Chalk it up with back to school decor

With back-to-school in full force, what better way to relive the nostalgia of school, without actually having to go back? By doing some swift and easy décor upgrades in your apartment with chalkboards. There’s three ways to go about this: with actual chalkboards, with chalkboard paint or chalkboard contact paper. Decide what works best for you and unleash your creativity.

  • Set up small chalkboards throughout your home to write inspirational messages on and use as decoration. Chalkboards come in many different shapes, sizes and colors. And so do chalks, which are not only available in a myriad of colors, but also forms: from classic chalks to liquid chalk and chalk pens, you can pick and choose according to your preference and crafty project.
  • Smaller chalkboards are an easy way to keep track of things in your home. For example, a small chalkboard artfully set up on the kitchen counter can list the week’s menu. A slightly larger one, hung on a wall can list the day’s or week’s chores assigned to different family members. Once the chore is completed it can be wiped off.
  • If the refrigerator is your own purchase or on the off chance your landlord will allow you to do so, consider painting the refrigerator door with chalk paint. Other than then gaining a super stylish black fridge, you now have the added bonus of directly writing reminders and running a grocery list on it.
  • If you’re into canning or simply keep spices and dry goods in mason jars, paint strips of chalkboard on them. You’ll save mountains of sticky tags and be able to update the contents in a jiffy.
  • A fun, multipurpose project for families with kids is converting a table to a chalkboard art space. Pick up an old table from your nearest thrift store and stick some chalkboard contact paper on the tabletop. This can become extremely useful in areas with extended periods of inclement weather or during sleepovers. Kids can play battleships directly on the table or design their own toy care racecourse. Bonus point: chalkboard paper is easy to install and replace.
  • You can give the chalkboard paper treatment to cheap placemats as well. Not only is it fun for kids to draw on them after dinner, but it makes seating arrangements so easy when you have company over
  • Painting strips on planters or pots takes care of remembering what flowers or herbs are growing on your balcony.
  • A large chalkboard in a high-traffic area, say near the entry is also a great way to make visitors feel welcome. Just ask them to sign or write a message on the board when arriving to your party (after you bought or updated your renter’s insurance of course).

Nine back-to-school shopping tips

It’s that time of year again – for parents across the US, back-to-school stress might be on the brain.  Here are a few shopping tips on how to tackle one of the most stressful activities of the start of the school year.

  • Sit down with your kids and make an inventory of their belongings. Sort through outgrown clothes, see which can be passed down to younger siblings or donated, which are too worn and make a list of items that need replacing.
  • Not everything needs to be replaced just because it’s a new school year. Shop smart when it comes to items that can have a longer life, such as backpacks and instrument cases. Take children’s passing whims into account as well. For example, Jimmy’s backpack doesn’t necessarily have to feature the comic book hero of the moment, because six months from now, he might be over it and the $50 backpack.

  • Set a fix budget and stick to it. Explain to kids, especially younger ones, what is needed and essential and what is a whim – i.e. store brand pencils and notebooks are as efficient as the ones featuring the boy band of the moment. This will help avoid in-store melt downs and impulse purchases.
  • If you and your partner have a busy work schedule during the week and the kids aren’t old enough to safely handle doing laundry, buy a generous stock of everyday basic items such as socks, to avoid those dreaded mornings that start with “Mom!/Dad!I don’t have any clean…”
  • Check if your state has a sales tax holiday. If it does, schedule your shopping outing accordingly and you might save significantly on supplies, clothing and footwear.
  • Although modified and year-round schools are increasing in popularity, 86 percent of US students still attend classes within the traditional school year system. That means hordes of anxious parents with kids in town flocking to the mall. Avoid the swarms by shopping online or hitting the stores early. The latter also ensures you get dibs on all the best choices.
  • Check with the school for classroom supply lists. If you know what extra-curricular activities your kids will attend, ask about supplies and equipment. While you might not manage to buy exactly everything, you at least won’t have to scour the city for a flute or a quality lacrosse stick.
  • Save all your receipts. Last-minute changes can happen and it’s good to have all your bases covered.  Also, should something unfortunate happen to your apartment, receipts can be very useful when filing a renter’s insurance claim.
  • Look over your renter’s insurance policy and update if necessary. Update your record of possessions, especially if you’ve purchased big ticket items such as computers, laptops, musical instruments, sports gear and bikes.

10 “Safe and Sound” questions to ask at your apartment

So you’re renting a new apartment or home. Congratulations! You’ve probably already covered the basics with your leasing agent or property manager, but these 10 questions you may not have thought of. Ask them, and take appropriate action based on the responses, to make sure you’ll be safe and secure in your new home.

couple in  front of one-family house

 

  1. What phone number should I call, after 911, in case there is an emergency situation in or on the property of my new apartment?
  2. What is the emergency evacuation plan created for my new apartment complex? Where is the nearest hospital?
  3. Where is the neighborhood’s nearest emergency shelter facility?
  4. Where are the nearest industrial size fire extinguishers located in proximity to my unit?
  5. Does my property management company carry a mandated umbrella renters insurance policy for my complex that I can pay into? (If not, be sure to purchase your own individual renters insurance policy.)
  6. Is there storage available for the apartment that’s not attached to my unit? How is it secured and can I change the lock code or combination to a personal, secure preference? (Be sure to include the contents of your on-site storage in any renters insurance cost estimate.)
  7. Does my new complex have emergency contact information on file for me – in case something happened to you, or to your apartment, would they be able to reach you if you were at work or traveling, or contact another person who could reach you?
  8. Am I storing my most important and valuable possessions in a safe deposit box? Some items, like birth certificates, passports, heirloom jewelry, savings bonds and other vital documents, are not recommended to be stored in the home.
  9. If I do have extremely valuable items in my apartment, are they stored in a secure fireproof safe? A small safe can be a storage alternative that will protect your belongings in case of fire or flood.
  10. Have I updated my renters insurance policy from my old apartment? Don’t forget to do this each and every time you move, or your policy may lapse.

Congratulations, and may yours be a safe and happy home.

Transferring renter’s insurance to your new apartment

Moving to a new location doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need a new insurance policy or provider. With Resident Shield, it’s easy to transfer your coverage to your new home.

couple moving

Within the State

Moving into a new apartment is hectic enough without worrying about your renters insurance. (You just want to make sure that the rental truck delivers all of your possessions promptly and intact!)  To make life easier, Resident Shield has created a convenient system for transferring your policy to your new apartment. Simply give us a call at 1-800-566-1186. A specialist will note your new address and you’re done! Resident Shield will send a proof of insurance document to the new management office on your behalf.

It’s common to buy new items when moving to a new apartment. When you call, notify the representative of any recent purchases such as appliances, entertainment equipment, furniture, etc. These could increase the estimated value of your possessions. You’ll want to make sure that they’re covered, too.

Out of State

Renters that relocate out of state can follow the same procedure. Give us a call with your new address and any additions and we will handle the rest. Keep in mind, however, that premiums are different from state to state. You may experience an increase or decrease in your premium once you move, though your coverage remains the same.

New roommate

If your change in location has also resulted in a new roommate, let us know immediately. Up to two adults roommates (including spouses) can be placed on your policy as insured persons. It is important to keep this information up to date to ensure proper coverage.

Roommates can be a financial lifeline

Renting has become the lifestyle of choice for many young adults. Some people turn to renting to escape the financial hurdles associated to homeownership, others simply prefer sharing space because it’s more cost-efficient and sustainable. No matter the reason, the fact is the number of people living with a roommate/housemate or romantic partner is on the rise in the U.S., according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) .

U.S. Census Bureau data shows that one out of every eight homes in the U.S. is now inhabited by two or more people who are not related to each other – an increase of over 5 percent from 2000 to 2010. In order to fully enjoy the benefits of cohabiting, there are some common issues that need to be addressed and clarified before hopping on board.

It is true that renting offers much more flexibility and allows roommates to share everything from monthly expenses on rent and utilities to internet and cable services, and even grocery trips. But it also entails a certain degree of responsibility, particularly when it comes to protecting personal belongings. One way to avoid unnecessary trouble and ensure a happy co-existence is to acquire renters insurance.

“Generally speaking, young people have very fluid living situations that can quickly change as career, educational or romantic opportunities develop,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, the I.I.I.’s consumer spokesperson and senior vice president of Public Affairs, in a written statement. “So a college grad, for instance, who moves into a house with a bunch of friends, should consider getting his or her own renter’s insurance policy in order to financially protect themselves.”

Standard renters’ insurance policies provide insurance protection for personal belongings such as furniture, clothing, electronic equipment, or jewelry, in case of a wide array of misfortunes including fire, windstorm, lightning, theft, or vandalism.

Rental insurance policies also provide coverage for liability protection and the cost of additional living expenses should you be forced to temporarily move out of your apartment due to a covered loss, such as fire breaking out at your apartment complex.

One of the many perks of sharing living space is that you and your roomie may purchase a renters insurance policy together. As a general rule, your partner and up to three additional adults (over 18 yrs.) can be covered under one policy, according to ResidentShield.com.  Nominal additional premium amounts may apply.

Most people tend to overlook important business such as renter’s insurance because they mistakenly believe their personal property is protected under the landlord’s insurance policy. Well, know that typically that’s not the case. The landlord’s insurance covers only the structure and the common areas of the apartment building not the tenants’ belongings inside. So the only thing standing between you and an unfortunate event robbing you of your dearest possessions is renter’s insurance.

Add green value to your home with smart improvements

There has been much talk lately about green living and what it takes to be green. Environmental groups are constantly working on making our communities and ecosystems sustainable and economically productive, yet to be fully effective their efforts need to be continued by each and every one of us.

As apartment dwellers, we have a multitude of options available to play our part in the quest for sustainable living. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, hunting for new digs, or making home improvements, we’ve collected a few tips to help you live green and create a healthy home environment.

#Surround yourself with greenery. Aside from enhancing home decor, houseplants can do tons of good to your place. According to the Wall Street Journal, “a growing body of global research is showing plants can reduce dust particles and contaminants, such as formaldehyde and benzene, which come from cigarette smoke, paint, furniture, building materials, and other sources.”

Naturally, vegetation options for the indoors come in a wide variety of shapes and foliage. Plants like English ivy, orchids, mother-in-law’s tongue, peace lily, asparagus fern, flamingo flowers and even fig or rubber trees, can instantly brighten any interior while cleaning the air of toxins and releasing oxygen.

#Go green with daily chores. Steer away from toxic or polluting home products and look for healthier alternatives to your cleaning habits. For example, you can easily use white vinegar to clean both fabric and leather furniture pieces such as sofas and loveseats. White vinegar contains acetic acid which can help you get rid of hard-to-remove stains, eliminate foul smells and sanitize at the same time. Also, you can utilize coffee grounds as mulch for acid-loving plants such as roses, azaleas, hydrangeas and camellias. The natural acidity and nutrients found in the coffee grounds will help your plants thrive.

#Be smart and cash-savvy. When buying new products for your home, look for EPA’s Energy Star label to help you make the most energy-efficient decision. You can find the Energy Star label on more than 60 kinds of products, including appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment. According to EPA, products in your home that have earned the Energy Star label can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds over their lifetime, and save you $11,000 on energy bills.

Additionally, consider replacing your five most frequently used light bulbs with Energy Star qualified products, and you will reduce carbon pollution while saving $75 a year on energy bills.

#Save resources. Pay extra care to your water and energy consumption habits and strive to conserve natural resources. Just by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth in the morning and before bedtime, you can save up to 8 gallons of water! That adds up to more than 200 gallons a month, EPA research shows.

#Trim expenses. Plan your monthly budget carefully and strive not to overspend. Instead focus on buying quality items and services that pay for themselves in the long run. One of the most sensible expenses associated with renting is acquiring renters insurance which, for about 43cents/day, protects against personal property loss.

A standard renter’s policy provides coverage on a ‘named perils’ basis which includes loss due to fire, lightening, windstorm, explosion, smoke, glass breakage, theft, hail, and more. It protects the policy holder against having to shell out thousands of dollars to replace stolen possessions, such as electronics or jewelry, or settle liability claims in the event of accidental physical injury or damage to property brought about by the insured.

Get a free instant renters insurance quote based on your location and personal details.

Facts about renter’s insurance

When you move into a new home, the landlord or property manager will most likely inform you about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, and ask you to read the lease agreement thoroughly. Some may even advise that you purchase renters insurance before moving in. But in most cases, renters insurance is optional.

Renters should keep in mind that the landlord’s insurance policy only covers the property itself, the structure and the common areas, and will not reimburse or replace the tenant’s personal belongings should disaster strike. For example, if a burglar breaks in and steals you Mac, your landlord cannot be held accountable. Keeping your assets safe and shielded from unexpected events it’s entirely up to you.

Rental insurance generally comes with relatively low premiums – about 43 cents per day with ResidentShield – and protects up to your selected policy limits against a variety of mishaps such as fire, robbery, vandalism, smoke, lightning, or windstorm. Earthquake coverage is optional and available only in California.

Standard policies typically include liability coverage which basically offers protection in case of unfortunate accidents, including slip-and-fall injuries and dog bites. This means that if a guest is injured on your property, or if Fido becomes mistrusting of the mailman and decides to act on it one day, you can be held liable and sued for medical expenses. With ResidentShield, you may receive up to $100,000 of coverage against common personal liability claims and select a liability provision for dog bites up to a maximum limit of $25,000.

Rental insurance also covers unintentional damage brought about by the insured to the apartment, the common building, or any other resident’s property (such as loss caused by accidental kitchen fire).

Additionally, should you be forced to move out of your rented home while repairs are being made following a covered event, or until you can find new accommodation, renters insurance will provide you with temporary living expenses over and above your normal living expenses.

It’s often a good idea to prepare a home inventory that will help you file an insurance claim, should you be confronted with any of the above. You can create a video of your home or take pictures to make sure you don’t overlook anything important. Every little thing counts when estimating the value of your possessions, including electronics, dishes, books, DVDs and clothes. Also hold on to bills, receipts and other documents that might be used to prove an item’s ownership and value.

For more information on how to protect you belongings, and specifics of renters insurance, click here.

Greet summer with an updated home protection plan

With warm weather in full swing it’s hard not to rejoice in the beauty of nature and invite fresh air into our homes. And while resorting to natural ventilation in the warmer months is a good idea that might help us lower our carbon footprint and save some money on electricity bills, it may also give way to misfortunes if we’re not careful enough. An open window or an unlocked door is also an open invitation for sneak-in burglars who can be in and out of your apartment in minutes, robbing you of your dearest possessions.

According to Commander Harold Medina with Albuquerque Police Department’s Property & Economic Crimes Division, on any given day when the weather warms up home break-ins can increase by as much as 10 percent. “Burglars are good at the job they do,” he told the KOB Eyewitness News 4. “They really know where to look and they’ll jump into backyards just to see if there is an open window.”

We’ve collected a few tips that will help you improve security at your home and minimize the damage in case of an unfortunate event.

Home burglaries may seem random but intruders actually do their homework before breaking in. They usually eye unoccupied properties and homes that are easy to get into or offer alternative escape routes. If you live in an apartment building, pay extra caution to your fire escape window as it’s a preferred point of entry for mischievous criminals.

The first step to reduce the risk of getting burglarized is to make your rental more difficult to enter. Always lock the door behind you when you come home from work, school or shopping. And double check for open windows or doors before going to bed.

Also, you might want to consider having a bell attached to your doors so that you can hear anyone getting inside the house.

Keep expensive possessions – such as phones, jewelry or cash – away from window sills or window-adjacent furniture so they cannot be grabbed by someone reaching inside the window.

Get renters insurance to keep your assets protected. Burglars are often tempted by small and costly items such as jewelry, watches, ultrabooks or tablets, computers, smartphones, and video players. These are all things that could benefit from renters insurance, which generally covers everything from furniture to clothing, electronic equipment and other personal belongings.

The ResidentShield Renters Insurance Plan offers protection in case of a wide array of misfortunes including theft, vandalism, fire, smoke and natural calamities. Standard policies also provide liability coverage, including liability provision for dog bites and accidental injuries of guests while at your residence. Additionally, rental insurance can provide you with temporary living expenses over and above your normal living expenses if your apartment becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss.

Getting ready to rent: vital pre-lease planning

As many people found respite from the financial hurdles associated with homeownership in renting, the U.S. multifamily sector received a big push forward and recovery is almost complete. Rental occupancy saw a signficant increase earlier this year, reaching a national average of 94.3 percent, according to research data from Axiometrics Inc.

“With the extremely strong rent growth seen in 2010 and 2011 it was inevitable that it would begin to moderate, which has been the case now for about two years,” said Jay Denton, vice president of research for Axiometrics. “By historical standards, however, the apartment market is still strong, especially in some coastal areas and regions of robust job growth, like Texas. We pointed out recently that oversupply could become a concern in some markets. Affordability could also be an issue with so many high-priced units coming to the market. The next few quarters will be telling as deliveries continue to increase.”

With developers upping their game, prices for the new product are somewhere between $1,000-$1,600 per unit, depending on location, unit mix, amenities and other factors, Axiometrics further reports.

Investors may rejoice the current state of affairs yet renters feel things quite differently. With low inventories and rental rates on the rise, there’s a lot of competition out there. Renters usually look for the same things in their apartment choices: a safe environment, convenient location, Wi-Fi, green features, pet-friendliness, responsive staff and the list may go on. But what happens when you find the one, the apartment that best suits your needs and lifestyle? Are you sure you’ll be the one getting it and not your agent’s five o’clock appointment?

Often times, the secret of securing a good apartment lies in the approach. In order to get ahead of the competition, you need to play your cards right. When showing up for the walk through, have your credit report, renter’s history, and references at hand and be prepared to throw in a recommendation from your boss if things get serious. Additionally, in order to make proof of your “good tenant” status, offer to buy renters insurance. Many apartment communities have already included renters insurance as a prerequisite in the lease agreement to save themselves additional trouble and help protect the contents of the rental apartments, should disaster strike.

What’s even more important is that, in addition to standing proof of your responsible character, renter’s insurance will keep you shielded in the event of a mishap that could cause partial or total loss of your personal property including electronic equipment, clothing, furniture and jewelry. A standard insurance policy provides protection up to your selected policy limits against a variety of unexpected events such as fire, lightening, windstorm, explosion, smoke, glass breakage, theft, hail, and more. Earthquake coverage is optional and available only in California.

Plus, you’ll also benefit from the liability insurance clause which essentially provides coverage for accidental physical injury to another person as well as damage to property caused by the insured policy holder.

Receive a rental insurance quote from ResidentShield.

Four reasons for renter’s Insurance

More and more utilized, sometimes at the renter’s initiative, some other times at the request of the landlord, renter’s insurance still has a series of benefits which are not known by all. The number of residents purchasing insurance is showing consistent growth, and by the looks of it, it will turn into a compulsory contract requirement in the near future.

Since this policy will soon enough become a must-have criteria in order to sign a lease, it is best to know what you’re paying for, and when to call the insurance company for ransom.

1.      It protects your belongings in and out of your home.

In a way, renter’s insurance is like a hidden gem. Aside from the protection it offers to your personal property in case of fire, theft, and severe weather, it also covers it outside your home. For instance, if your car is broken into, your car insurance will not cover the items you had in your trunk and now are gone. Your renter’s insurance will. Under the same claim, the same thing happens if you come out of some coffee shop and you find your bicycle missing, or return to your hotel in some vacation you went on to discover that your laptop or tablet is missing.

Other less known facts about renter’s insurance include the cases when your home is broken into – many of the renter’s policies will replace the locks after such a misfortunate event, or will replace your food if it spoils during a power outage.

2.      It covers additional living expenses

In the event your home is damaged by water or fire, you will need a place to stay while repairs are made. Renter’s insurance will cover the costs for your temporary move, hotel and even meals. It is important to look into how much and how long you would be covered, there is a big difference between a couple of weeks at a Super 8 or a few months at the Hilton.

3.      It eases up identity theft recovery

Current times are about connectivity to the online environment, identity theft is ever-more present. Some renter’s policies help you recover faster by working with credit card companies, credit bureaus, and other related institutions to undo any damage caused to your good name; even the associated legal fees can be covered.

4.      It can pay for liability and medical costs

Litigation is a reliable way to ruin friendships. But if a guest is injured on your property and renter’s insurance covers the medical bills. Also, if your dog chews up your friend’s designer signed shoes, renter’s insurance can help pay for a replacement pair.

Keep in mind that not all renters’ policies are created equal; take the time to compare prices and coverage levels.