Sizing Up Your Landlord

So you want to move to a new place. Maybe you are downsizing, or upsizing. No matter, carefully consider where you want to live, whether it is an apartment, duplex or house. All dwellings will ultimately have a good and bad side to them. New neighbors might be noisy and the old ones may want to visit you more than you like.

Look at yourself first. Hey, nobody’s perfect, but just see if you are the neat, tidy person that a potential landlord wants in the apartment, house or other dwelling. After all, its his/her place that you hope to live in. Do you always take your trash out? Do you dust, vacuum and mop floors often? If you have pets, are they properly groomed, fed and cleaned-up after? Are your dinner dishes cleaned and put away? Your porch and yard; are they free of debris, toys and other potential hazards? And, by the way, is your renters insurance paid up to date?

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You also owe it to yourself to check out your landlord before signing the lease. Don’t get yourself onto a ledge that you cannot get off of. Often, local police, the local district judge and vendors/contractors can be an accurate character source of reference for the landlord. Maybe go so far as to ask current renters in the building, or neighbors about the person. Of course, the local chamber of commerce or BBB, can also help you size up your landlord. After all, you will likely be signing a year’s lease or better, thereby putting yourself into debt with him/her, so it pays to be cautious.

Finally, with the rent being the most important aspect of your future abode, research regional rents to make sure that you will be getting what you pay for. A fair market rent is obtainable by contacting local and regional housing authorities. Make certain that you compare “apples to oranges”; that is, that your desired apartment includes all, part, or no utilities…and which ones are involved. Also, make sure that you understand the lease and especially any security deposit, or other deposits, that you are expected to pay them.

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Armed with this information, hopefully, you will help find yourself a great place to live and prosper.

 

 

 

You can reach us by email at: thematterhorncompany@gmail.com

Keeping It Clean…The Cure for Landlord/Tenant Disputes

For many of us in the landlord/property management game for decades, we have seen the costly effects of renters that do not live up to our expectations of “good hygiene”.305ELibertyLarson8

Sure, the above photo was taken after a move-out..but not an eviction. Clearly, these folks had been living like this for sometime. What a shame..you might say, too bad you didn’t do regular inspections. True enough, but given all that is demanded of us these days, no doubt other landlords are having similar problems.

So, hmmmn, what to do? Our first suggestion is to do a drive-by of the property and observe any problems from the exterior. Often unconditional, or downright filthy things will be seen, such as trash strewn about lawns and porches, and poor pet treatment (if pets permitted). Large trash heaps at the curbside might alert the landlord that a renter has moved out, or, has too many people not in the lease staying with him.IMG_20180409_153518390_HDR.jpg

Your maintenance staff, or also hired contractors can often assist with “incidental” inspections. For example, maintenance is called out for a backed up drain, or toilet, and finds other conditions unhygienic. If encouraged, the maintenance person, or contractor, will advise management of the situation and facilitate a regular inspection. They, in turn should be supported in any terribly filthy environment to “stand down”, until the tenant cleans up a mess so they can pursue their maintenance task.

Unfortunately,  very often, but not 100% of the time, a  tenant suspected of being a poor housekeeper, is also behind in the rent. Again, this gives management the opportunity to call/meet with the tenant to find rent solutions before an eviction, and to inspect the property’s condition.

We hope this information is helpful to both tenants and landlords. Another similar post is in the making. Follow us.

 

 

 

Pests and Springtime in Western PA

IMG_20180402_082431590_HDRIf you have been outside this morning, Winter’s snow has not stopped yet. The truth is, many folks decide to move in the Spring, whether buying or renting a new place.

If you need a nice, simple place to live and maintain, please contact us. Next month we will have a nice selection of 1 & 2 bedroom apartments, and an efficiency apartment. Rents on those range from $510 to $750 per month, so let us know what you need in advance. We do not permit pets or smoking in our apartment buildings.

In any case, soon it will be time to put away the snow shovel and think Spring!

When warmer weather comes knocking at your door, so do unwanted pest, like mice. Here are a few tips to keep them out and other unwanted little visitors:

Got ants? Or cockroaches? Mix some sugar and borax together in a jar and sprinkle around the perimeter of the infected area. Even local dollar stores carry an inexpensive borax powder that is effective with small problems.
Vacuum: Just vacuum the floors more frequently to help eliminate the small critters.
Rats and mice: Use a repellent in the Fall to keep them from becoming unwanted boarder in your place. If you see active mice, then get some inexpensive wood traps and bait them with things like peanut butter, meat and cheese. If the “yuck” factor affects you, the stores offer humane catch and release traps. Or traps where you do not see the animal. Rats can get out of hand quickly and are often a neighborhood/location problem. If you have many, seek out a good exterminator. Since that may be expensive, do whatever you can to “nip it in the bud”.
The mosquitoes are coming! Do not give them a place to breed. No standing water, like bucket/barrels of rainwater, bird feeders, etc. Keep it fresh. Make sure you keep your recyclable items clean, washed and outside your home. Fix or make sure your window/door screens are tight, or repaired to keep them out and other flying insects.
Clean your drains: At least once a month, use a drain cleaner (even vinegar & baking soda mixed will do). It will keep them running smoothly preventing mold growth and depriving pests of a living place.
Hopefully, you find this information useful. More on different pests later. Stay tuned!

 

 

Sold Property!

An update…possibly one that’s overdue.

The Matterhorn Company has sold 2 of its apartment buildings in the recent past. Our 7 unit yellow brick building sold nearly 4 years ago, located at 814 E Mahoning Street. The new owner has made many significant improvements including roof, electric and heating plant upgrades.

Our other building at 102 Morrison Avenue sold late in 2017. Our thanks to Don Powell Real Estate and his team of competent realtors, especially Kim Neigh.

Although these places are now off our inventory, we still have many houses and apartments in Punxsutawney to accommodate most family sizes.

This Spring and Summer, you will see work being performed, painting and porch repairs, at various buildings including: 1000 E Mahoning Street, 212 S Jefferson Street, 806 Pine Street and our flagship/Office property, 402 W Mahoning Street.

Currently, we have a number of 1-2 bedroom and efficiency apartments available at reasonable rents. Most apartments include utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer and garbage service). If you, or a friend or relative need a decent rental unit, please contact us (814-938-6566 thematterhorncompany@gmail.com). We’ll be happy to put a roof over their heads if possible.

Contact us today. We have a place waiting for you 😁

Into Each One’s Life Some Rain Must Fall

Have a roof over your head? Live on a first floor apartment? No matter, if the roof leaks, your living circumstances may be disturbed. If you have an apartment above yours, maybe the tub will leak or the toilet will overflow. Ever hear of an “umbrella policy”? Well, we’re not actually suggesting that. However,in an older building, much like what much of our local area has to offer renters, minor catastrophes happen. Actually, they can happen anywhere you live…even if it’s in a cave!

The point is, water leaks are very common in apartment buildings. This is where having a renters insurance policy comes in handy. These policies are generally inexpensive and easily put into effect. The company that you have your car insurance with is usually a safe bet for the best all around price for the coverage. Like anything else, it pays to shop around.  A renters policy is virtually identical to a homeowner’s policy. As a renter, this is a great thing, since many renters eventually go on to own their own homes and so will then be familiar with the insurance coverages and potential hazards (defined by an insurance inspector).

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As a tenant, you should know that, often, your possessions may not have any coverage by the landlord, should an accident happen (fire, water damage, flood, etc.) It really is wise for a renter to obtain their own insurance policy. Contact us for more information. Continue reading

New Year..New Lease, Do I Hear a Rent Increase?

What tenant is happy to hear about a rent increase? Well, on the landlord side of the table, it’s no picnic either. As local landlords for over 60 years, we take rent raises seriously.

As with most real estate rental companies, we are responsible to investors. So, given the ripple effect that can happen in a small town environment, when rent increases take center stage on the rumor circuit, we are careful with implementing them.

To make a rent increase more palatable when it comes, we are sure to point out during our initial interviews with our tenants, that we try to maintain our rents at market level. However, we tell them to expect occasional increases as mentioned in our lease agreement due to such things as tax and utility increases. Tenants are actually better protected with a written lease with their landlord; that way there should be no surprises. The tenants can (and should) refer to their lease when notified about  a rent increase to ensure that it is accurate and fair.

In order to keep rents fair, we use guidelines offered by the local HUD office and what the “market will hold”. Usually, if this is done, rent increases do not have to drastic in nature, since typically, an annual review/increase is prepared by the landlord and anticipated by the renter. Communication is always key in the tenant/landlord relationship. Talk to your landlord before a rent increase is in order to better understand the “why”. That way, most conflicts over the subject can be avoided.