Sunday, October 7, 2018

Getting Your Security Deposit Returned

Between the stresses of searching for a new place, packing your things, coordinating movers, actually moving, and finally unpacking at your new home, the security deposit from your prior residence almost becomes an afterthought. The trouble is, landlords know this, and often take advantage of your stress by making all sorts of deductions from the security deposit that they know you won’t question. Some even go so far as to keep the entire security deposit without providing ANY accounting of where the money went. However, there are many things you can do to maximize the amount of money you get back from your security deposit.

1. Give your landlord enough notice before you move out.

The law does not automatically require a tenant to give advance notice to their landlord that they plan to vacate in order to get back their security deposit. But check your lease agreement! If your lease agreement explicitly states that advance notice is required in order to refund the security deposit, you must provide your landlord notice of your intent to vacate according to the terms of the lease.

2. Clear Expectations.

Make sure both you and your landlord have a clear understanding about what condition the premises must be left in. This way, you minimize the risk of under-cleaning and having your landlord deduct money from your security deposit, or over-cleaning by hiring a professional service, taking money directly out of your pocket.

3. Trust, But Verify.

Ask to be present when your landlord conducts their final inspection. If you cannot be present when your landlord conducts their inspection, walk through the premises and take pictures and videos of the condition of the property.

4. Don’t Walk Away Into the Sunset.

It might look very dramatic in the movies, but leaving without letting your landlord know where you are going can cost you some serious cash. Make sure you tell your landlord IN WRITING where he or she can send the money that is rightfully yours.

The underlying theme is simple: communicate with your landlord. The more you and your landlord are on the same page, the higher your security deposit refund can be.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Dealing with Difficult Neighbors

One of the biggest blessings of living in a community is having good neighbors.  People you enjoy being around and are there when you need them. However, the opposite is true of bad neighbors who can make your life miserable.

If you have neighbors that are rude or show a lack of consideration for you and the other people on your street, you might be tempted to react with rude behavior of your own. While this may bring you momentary satisfaction, it could have long-range damaging effects.

Here are some ways to deal with bad neighbors in ways that don't diminish your own integrity or make you appear rude:

Introduce Yourself
If you haven't met the neighbor, try introducing yourself, shaking hands, and chatting for a few minutes. Show sincere interest in them. Sometimes this simple act will help diminish animosity in the future. If it doesn't, at least you've taken the high road and done a good deed.

Offer an Invitation
If you have a neighbor who constantly complains about your parties, invite them to your next barbecue. Whether they choose to attend or not, they're not as likely to complain when they could have been there enjoying the fun.

Help with the Upkeep
Does your neighbor have an overgrown lawn, shutters with peeling paint, or siding that needs to be power washed? You might assume that they're neglectful, but there might be a bigger problem that you're not aware of. The family may be dealing with sickness, or their lawnmower broke down and they can't afford a new one.

Offer to help with whatever the problem is in a respectful, non-condemning manner. Perhaps you can mow their lawn for them or offer your power sprayer if they don't have one. This lets them know you care about the appearance of the neighborhood, and you're on their side. If they get upset about your kindness, that becomes their problem, not yours.

Handle Issues at the Base
If there are other issues that need to be addressed, try to handle them by addressing them with the neighbor involved. Calling the police on the family next door will only build animosity and will probably drive a permanent wedge between you.

You'll be better off letting your neighbor know that you have to get up at the crack of dawn, so you would appreciate turning down the music after 10:00 PM. Be reasonable about this, or you'll find more resistance to your request. In other words, don't ask them to be church-mouse quiet after 7:00 PM.

Avoid Gossiping About the Neighbors
No matter how bad your relationship is with the people next door, gossiping about them with the lady across the street won't help. In fact, it will most likely make the problem worse. If you think your neighbor is weird but harmless, keep your opinion to yourself. However, if there is something more serious that directly affects you, go straight to your neighbor you have the issue with and discuss it.

Be Nice to the Children
If you live on a cul-de-sac in a family neighborhood, you probably have children playing outside, and they can get quite noisy. Get to know their parents and show kindness to the little ones. If you are nice to them, they are much more likely to be respectful when you ask them to stop squealing so loud.

Take an extra step of friendship to soften the times when you ask them to tone down the noise. If you enjoy babysitting, offer to watch the children once in a while so the parents can have a night to themselves. If you like baking, consider making a few extras for the neighborhood children. As these kids grow up, you'll reap the rewards of seeing this kindness pay off.

Write a Letter

If you are unable to speak to your neighbor for any reason, write a letter in a non-accusatory tone. Be clear about the issue and offer to help come to an agreement. Try to make it seem as though this is a problem that both of you want to solve. For example, if the neighbor has planted a tree with branches that hang over your yard, offer to trim that part of the tree. Yes, it's more work on your part, but it's probably worth the effort to prevent hard feelings the neighbor will have if you expect more effort on his part.