to be stored out of reach in a secure, well-ventilated area, and away from AC or heating units. Paint, gasoline, and other chemicals also need to be stored separately.

5. Use chemicals with caution

When you’re putting chemicals in the water, be sure to wear gloves and safety goggles. Label each bottle with the date you purchased it, and toss out chemicals older than a year old.

6. Store pool toys

When the pool is not being used, any toys should be out of the water and stored away out of sight, so children won’t be tempted to dive in.

7. Have safety equipment at hand 

It’s a good idea to give life jackets to the kids playing in or around the pool. Other safety equipment to keep near your pool are a crook rescue hook and the traditional ring buoy.


Source: Realtor.com 



13 Simple Steps to Prep Your Home for the Best Summer Ever

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 11.46.25 AM


Take care of your home’s hot-weather needs now, and you’ll have more time for fun in the sun.

Summer will be here before you know it, and you know what that means: Heat, hornets and yard work.

If you’re starting to miss spring already, fear not. Here are some quick projects to make your home and garden more comfortable and cost-effective this summer.

Inside the house

  • Service the air conditioning. Nothing can ruin your day like a broken air-conditioning unit on a summer day, so keep it running smoothly by servicing it every spring. Every three months, change the filter, flush out drain lines with a cup of bleach, and ensure that the outdoor unit has room to breathe by keeping vegetation about an arm’s length away.
  • Replace smoke detector batteries. You’d be surprised at how much peace of mind you’ll get after knocking out this one little chore. Change all the batteries on the same day and remind yourself to do it again in six months. If your smoke alarms were manufactured 10 or more years ago, replace them entirely.
  • Rotate ceiling fan blades. Your ceiling fan may have a switch that changes the direction in which the blades turn. If so, make sure that the blades are spinning counterclockwise and pushing air down, rather than up.
  • Clean behind appliances. You’ve been putting it off for far too long. You’re terrified of the horrors that await in the shadows of your kitchen, but it’s time to put on some gloves, arm yourself with disinfectant cleaner and roll out the oven with a brave face.
  • Clean dryer vents. If your clothes come out of the dryer damp and musty lately, it’s probably because the vent is clogged with lint — not only wasting energy, but posing a significant fire risk. To do it right the first time, purchase a vent-cleaning kit. Its flexible rod and brush attaches to your drill and will extract a puppy-sized mass of lint in no time.
  • Upgrade your thermostat. Replacing your existing thermostat with a ‘smart’ model does more than save you money. They respond to your voice, divert cool air to occupied rooms, can be operated from your phone and might even give you a weather forecast at a glance before work.
  • Repot houseplants. Give houseplants fresh potting mix in spring when they’re actively growing. Slip the mass of roots and potting mix out of the pot, gently tease apart the roots, remove rotted pieces and replace it with fresh and fertile potting mix. If the leaves are turning pale from too much direct summer sun, move them to a slightly shadier place.

Out in the yard

  • Patch your lawn. If you wait too long to plant new grass seeds or sod, aggressive weeds will happily fill the gaps for you. Luckily, grass will quickly establish if you remove all existing weeds beforehand, amend with topsoil and keep the area irrigated for the first week or two.
  • Inspect gutters and downspouts. Fall isn’t the only time to clean out the gutters, especially if you have messy trees nearby. Make sure that the gutters are soundly attached to your roof, seal any gaps with silicone caulk and remove any obstructions at the base of the downspout.
  • Inspect sprinklers. If you notice any clogged or broken sprinkler heads, shut off the water and dig a 2-inch diameter hole around the head. Unscrew the head from its riser and replace with a new one. If the head is merely clogged, remove the basket and rinse both it and the head in clean water. Reassemble the head and screw it onto the riser.
  • Get your mower up and running. Give your mower, string trimmer and other lawn equipment some TLC before the summer mowing season begins. After removing the spark plug, replace the air filters, change the oil, sharpen blades and give your equipment a good cleaning.
  • Remove hornet nests. If you have hornets, yellow jackets and paper wasps around your home, take steps to remove them now before they form a large, aggressive colony. You can play it safe by calling a professional, or spray nests at night when they’re less active. Just be sure to wear protective eyewear, a mask, pants and long sleeves.
  • Clean the grill. Prevent flare-ups and cooking fires by giving your grill a good cleaning. Ideally you’d clean after every use, but you can start fresh with a grill brush, nozzle and wet rag. Now is also a good time to stock up on charcoal and make sure your tools are ready for grilling season.

Source: Zillow Porchlight 

4 Things . to Do Before Gutting a Home

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 10.59.28 AM

4 Things to Do Before Gutting a Home


Put down the sledgehammer unless you’ve already got these covered.

Do you have a bit of a fixer-upper on your hands? Or maybe you’re just ready for a major change? Remodeling your home can be a lot of work, but the results, when done well, are well worth it.

Before you get too excited and start tearing down walls and ripping up the floors, read through this guide to keep yourself on track.

Check the space allocation

Having enough space, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, can make or break a home. You can install gorgeous flooring, countertops and fixtures, but if your knees touch the wall or the bathtub when you’re sitting on the toilet, the amenities won’t make up for it. And if you forget to take large kitchen appliances into consideration, you can end up with a cramped space that only looked great on paper.

Before you gut the house and start moving walls, take the time to triple check your measurements.

Draw out your space with accurate measurements of desired appliances included before you change a wall or buy a tub. Make sure there is enough room for doors to open and close with ease. Ideally, you should be able to open your cabinet door and your oven door at the same time.

Remember — it’s easier and less expensive to make changes before you buy new appliances or knock down a wall.

Inspect the structure and foundation

Before you start gutting a home, look for problems that may be hidden beneath the surface. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on new flooring, for example, only to have to rip it out to deal with structure or foundation problems.

Put simply, fixing structural problems is hard, expensive, and requires knowledge and experience that the average new flipper or homeowner doesn’t have. Attempting to minimize costs via DIY efforts can lead to mistakes that make the process even more expensive and difficult.

This step is particularly important if your home (whether it’s a new-to-you fixer-upper or a house you’ve owned for years) has recently gone through heavy rain or flooding, natural disasters, or pest problems.

Shop around for professionals

Don’t wait until you need a professional ASAP before shopping around — you’ll quickly find yourself at the mercy of whoever is available with marginally good reviews. Before you start your remodel, do your due diligence and find professionals who fit your budget and project needs. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

It’s a good idea to find an electrician and plumber before you start your project. While you can probably learn how to handle small projects like installing an outlet, you’ll need help before your remodel is through. Unless you have a lot of experience, you shouldn’t tackle extensive electrical or plumbing fixes on your own.

A trusted home inspector is also a must-have. Here’s a tip: Find an inspector who is used to houses similar to yours in age, design and location. They’ll be familiar with common problems others may miss.

And don’t just read the report at the end. If possible, walk through the home with the inspector. You’ll learn more and have the opportunity to ask questions as they come up.

Know what sells houses in your area

If you’re remodeling your house in order to sell it, invest in changes that will help sell the house and increase the sale price. Don’t waste your money on updates that don’t give you a good return on your investment.

Do your research. Talk to real estate agents in the area or tour houses in your neighborhood that are for sale. Do buyers looking in the area prioritize large windows or large bathrooms? Do they buy based on roof condition or flooring? Once you identify the factors that help houses in the area sell, build your budget accordingly.

This doesn’t mean you can cut corners. Unless a buyer is looking to flip a home, they’ll expect the whole house to be up to a certain standard. However, if you have to pick between hardwood floors and top-of-the-line kitchen equipment, it’s good to know which one will be more likely to lead to a profitable sale.

Source: Zillow Porchlight 

Link: https://www.zillow.com/blog/before-gutting-a-home-224778/

Subscribe to RARE Newsletter


9454 Wilshire Blvd, 4th Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212 | P: 424.230.7928 | E: info@rarepropertiesinc.com