Dog walking tips for renters

You’ve just moved out from your parents’ house in the ‘burbs into your very own city apartment and you’re loving it. The only thing you truly miss is the family pooch. Since you know your folks will never let you move Ezra Hound into the city, you decided to adopt a dog. But having a house pet and an apartment pet is not the same thing. For example, your furry best friend can’t get her exercise in the backyard, so you need to get used to regularly walking her.

  1. Always use a leash. No matter how well-trained your furry companion is. No matter how much she hates it in the beginning. Even if local ordinances don’t require it. Even if she’s never aggressive.  You can never know what might scare her into running run off or snapping at someone. Always use a leash. It’s the best way to keep your dog and yourself safe. If you’re afraid of a leash hurting your dog, simply attach it to a harness instead of a collar.
  2. Speaking of leashes, have you heard about The Yellow Dog Project? It’s an international initiative that protects pets, their owners and the general public, by the means of a simple, yellow ribbon tied on a leash. The yellow ribbon (or anything yellow on the leash) signifies that the dog in question needs space and should not be approached.  If you have an easily scared, infirmed, unsocial, elderly or traumatized dog or you simply dislike random people or their pets approaching your fantastic duo, tie something yellow on the leash. Although according to care2 the initiative has made it into at least 45 countries, it’s always a good idea to spread the word. Put up some fliers around your community.
  3. Know your route and keep it varied. Using at least three alternative routes in no particular order keeps the activity interesting for the both of you and prevents unwanted people from predicting your moves. It also allows you to avoid potential puppy hazards such as loud playgrounds or construction sites.
  4. Stay safe.  Don’t walk in poorly lit, dangerous or heavily wooded areas or in the dark hours.  Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t listen to music, talk on the phone or wonder around aimlessly. Trust you instinct. If you feel uneasy somewhere, even if you don’t know why, leave. You might be unconsciously picking up some danger signals. Trust your dog’s instincts. Remember that his senses are superior. There might be smells and sounds he’s registering, but you’re not. If your dog acts uneasy, leave.
  5.  Don’t approach unknown people and their pets. You can’t predict the behavior.
  6. Get renter’s insurance. It covers you in case of theft, fire, windstorm and personal liability, which includes a liability provision for dog bites. You can also opt for Pet Damage Coverage, which has your back in the event of pet damage to the apartment.

Do seniors need renter’s insurance?

If you have a grandparent that lives in a rented house or apartment, pay them a visit and ensure they have insurance protection. Not only will it be a wonderful gesture for a dear one, but you’ll also be at peace knowing they are safe.

Many seniors are retired and live on fixed incomes. If an accident or incident were to happen, it could be extremely difficult for them to get back on their feet. Even though they might say they don’t have much, it is known that older adults have valuable jewelry and family heirlooms they’ve collected throughout the years. It doesn’t matter that these items have a greater sentimental value than a financial one, it is still worth it to protect them with a basic policy.

If your parent or grandparent decided to sell or rent their home and move to an assisted living center, make them aware that they’re losing an important insurance protection – the personal liability insurance (the policy that protects the holders from financial losses when someone is hurt on their property or has personal property damaged). Most people have personal liability insurance through their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policies, but it disappears when someone moves into an assisted living center.

The assisted living center has or should have its own liability insurance, it usually only cover the common areas. This means that if a visitor falls and gets injured in a resident’s room or apartment the resident could be forced to pay for medical expenses.

Let’s not forget about the pet bites protection that falls under personal liability coverage as well. Many assisted living centers allow and in fact encourage residents to keep small pets. Without liability insurance, they can be responsible for any medical expenses if a dog bites a visitor or if a cat scratches an employee.

Avoiding renter’s regret

Take your time when choosing an apartment. Especially when demand is high and availability is limited, some apartment-seekers may feel the need to sign a lease as soon as possible so that a moderately acceptable unit doesn’t vanish. Not all end up in the apartment that satisfies all of their needs – some feel regret a few days after the move in, and some concerns may be more serious than a carpet stain or dishwasher leak.

Experienced renters know it: the best strategy to avoid renter’s regret is taking the time to make a wise decision. Time is needed for prospective renters to shop around, look, ask questions, understand, test and contemplate before signing the lease. So, start early, don’t rush into things, and be sure to address the following:

Parking – the landlord may say that each tenant has one parking spot reserved, but might forget to mention anything about guest parking. Ask of the guest allocated spots and of the penalties for parking in another tenant’s space. If no penalties are enforced and tenants are forced to park in fire lanes, towing could follow, in which case the tenant will be held financially responsible for reclaiming his/her vehicle.

Laundry – learn if each apartment unit is equipped with connections for a washer and dryer, or if there’s an on-site facility.

Traffic – with the intention to appeal to prospective tenants and their daily commuting time, many multifamily complexes chose the proximity to major highways and other well-traveled thoroughfares. This translates into noise, pollution, and in some cases sleep disruption.

Noise – probably it’s best to ask current tenants about noise – it can be from other neighbors, someone’s pet, the swimming pool, some nearby construction, or an airport in close proximity.

Penalties – terms for giving notice, being late with the rent payment, or breaking the lease should be given by the landlord in writing.

Maintenance – go see the apartment during the day and test all appliances before signing the lease. Moreover, ask what happens in the event an appliance breaks down: was the maintenance team fast, effective? Did they clean up once they’ve finished? Is their schedule different during weekend?

Closets – not enough space can make you rent storage space. Probably not something you want to go through.

Renter’s Insurance – in case of fire, lightning, burglary or some other misfortunate event, renter’s insurance brings you the much needed peace of mind. Don’t live with the impression that living in a rental means that your landlord takes care of everything around your apartment.

5 reasons why you need renters insurance on Valentine’s Day

Love it or hate it, but Valentine’s Day has grown into one of the top holidays of our times. Whether you’re enchanted by all the red hearts or annoyed by the rom-coms overrunning theaters this time of year, chances are you’ll mark the holiday by at least an e-card or by attending an anti-Valentine‘s day party. And while renter’s insurance might not be the most romantic Valentine’s gift for your significant other, it might just be the best V-day gift for yourself. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. You’ve planned the perfect stay-in Valentine’s date weeks ahead.  You’ve rented your favorite movies, made an exceptional romantic playlist, bought fancy French wine and put together a menu that would make even Gordon Ramsay proud. That is it would have, had you not forgot dinner in the oven, while making some last-minute tweaks to your romantic playlist. Now it’s not only dinner that is ruined, but the oven is charred along with the wall around it. Kitchen fires are some of the most common and hazardous there are, so never leave cooking food unattended.
  2. It’s not only the kitchen that is a significant fire source. No romantic date would be perfect without candlelight. While it’s easy to forget about putting out candles, you must definitely should always check if you’ve done so. Many of your household items are highly flammable, and it only takes  the tiniest of accidents to end up with serious damage to your home and property. While your landlord’s insurance will cover damage to the apartment, you need renters insurance to keep your property safe from financial distress.
  3. Although we’re finally getting close to spring, winter has yet to finish with us. Renters insurance will have your back in case a snowstorm hits and your apartment suffers damage. Nothing like a surprise snowstorm hurling a tree-branch through your windows and into your brand-new flat-screen to put a damper on a romantic mood.
  4. But it’s not only fires and the perils of Mother Nature that renters insurance covers. It will also come in handy if your apartment gets broken into while you’re away on a weekend ski getaway. Of course you always need to make sure your policy is up to date and includes as many of your belongings as possible.
  5. While you might be bananas about your girlfriend’s fashion-forward attitude, your dog might not recognize the red sole and designer name and just figure you’ve gotten him a fancy new chew toy. If you’ve got renter’s insurance with pet coverage, that won’t put a damper on Valentine’s celebrations.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

How to create the perfect pet resume

Although a growing number of apartment communities are becoming pet-friendly, pet owners are still faced with an uphill battle when it comes to finding rental housing. An emerging trend of the past few years that aids pet owners in landing their dream rentals is the pet resume. You can find below all the essential points you should include in your pet’s resume.

  • Start off with a cute photo of your pet. A dog playing outside, especially with a child, will inadvertently send the message that your pet gets plenty of outdoor exercise and is great with kids.
  • Describe your pet, including what type of animal it is, breed, age, size. If he’s a mellow, laid-back pet, include it here. It can also prove very advantageous to include how long you’ve had your pet. A long-time ownership will make property managers more inclined to trust your knowledge and control over him.
  • Provide training info, such as whether or not he’s house-broken, leash-trained, obeys voice commands etc. Be sure to include any behavioral or obedience training he attended and include certificates of graduation.  If your dog has not attended obedience training, it might be smart to sign him up for classes at a local kennel club, SPCA chapter, animal rescue society or pet store.
  • Health and grooming. Be sure to mention if your pet is spayed/neutered and how this positively affects his or her behavior and overall health. Mention that your pets are up to date on their shots and provide your vet’s contact info.  Describe how you keep your pet clean and flea-free. Mention professional groomers you visit and the frequency of the sessions. It could be helpful to explain the grooming schedule. For example, a pug or shorthair Chihuahua won’t need to be shorn, whereas a poodle needs frequent professional grooming.
  • Activities. Describe how you provide the adequate amount of exercise for your pet, such as frequency of walks, visits to off leash parks, etc. This is also the place to disclose if you have a high-energy dog, such as a border collie, since you can offset that information by showing you provide plenty of activities to avoid your dog from running around and barking all day in your apartment. This is also the place to mention if you employ a dog walker and how often they will be visiting.
  • You will score major bonus points if you provide details of how your pets will be attended to when you are traveling or work very long hours regularly.
  • Mention how you always clean up after your pets and dispose pet waste in the safest way possible.
  • Include an About Us section at the end in which you detail why you or you and your roommates/significant other are good pet owners.  Mention if you are part of any animal protection organizations – this will elevate a landlord’s opinion on your capabilities to properly care for an animal. This is also the place to detail why your pet is so important to you, why you know your pet will be a good tenant and what your pet care history is (e.g. having grown up with pets around, having volunteered at a shelter, etc.). Be sure to include that you are happy to introduce your pet to any potential future landlords.
  • Mention that your renter’s insurance has pet liability coverage, such as Resident Shield’s dog bite provision. In fact, it might be smartest to opt for a pet insurance add-on , such as Resident Shield’s Pet Damage Coverage, that offers you $500 in liability in the event of Pet Damage to the apartment.
  • Include references. Attach your current landlord’s contact info and a letter of recommendation for your pet. Letters of recommendation from your groomer, dog trainer, neighbors, vet as well as a health certificate from your vet, will make both of you that more trustworthy and responsible. Don’t forget to include current phone numbers, so your potential new landlord can check your references easily.

4 storage ideas to keep your valuables out of sight

If you just moved into your first apartment and chose a hip, downtown location with limited square-footage, you probably know the struggle of having more stuff than fits your tiny new apartment.

While stacking cardboard boxes atop your closet or sliding them under your bed might (sort of) do the trick, there’s prettier, niftier and classier ways to organize the overflow of stuff: hidden storage. We can’t tell you how to build a Batcave in your 600-square-foot apartment to hide your valuables from prying eyes and sticky fingers, but we have gathered up a few neat hidden storage ideas for you:

-The bathroom can be made tidier by neatly tucking away all those beauty products that line your bath tub and sink. Create a sleek, oversized medicine cabinet: install a frame, add some narrow shelves and hinge your mirror. You can do this whether you have a small over-the-sink mirror or a full-length one.

-If your bathroom also doubles as a laundry room, you can easily create extra storage by lifting your washer/dryer off the floor with a simple frame and adding a few laundry baskets or some pretty, waterproof storage containers underneath. Use these to store laundry, detergent and other cleaning supplies

-While hiding important documents or rare jewelry in faux books is a murder mystery cliché, a new twist on the idea can actually prove very practical in saving space and hiding valuables. Pick up some old books from your local thrift store, remove the pages, glue the spines and two covers together so it looks like you have a tight stack of books. Use this to hide your perfume collection from your roommate’s nosy friend or, if you use old cookbooks, you can actually conceal some smaller kitchen appliances, like a toaster or blender.

-We all know how easily earrings, necklaces and all other jewelry get tangled up. An easy way to avoid that is by hanging them on a corkboard. However, you might not want to keep grandma’s heirloom pearl earrings or the necklace mom got you for graduation in sight of any who pass through your home, especially if you entertain often. An easy hack for this is to simply attach a picture the size of your corkboard with a few hinges to makeyour own personal safe. Of course, this or any other hidden storage area idea shouldn’t be your only line of defense against would-be burglars. If the worst does happen, and you are burglarized, having renter’s insurance will help cover the cost of your valuables.

Image courtesy of Mariana Esquivel Ortube via Pinterest


Four essentials for your best-ever Super Bowl party

Ah, Super Bowl Sunday. That holiest of the holy football happenings. An event that will lead to many a hangover and heated water cooler exchange on Monday. Weather you’re a diehard Seahawks fan or a Patriot, or just a regular Joe who wants to stay up to date on current events you might check out the Super Bowl in a bar or maybe even have a couple of friends over to watch the game. Here are some tips to have on awesome Super Bowl Sunday:


  1. Beer. Let’s face it: beer and football go together like peanut butter and jelly, Oliver and Hardy, yin and yang… you get the picture. Make sure you have plenty of beer and other spirits on hand. Of course you should also provide sodas and/or alcohol-free beer for the designated drivers and friends who don’t like ye old ale.
  2. Speaking of things that go together, while beer and football are a match made in heaven, chips, dips, peanuts, pretzels and all sorts of finger foods and snacks are pretty much necessary for a complete football experience. Make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand and do your shopping early. You don’t want to miss the first touchdown, just because you’re stuck in an infinite line at the liquor store around the corner.
  3. An essential part of the Super Bowl experience, of course, is the TV. A true football fanatic that hasn’t score tickets to Phoenix for the 2015 Superbowl will probably want to watch the Christmas equivalent of football on the highest definition TV set with a diagonal surpassing that of many art house cinemas and a sound quality superior to NASA’s equipment. Which makes it quite likely that you’ve picked up a new television, in which case, color us jealous! If you have, be sure to add it to your renter’s insurance policy ASAP.
  4. Speaking of renter’s insurance, you might want to get one, before Sunday’s big event or update your old one. Renter’s insurance, such as Resident Shield, offers a bevy of neat features, that make your life that much easier and more care-free. Among them of course is property protection for your belongings in case of fire, theft or vandalism, personal liability protection in case of slip and fall liability claims as well as guest medical payments, which provides coverage for medical expenses, regardless of fault, for guests incurring accidental injuries at your rental residence.

Six tips for a low-cost winter

There’s one part of winter that even the biggest fans of frost and mittens hate, and that’s the foot-long heating and electricity bills that arrive in your (e)mail. Just think about all the cozy sweaters you could get with the hundreds of dollars you shell out on keeping warm. We’re craving some fluffy knitwear too, so we came up with a few tips to save on bills this winter.

  1. Have a specialist check your heating system or submit a request to your property’s management for it.  For your heating system to properly and efficiently work, the air filters need to be clean. In fact, it’s recommended to replace filters once a month to ensure maximum efficiency. But that’s not all. Contrary to what many believe, you need to keep all vents open for your system to efficiently heat your apartment. Closed vents won’t save on energy – they’ll probably hike up your bill and even contribute to your heating system breaking, since they force it to work overtime.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat. There’s loads of gadget you can get, with some even allowing you to control the temperature with your smartphone. Whether you go super-high-tech or with a basic one, a programmable thermostat will save you heaps of money. Don’t forget to add the gadget to your renter insurance plan and keep the receipt, just in case.
  3. Think of it as vintage eco-friendliness and just add some extra blankets to your bed, instead of turning your thermostat way up high. Trust us, you can sleep as comfortable in long-sleeved PJs and two or three blankets and down comforters as in your favorite college T-shirt and just one blanket.
  4. What better way to keep you home warm, than stopping the cold from getting in? Draft can be a real money pit, especially if you live in older window. The quickest way to fix it is to get some draft stoppers for your doors and windows. If you’re crafty you can even make them at home using some stylish fabric and old clothes as filling. #upcyle
  5. With all those hours of darkness, lighting pushes your bills further up. There’s a bevy of ways to minimize its impact on your budget. First off, turn the lights off when you leave the room. Second, switch classic light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. CFLs are a good option, LEDs are even better.  If you really want to go green, get some solar lights that you can leave to charge in your window during the day and use as ambient light during the evenings.
  6. Hang thick drapes. Keep them snugly closed at night to keep the cold out. Throw them open during the day to let sunlight in. You can also turn your bed into a canopy, with some drapes. They will help insulate your bed and immediate sleeping area, allowing you to further inch down your thermostat during nights. As an added bonus, canopy beds are utterly stylish.

Safely removing rooftop snow

Each year, after the winter holidays, the weather continues to ramp up in many parts of the US, as if paying a tribute to the white season. Some areas have already been conquered by the snow and ice blanket, but it doesn’t look like it will stop here; many other areas across the country will fall under the snow’s reign.

January and February are winter’s favorite months; snow and other precipitation are expected to rival last year’s record, so brace yourselves, winter will hit hard in the next period.

Heavy snowfall can be particularly dangerous and damaging for apartments. 2014 was a terrible year for many structures in Western New York where a record seven-foot snow caused almost $50 million in damage. Homes and businesses had roofs cave in from the weight of snow to such extend that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) approved a federal disaster designation to help people get back on their feet.

Protecting buildings from heavy snow can be difficult and risky. People are killed or seriously injured while removing snow and ice from rooftops, decks and other building structures in order to prevent overloading or collapse.

It is best that you hire a professional to clean the roof of your property, as it is a dangerous task. The United States Department of Labor (USDL) has put together a guide on how to remove snow from residential and commercial buildings, trying to reduce the risk to a minimum. However, if you think you can do it yourself, be extremely careful and consider the following:

Snow removal without going on the roof

Whenever possible, avoid going up on the roof as the leading cause for most worker fatalities and injuries during rooftop snow removal are falls, according to OSHA. Instead, try to opt for one of the following:

  • Using ladders to apply de-icing materials
  • Using snow rakes or drag lines from the ground

If it’s impossible to remove the snow without going up on the roof, it’s essential to consider the load and its limit of the roof – the weight of the snow, workers and equipment used. There is no standard formula to determine how much snow a roof can withstand.

If you choose to use Aerial Lifts, make sure you do it in a safe manner with a properly trained person. Furthermore, the electrical hazards are also present through the power lines or even snow removal equipment. Remember that the minimum recommended distance from a power line is 10 feet. Exposure to cold can also be harmful to you and your helpers; it can cause frostbite and hypothermia.

Determine your insurance needs for 2015

At the beginning of each year, the natural tendency is to review, modify, and renew habits, behaviors, and needs. Throughout the course of a year many things can change, so an insurance review is also recommended. Here are some aspects you can consider that will help you figure out if you need to talk to your insurance professional about making a change to your coverage.

  1. Marriage or divorce. Marriage can bring with it a discount on your auto insurance as couples can bring two cars in the relationship from two different auto insurance companies. Take the opportunity and review your existing coverage and chose the company which offers the best combination of price and service.
  2. New baby. Birth or adoption, it is important to review your life insurance and disability income protection. A new family member will increase expenses and your life insurance. Keep in mind that if you plan to save for your child’s education, life insurance can aid that plan. Moreover, don’t forget to update the beneficiary designations to include the new member.
  3. First time driver’s license for a family member. Rather than purchasing a separate auto insurance policy for your teenager, add it to your insurance policy as it is generally cheaper. The type of the car a young person is driving has a major impact on the price of the insurance. Furthermore, most companies give discounts for getting good grades in school and for taking certified driving courses.
  4. Significant change in your income. If your income has increased, (good for you) your financial commitments might have as well. Make sure you review the life and disability insurance to confirm that is adequate to maintain them. If your income has decreased, one way to deal with expenses is to cut your life insurance premiums. If you have more than one policy, you might be able to replace both with a single policy at a lower rate having reached a ‘milestone’ amount of insurance. However, do not drop your existing life insurance before you have a new one in place.
  5. New lease. Living in a rental means that your landlord is usually responsible for insuring the structure of the building, but your possessions fall under your responsibility. More precisely you need renter’s insurance if you wish to be covered against losses from theft and catastrophes such as fire, lightning, or windstorm damages. Aside from these, renter’s insurance includes liability and this covers your responsibility to other people injured at your home and takes care of legal defense costs, should you be taken to court.