Apartment Living Information
Creating an Apartment Utilities Budget
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Monday, 17 January 2011 00:52

From the Apartment Guide

Creating an Apartment Utilities Budget

While rent is bound to be your biggest regular apartment expense each month, the cost of keeping your apartment’s utilities turned on may be next.  Utility bills can vary wildly depending on the size of apartment you rent, the area you live in, and the season of the year. To help keep your utility costs under control, plan ahead and establish a utility budget.  Use these helpful tips for understanding utility costs, creating a utility budget you can live with, and keeping your bills as low as possible.

Know your overall budget
The first step in creating a utilities budget is to create an overall budget for yourself.  If you’re a newbie to budgeting, you’ll find that creating a personal finance budget can be incredibly useful.  Once you get all of your monthly expenses down on paper, you can set realistic spending and saving goals.

You’ve got to create a personal finance budget first so you can figure out how much money you can comfortably afford to spend on utility bills.  Most financial planners recommend setting aside an apartment utilities budget that’s between two and ten percent of your net income.  Expenses like the gas bill, electric bill, water and sewer service, TV and Internet bill, as well as cell phone service all fall under the utility bill category.  Those expenses can really add up, so it’s important to know how much money you can dedicate to these expenses each month.

 

Learn what utilities in your area cost
Once you know how much money you can dedicate to paying apartment utilities, you can estimate what utilities cost in your area by doing some simple research.

Start by asking your property manager about the average monthly utility bills for an apartment comparable to yours.  It’s very common for prospective tenants to ask about utility costs, so most property managers can provide this information easily.  You can also place phone calls to local utility companies.  They may have information on the specific apartment you live in or general information on the apartment community where you live.  They’re likely to give you an estimate for your utilities budget because they want your business.

 

Understand needs versus wants
Once you’ve determined how big of a utilities budget you need, you may find that your utility costs are just too expensive.  If that happens, it may be time to consider needs versus wants.

You may want to have an expanded cable package and high-speed Internet access, but these utility costs are not essentials.  Running water and heat, on the other hand, are.  Make sure you leave enough money in your utilities budget to pay for the true essentials by taking a hard look at your luxury expenses.  You may need to downgrade to less expensive luxury utilities (like opting for basic cable over an expanded package) or cut them out all together.

 

Strategies to reduce your utility bills
If your average utility bills are still too high even after re-evaluating luxury expenses, you can use these strategies to lower utility bills:

  • Consider bundling utility services to save money.
  • Do some comparison shopping among utility companies.  Call several utility providers and negotiate a better rate for yourself.  If your credit score is excellent or has recently improved, you can likely negotiate a better deal since utility rates are tied to your credit score.
  • Make your apartment as energy efficient as possible.  Reduce utility bills by saving energy in simple ways like switching to energy efficient light bulbs, unplugging electronics, and programming your thermostat.

Through a combination of negotiation and good old fashioned conscientiousness, it’s possible for most people to lower their utility bills enough to make a positive difference in their overall housing budget.

Original article:

http://moving.apartmentguide.com/setting-up-utilities/creating-an-apartment-utilities-budget/

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 May 2011 01:19
 
GreenLiving Tips for Your Apartment Home
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Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 15 January 2011 21:38

From GreenLivingApartments.com

Welcome to GreenLiving Tips!  We know that you would always "do the right thing" for yourself and the planet if it were convenient, fun, inexpensive, and made you feel good. Being green doesn't have to be complicated or difficult! Below are some simple tips to help you live in more planet-friendly ways:

 
You can make a difference!

Energy

Unplug the "secret energy addicts" in your home: TVs, VCRs, DVD players, cable TV boxes, computers and printers, video game consoles, microwave ovens and AC adapters for cell phones, digital cameras and other electronics. Most electronic equipment, including anything that uses a remote control, is designed to consume energy when it is turned off. That "off" setting is actually a "standby" or "idling" mode. Standby power in the average household consumes 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That's enough energy to power an entire home for two months, or more. The solution? Unplug anything that isn't being used.

Swap out incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. CFs use about 66% less energy and last up to 10 times longer.

Turn down your thermostat by two degrees in the winter (and up two degrees in the summer). You'll save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide this year!

Switch to cold-water washing and save 80% on laundry energy.

Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

Recycling is important, but first and foremost: Use less whenever possible. And don't think you can't make a difference by recycling... recycling just one aluminum can saves the amount of energy required to run a TV for three hours! Here are a few suggests that will help reduce our use of precious natural resources.

  • Many computers, monitors, cell phones and other electronics include toxic materials that should not sit in landfills, and you'd be surprised how many retailers and other companies will take your old gadgets for recycling. The Environmental Protection Agency (link: http://www.epa.gov/) an help you find local electronics recyclers.
  • Say no to junk mail - 100 million trees' worth are sent out each year. Visit www.dmachoice.org/MPS/ to opt out of the Direct Marketing Association's member mailings.
  • Packing peanuts and other loose fill will sit in a landfill for centuries, but there are lots of places you can bring them for recycling. Call the Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214.
  • If every household in the US replaced 1 roll of 1000 sheet bathroom tissues with 100% recyclable rolls, we could save 373,000 trees, 1.48 million cubic feet of landfill space, and 155 million gallons of water.

Cleaning

  • Use non-toxic, environmentally safe, biodegradable cleaning products, including laundry products, which you can find at any natural grocery and even many mainstream stores. Just read the labels carefully.
  • Don't pollute your indoor air or mask odors that could alert you to a problem. Choose fragrance-free products.

Transportation

  • Buy a high-efficiency car if you can afford one. Check the U.S. Department of Energy's list of most fuel-efficient cars to find the one that's right for you.
  • Rather than driving your car to work every day, try other ways, even if only one or two days a week. You can walk, ride your bike, take the bus or the train or join a car. You'll be cutting down on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, oil consumption and your the costs of fueling and maintaining your vehicle. And mixing up your commuting routine helps you avoid falling into the workday rut.
  • Urge your workplace to have a van-pool, environmentally responsible purchasing policies and an improved indoor environment. Rid your workplace of secret energy addicts. They are everywhere.

Personal Practices

  • Buy locally produced items, including produce and other goods. It reduces the amount of fossil fuels required to transport the things you buy from other parts of the country or the world. It also reduces the amount of plastic and paper products consumed in the packaging of such far-traveling products.
  • Instead of using grocery stores' disposable plastic or paper bags, bring your own reusable tote bags, which are available for sale at many grocers and other retailers. The bags are sturdier than disposable bags, making the trip home easier, and they don't waste resources or end up in landfills. You alone could keep up to 1,500 bags per year out of landfills! If you must use disposable bags, ask your bagger to avoid double-bagging whenever possible.
  • Only run full loads in the dishwasher and the laundry machine. You use the same amount of energy to power these machines if you have a 1/2 load or a full one- so wait a couple of days to make sure you have a full load.
  • Be careful not to leave the water running when you brush your teeth or wash the dishes.
  • Scrape - don't rinse! When using a dishwasher, pre-rinsing is no longer necessary with today's technology and detergents. You may be using more water to pre-rinse than the dishwasher uses for a full wash cycle.
  • When you go out for coffee, bring a reusable insulated mug.

Original article:

http://www.greenlivingapartments.com/

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 May 2011 01:19
 
Renter's Insurance FAQ
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Saturday, 15 January 2011 21:00

These are some of the most commonly asked questions about renter’s insurance with eRenter Plan, the preferred renter's insurance provider for Provence Real Estate.  Click here for a glossary of insurance terms.

Why do I need renter's insurance? Your apartment community is generally not responsible for your property and does not insure your personal possessions. In addition, you can be held responsible for loss or damage that you accidentally cause to others, including the owners of your apartment community.

Are my belongings covered when I move? Yes, your personal property is covered anywhere in the United States. However, when your property is away from the premises the coverage amount is generally limited to 10 to 20% of the personal property amount noted on the declarations page of your insurance policy (refer to your policy for specific details).

I have all of my personal property in a storage unit offsite, am I still covered? Yes, your personal property is covered anywhere in the United States. However, when your property is away from the premises the coverage amount is generally limited to 10 to 20% of the personal property amount noted on the declarations page of your insurance policy (refer to your policy for specific details).

Do I need to document the items I own? Do I need receipts for my personal property? It is a good idea to video-tape, take pictures or save receipts for personal property in case of a loss. Any records should be kept in a fire proof safe at home or in a bank's safe deposit box along with serial numbers and receipts of expensive items. You can obtain an electronic version of our Personal Property Inventory List by contacting Customer Care Department at 888.205.8118.

If my dog bites someone am I covered? Yes! eRenterPlan is one of the few policies that includes dog bite liability coverage with no breed restrictions.

Does eRenterPlan cover flood damage? eRenterPlan Insurance does not cover water damage as a result of flood, which includes the accumulation of surface water in normally dry land areas, overflow of a body of water, or water below the surface of the ground. However, it does generally cover accidental discharge or overflow of water from within a plumbing, heating, air-conditioning or automatic fire-sprinkler system or from within a household appliance. For more information about flood insurance, contact the National Flood Insurance Program.

Am I locked-in to the policy for any specific length of time? No. Outside of any lease conditions your landlord may require for you to maintain insurance, you are under no obligation to maintain your policy. You can cancel your policy at anytime and you will receive a refund of any un-earned premium.

Original article:

http://www.erenterplan.com/faq.aspx

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 May 2011 01:20
 
How to Be a Good Apartment Tenant
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Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 15 January 2011 20:54

From the Apartment Guide

How to Be a Good Apartment Tenant

You’re polite, friendly and a great neighbor. Right? But are you a good apartment tenant? The nice neighbor rules still apply, but there are a few extra things to consider before you can be #1 on your landlord’s list of favorite renters.

Love your lease
Before you start grilling on your patio and buying a Great Dane, know your lease inside and out. Peruse the pet policy. Learn the answers about outdoor grills and furniture. Take the time to learn all the apartment community’s rules and regulations and the consequence for actions such as breaking your lease early. It’s important to know the rules so you can follow them. Apartment managers love tenants who go by the book, because they don’t want to have to knock on your door with a warning. Go ahead and start off as a good apartment tenant and learn the lease before you move in.

Timing is everything
Three words sum up this golden rule: Pay. Your. Rent. And pay it on time. This is likely to be a landlord’s pet peeve. Paying rent on time shows your apartment manager that you are responsible and respectful. If you can, pay early. Building up a good track record of on-time payment can go a long way if you need to pay late one month because of an unexpected circumstance.

Talking to your apartment manager early is also a good rule for giving notice when you are moving out. Apartment managers need time to rent out your apartment, so be generous and give them the amount of notice required by your lease or longer before you move out.

Speak up
Just like rent, communicate issues and complaints early. This goes for everything from apartment repairs to neighbor disputes. Your apartment manager has a better chance of resolving an issue in a friendly manner if they know about it as soon as it happens. Then they can help you solve the issue before it becomes a huge problem.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to turn into the tenant who cried wolf. But overall, let your apartment manager know about an issue before it becomes a bigger problem. For example, it’s smart to let your community manager know about a dripping faucet before it ends up flooding your place and the ones below you.

Open up
When you make complaints, be willing to accept help. Apartment tenants who have problems, but don’t assist with solutions aren’t community favorites. If you ask for help with a repair, don’t make it difficult for your apartment manager to access your unit. When you have a dispute with someone in your community, make time for a discussion with your landlord and the problem tenant. Don’t complain and walk away. Your apartment manager will be much more willing to help you with future issues if you bring solutions to the table.

Go the extra mile
Stellar apartment renters don’t just obey the rules. They go the extra mile and take care of their space. Keeping the inside and outside of your apartment clean lets your apartment manager and neighbors know that you respect them. Maintaining indoor carpets, surfaces and fixtures guarantees you’ll get your security deposit back and require fewer repairs. Keeping your outdoor hallways, porches and common areas free of trash and debris sends a message to your neighbors that you value your community and hopefully inspires them to do the same. Cleaning up just a little goes a long way with everyone in your community.

Most apartment tenant responsibilities are clearly laid out in your lease, but use common sense and give extra consideration to your apartment manager and the folks next door.

Original article:

http://moving.apartmentguide.com/apartment-living/how-to-be-a-good-apartment-tenant/

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 May 2011 01:20
 
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