Property Management Blog

Fire Prevention Tips: 14 Ways to Avoid Setting Your Apartment on Fire

System - Thursday, April 20, 2017


Winter may be halfway over, but much of the U.S. is still experiencing some of the most extreme weather on record. Need we remind you? Messy mixtures of snow and ice paired with below freezing temperatures have made it necessary to crank up the heat at home. Staying warm and toasty during the frigid winter months is no doubt a basic human necessity. But as renters get resourceful with their techniques, the risk of disaster lurks.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, how we heat our living spaces is largely to blame for the many fires that take place each year. In 2012 there were reportedly 97,000 apartment structure fires resulting in 380 deaths. If there’s any silver lining to highlight, it’s that, possibly due to increased awareness or prevention methods, the number of fire-related apartment deaths has fallen by over 62 percent since 1980.

Heating your small space is a must, but the right safety precautions have to be in place to avoid a potential life-threatening catastrophe. Below, we outline some of the main causes of apartment fires and how you can prevent one from setting your humble abode ablaze.

Lots of cooking and baking takes place during the cold winter months when the desire for warm, home-cooked meals is at its peak. Don’t deny yourself a hearty feast, just be mindful of how you go about it.

  • Do not fall asleep while cooking. If you’re too tired, turn the meal off and finish it once you’re fully awake and alert.
  • Use a timer to remind you that food is cooking. If your microwave or oven doesn’t have one, use your phone, tablet or traditional alarm clock.
  • Keep oven mitts and food packaging far away from the stove top area.

 8 Tips to Prevent Kitchen Fires

Although they’re not the most effective heating choice, candles are often used to set a soothing atmosphere. They also come in handy when power has been lost. But they’re also known to start fires, particularly when left unattended.

  • Blow out candles before going to sleep and any time you leave your apartment.
  • Keep candles at least one foot away from any other objects.
  • Always use candle holders and make sure that the surface is flat and away from any edge where it may tip over.
  • Never use candles in any apartment where an oxygen tank is in use.
  • Opt for flashlights instead of candles in case of a power outage.

Fire-related home incidents caused by heating mechanisms largely take place during the winter months of December, January and February. As long as you’re using extra measures to heat your apartment, you are at risk. When using an portable space heater, keep these tips in mind:

  • Anything that can melt or burn should be at least three feet away from the heater.
  • Never leave these small heaters on all day or night, even when you go to sleep.
  • Children and pets should not be allowed in the same area where portable space heaters are in use.
  • Follow your space heater’s directions exactly if you are unsure of its proper operation.

Read more: How to Make DIY Draft Stoppers and 5 Ways to Help Your Heater Run More Efficiently

In general, you should be prepared for a fire emergency at all times. It may not happen in your unit, but it could take place right next door.

  • Check with your apartment manager about whether or not your building has an escape plan. Knowing escape routes and alternatives ahead of time is a great thing.
  • Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors bi-annually. Most people do this at the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time every fall and spring.

For more details on fire safety and prevention, check out the following resources:

First Aid for Carpets

System - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

After a carpet spill, doing the right thing – right away – can make the difference between success and permanent damage.  You can treat most food or drink spills with the steps we will show you here, whether it’s wine, coffee or spaghetti sauce.

Use the wet/dry vacuum first

Getting as much of the solids and/or liquids out of the carpet quickly is the most important part of removing the stain.  Actually blotting and scooping can drive the stain deep into the carpet backing and pad.  Try using your wet/dry vacuum by vacuuming up the spill with the vacuum on wet mode before sucking anything up.  Push the hose directly onto the carpet fibers and leave it for a few seconds, don’t rub or drag the hose over the carpet, move to another spot and repeat.

Apply a cleaning solution

After vacuuming the spill as much as possible don’t hit it with strong cleaners right away this may set the stain and possibly discolor the carpet.  If you don’t have a store bought product on hand you can make your own by using this recipe: ¼ teaspoon dish soap to 1 cup of water, put in a spray bottle and apply a generous amount but don’t over-do it.

Blot from the outside in

Blot the stain with a clean white cloth; don’t use a colored cloth as the color could transfer to the carpet.  Spread the carpet fibers apart slightly and soak up the stain, avoid being aggressive with the stain such as scrubbing and stomping on the blotter.  Once you have finished blotting use the wet/dry vac to remove as much of the solution as possible.

Rinse, Rinse, Rinse

You want to make sure you don’t leave the cleaning solution in the carpet fibers as it will attract dirt causing that area to get dirtier faster.  So rinse the stain with clear water then vacuum the water with your wet/dry vac until you remove as much water as possible.   You will want to make sure you clean your wet/dry vac once you’ve completed this processSave

Landlord’s Duty to Repair and Maintain the Premises

System - Monday, February 27, 2017

Landlords are required by law to provide rental property that meets basic structural, health, and safety standards.  And, if you don’t the tenant has several options that can use.  They could withhold the rent (as long as they place with the courts) pay for the repairs themselves and deduct from the rent, place a lawsuit against you and/or move out without notice and responsibility for future rent.

You want to keep your tenants happy so they stay longer thereby reducing your loss of rental income.  And, knowing that you comply with all the federal, state and county regulations and housing codes means you can respond to any complaints with a position of strength.  You will also be at a lower risk of tenant lawsuits based on habitability issues or injuries.

Your duty to keep the property habitable comes from several sources such as local building codes and state statutes.  This includes air conditioning, heat, water/sewer and plumbing.  You must also give them the right to peacefully and reasonable living space. 

A simple guideline for understanding “Peaceful” and “Reasonable”

  • Keep common areas such as stairways and hallways clean and free of obstacles
  • Electrical, plumbing, HVAC must be in good order and maintained
  • Hot water heater  must be set as per code
  • Roof free of leaks
  • Working appliances if provided

You can meet your repair and maintenance responsibilities by complying with state and local housing code.

While you are responsible for maintaining the premises the tenant also has obligations.  Your lease agreement should cover all of their responsibilities and the actions against them if they fail to maintain the premises and do not report issues to you that are in need of repair. 

The best way to avoid problems is to have a good system in place.  This can be achieved with a good lease (see previous blog).  Use your Move In checklist prior to tenant moving in to make sure everything is clean and in working order.  Provide a Resident Handbook (free download) which will cover everything from where to pay the rent to handling emergencies.  Make sure the tenant is aware of the importance of reporting problems.  You will want to keep a file documenting all repairs and replacements.  Respond quickly to the tenants repair request and use quality and reliable vendors.  And, lastly but not least make sure you perform your inspections regularly.

When Does a Guest Become a Tenant

System - Saturday, January 14, 2017

Guest becomes a tenant

Getting the Tenant Moved In

System - Saturday, January 14, 2017


Florida Real Estate Investors

By Bobbie Witt


This is key to a successful relationship between you as the Landlord and the tenant.  The Move In Inspection is the most important inspection as you will document the unit in the condition it is in prior to the tenant moving in.  The best practice for this is to download an App that is specific to property management inspections.  This App will have a floorplan template that you can create, you will mark the items condition and you will take pictures and video.  A well-documented inspection should take about an hour and one-half to two hours.  Once you have completed the inspection you will be able to create a report that you can share with the tenants.  Then you will repeat this process at move out and compare the two side by side.  Or, you can hire a Home Inspection professional; this will require a fee, but well worth the cost.


We provide the tenants with a Move In Packet that contains the following:

  • Welcome Letter that details the move in packet and utility and/or association information
  • Fully executed Lease Agreement
  • Resident Handbook that detailed; such as how to pay the rent, where to report maintenance items, how to handle emergencies, cleaning and care information (to name just a few)
  • A copy of the rules of the association if they are moving into a restricted community.
  • A copy of the Florida Statue Landlord/Tenant law brochure
  • A magnet for their refrigerator listing the daily contact and emergency contact


Once you have collected the security deposit and first month’s rent and the funds have cleared you are ready to turn over the unit to the new tenant.  Another thing to verify before you give them the keys is  to make sure the utilities are out of your name and into theirs.  If they haven’t done this you will not give them the keys.  Once they are moved in it is very difficult to get them to switch the utilities.  If you require renters insurance you will want to make sure they have taken care of this as well.  Now that all your “T’s” are crossed and “I’s” dotted you will welcome your new tenant into their new home!




System - Tuesday, January 3, 2017



By:  Bobbie Witt

Disclosure-I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice, this is a guideline for a lease agreement, please consult with your attorney for the actual agreement you will use.


You will want the lease to begin on the actual move in date and the lease expiration will be at the end of the month prior i.e. 02/15/2016-01/31/2017.  Always put your lease agreements in writing!


  • Identification of Landlord and Tenant
  • Identification of Premises
  • Limits on Use and Occupancy
  • Term of the Lease
  • Payment of Rent; how and where to pay the rent
  • Late Charges
  • Returned Check and other Bank Charges
  • Security Deposit (must  be held in a Florida Bank) and bank disclosed in lease
  • Utilities
  • Assignment and Subletting
  • Tenant’s Maintenance Responsibilities
  • Repairs and Alterations by Tenant
  • Violating Laws and Causing Disturbances
  • Pets
  • Landlord’s Right to Access
  • Extended Absences by Tenant
  • Possession of the Premises
  • Tenant Rules and Regulation
  • Payment of Court Costs and Attorney Fees in a Lawsuit
  • Disclosures
  • Authority to Receive Legal Papers
  • Additional Provisions
  • Validity of Each Part
  • Grounds for Termination of Tenancy
  • Entire Agreement

Signing the Lease Agreement

Prepare two identical copies of the lease, including all attachments.  Making sure all adults living in the unit are on the agreement and present to sign.  Verify that the signature and name on the lease agreement match those on their driver’s license or other legal identification.  Do not have the lease agreement signed until everyone understands everything.  Once signed by you and your tenants give them one copy and you retain the other.


13 Bedroom Storage Ideas That Are as Stylish as They Are Brilliant

System - Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Thank you




Carpet Cleaning Solutions

System - Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Florida Real Estate Investors - how to Approve or Reject your applicants

System - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Approving and Rejecting an Applicant

by Bobbie Witt


You’ve collected all the submitted applications and processed through your back ground check and other screening.  You now want to eliminate the applicants that have negative references from previous landlords, a history of slow rent payment or non-payment.  Don’t forget criminal history; but due to the recent changes be careful in this area and research the changes that occurred in April 2016. 

What Information Should You keep on Rejected Applicants


Maintain good records so that if a disgruntled applicant files a complaint you have documentation supporting your decision to reject this applicant.  Be sure to note reasons for rejection – such as poor credit history, or negative reference from previous landlords on your tenant reference form or other paper so that you have a paper trail if an applicant accuses you of discrimination.  Keep your files organized on all applicants for at least three years after you rent the unit.  If a rejected applicant files a complaint against you with either Fair Housing or files a lawsuit, your files will be made available to the applicant’s attorney. 

How to Reject an Applicant


The Fair Credit Reporting Act, as amended by the “Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003” requires you to give the applicant information on why they were rejected.  (You will want to research this “Act” further for more details).  You will need to give your rejected applicant an “Adverse Action Notice” giving the reason for the rejection and credit reporting agency that you used to make this decision. 

Conditional Acceptances

You want to approve the applicant with additional conditions such as a higher deposit or co-signer.  If you have come to this conclusion based on something you obtained in their background or credit check you will have to make this offer on a “Notice of Conditional Acceptance Based on Credit Report or Other Information”.  You will find more information on this in your research of the “Act”.

Approved Applicant

Great news you have approved your applicant!  You will want to notify them via telephone and follow up in writing your next steps which will include collecting the security deposit.  You will have them pay this within 48 hours of written approval notification.  You will explain that the security deposit is a Holding Fee until the lease is signed and the tenant has moved in, the Holding Fee then becomes their Security Deposit.  This protects you from losing time and money until they move in should they change their mind and not move in.


Florida Real Estate Investors - what can you deduct from the Security Deposit?

System - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Landlords are permitted to deduct from security deposits for damage or excessive filth, but not for ordinary wear and tear.

Typically, landlords may charge tenants for any cleaning or repairs necessary to restore the rental unit to its condition at the beginning of the tenancy. Here are “examples” of wear and tear versus damage or excessive filth.


Ordinary Wear and Tear: Landlord's Responsibility

Damage or Excessive Filth: Tenant's Responsibility

Curtains faded by the  sun

Cigarette burns in curtains or  carpets

Water-stained linoleum by shower

Broken tiles in bathroom


Minor marks on or nicks in  wall

Large marks, crayon or marker on or holes in wall

Dents in the wall where a door handle bumped it

Door off its hinges


Moderate dirt or spotting on carpet

Rips in carpet, urine stains from pets, Juice or drink stains


A few small tack or nail holes in   wall

Lots of picture holes or gouges in walls that require patching as well as  repainting

A rug worn thin by normal use

Stains in rug caused by a leaking fish tank

Worn gaskets on refrigerator doors

Broken refrigerator shelf

Faded paint on bedroom wall

Water damage on wall from hanging  plants

Dark patches of ingrained soil on hardwood floors that have lost their finish and have been worn down to bare wood

Water stains on wood floors and windowsills caused by windows being left open during rainstorms

Warped cabinet doors that won't close

Sticky cabinets and interiors

Stains on old porcelain fixtures that have lost their protective coating


Grime-coated bathtub and toilet

Moderately  dirty mini-blinds

Missing mini-blinds

Bathroom mirror beginning to "de-silver" (black spots)


Mirrors caked with lipstick and  makeup

Clothes dryer that delivers cold air because the thermostat has given out

Dryer that won't turn at all because it's been over-loaded

Toilet flushes inadequately because mineral deposits have  clogged the jets

Toilet won't flush properly because it's stopped up with a diaper or other item



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