Pool Safety

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As a landlord or property manager, offering use of a swimming pool is a great way to attract more tenants. Especially in New Mexico where the summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees. Swimming is a great way to exercise, relax, and keep the kids entertained during the seemingly endless school breaks. But as with any amenity, maintenance and safety regulations must be followed to the letter to avoid accidents and fines.

Across the board, there are basic safety guidelines for any pool. The CDC states: “ there was an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.” In addition to drowning-related deaths, nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).

So, as you can see, pool safety should be one of your top priorities as a property manager. People’s lives literally depend on it.

Most rental properties are required to have child-proof fencing with a locking gate. This fencing isn’t just for children’s safety. It also prevents unauthorized access by guests and trespassers. Even someone unauthorized to swim in the pool can potentially sue the property owner in the event of an accident, so it’s obviously in the management’s best interest to keep this fence in good condition and make sure it stays locked when the pool isn’t in use.

In addition to making sure the pool area is secure, assuring that the water is clean is also very important. When there isn’t enough chlorine in the pool, algae and other organisms can grow. Once your pool has an algae problem, it will have to be drained and refilled to make sure no one gets sick from exposure. It’s imperative that your filtration system works properly and is checked often, along with the chlorine levels. The pool should also be cleared of leaves, dirt and other debris on a daily basis. If pool maintenance is something you’re not familiar with, consider hiring a professional to make sure everything is as it should be.

On a monthly basis, Monthly tasks include, testing for water hardness (calcium content), pH, dissolved solids, and total alkalinity — and adding chemicals as needed, cleaning the pool filter, and checking the operation of the pump and motor. You can view a complete list of pool maintenance tasks here.

As far as local standards are concerned, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with your city’s ordinances. In Albuquerque, there is a checklist for pool certification. Certification is required by the city. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in hefty fines or shut-downs of your amenity. This will not make your current, or prospective tenants happy. Don’t skimp. It’s not worth it, dangerous, and could lead to loss of tenant retention or lawsuits.

While you are doing your part, make sure these following items are included in your lease pool addendum so your tenants are clear about their responsibilities as well:

  • Tenants use the pool at their own risk.
  • The landlord should be notified immediately if something needs to be fixed.
  • Users must comply with manufacturer instructions and recommendations when using the pool equipment.
  • The gate must be locked and the pool deck free of obstructions.
  • If you elect to allow tenants to perform routine maintenance, such as adding chlorine and removing debris, all such maintenance tasks should be specified.

Happy and healthy tenants mean happy (and wealthy) landlords. As we gear up for the summer months, take the necessary steps to make sure you are 100% compliant with local swimming pool laws.

Rhino Realty offers property management and commercial real estate sales in New Mexico, Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Rio Rancho, and Bernalillo. For more information, please contact us at  505-856-0033 or visit us at www.RhinoRentalsNM.com

 

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Days To Fly the American Flag

 

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Spring is finally upon us and brings with it all the seasonal outdoor fun we look forward to, along with the promise of summer, every year. As we gear up for barbecues and fireworks, you may start planning on hanging up your flag for the season. But, knowing when and how to fly the flag can be confusing. Committing a flag faux pas can be embarrassing, so this week, we are going to take a look at the 2018 flag schedule.

First and foremost, you can fly the flag every day of the year – weather permitting. The United States Flag Code dictates that “The [American] flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.”

All-weather flags can also fall victim to wear and tear, so always check your flag’s condition regardless of the material from which it’s made.  The condition of the flag flying in front of your property says a great deal about the care and attention you provide. Good maintenance practices assure your tenants and guests that you take pride in your community.

The United States Flag Code also states that “when a patriotic effect is desired, the [American] flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during hours of darkness.”  

So always use lights mounted away from the flagpole, configured in such a way as to spotlight the flag in darkness.

The above being said, if you do not fly the flag all year round, there are definitely days that the flag can (and should) be displayed. The below dates are for the 2018 calendar and will vary yearly. On these days, fly the flag at full- staff unless otherwise noted.

  • New Year’s Day: January 1
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: January 15
  • Inauguration Day: January 20
  • Lincoln’s Birthday: February 12
  • President’s Day/Washington’s Birthday: February 19
  • National Vietnam War Veterans Day: March 29
  • Easter Sunday: April 1
  • Veterans Day: May 8
  • Mother’s Day: May 13
  • Peace Officers’ Memorial Day: May 15 (half-staff)
  • Armed Forces Day: May 20
  • Memorial Day: May 28 (half-staff until noon)
  • D-Day: June 6
  • Flag Day / Army’s Birthday: June 14
  • Father’s Day: June 17
  • Independence Day: July 4
  • National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day: July 27
  • Coast Guard Birthday: August 4

As the summer holidays approach, it may be tempting to go all out and decorate with American flag themes. It’s important to respect the community in which you live and be cautious about using the flag as decoration or clothing. The United States flag code outlines these guidelines in section § 8.

“Respect for Flag. No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, state flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(a) The flag should never be displayed with union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping in front of the platform, and for a decoration in general.

(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Using the above guidelines is best practice when considering flying the American flag on your property. When in doubt about any of the guidelines for displaying your flag, you can visit the link to read the official United States Flag Code.

Also, keep in mind that your town may have local guidelines to honor or show respect for events in your area. You can always check your city’s website for guidance in that regard.

Rhino Realty offers property management and commercial real estate sales in New Mexico, Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Rio Rancho, and Bernalillo. For more information, please contact us at  505-856-0033 or visit us at http://www.RhinoRentalsNM.com

 

What Do I Do?

Answers to Common Landlord Questions

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Do I Have to Allow Pets on My Property?

While you have no obligation to allow pets to live in your rental properties, the trend is definitely moving more in the direction of pet friendly rentals. While you may be worried about damage to your property, allowing pets can actually bring in more tenants and more money. The key is having a comprehensive pet policy, charging a deposit that will cover you if any damage should occur, and charging monthly pet rent that does not have to be used for damages, but can be additional income.

The additional income can come from charging higher rent if there aren’t a lot of pet friendly properties in your area, keep tenants longer because it can be more difficult for pet owners to find pet friendly places to live, and you have a wider tenant pool.

 When Can I Raise My Tenants’ Rent?

Rent can only be raised when a tenant’s current lease period has ended; for month-to-month tenants this is one month in advance. These policies vary depending on the type of rental, so if you are renting on a weekly basis or in a boarding house, there are different notification rules.

There are no rules governing how much a landlord can raise a tenant’s rent, but you aren’t allowed to raise rent punitively or retroactively.

When Do I Keep a Renter’s Security Deposit? How Much Do I Refund if I Think there’s Damage to the Property?

Money can be deducted from a tenant’s security deposit for unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, damage beyond normal wear and tear, or breaches of the lease agreement (actions like early termination of the lease agreement, painting or making changes to the property without permission, etc.). The requirements for deducting money from a tenant’s security deposit vary from state to state with requirements ranging from providing an itemized list with amounts of deductions to doing a walk-through of the property with the tenant before they move out to go over any charges that would result in security deposit deductions.

Even if your state doesn’t require you to walk through the property with the tenant, this can be beneficial so that the tenant is aware of the deductions, knows what to expect when they receive their security deposit refund, and there are fewer surprises.

What is Normal Wear and Tear on a Property?

When it comes to returning a tenant’s security deposit, it is important to know the difference between damage to the property and normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear on a property cannot be deducted from the tenant’s security deposit, but actual property damage can be deducted.

Normal deterioration of a property from living in it is limited to minor damages like small carpet stains or scratches on wood floors, dirty grout, wearing finish on metal fixtures, minor chipping or worn paint, and other similar signs of typically daily life.

Damage to the property includes things like broken windows or mirrors, large stains on the carpet, broken fixtures, holes in walls, and other damages that are caused by abuse or neglect of the property.

Do I Have to Tell Prospective Renters if a Death Occurred in the Rental Unit?

This really comes down to what state you’re renting in. States have different laws when it comes to disclosing what happened in a unit before the tenant moved in. In some states, property owners need to voluntarily disclose if there was a death in the unit before the renter moves in, while in others there is no requirement to disclose this information. You should always check the local laws where you’re renting to find out what needs to be disclosed to potential renters.

When Can I Enter My Rental Units?

Landlords have the keys to every unit that they rent and can enter the properties for maintenance, sales or rental, safety or health concerns, or by court order. It is important to note that tenants are not allowed to change the locks without permission from the landlord, so the landlord should always have the means to enter the unit.

For routine maintenance or any repairs or work requested by the tenant, the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property.

In the case of emergencies or court orders, landlords can enter at any time without notice to the tenant. Even in these cases, the landlord must announce themselves by name and state the reason for entering before they enter the property.

Affordable Upgrades to Maximize Rental Property Income

Making improvements to your rental property can have a big return on investment, but you want to make sure that you’re spending money on the things that tenants look for and that will ultimately make you more money. When updating your rental property, you don’t want to over-renovate. The space should look inviting, but even though it may be difficult, the property doesn’t need to be updated as if it is your home.  All of these updates should allow you to charge higher rent and attract more tenants.

One final note, once you invest in updating your property you want to make sure that you present the property in the best way possible when showing it to prospective tenants. Make sure that it looks clean and well-lit – you want the people viewing the property to see themselves living there.

Cleaning

Clean, Clean, Clean.
When tenants look at a rental property, they want it to look like no one has lived there before them. We recommend hiring a professional cleaning company to scrub the inside of the property from top to bottom. Clean all of the obvious areas, but don’t neglect the baseboards, inside of cabinets and drawers, tops of window frames, and other more hidden places. Even without any other improvements, thoroughly cleaning the space will add automatic value to your property in the eyes of the tenants.

Make Small Upgrades.
Without spending a lot of money, you can make upgrades to little things on your property that can have a big return. Repair or replace anything that is broken; this includes linoleum tiles, a drawer that constantly comes off the track, or blinds with missing slats. For relatively low cost, you can replace door knobs, switchblades, and vent covers which can improve the overall look of your property.

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Update Kitchen & Bathroom.
If you are going to spend money updating any part of your property, spend it in the kitchen and bathrooms. These areas are the primary selling points of your property and it pays to spend a little bit of money to make them more attractive to tenants. At the very least, bathrooms need to look extremely clean or new. To achieve this result at a very low cost, repaint the bathroom in a clean white or light blue and replace the shower and sink fixtures. Installing a curved shower curtain rod and painting the vanity cabinets is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to make your bathroom look newer more updated.

If you have some money to invest after updating the bathroom, spend money updating the kitchen appliances. New appliances allow you to charge higher rent and attract good tenants. If you can’t buy new appliances for the kitchen, clean the appliances very well and replace any knobs, burners, or oven shelves that cannot be cleaned to look like new. Painting the kitchen cabinets and updating the sink fixtures can quickly liven up an older kitchen.

Modernize.
A lot of rental properties look old and lived in. You can make your property stand out by putting a fresh coat of light-colored paint on the walls. You don’t have to go with the standard light tan – choosing a different color will make the space look more modern and help you to stand out when tenants compare your property with others that they looked at. Consider adding an accent wall in the main room to make the property look more inviting.

It also pays to update older lighting fixtures to something newer which can make the property look more updated. To make the living spaces feel more modern, install expensive-looking curtain rods and new blinds. These little changes will make new tenants feel like the space is more comfortable and they will be better able to see it as their home.

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Update the Outside.
Minor landscaping like cutting the edge of the grass, weeding any flowerbeds or putting mulch down can improve the curb-appeal of your property. If the front door is looking worn, you can give it a fresh coat of paint, but don’t use paint to cover up actual damage to the door. This is the first thing that renters will see when they look at your property, so you want it to look good and safe. You also want to make sure that the outside looks safe by checking the locks and latches on gates.

 

Pool Safety Tips

Swimming pools can be the perfect addition to a summer barbeque or a great way to cool off during the hot summer months, but if not maintained properly they can be a big liability for property owners. This summer, keep these tips in mind so that your tenants can safely enjoy the pool!

1. Make sure that there are fences with locked gates around the pool so that only adults can enter the pool area.

Kids getting into the pool area when it’s closed is the number one culprit in child pool drownings. Make sure that you take every precaution possible to assure that they can’t get into the pool during off hours or without a parent.

2. Provide all recommended life-saving devices and have a staff member on duty that knows CPR.

If there is an accident, you don’t want it to be made worse because onlookers were not able to provide the best first aid possible. Take the extra time to make sure that your pool complies with local laws and that you’ve done everything you can to protect your tenants.

3. Post water safety rules in a place where all swimmers can see them.

Though it may not fully protect you in the event of an accident or legal action, it’s always best to make sure that everyone who enters your pool area is aware of the rules and safe swimming practices.

4. If you don’t employ lifeguards, have staff monitor the pool area during high traffic times.

While it is up to tenants to swim at their own risk, it’s always better to have an extra set of eyes on the pool when there are a lot of people in the pool area. This helps to protect you and your tenants.

5. Test chemical levels in the on a regular schedule based on published standards.

High chlorine levels can cause irritated skin and eyes for swimmers, but low levels can cause a build up of algae and other organisms which can make swimmers sick. It’s important to understand pool cleaning protocol and implement a schedule so that the pool chemicals are always kept at desirable levels.

15 Ways to Make Your Rental Feel More Homey

Sometimes moving into a rental apartment can feel a little bit sterile and there will certainly be aspects of it that you don’t like or would change if you owned the property. That doesn’t mean that you have to just live with these annoyances – there are a lot of things that you can do to make your rental space more personal and inviting.

1. Use plants to decorate your living room, bedrooms, and outdoor spaces

2. Start an indoor herb garden in your kitchen

3. Find throw pillows and blankets with interesting colors or patterns to add a splash of color to your couch

4. Cover boring colored carpet with throw rugs

5. If your apartment lacks natural light, use lamps to add lighting and personality to the space

6. Hang curtains on the windows to liven up your room or to give the walls some color

7. Cover old radiators or fuse boxes with pictures, curtains, or a well-placed piece of furniture

8. Choose interesting furniture that can serve as decorative pieces

9. Use your bed as a focal point of decoration in the bedroom by getting a nice comforter and lots of decorative pillows

10. Decorate your bathroom with colorful rugs, towels, and shower curtain to bring color to usually beige or all-white apartment bathrooms

11. Put pictures in cute picture frames out on bookshelves and other surfaces to make the space feel more like a reflection of you

12. To minimize hanging pictures on the walls, prop larger art pieces up against the walls using bookshelves, mantles, or counters

13. In a small space, use room dividers to separate spaces

14. If you have an outdoor space, use small lights and some outdoor furniture to make it a place you can escape to

15. Find a home for all of your things and get rid of the things that you don’t need to keep your space open and free of clutter

5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Property Management Company

You will be trusting a property management company with making decisions on your behalf and in managing the day-to-day operations of your property investment. It’s important to know what you want out of a property management company, to interview multiple companies, and to make sure that you make the most of the interview time that you have with the company. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – this is your investment and you want to make sure that you feel confident in the people you choose to protect it.

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1. Handling of Funds

It’s important to know how the company that you are talking to handles your money. Never be afraid to ask any and all questions that you can think of. You will be trusting whoever you choose with your investment, so make sure to ask when you will be paid, if the company will be writing checks on your behalf, payment policies for vendors, and how the accounting will be handled. It’s also important to know what reports the company will provide for you and how often they will send them. Feel free to ask for examples of the reports that they provide – sometimes it helps to see them in front of you.

 2. Rental Rates

It can be difficult to know how much rent to charge your tenants, and that’s one place where hiring a property management company can really help you. You want to look for a company that has extensive knowledge of market data and uses that knowledge to determine rental rates for your property. It’s also important to ask how often they raise rent, how they handle late rent, and how they handle delinquent rent and evictions.

3. Maintenance

A quick response to tenant maintenance issues is important to keep tenants happy, adhering to laws, and keeping your property investment in good repair. You want to make sure that you know how the company that you’re interviewing handles maintenance requests. There are different ways that maintenance is paid for by the property management company and you should ask for all of the details about how maintenance payments work and what the company will be doing on your behalf. You will also want to ask how often preventative maintenance and property inspections are performed and what kind of reports are sent in regards to the condition of the property and maintenance that has been done or will be needed.

4. Price

Even though price may be the first thing that you want to think about, it’s actually one of the last things that you should consider when selecting a property management company.  Before you look at how much a property management company will cost, you should make sure that they are going to provide the services you need at the quality that you’re looking for. Sometimes companies that are lower priced may be overloading their managers, may not provide top-of the line service, or are not including all of their fees in the upfront cost. When making this important decision, you need to make sure that the company you choose will protect your investment and is not just offering the lowest price.

5. Communication

The details of how your property will be managed and how your money will be handled are obviously important, but don’t let these things overshadow the importance of being able to communicate well with the company you decide to hire. You should always feel comfortable asking questions and voicing concerns. If the person that you are talking with constantly interrupts you or if you don’t feel like you’re getting answers to your questions when you’re interviewing companies, this will likely be the same experience that you will have when dealing with this company after you hire them. In the end, it’s important for you to have confidence and trust in the property management company that you hire.