The Benefits of Adding Insulation to Rental Properties

Property owners are tasked with giving tenants a comfortable and safe place to live, but keeping a rental unit warm in the winter and cool in the summer can be costly.

Even if property owners are passing on the cost of utilities to their tenants, keeping costs under control by employing energy-saving methods can attract the best renters.

These tips and the information found below about the benefits of insulating a rental property can help property owners understand why the cost of adding insulation to their property is a good investment.

Cutting Down on Heating Costs
Heating bills can skyrocket for rental properties that are located in the coldest regions of the country.

Particularly cold winters have sent heating bills through the roof, and many property owners are left paying thousands of dollars just to keep their tenants safe from the cold.

While insulation does not create heat, it does prevent the heat that is in a home from escaping.

Instead of letting the heating system’s work go to waste, heat is circulated throughout the rental property.

Keeping Cooling Costs Under Control
While air conditioning is typically considered a luxury rather than a requirement, offering tenants air conditioning is a good way to attract people who can afford and are interested in added touches.

In regions with exceptionally hot weather, air conditioning offers protection to the elderly and children.

As with heating, insulation is able to keep the conditioned air inside of a property instead of letting it seep outside.

Attracting Better Tenants
One of the biggest benefits outside of cost savings when it comes to insulation is attracting the best tenants to a rental property.

The fact that less energy is used when insulation is beefed up means that a property with added insulation is friendlier to the environment.

Tenants who are concerned about their impact on the environment may be more inclined to rent or even pay a premium price to live in a more green building.

Tenants who are more aware of their budget may also be attracted to a rental property that has been insulated to cut down on heating and cooling costs.

Many property owners choose to have their tenants pay for heating and cooling, and boasting an efficient property design that manages to keep a home more uniformly comfortable throughout the winter and summer is more likely to get a property rented out more quickly.

Keeping Insulation Costs Down
Adding insulation to a rental property can be a costly endeavor, but it is not one that has to break the bank.

Starting with small changes is best, especially if the property is currently being rented out.

Using caulk to seal up holes when adding insulation will help to prevent air from escaping or getting into the rental property.

Insulation is best added to basements, crawlspaces and attics.

These are the areas of a rental property that are most likely to allow conditioned air to escape from the building, so landlords who have limited means should focus on these areas first.

Insulating a rental property is a great way to keep down utility costs while attracting the best tenants.

Insulating targeted areas throughout a property is the best way to keep the project cost effective, and finishing up by sealing up air leaks will help to maximize the benefits of insulating a rental property.

What is a Tax Lien Certificate?

A tax lien certificate is a certificate of claim against a property.

They are issued when there are unpaid taxes, usually property taxes, that are directly associated with the structures and land in question.

These certificates are issued by most counties in the US and some individual municipalities also offer them.

Instead of pursuing delinquent taxes, these certificates allow a governing body to collect needed tax revenues by selling the certificates to investors.

Tax Lien Certificates Are Sold In Many Different Ways

Most homeowners are going to pay their taxes, even when those taxes are overdue.

The lien on the property gives the certificate holder rights to collect money when the home is sold.

If there is a tax lien for $2,000, for example, and it remains unpaid until a property is sold, then the cash from that transaction would be deduced the outstanding amount plus interest that the lien certificate holds.

The term of a tax lien certificate is generally 1-3 years.

The tax rates are generally between 8-30%.

If the property owner doesn’t pay the bill and collection efforts have been made, then the certificate holder may also choose to foreclose upon the property to take possession of it.

What Is the Key To Making a Good Investment?

Tax lien certificates have higher returns, but they also have a higher risk.

They often can’t be sold to another investor.

The issuer of the certificate may recall it at any time due to an internal error at current interest rates instead of the maximum allowable.

This means making a good investment often requires a lot of research.

The benefit of owning a tax lien certificate is that this debt is often given a first priority over other liens, like contractor liens.

If the property sells, then you get the first chance to collect the cash that is owed.

The value of the property must be worth the potential legal proceedings necessary to claim them.

Worthless properties don’t often have property taxes paid on them because they are of such a low value.

By tracking which properties offer the best chances for success, a tax lien certificate can be a good investment.

If you can afford the initial purchase of the tax lien, then this could be a good investment.

Perform your due diligence, check for local certificates and their value, and then begin collecting a return that can often beat what stocks and bonds can provide.

How To Repair a Fiberglass Shower

A fiberglass shower is a lightweight addition to install in a bathroom, but over time and frequent use it can begin to develop some wear patterns.

It may even crack. Instead of replacing the entire shower unit, however, most cracks can be effectively repaired.

Here is how you can make that happen.

1. Clean Out the Fiberglass Crack.

The fiberglass needs to be completely clean so it can be repaired.

You’ll want to wash it out, then sand it out, then blow it out with a can of compressed air, and then wash it out one more time.

Allow to air dry or use carefully use a hair dryer.

2. Apply Fiberglass Mesh if Necessary.

When a crack is more than 0.25 inches wide, then it will need to be reinforced in order to be properly repaired.

Pick up a piece of fiberglass mesh to place over the repair site.

For deep cracks or actual holes in the shower, multiple layers of mesh may be necessary.

Fiberglass cloth is also a viable solution.

3. Mix Together a Tinted Epoxy.

You’ll be mixing the sealant for the repair, which is usually an epoxy mixture.

Most are tinted to match the color of the shower fixture already.

Press it into the crack or cover the fiberglass mesh.

Smooth it down to create a seamless repair.

Allow to cure up to 24 hours.

4. Sand Down the Repair.

Once the epoxy resin has completely cured, you will need to sand down the repair site until it is flush with the rest of the shower.

Use a damp cloth or compressed air to remove any dust.

Now apply a second layer of the resin, but without any thickener. Allow to dry and repeat this step.

5. Buff It Out.

Once the final layer has been added, using a buffing compound to restore a glossy appearance to the shower.

This may take two or three attempts to restore the luster of the shower.

For darker fiberglass units, one pass is usually enough to get the job done.

Don’t spend $1,000 or more to replace a cracked fiberglass shower.

Purchase a repair kit and follow these steps today to quickly repair the shower over the course of a weekend.

How To Repair Hardwood Floor Scratches

Hardwood floors look beautiful, but over time they can take quite a beating.

Dropping items, sliding chairs, and dog claws can all wind up scratching the wood surface.

The end result is quite unsightly. Instead of replacing the entire floor, knowing how to repair hardwood scratches can have the floor looking like new in no time at all.

1. Try Filling Them In.

If the scratches are minor, then you may be able to fill in the scratches with a filling compound, such as paste wax.

Make sure the color matches.

You may also be able to remove the appearance of the scratch with something like a furniture pen.

If the paste wax is used, be sure to buff out any excess to bring back shine.

2. Gouges Can Benefit From Paste Wax Too.

Although gouges are deeper than scratches, they can still benefit from some paste wax.

A crayon or a filler stick on the bottom of the gouge may be necessary to bring the gouge up to the surface of the floor.

You may need to sand down the gouge as well since there will typically be a raised lip around it.

3. Fix Deep Gouges With Wood Putty.

You can fill a deep hole with wood putty that matches the floor color.

Sanding dust from the floor can also be mixed with epoxy to create the same effect.

Once the compound dries, sand it down so it is flush with the rest of the floor.

Once the repair is flush, use a clean cloth to wipe away any dust.

Use a breathing protector to avoid epoxy dust as needed.

4. When In Doubt, Polish It Out.

If you can seem to find the right wood putty or furniture pen, then consider shopping for some shoe polish.

Just make sure to wipe away any extra polish away from the floor before it dries to avoid damaging the floor in another way.

No matter which repair method is used, a thin coat of hardwood floor’s finish will often be necessary to complete the look.

If an entire board is damaged, it may be easier to pull the board and replace it.

Follow these steps and you’ll be able to have that hardwood floor looking like new in no time at all.

How To Verify a Realtors License

One of the common scams today is to pose as a Realtor.

The scammer will represent homes that are for sale on free websites.

When someone contacts them about the home, the fake Realtor will take the buyers through a very realistic process of purchasing the home.

At some point a down payment will be required.

It’s at that point the scammer strikes, takes the cash, and disappears.

Knowing how to verify a Realtor’s license is one of the easiest ways to avoid this type of scam.

Here’s how you can do that.

1. Check With a License Verification Service.

There are organizations such as the National Association of Realtors that will help to verify the practice of its members when requested.

Partnered up with Arello, many credentials can be directly verified online through the website

2. Check With Your State, Province, or National Database.

Many jurisdictions require real estate agents to have a specific business license so they can conduct property transactions.

These licenses are considered public record and can often be accessed online through the Secretary of State, Department of Labor and Industries, or other similar department in local government.

3. Conduct All Transactions With a Trusted Third Party.

You may be asked to produce evidence of a down payment during the application process for a mortgage, but you are very rarely required to submit that money to a real estate agent.

Most down payments are transferred when the final paperwork is signed at the title and escrow office.

If you are unsure of a request, ask for a trusted third party to witness the transaction.

4. Ask For Proof of Credentials.

Remember that business license that real estate agents must have?

If you can’t find one online, then you can ask the agent in question to produce their credentials.

Realtors that refuse to do so are people that shouldn’t be trusted. Period.

Knowing how to verify a Realtor’s license often means finding the right website, having the correct information about the real estate agent, and then clicking a command to verify.

If the agent can’t be verified, then refuse to provide any personal information or cash to this individual until they can be verified… or they move onto an easier target for their scam.

How to Put a Lien on a Property

Virtually any personal property can qualify to have a lien placed on it.

Many goods, however, are difficult to track and so a lien on electronics, clothing, or furniture is very rare.

Real estate liens are the most common, with vehicle liens coming in second place.

There are two types of liens that the average person can get: a contracting lien or a judgment lien.

What Is a Contracting Lien?

Contracting liens occur when services are rendered for some reason, but the client fails to pay the debt that is owned.

Contractors and mechanics often file these liens, but anyone who has done work for someone on a property can file this lien.

From landscaping to tiling, even subcontractors can sometimes place this type of lien.

To have the lien put onto the property, the creditor must contact the County Clerk in the area where the home is located.

A filing to have the lien place must be completed and this will create a court date.

If the court affirms the lien, then it will become a right to take possession of the property that has been improved if not paid in full by a certain time.

What Is a Judgment Lien?

Judgment liens occur when services rendered aren’t for improving a property.

If someone hired a screenprinter to make t-shirts, took possession of the shirts, but didn’t pay for them in full, then a judgment lien can be requested.

Rather than putting the lien on property and collecting the amount upon sale or when repaid, the judgment lien allows a creditor to take property equal to the amount of services that were rendered as payment.

Laws on judgment liens vary by jurisdiction. Most courts will require proof of multiple collection attempts, including placement with a collection agency, before allowing an account to be awarded a judgment lien.

Knowing how to put a lien on a property is knowledge that no one ever wants to put into practice.

When push comes to shove, however, this is an effective way for a creditor to receive the money they are owned.

Contact the local County Clerk, fill out the appropriate paperwork, and then make sure to show up in court.

When can landlords use the small claims court?

The Small Claims Court is a great system for recovering small amounts of money that are owed to you.

In exchange for a filing fee, you can have your case tried by a judge who may order a tenant to pay you what is due.

The best thing about Small Claims Court is that you don’t need a lawyer.

Some states even ban lawyers entirely in Small Claims trials.

You’ll need to pay a filing fee, which can be as low as $15, but the sort of skyrocketing expenses that can happen in other types of trials are not a concern.

Common Small Claims Court Actions
The maximum award offered by a Small Claims Court is between $3,000 and $5,000, depending on the state.

This makes it ideal for the kind of disputes that occasionally emerge in a landlord’s life.

Property Repair Costs
It’s every landlord’s worst nightmare: when your tenants move out, you may find that they have left your property in such disrepair that even their security deposit won’t cover the costs to fix it.

This is one of the most common reasons for landlords to take tenants to court.

Unpaid Rent
In cases where the client is clearly in breach of the lease contract, such as not having paid their rent, the court can help to force payment.

In reality, just the threat of a court date is often enough to convince the tenant to pay up.

Third Party Services
As a client yourself, you can take action against service providers such as plumbers, electricians, and cleaners if they fail to provide the agreed service, or if they damage your property while working on it.

Things to Consider Before Going to Court
The Small Claims Court is an important part of the landlord’s toolkit, but you shouldn’t head down the legal route until you’ve considered a few other things.

Landlord Obligations
If the tenancy has ended in an eviction, you’ll need to prove that you followed your state’s guidelines for removing a tenant.

This may include copies of move-out letters or eviction notices.

Supporting Paperwork
You’ll always need a copy of the tenancy agreement to demonstrate how the tenant broke it.

If no agreement was signed, the case will be governed by your state’s statutory laws.

Bring any other documents that support your case, like invoices if you’ve had to pay for cleaning and repairs.

Also, be sure that you understand the court’s paperwork requirements.

Some courts have specific submission rules that require you to submit two copies of everything, for example.

Speaking to the Tenant First
It’s surprising how many people go directly to court without attempting to resolve the dispute in person first.

There’s no point in being too trigger-happy, since many cases won’t proceed unless there has been some attempt to amicably resolve the dispute.

In some cases, the verdict may recommend using some kind of mediation service to reach an agreement, so it’s best to make a reasonable attempt to settle things directly with the other person before taking things to court.

Everyone enters into a tenancy agreement in good faith, and most leases end on good terms.

But if they don’t, it’s good to know that Small Claims Court can help you get the money you’re owed.

5 Things Every Landlord Should Know About Small Claims Court

No one enjoys going to court, but due to the nature of the landlord-tenant relationship, there’s no doubt that landlords will see their fair share of the inside of a courtroom.

From watching daytime court shows, it may seem as if small claims decisions are a toss-up between who will win.

This simply isn’t the case, and landlords who understand the following nuances of the process have a distinct advantage in the courtroom.

Preparation is Key
Regardless of how sure landlords are that they’re right, they have no excuse to not fully prepare for their day in court.

Small claims cases should be treated seriously, because even a landlord who is right could lose a case if their case isn’t presented properly.

Fortunately, small claims court isn’t an improvisational routine.

It’s perfectly fine for a person to take notes into court that list all important points.

Detailed notes should also be taken related to the occurrence that led to the court case.

Finally, collecting canceled checks, bills, contracts, photos, and other evidence should be done long before the court date approaches.

An Appeal is Possible
After a small claims court decision has been handed down, it’s important to remember that some states do allow for appeals of these decisions.

This is important for a landlord to remember in any situation, considering the fact that a tenant also has the right to appeal if he or she ends up on the losing side.

Landlords will have to look at the laws specific to their state to find out whether or not small claims appeals are allowed.

Even in states that do allow appeals, though, it’s likely that the case will be denied if there wasn’t a mistake by the judge in interpreting or applying the law.

Landlords Can Lose
The majority of landlords simply won’t waste the time on a small claims court trial if they think they’re wrong, but even going in fully confident that the law is on their side doesn’t guarantee the landlords a victory.

This becomes especially important when it’s the tenant, or former tenant, who is suing for damages.

A landlord who is ordered by the court to pay damages could be ruined financially if they’re not prepared for the loss.

Fortunately, taking steps far in advance of court cases can help.

There are several types of landlord insurance, for instance, that can be purchased.

Fortunately, some of these liability policies will cover court costs and awarded damages.

Having this type of insurance can prove essential, so landlords should review their policies completely to ensure they’re covered.

There Are No One-Way Streets
Regardless of whether landlords are taking their tenants to court or vice-versa, it’s important to remember that it’s not a one-way street.

What this means is that the respondent in the case can counter-sue the individual who is suing them.

So for landlords facing lawsuits, it’s smart to review the entirety of that specific landlord-tenant relationship to see if there’s a potential for minimizing damages by counter-suing.

Similarly, if something happened, unrelated to the initial filing, that could leave the landlord liable for damages, they need to remember that the tenant could strike back if they’re sued in court.

Sometimes It’s Not Worth It
It may seem counterintuitive, but taking a tenant to small claims court may not always be worth the trouble.

Some individuals are known as “judgment proof,” and this basically means they don’t have the money to pay a judgment even if they were to lose in court.

Individuals with no job — or a low-paying job — and no assets are often considered judgment proof.

A court can’t place a lien on someone’s assets or garnish an individual’s wages if the person has neither.

In the end, taking a person to court could result in losing even more money with nothing to show for it.

This is a serious consideration that should be taken into account before filing a lawsuit.

Landlords often have the law on their side, but small claims court disputes can go south relatively quickly.

This is why comprehending as much about the process as possible is key to success.

By simply understanding the aforementioned truths, a landlord can get through the small claims process with level head intact.

How To Repair Drywall After Removing Wallpaper

Wallpaper can give a home a custom look, but it can also create a large headache.

When removing wallpaper, the backing of the drywall can sometimes give way and peel off as well, revealing the gypsum underneath.

If you can’t steam off the wallpaper and the glue that has adhered it, don’t just tear out the drywall.

Here’s how you can repair it.

1. Use Sealing Primer.

You’ll need to seal in the gypsum in some way to prevent its dust from entering the home environment.

The easiest way to do this is to utilize a sealing primer over the affected areas.

Apply a first coat, allow it to dry, and then apply a second coat. It must be completely dried after each coat to proceed.

2. Spread Joint Compound.

The tears in the drywall paper are going to create small gaps in the wall.

Joint compound spread over these gaps will help to even out its appearance.

Cover each section that has been damaged with a layer of the compound and then allow to dry.

It make take 4-5 hours to completely dry.

3. Sand Down Your Repair.

Your wall needs to be flush to avoid poor aesthetics.

Use a drywall sander to create a flush repair. Brush away any dust that remains.

4. Use Instant Spackle.

Once flush, you’ll need to create a seamless repair if there is texture on the wall.

A can of instant spackle can accomplish this pretty easily.

Spray lightly over the repair to match the aesthetics and then allow to dry.

5. Paint to Match.

Now you’re ready to finish the repair.

Paint the wall to match.

Since there will likely be numerous repairs, this is a good opportunity to choose a darker paint color to add uniformity to the process.

Knowing how to repair drywall after removing the wallpaper can prevent you from making costly, unnecessary repairs.

Follow these steps today and your wall will look brand new.

How to Repair Fiberglass Pool Steps

When you have a swimming pool that has affixed fiberglass steps, repairing them can help to save your investment.

If your fiberglass steps just insert into the pool, take them out and go to the second step of this guide.

Knowing how to repair fiberglass pool steps is remarkably easy, can be done over the course of an afternoon, and will create a lasting repair.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Drain the Pool.

You’ll need to remove enough water from the pool to expose the steps that need to be repaired.

This may included the pump and filter system depending on your setup.

Make sure that the repair site is several inches above the water line.

If you are repairing the very bottom step, you may wish to just drain the entire pool and clean it while performing this repair.

2. Dry the Step.

You’ll need to have the repair site and any adjoining areas completely dry for the repair to work.

You’ll want to use a towel to remove the majority of the water, but the crack itself must be completely dry.

Using a hair dryer can make the last part of this step a lot easier to accomplish.

3. Gear Up.

You’re going to need a dust mask on your face and gloves on your hands while conducting this repair.

You will also want to have an electric drill or Dremel tool available with a rounded stone tip.

4. Grind the Crack.

Take the stone tip and grind the crack in the fiberglass steps along its entire length.

You will be getting fiberglass dust and stone dust on the steps.

You will need to remove two inches of the fiberglass finish on either side of the crack.

Complete the grind first and then remove any debris that remains with a wet towel.

Remove any leftover finish with sandpaper by hand.

You’ll then need to dry the crack out again, so break out the hair dryer once again.

The end result should be a dull appearance around the crack, but a shiny appearance everywhere else.

5. Apply the Primer.

Be generous with the fiberglass primer.

Make sure you cover the entire 4 inch wide area where the crack is situated.

The primer can sometimes stain the fiberglass or the skin, so be generous, but also be careful when applying.

6. Put in the Bonding Filler.

Now you’re ready to begin filling in the crack.

Take bonding filler and start at one end of the crack, working your way downward [or upward] to the other end of it.

Push the filler into the crack by placing pressure on the applicator as indicated.

Make a second immediate pass to create a smoother surface.

The bonding filler needs to completely dry, which will take at least 30 minutes.

It can take longer if the weather is cooler.

7. Sand Down the Repair Site.

The next task will be to create a smooth, flush surface along the crack when compared to the rest of the step.
Continue sanding until the appearance of the steps is uniform.
It should also feel level to the touch.
If there are areas that do not feel uniform, then repeat step 6 once again.
Do not proceed to Step #8 until you have a flush surface that does not visually show any component of the crack that was once there.

8. Mix and Apply the Gel Coat.

With the filler in place, you’re ready to make the steps waterproof.

You’ll need a gel-coat resin to make this happen.

Mix up the epoxy and hardener as indicated on the instructions of your product and then spread evenly along the repair site.

It is better here to have too much than to not have enough.

Apply a level layer of the resin and then allow it to cure for the indicated time [10 minutes or more usually].

Sand it to remove imperfections, remove any debris, and then repeat for a second layer.

9. Polish It.

You’re done.

Grab a buffing cloth and polish the repair site.

Place the steps back into the water or fill the swimming pool up once again.

Knowing how to repair fiberglass pool steps can help to save you a lot of time and money in the maintenance of your swimming pool.

Use this guide today to repair your cracked steps and you’ll be able to safely enjoy your pool once again as soon as tomorrow.