Moving your Pets

Smoothly introducing your dog (or other pet) to your new rental home.

Moving into your new home is very exciting, for your entire family!  But did you know that introducing your dog into a new home can be incredibly stressful for them?  Fortunately, there are a lot of things that we can do to make this transition easier on them, which in the end makes it easier on us.
There are a lot of things that you can do to make the move less stressful on your pet. When moving, if possible, it would be a good idea to leave the dog with a friend they know. This will keep the dog out of your way when you are moving furniture, and decrease the chance that any accidents may happen. You can also leave the dog in the backyard while you move, as long as it is fully fenced and they cannot escape! Can’t do either?  Well then, the ‘least worst’ scenario is to crate your dog while moving the furniture into the home. Make sure the crate is large enough that they can stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably, and be sure to give them access to water and let them outside to ‘do their business’ every few hours. Doors will be left open, items will be dropped, there will be a lot of commotion, and the best way to keep your pet safe during this time is to keep them out of the way!
During the packing process, you can actually plan ahead to make this as smooth a transition as possible for your four legged friend. Instead of trying to cram the packing into one or two days, planning to pack over a longer period of time can reduce the stress on your dog (and probably yourself as well!). Make sure that you pack their water and food bowls, toys, and blankets/beds in a separate box that will be easily accessible once you are at your new home. Dogs do not like change, so the more familiar the setting, the better! One easy trick is to make sure that they have belongings that smell like you, their people! Having a familiar scent in a strange place can make the transition easier. All you would need to do is put their toys in your laundry hamper for a few days, and they will smell just like you!! And don’t feel embarrassed, this is like the sweet smell of roses for your dog. These are as important to your dog as your child’s teddy bear is to them.

 

For more great tips on traveling with your pet, please visit The Humane Society of the United States. 

House training is always a big issue, and even well-trained dogs may not know where to ‘go’ in a new home. When you bring them to your new house, make sure that they are taken into the back right away, where they can ‘do their business’. It may sound silly, but it is always a good idea to reward them with praise, so that they know they did something good! It may seem odd to your new neighbors that you are congratulating your dog for successfully going to the bathroom (you may become the most talked about person on your street), but your dog will think that they just won a gold medal for it! You will want to keep en eye on them to make sure that they are able to find the back door (or front door depending on the home) whenever necessary. Here is a good rule of thumb to remember: let them out after playing for a period of time (15-30 minutes depending on age), after they wake up, and after they eat.
For puppies, the rules need to be modified slightly. You still want to show them where the door is, and give them lots of praise when they go where they should (this should be a very exciting event for them, and remember that the gold medal they are winning can come in the form of a treat). Be sure to let them outside as often as possible, especially immediately after they eat, wake up, and every 10-15 minutes during playtime! There will be accidents, no puppy is perfect (adorable yes, perfect no!), so be patient and keep it positive.
Another point to keep in mind is that a puppy can ‘hold it’ for approximately 1 hour for every month they are old. For example, a puppy that is only 2 months old, can generally ‘hold it’ for approximately 2 hours at a time. This may not apply to every puppy, as they are just as different from each other as we are from other people, but it does give you an idea of what to expect.

 

How do I Improve my Credit Score?

You can always take steps to improve your score and change the way lenders view your credit. We’ve listed the five main categories of information that the FICO score evaluates, along with their approximate weightings and the fastest ways to improve your score. Your credit score is constantly changing to give lenders an accurate picture of where you are right now financially.

 

35% Credit Payment History

Pay all your bills precisely on time. This is the number one thing you can do to positively improve your FICO score.

 

30% Outstanding Credit Balances

Keep your balances on all of your credit cards as low as possible. This means you need to pay off as much as you can afford to keep your ratio of outstanding balance to total available credit low. Maintaining a high balance or maxing out credit cards can be a red flag to credit evaluators.
 
 

15% Extent of Credit History 

Credit accounts that you have regularly paid off and have a lengthy, clean history will help your score. Research shows that consumers with longer credit history have a lower risk of default than those with shorter credit histories.

 

10% Opening New Credit Accounts & Inquiries

Opening a new credit account should not harm your credit score dramatically. However, opening several in a short period of time can negatively impact your score.
Too many credit inquiries could negatively affect your credit score. Every time you apply for a credit card, an auto loan or a mortgage; an “inquiry” is made.  Generating many credit inquiries could imply that you are being turned down by lenders and have to re-apply elsewhere.  Therefore, when you need to apply for credit for an auto or mortgage loan, do your shopping within a short time period. FICO scores usually identify a group of inquiries as rate shopping and will only count the group as one inquiry.
Don’t close unused cards to try and raise your score. This may actually hurt your score since it will cause your ratio of balance to available credit to increase.

 

10% Types of Credit

It is good to have a mix of credit products. Whether they are credit cards, installment loans, automobile loans or a mortgage. Having a healthy mix will increase your score.  Although, having too much of one could be detrimental.

When making a large credit purchase such as Buying A House – DO NOT OPEN ANY NEW LINES OF CREDIT DURING YOUR LOAN APPLICATION!
Lenders often perform a second Credit check on you on closing day to ensure that your credit score has not changed. Your score may lower and you may be denied… BE CAREFUL!!

 

How can I get a free credit report?

Check your credit report each year for errors and to see how your profile looks to creditors. US residents are eligible to obtain a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. The actual credit “score” is an additional nominal fee but your are not required to purchase.
To order your free reports, go to www.annualcreditreport.com where you can order your reports directly or download the Annual Credit Report Request form to mail in your request.  You can also call 1-877-322-8228.
You are also entitled to a free copy of your credit report if you are unemployed and/or receiving welfare.

 

Routine Maintenance Advice

Tips to keep your Home energy-efficient and in good order.

The following checklist will help you to preserve and protect your rental Home and appliances. You should perform a full maintenance checkup at least twice a year, i.e. Spring and Fall.

 

A/C filters

Replace A/C filters monthly (or rinse washable filters) and remove debris around the inside system. Use a good quality air filter that you cannot see through. Pour a cupful of vinegar down the drain line or in the drain pan to flush away and prevent build up of mold and mildew. Wipe off any accumulated dust, mildew and grime around the A/C unit and make sure that you clean all vents. If the vents are dirty this typically means you have an improperly installed or dirty filter.
 


A/C Evaporator Coil

If you are experiencing reduced air flow from your Home’s air vents, or notice water buildup around the base of you’re A/C unit at times, you could have a dirty evaporator coil. The coil sits either on the top or bottom of the inside A/C unit. Dirty coils are most often caused by dirty, missing or poorly fitted filters. The coil must be removed and thoroughly cleaned by an HVAC professional.

 

A/C Compressor

Remove any debris or foliage smothering the outside unit of the A/C system that may prevent the smooth passage of air. Ensure that the pipe insulations are attached and in good condition.

 

Mold

Remove mold/mildew from bathrooms completely. Patch holes in bathroom caulking or re-caulk if necessary. Clean grout on tiling and repair if necessary. Include sinks, tubs and windows.

 

Leaks

Run water on all sinks & faucets to check for leaks (look under the sinks). Check the hose connections behind the washer. Add baking soda to garbage disposal to keep clear and dirt free.

 

Refrigerator

Thoroughly clean the freezer/refrigerator inside and out. Don’t forget to clean the drip pan (usually at the bottom or underneath the fridge). Seals and gaskets must be cleaned thoroughly as well. (Replaced if necessary). Poorly sealing door gaskets can cause the compressors to overwork and burn up. These should be cleaned but not lubricated.

 

Dishwasher

Run the dishwasher with vinegar to remove residue and check for leaks. Clean the filter and lubricate or replace seals. Check the dishwasher rack for any scratches or places where the coating may be missing and replace. Applying a sealant to a dish washer rack may not hold. The sealant would end up in an orifice or pump. It’s better to leave alone or replace the rack than replace the machine.

 

Stove

Clean the stove burners with a degreaser and if gas test them to ensure they are not clogged. Use the same degreaser to clean the hood, oven and surface area.

Dryer

Dryer vent cleaning before and after, remove lint and other debris from the clothes dryer filter and vents after every single use. If not, highly flammable lint can build up inside the vent and will need to be cleaned with a dryer vent brush.

 

Pressure wash

Pressure wash the exterior of the Home, including balconies, pool deck, driveways and walking paths to keep clean and clear of dirt and mildew.

 

Weather stripping

Check and replace if necessary weather stripping around all exterior doors and windows.

 

Lawn care

Fertilize and Weed n’ Feed the lawn quarterly and make sure it is watered adequately. When the irrigation system is running, check all sprinkler heads provide complete coverage of the lawn.

 

Smoke detector

Change smoke/fire detector batteries and test them by pressing the button briefly.

 

Quick fixes and repair tips

There are some common quick fixes and minor repairs you can do as a Tenant to help prevent delays and extra costs due to minor maintenance and breakdowns in your rental home

 

Garbage Disposal troubleshooting

Never put your hand in the hopper (down the drain into the disposal). That being said, follow these tips for simple disposal fixes:
 
Disposal Will Not Turn On (no noise)
• If your garbage disposal is not running, first, check to see whether it will turn freely with a service wrench. The wrench is silver colored, and shaped like a little crank, about four inches long and you can purchase one at most hardware stores. If it will not turn freely with a service wrench, the disposal is probably jammed.
• Check to see if the reset button is popped out. Most garbage disposals have a red or black pop out button on the underside  which you can press back in to reset it.
• If your disposal is hard wired, check if the breaker or fuse has tripped at the main breaker box in the house. Reset this breakers by turning it off and then back on.
• If your disposal has a cord, make sure it is plugged in correctly.
Disposal makes an unusual noise or there is waste stuck inside
•If your garbage disposal is making a clicking machine-gun, metallic or rattling sound, there may be something stuck inside. First turn off the disposal at the switch and at the main breaker. Shine in a flashlight and remove the item using tongs or pliers. 
Check out this website for further information and how-to videos: http://www.insinkerator.com/en-US/Service-Support/Disposer-Support/Pages/Default.aspx.

A/C is not working or cooling

When the air conditioning system is not cooling or does not turn on, begin your troubleshooting at the thermostat. Ensure that the thermostat is set to “cool” and that it is set lower than actual room temperature. This is to ensure that there really is a problem! It may seem silly but that is the first thing a repairman will check and you will normally still be charged a service call even if that is the only problem.
Is there air coming out of the floor/ceiling vents?
• If there is not, check to see if the fan on the outside unit is running. If the fan on the outside unit is not running, check to make sure that the breakers are on. The breaker for the outside unit is usually next to the unit on the wall. There are secondary breakers in the main breaker box for the house. Reset all these breakers by turning them off and then back on.
• If resetting the breakers does not work, continue the troubleshooting below.
Is the fan on the outside unit blowing out hot air?
• If the interior unit is not running but the outside fan is, try resetting the breaker for the outside unit.
• If this does not work and the interior unit is still not running, then shut the power off to the unit and contact us for repair. Shutting off the outside unit will prevent damage to the compressor preventing expensive and lengthy repairs.
Is there a water leak around the inside unit, or ice on the lines connecting the indoor and outdoor units?
• If the system is running but you find a water leak around the interior unit or ice on the lines, the inside unit may have frozen up so you will need to turn the setting on the thermostat to “fan” instead of “cool”. After a hour or two, the ice should have melted and you can continue your air conditioner troubleshooting.
• Turn the “cool” setting back on and let it run for about five minutes. Now feel the larger copper line at the outdoor unit. This should be cold and have condensation on it. If it is not cold or if frost is forming on the line, it is probably a Freon problem so contact us for repair.
Is the unit providing some cooling but not enough?
• If the interior unit and the outside unit both run but the cooling effect is not adequate, you should make sure first that all the windows and doors remain closed. During hot weather, opening doors or windows can let out a lot of cool air and make the system work overtime to maintain a cool temperature.
• If this is not the case and the system just seems to be working constantly, then check the air flow from the vents. If it is very low, the unit inside may be frozen up so you will need to turn the setting on the thermostat to “fan” instead of “cool”. After a hour or two, the ice should have melted and you can continue your air conditioner troubleshooting.• Turn the “cool” setting back on and let it run for about five minutes. Now feel the larger copper line at the outdoor unit. This should be cold and have condensation on it. If it is not cold or if frost is forming on the line, it is probably a Freon problem so contact us for repair.

 

My Toilet keeps Running!

This is a very common and annoying plumbing problem that can quickly cost you money. Luckily a running toilet is also easy to fix on your own. Before you run to the hardware store to buy parts follow these steps to find the source of the problem.
 
• Check the overflow tube. If you can see water going into the overflow then you know that the fill valve is not shutting off all the way and needs to be replaced.
 
• If the overflow is not the problem, you’ll want to check the flapper chain next. If the flapper chain is too long or too short it could be the source of the problem. If the chain is too short, the flapper can’t go down completely to seal the opening of the tank. A chain that is too long could get caught under the flapper and hold it up, again preventing a good seal. A simple adjustment will fix the problem.
 
• The third possibility is the flapper itself. As the flapper gets old it could get hard or warped which could prevent a good seal. Even a slight imperfection could be causing the toilet to run. Luckily the flapper is an inexpensive part that can be easily replaced. The first thing to do is to turn the water to the toilet off. To drain the toilet tank simply flush the toilet after the water is turned off. Now you need to remove the old toilet flapper. To do this, first unhinge the chain from the toilet handle rod. Next pull each side, or ear, of the flapper out to unhook it from the flush valve.
The most common toilet configuration has the flapper attached by the ears on the sides of the flush valve. If this is how your toilet is built you will need to cut off the ring on the back of the flapper.
If your fill valve doesn’t have the side hooks for the flapper you will need to use the ring to slide the flapper into place.
Put the new flapper into place and hook each ear onto the flush valve.
Connect the flapper chain onto the toilet handle rod. Make any necessary adjustments to the chain. It needs to be long enough to allow the flapper to sit firmly in place but not so long that it gets caught under the flapper as the water rushes out.

Turn the water back on and test by flushing a couple of times.

 

The Alarm System keeps sounding off

If your home has a security system installed but you are not using it, or do not have it activated, you might find that it start beeping or sounding off unexpectedly. This can often occur after a power cut because it “resets” the system. The best way to resolve this is to completely disconnect the system, and it operate on low voltage so you can do it easily and safely yourself. 
• Somewhere near the main control box, (usually a metal grey or tan colored box located in the master bedroom closet or laundry room), there is a large transformer plug plugged into a regular receptacle. They are typically tan in color. It may even have a small screw that holds it in place (will be installed in place of the screw that normally holds the cover plate on). Unplug this transformer plug and you are halfway there (no wire cutting needed). 
 
• Next, you will need to open the main control box and disconnect the backup battery that is usually there. This is usually a metal box, approx 12″wide x 14″ high x 3″ deep, and it is usually in a garage or a closet. Most are either tan, gray, or white in color. There may be One or two screws holding it closed. Open the box and disconnect one lead of the backup battery. This will kill all power to the system and now you will have no more issues with the alarm system.
The second option, instead of disconnecting the alarm system, is to contact a security provider and activate the system. This would be at an additional cost to you but we recommend this if within your budget for obvious safety reasons.

 

Miscellaneous Issues

A/C Filters
Please replace your a/c filter each month (or clean if it is a washable unit), and use a good quality filter than you cannot see through. If you have pets or several members in your household we recommend replacing your filter more often to maintain quality air inside your home. 

Smoke Detectors
If you find that one of more of the smoke detectors are beeping, please replace the batteries first. They are usually just telling you that the backup batteries are running low on power. Most smoke detectors have 9volt rectangular shape batteries. 

Bathroom and Kitchen Caulking
Clean your bathrooms and kitchen caulking regularly, by using Lysol or another similar cleaning product to keep it looking best and mildew-free. 

Rent Credits for Repairs
We don’t normally provide a credit or rent reduction for repairs that you do as a Resident. If you are planning on making any alterations at your own cost such as painting or landscaping, please contact us first so we can obtain prior approval from the landlord. Please keep in mind that you and the landlord’s “styles” may not match.