3 Reasons to List Your Property For Rent Now

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Rental properties can successfully be listed at any time during the year. Years of low rent vacancy rates nationally and locally due to high demand mean renters are looking for housing year-round. But there are three main reasons why spring and summer are clearly the best times to find potential renters.

The Wallet is Full

During this time of year, Minnesotans have yet to dip too deep into their summer funds. They’re likely still basking in the glow of a tax refund, which has added to their financial confidence, if only temporarily. It’s the perfect time for renters to invest some of their money into upgrading their rental housing situation. They may even hire a moving company to complete the transition.

The Forecast Calls For Moving

As Minnesotans, we’re quite aware that life is more difficult in the winter than the spring. Everything in the winter brings with it an added level of difficulty. Spring and summer are the ideal time for renters to not only view properties, but also complete the moving process. While many would agree that moving is not fun, moving with mittens and winter boots is much LESS fun.

Don’t Forget About Families

Families with school-age children are much more likely to move in the spring or summer when their children are in between school years. Moving during the school year is difficult, even if staying in the same school district. But moving mid-school-year to a new school district can be quite an emotional challenge for a child. Listing your property in the spring ensures you’re not neglecting this valuable group of potential renters.

Next Step?

Fortunately, you haven’t missed your window of opportunity. Simply Residential Property Management has seen a flurry of recent rental activity and we’re securing quality tenants even more quickly than in the past. There is still time to get in on the spring fever. Learn more about services that Simply Residential provides by calling 952-893-9900, requesting a free rental analysis or emailing our Vice-President of Operations at amanda@simplyres.com. We look forward to speaking with you!

The Basics of Fair Housing Laws

This post was written by
 Jeff O’Brien for Simply Residential Property Management Magazine.

People who work in the areas of renting, selling, lending or insuring homes are subject to federal, state and sometimes local fair housing and other anti-discrimination laws. Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) released guidance indicating that landlords who turn down tenants based upon their criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act. This article focuses on residential landlords’ fair housing responsibilities and tenants’ rights under the Fair Housing Act, particularly in regards to the statute’s prohibitions against discrimination.

Discrimination Claims Under the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act (the “Act”) is codified at Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. The HUD regulations implementing the Act are at 24 C.F.R. Parts 100 through 125. The HUD regulations “ordinarily command considerable deference…” Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 107 (1979). The Act, which applies to both government and private defendants, makes it unlawful to discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin
or handicap. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a), (f). (The words “disability” and “handicap” are used interchangeably.) “Familial status” refers to households with a child or children under 18 or a person who is pregnant or in the process of securing legal custody of a child under 18.

hud-fair-housing FINALThe Act broadly prohibits the refusal to sell, rent, or negotiate for sale or rental, or acts that “otherwise make unavailable or deny” dwellings. It also specifically prohibits making statements indicating preferences (§ 3604(c)) or discriminating in terms, conditions, privileges, services or facilities (§ 3604(b)). It applies to “dwellings,” including vacant land offered for sale or lease for dwellings. The Act has been held to apply to mobile home parks, homeless shelters, and summer homes. See United States v. Columbus Country Club, 915 F.2d 877 (3d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1205 (1991); accord, Hovsons, Inc. v. Township of Brick, 89 F.3d 1096 (3d Cir. 1996) (nursing home). The U.S. Supreme Court has held unanimously that the language of the Act is “broad and inclusive,” implementing a “policy that Congress considered to be of the highest priority,” requiring “a generous construction” of the statute. Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 209, 211, 212 (1972).

It is important to note that intent is not required to establish liability under the Act. Prima facie liability can be established by a showing of disparate effect. The courts of appeals have adopted different standards for determining disparate effect. The Eighth Circuit (which includes the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota) set forth its test to establish a prima facie FHA disparate impact claim in the case of Oti Kaga, Inc. v. South Dakota Housing Dev. Auth, 342 F.3d 871 (8th Cir. 2003). Under the Oti Kaga test, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the objected-to-action results in, or can be predicted to result in, a disparate impact upon a protected class compared to a relevant population as a whole. Oti Kaga, 342 F.3d at 883; see also Charleston Housing Auth. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 419 F.3d 729, 740-41 (8th Cir. 2005). Under the second step of the disparate impact burden shifting analysis, the defendant must demonstrate that the proposed action has a “manifest relationship” to the legitimate non-discriminatory policy objectives and “is justifiable on the ground it is necessary to” the attainment of these objectives. Oti Kaga, 342 F.3d at 883; Charleston Housing Auth., 419 F.3d at 741.

The courts recognize two kinds of discriminatory effect: greater adverse impact on one group than another or harm to the community by the perpetuation of segregation. (Arlington Heights II, 558 F.2d at 1290) Greater adverse impact need not mean that more minorities have been affected; if a larger percentage of minorities has been affected, the standard is satisfied.

In some situations there is direct evidence of intentional discrimination. Where there is no direct evidence, a prima facie case may be established by indirect evidence. Some ways of proving intent by indirect evidence are set out by the Supreme Court in Arlington Heights I (Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977)). Another, formulaic way to establish a prima facie case is by showing that: (1) the claimant is a member of a protected class; (2) the claimant applied for and was qualified to rent or buy the property at issue; (3) the claimant was rejected; and (4) the housing opportunity remained available.

After the prima facie case of intentional discrimination has been established, the defendant must produce a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its action. If the defendant does so, the burden of production and persuasion shifts to the plaintiff to show that the proffered reason is pretextual.


42 U.S.C. § 3613 authorizes a court to award actual and punitive damages, equitable relief, and, to a prevailing party, a reasonable attorney’s fee and costs. In an administrative proceeding, HUD or the state agency may award actual damages, a civil penalty, and injunctive or other equitable relief. 42 U.S.C.§ 3612(g). HUD is authorized to award damages for emotional distress as well as other forms of loss.

The New HUD Guidance

HUD’s basis for its position that landlords may violate the Act by rejecting applicants based upon their criminal records stems from its view that because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal
history based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African Americans under the “disparate impact” analysis.


HUD’s recently released guidance should give landlords pause as to their exposure to discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act. In close cases, consultation with an attorney knowledgeable about the Act is a must.

Jeffrey C. O’Brien is an attorney with the Minneapolis-based law firm of Lommen Abdo, P.A. voice of the “Legal Minute on Minnesota Home Talk, heard Saturdays on 1500 ESPN, and a Minnesota State Bar Association Board Certified Real Property Specialist. He can be reached at (612) 336-9317 or via email at jobrien@lommen.com.

In Focus: The Rental Scam

Avoiding the Rental Scam

Could you recognize a rental scam if you saw one? Rental scams have become a major problem in the rental industry, as scammers have found creative ways to use online rental postings to lure unsuspecting tenants. There are a few different versions of the rental scam, but it basically works like this:

Scammers take property descriptions and images from existing and legitimate postings for rental and sales properties. They re-purpose the information for their own online scam post. The potential tenant finds the property online and is none the wiser that they are reaching out to a scammer. The scammer typically claims to be temporarily out of the country, so the only opportunity to view the property is via a drive-by. Getting the keys to the property only requires a wire transfer deposit to for the application fee, security deposit or first month’s rent.

Before the potentell tale mag-2tial tenant realizes, the scam has been completed. The wired money is lost and the scammer is long gone. Rental scams happen every day and it’s unfortunate to hear about the loss and suffering they cause. But there are ways to combat these scams.

Simply Residential Property Managment does all it can to minimize a scammer’s opportunity to scam tenants. But we also encourage tenants to be vigilant, knowing the warning signs of a rental scam.

Finding the right rental property should be an exciting life event. If you feel you have uncovered a rental scam involving Simply Residential Property Management, please reach out to us immediately.

4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Property Management Company


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You’ve crunched numbers. You’ve considered all the possible outcomes and challenges. And now you’re comfortable moving forward hiring a property management company to manage your rental property. Congratulations. While you’ve made some substantial progress, your journey to rent your property still has some road left to travel.

Entrusting your investment property to a property management company is easy, though admittedly emotional. But deciding which property management company to hire is the real important decision. These should be the most important factors you consider when comparing property management companies:


One of the more important issues you’re interested in is the cost. There are fees for management, vacancy, set-up, maintenance, eviction, advertising, unpaid invoices and more. Renting a property is meant to bring you additional income, right? The less a property management company charges, the better.  But while price is obviously a major factor, don’t get too caught up in only the total cost of these fees. Consider how that cost is spread out over time. Some property management companies load up a management contract with upfront costs. Ask yourself, if they are paid up front, what’s their incentive to perform at a high level throughout the duration the agreement? Other property management companies forgo those heavy upfront costs in favor of building long-term relationships with you and proving themselves over time.

Personal Attention

You’ve heard the saying “Bigger isn’t always better.” That applies when considering property management companies. If your research shows that all factors are equal between two property management companies other than sheer size, you may receive more personalized attention from that small partner. You’ll be viewed less as a number and more as a true partner. In the end, we all want a property management company we can trust that provides timely and courteous communication throughout the relationship.


The property management company is responsible for maintaining  and hopefully increasing the value of your investment property during their time as your partner. That can be done by properly addressing existing issues and being proactive with preventative maintenance.  Here are a few questions to ask property management companies about their maintenance approach:

How are tenant maintenance requests tracked and acted upon?
What’s the process for after hours maintenance?
What can you tell me about your maintenance technicians?
Is maintenance coverage 24/7 and 365 days a year?
What’s the process for entering my property?

The Tenant

You already know how important a property management company is. The tenant chosen to live in your property is also important. The services of the property management partner should include finding, screening and securing tenants. You’ll want to know where your rental listing will be advertised, how screenings will be conducted on applicants and what steps will be taken to secure tenants. It’s important to feel comfortable with the property management company’s approach to tenants and their capability to find a great fit.

Learn how Simply Residential Property Management is simply different than other property management companies. Request a free rental analysis today!

Be Proactive to Minimize Your Liability as a Landlord


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This post was written by Jeff O’Brien for Simply Residential Property Management Magazine.

Last month, I discussed the pertinent legal standards under Minnesota law for when a landlord can be held liable for injuries to tenants and/or their guests.  This month, I’m going to discuss some basic steps that landlords can take to minimize their exposure to such claims.

The Difference Between Liability and Being Sued

When it comes to civil lawsuits, Minnesota – like most states in the U.S. – is known as a “notice pleading” state.  That means that a plaintiff does not have to prove his/her entire case in the complaint.  If the plaintiff has a good faith basis for a claim, their attorney is permitted under the lawyer ethics rules to commence a lawsuit, and the details of the case are then explored later on during discovery, and then come the motions and, well you get the idea.

What does this mean? It means that, even though ultimately you as a landlord may likely prevail in a lawsuit brought by a tenant, you still have to defend the lawsuit.  Hence, taking some additional steps to prevent exposure for a claim brought by a tenant for injuries is a wise course of action.  Here are a few simple steps you should undertake immediately to audit your level of exposure to a tenant claim:

Use of Liability Limiting Entities

Use of a liability limiting entity such as a limited liability company can insulate a property owner’s personal assets from liability arising from tenant claims.  For best results, it is recommended to own each property in a separate limited liability company (or LLC for short).  In this manner, in the result of a tenant lawsuit related to one property, only the assets of the LLC which owns that property are at risk; in other words, the potential claim should not affect your other properties owned within separate LLCs.

Note that I said that the potential claim should not affect your other properties; in order to make certain that other entities and properties are not affected, you must be certain to respect the corporate formalities of each LLC.  Separate bank accounts should be opened for each separate LLC and the income and expenses relative to each property should be run through those bank accounts.  Do not commingle funds between properties and do not commingle funds from your rental properties with personal funds.  Otherwise you leave yourself open to “veil piercing” claims in the event that a tenant prevails in a lawsuit but finds no assets available to satisfy their judgment from the subject LLC.

Do You Have Adequate Insurance Coverage?

In order to best minimize the risk of liability for injuries to their tenants and/or guests, landlords should make sure that they have adequate insurance coverage – including provision of and payment for legal counsel in the event of a claim – for each of their properties.  If you choose to utilize separate entities for each rental property, make sure that each entity is properly named as the insured under the policy.

Review Your Leases

A final preventive step to take would be to review your leases to make sure that they do not create any express liability occasioned by a tenant injury.

With respect to both the lease review and entity formation matters, use of a knowledgeable attorney to audit your entity documents and lease forms would be a cost effective investment given the alternative of expensive litigation.

Jeffrey C. O’Brien is an attorney with the Minneapolis based law firm of Lommen Abdo, P.A. voice of the “Legal Minute on Minnesota Home Talk, heard Saturdays on 1500 ESPN, and a Minnesota State Bar Association Board Certified Real Property Specialist. He can be reached at (612) 336-9317 or via email at jobrien@lommen.com.

Are Landlords Liable for Tenant and Guest Injuries?


This post was written by Jeff O’Brien for Simply Residential Property Management Magazine.

Can you be held liable when a tenant or guest is injured on your property? More importantly, what steps can landlords take to minimize liability for these injuries.

Common Law Duty – General Rule; Exceptions
For a common law negligence claim, one must prove (1) the existence of a duty of care, (2) breach of that duty, (3) proximate causation, and (4) damages. White v. Many Rivers West Limited Partnership, 797 N.W.2d 739, 743 (Minn. Ct. App. 2011). When it comes to the liability of landlords for tenant injuries, however, Minnesota courts have long held that landlords generally owe no duty of care to their tenants and are not liable for damages caused by defective conditions on the leased premises. White, 797 N.W.2d at 744 (Minn. Ct. App. 2011), citing Oakland v. Stenlund, 420 N.W. 2d 248, 250 (Minn. Ct. App. 1988).

Several exceptions to the general rule exist. A duty of care may exist if the landlord: (1) has willingly undertaken to repair the premises and done so negligently; (2) retains control of certain areas of the premises; or (3) is aware of a hidden hazard on the premises by the tenant is not. White, 797 N.W.2d at 744, citing Gradjelick v. Hance, 646 N.W.2d 225, 231 (Minn. 2002).

Negligent Repair Exception
If a landlord assumes the duty to correct a defect on part of the property when not required by the lease to do so, “the landlord must bear the burden of failure to make a good job of it.” White, 797 N.W.2d at 744, quoting Canada by Landy v. McCarthy, 567 N.W.2d 496, 504 (Minn. 1997). The duty of reasonable care to make a good job of repairs, however, requires only that “the necessary repairs [be performed] in a reasonable way.” Id. The landlord’s duty is not to make improvements to the safety of the thing repaired exceeding the safety standards otherwise imposed by law.

Retention of Control Exception
A second exception to the general rule occurs if the landlord retains possession of an apartment’s common areas, like stairs, halls, elevators or yard space. White, 797 N.W.2d at 745, citing Rosmo v. Amherst Holding Co., 50 N.W.2d 698, 701 (1951). Note that a landlord performing routine maintenance on windows in a unit or addressing a tenant’s complaints related to the windows does not fall under this exception. White at 745.

Hidden Hazard Exception
If a property contains hidden dangers that the landlord knows about and the tenant does not, the landlord must warn tenants about that danger, but the landlord has no corresponding duty to warn a tenant’s guests. White, 797 N.W.2d at 745, citing Oakland, 420 N.W.2d at 251. And no warning is required even for the tenant when the tenant knows of the dangerous condition or the condition is so open and obvious that the tenant can be expected or have discovered it on her own. White, 797 N.W.2d at 745, citing Johnson v. O’Brien, 105 N.W.2d 244, 247 (1960).

Contractual Duty of Care – General Rule
A landlord may contractually create a duty to maintain the leased premises. White, 797 N.W.2d at 746, citing Dyrdal v. Golden Nuggets, Inc., 672 N.W.2d 578, 587 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004), affirmed, 689 N.W.2d 779 (Minn. 2004). When a lease contains no stipulation on the subject of maintenance, generally “there is no implied covenant on the part of the landlord…that the premises are or will prove to be suitable for the tenant’s use.” White, 797 N.W.2d at 746, quoting Krueger v. Farrant, 13 N.W. 158, 159 (1882). But if a landlord expressly agrees to maintain a part of the lessee’s premises, he then creates a duty to exercise reasonable care. White, 797 N.W.2d at 746, quoting Drager, 495 N.W.2d at 885. However, a landlord’s promise to repair parts of premises for safety purposes is not an express agreement to repair to a certain standard. White, 797 N.W.2d at 746, citing Normandin v. Freidson, 233 N.W. 14, 15 (1930).

Jeffrey C. O’Brien is an attorney with the Minneapolis based law firm of Lommen Abdo, P.A. and a MSBA Board Certified Real Property Specialist. He can be reached at (612) 336-9317 or via email at jobrien@lommen.com.

Can You Charge a Potential Tenant for Their Credit Check?


Renting out your property to new people can be somewhat unnerving. While you want them to enjoy the property, you want to be sure they’re going to take care of it like you would. Not only that, but you need to trust your new tenant will pay their rent in full and on time every month. Most landlords or property management companies choose to run a credit check on new tenants to ensure they’re dealing with a legitimate prospect for a property.

After all, this is a property you own with the intention of turning a profit, and the repercussions for choosing a tenant on sight alone can be serious. But you don’t want to alienate real tenants by charging them too much in fees before even moving in. It’s important to be honest about running a credit check, but it’s often more difficult to justify slapping a new tenant with a hefty credit check fee. Here are some tips to how best to deal with the issue of charging tenants for their own credit checks.

Be up front about your decision
The most important thing to do when choosing to charge a credit check to a new tenant is to be up front about it. If you have chosen to charge the full price of the credit check to that tenant, you need to make them aware of this before they agree to rent the property. Nobody likes nasty hidden fees, and it can be worth a few hundred dollars to keep them content when renting your property.

Offer perks and other ‘discounts’ as a sweetener
If you feel like a prospective tenant could be lost by charging them the full amount, try offering discounts on other aspects of the rent. Offer to take it as part of their deposit, and lower the deposit to a suitable alternative. A compromise could result in your property being inhabited a month earlier than if you refuse to budge on the fees, meaning you would save money in the long run.

Include it in the total First month’s rent
Many landlords choose to include fees for moving in, performing a credit check and taking a deposit as one. Compiling them all into one payment can help both tenant and landlord keep track, but giving them such a large fee, even if it is the only payment, can be off-putting to unsure tenants. It’s often better to break down the fees and explain each of them to your potential tenants.

Use Simply Residential Property Management
If you don’t like the hassle of the moving process, and aren’t sure about credit checks, deposits and moving fees, we at Simply Residential Property Management are here to make your life easier. We perform our own credit checks, criminal checks and verify income/employment to make sure we get the best of renters in your property.

Credit checks are an important aspect of the renting process. Don’t take a risk when it comes to your own property.

Who’s Responsible for Home Repairs During a Tenancy?


Determining who is responsible for repairs to a property during a tenancy can be a divisive issue, but it’s important to know where your responsibilities lie. While clear guidelines for the process of repairs should be laid out in a tenancy agreement, these can vary from property to property. If you’re not sure what your responsibilities as a landlord are, you’re not alone. As property managers, we hear this question a lot. If you’re among the many who could use a little clarification on this issue, why not take a look at the quick guide below? The most important thing to remember is that communication with your tenants is paramount, so discuss these matters with them, and lay down your argument for your involvement. It could save you money, time and acrimony further down the line.

What is it that’s damaged?
Mainly, if it’s the tenant’s property that’s damaged, it’s their responsibility to fix it. If it’s your property as the rental home owner, you’re going to want to handle the maintenance yourself of leave it to your property management company. Allowing tenants to do their own maintenance opens up the floodgates of liability in the event they’re hurt or the property is further damaged. We all have that ‘handy’ person in our life who ends up blowing fuses or completely destroying some drywall. That’s much less charming when your property ends up damaged.

How urgent are the repairs?
Another vital consideration is just how badly the tenants need the repairs. Any electrical appliances (such as washer, dryer, oven, etc.) must be fixed by the landlord in order to adhere to the landlord and tenant insurance policies. Do not allow tenants to repair these things if they are damaged, as they could receive injuries which could lead to legal ramifications for the landlord. Likewise, any attempted repairs by an unqualified tenant could lead to further damage to the property. As such, any repairs on fixed appliances must be repaired as soon as possible. If the boiler in your property breaks down in winter, it is important you have it repaired as soon as possible, whereas if a fuse goes on a bulb, this could take a lesser precedent. However, it’s best to be punctual with your repairs in order to keep your tenants happy and prevent any further damage.

How to avoid in-tenancy repairs
You can take steps to avoid making repairs while tenants occupy your rental property by regularly doing pre-tenancy inspections of a property. This is required following a tenancy in order to ensure there is no superficial damage, but it’s good to check the wiring, plumbing and general functioning of a property before renting it out again. This can help avoid any rancor between you and future tenants if a fault is found, although it will mean the cost of repairs fall to you and you alone.

At Simply Residential, we offer a quarterly furnace filter change and lease violation walk through to help us determine if there are any immediate needs or violations to the property. We also offer an annual maintenance walk-through to help us determine what may need work in the coming year so we can help our owners financially plan their maintenance needs in a way that makes sense for them.

The Breakup: When a Tenant Moves Out


Breaking up can be tricky. Sometimes the break can be unexpected and painful to manage. Other times, the feeling is mutual and fairly quick to wrap up. Business breakups are no different. At times the perfect client or landlord changes after the papers are signed, or sometimes life simply alters plans. Have no fear! Here are a few helpful hints to help both parties walk away from a lease scandal free.

The Golden Rule
Be courteous! You would not quit a job without notice and a lease is no exception. Your landlord or tenant signed those papers counting on you to do your part and cancelling the contract takes time to finish, so give the other individual time to take in the situation and proceed accordingly. At Simply Residential Property Management, we require a 60 day notice, in some cases landlords only ask for 30 days. Be specific on the closure. Mention prospective dates to move out, payment details, etc… The more clear the details the less room there will be for argument or nit picking. Once you give notice, be prompt to follow through.

Put everything in writing! Your landlord or tenant may be the sweetest person on earth, but do not leave the transaction undocumented. Give notice on paper. Give forwarding address on paper. Give monetary details on paper. Do you see the trend? Paper, paper, paper! Even if you notify the other individual online, always follow up with printed documentation and make multiple copies. This way, if any argument erupts, you will have hard copy evidence to bring the conflict to a close. These copies are also great for future reference (taxes, new clients, etc…)

Many states require landlords to perform an inspection of the property before the tenant officially vacates. Again, this goes along with common courtesy. You would not return a borrowed shirt or dish while it is still dirty, and you should not return a rented home without cleaning it either. This does not need to be a long or expensive process. A good spring cleaning and general touch ups will be a good start. Once the inspection is complete, the tenant will have a good idea what else to fix before vacating. Again, make certain that all the details are documented and copies made! Once the exit is complete, a second inspection should be conducted (the tenant may or may not be invited to participate). Landlords should take careful notes and photos (be sure they are dated). Photographs add visual documentation to the other paperwork. The tenants should have copies of these as well for their files.

Wrapping up
Once the inspections are complete and the tenant moved out, the landlord will have a bracket of time to return the tenant’s security deposit along with the compilation of the deductions resulting from the inspections. This should all be provided promptly so as to avoid conflict.

As with any breaking of a relationship, communication is key to a peaceful and cordial parting. Treat the other individual well, and parting will be simple and pain free for everyone involved.

Simply Residential Property Management’s Tips for Tenants: Performing Maintenance

Rental PropertyMoving into a new apartment or home is an exciting experience. Everything is new to you, and it feels like a fresh start. When you rent an apartment or house, you have confidence and trust in the fact that your appliances and other fixtures will be in perfect working order. However, even in the best of situations, things can happen that will require maintenance. While the maintenance staff at Simply Residential Property Management is happy to repair any issue, as a tenant there are things that you can do and check for when your appliances or other fixtures malfunction. Sometimes, the fix is simple and easy to handle on your own. Before you call maintenance to your home or apartment, it’s important to check things yourself first.

One of the most common maintenance issues you’ll encounter in your time as a renter is smoke detectors that aren’t working properly. For that reason, it is important to perform regular monthly tests to ensure these devices are functioning properly. If you are testing your smoke detector and it won’t work, be sure to check your battery. It way seem like a no-brainer, but try to remember the last time you though about your smoke detector battery — chances are it wasn’t within th last month. Sometimes batteries that come straight from the packaging can be defective or damaged and may not work, so make sure you check them with a battery tester and replace them when necessary. Some more common signs of battery related issues are if your smoke detector starts beeping on its own without the presence of smoke or fire, and if the beeps are weak and intermittent.

Property ManagementAnother common issue has to do with electricity and power outages. If you don’t have power to certain appliances or if the power goes out, the first thing you should do is check your breaker panel in the main fuse box. If the fuse to a certain appliance has been tripped it will be indicated by the on/off switch being in the off position or the indicator color of a certain breaker showing a red color. Reset the breakers and if you are still experiencing power failures call maintenance immediately. Trying to reset faulty breakers can increase the risk of fire. Unless you want a ‘Tim the Tool Man’ situation on your hands, it’s best to leave the electrical work to the professionals.

If you’ve ever taken an unexpected cold shower, this third common issue will be very real to you. In the case of having no hot water, you want to check the thermostat located on the hot water tank. Additionally, you want to see if the pilot light is lit in the tank and check the appropriate breaker in the fuse box. In the case of water being too hot, you want to check the thermostat and turn it down to a tolerable level. However, if you are experiencing leaks in your sinks or toilet, you need to immediately turn off the fixtures under the sinks or toilet and immediately notify maintenance.

Have you ever heard the “is your refrigerator running?” joke? Believe it or not, that hits home for many renters. Another common occurrence in apartments and homes are refrigerators that are not properly functioning. Before calling maintenance, you first want to check the thermostat and readjust it if the temperature is too high or low. You also want to routinely clean the front and back grills of the unit since dust and debris and restrict air exchange. If your freezer has excess accumulations of ice, you will need defrost for a couple of days to fully remove ice buildup.

Renting a home, for many people, is an excellent way to avoid all of the irritating maintenance issues that go along with owning your own home. But, as with anything, there are some minor things that need to be routinely cleaned and checked to ensure that things continue to run smoothly. Keep these common issues in mind, and you should be able to have an easy and low maintenance experience in your rental home!