In this article, we will go over some practical tips to improve your rental safety and why you should consider them seriously.
Embracing the joy of moving into a new rental property involves more than decorating your space. It’s crucial to make safety your priority. This article offers practical, easy-to-follow tips to improve your rental safety, ensuring that your exciting transition into your new home is secure and serene.
Understanding Your Rental Rights
Kicking things off, it's crucial to acquaint yourself with your tenant rights. National and local rental laws exist for your protection, often covering aspects you might not consider. The lease agreement is a detailed document outlining your rights and responsibilities. Therefore, a thorough understanding of its terms becomes pivotal for your safety and peace of mind. It serves as your first step in building a secure rental environment.
Importance of Proper Insurance
The area often underestimated by tenants is insurance. A solid renter's insurance policy covers personal property loss and liability risks, extending a safety net during unexpected incidents. Even if it's not mandatory per your lease agreement, it's worth considering. This extra layer of protection can help you avoid potential financial pitfalls. Therefore, selecting the right insurance policy is integral to maximizing your rental property's ROI.
Securing Your Rental
Physical security measures form the next layer of your rental's defense. Implementing high-quality locks and alarms is essential. Technological advancements have brought about smart home security systems offering a comprehensive shield of protection. Regular checks and maintenance of these security measures will further fortify your rental's safety.
Enhancing Outdoor Safety
Outdoor spaces often get overlooked when discussing how to improve your rental safety. However, well-lit exteriors and clear pathways can significantly reduce the risk of accidents or unwelcome intrusions. If your rental property includes a balcony or a patio, ensure they are safely enclosed. Adding these areas to your security checklist extends your peace of mind beyond your interior walls.
Ensuring your rental property is well-equipped to deal with potential fire hazards is important in transitioning to fire safety. This means functional smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at suitable locations. Safe cooking, turning off heating equipment when not used, and keeping flammable materials at a safe distance significantly reduce fire risks. Fire safety isn’t an area for compromise; these steps can protect you and your possessions.
Online Safety and Rental Scams
In the era of digital transactions, online safety has become a significant part of rental safety. Protecting yourself from rental scams involves vigilant verification of information. Share your details with caution. Also, a secure Wi-Fi connection in your rental home prevents potential cyber threats. Balancing convenience with caution can save you from unnecessary troubles.
Getting to know your neighborhood is another aspect that contributes significantly to your overall security. Our friends at Miami Movers for Less recommend familiarizing yourself with the local community, building connections with neighbors, and participating in neighborhood watch programs are effective ways to enhance safety. A safe neighborhood is not only a great place to live but also contributes to the quality of your life.
Dealing with Maintenance Issues
Maintenance issues in a rental property are almost inevitable. A key piece of advice here is establishing a good relationship with your landlord. It aids in the smooth and timely resolution of these issues. Prompt reporting of problems prevents them from escalating into bigger, more expensive repairs. Moreover, keeping a record of maintenance requests and responses serves as a reference and can be beneficial in the long run.
Pet Safety in Rentals
For those of you moving with pets, their safety also plays into your overall rental safety. Ensure your rental property is pet-friendly and safe. Secure balconies and windows, safely store toxic cleaning supplies and check the property for potential hazards. Happy pets contribute to a happier, safer rental experience.
What to Do in Case of an Emergency
Regardless of all safety measures, emergencies can still occur. Preparedness is key. Have a well-equipped emergency kit in your rental property. Know the quickest exit routes and have important contact numbers readily available. Effective communication with your landlord and local authorities can be crucial during such times.
Moving to a New Rental
Moving to a new residence involves more than just packing boxes and signing agreements. It's an opportunity to reassess your safety measures and plan for improvements. By integrating safety considerations into the moving process, you can not only relocate without troubles but also ensure that your new residence provides a secure and comfortable environment from day one.
Safety Inspection Before Moving In
Let's delve into the importance of safety inspections before moving in. Pay close attention to things to inspect before signing a rental agreement. This procedure safeguards your security and comfort in your new home. Robust locks on all doors and windows, a functioning fire safety system, and general property maintenance are crucial areas to assess. Take your time during this inspection. Documenting any pre-existing issues will help you avoid potential problems and strengthen your standing as a tenant.
Home Safety Gadgets
In addition to basic locks and alarms, several modern gadgets can improve your rental safety. Doorbell cameras, motion sensors, and smart lights can act as deterrence for potential intruders. Smart home devices can also alert you of unusual activity, letting you control your home's security remotely. The convenience and added safety make these devices worth considering.
Child Safety in Rentals
If you have children, their safety becomes another crucial aspect of your rental safety. Ensure that the property is child-proofed. Install safety gates, secure heavy furniture, and check for hazards like sharp edges or loose electrical outlets. A child-friendly rental keeps your little ones safe and lets you relax, knowing they are in a secure environment.
For $600 or so a year, plus a service fee of around $75 every time you ask for repair, a home warranty can be an inexpensive way to have peace of mind as a new homeowner.
Home warranties cover breakdowns in a home, from HVAC systems to appliances. A broken water heater can be repaired within hours, but if it can’t be fixed, a home warranty can pay for a new one to be installed.
For homeowners with an older house, they may want more things covered than a newer home would need—such as older appliances—and will likely pay more for it. If you just bought new appliances and have a manufacturer’s warranty for a year or more, you won’t need this coverage. You may be able to exclude new appliances from a home warranty to cut down on costs.
Things that can be covered by a home warranty include ductwork, electrical, plumbing, dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, stoves, clothes washers and dryers, and water heaters.
Things that are unlikely to be covered include expensive items such as septic tanks, wells, heating systems, pools, garage doors, windows and doors, sprinkler systems, pre-existing conditions, and walls. Coverage for such items may cost more. Roofs may also be exempt, though some home warranty companies sell plans to fix leaking roofs.
A big factor in deciding if a home warranty is worth buying is cost. Basic coverage can start at about $300 and go up to $600 or more.
Some home warranties charge for a service call, such as $75 or so, while others allow unlimited service calls. Contractors are screened and sent out by the company.
To determine if a home warranty cost is worth it, start by learning how old your appliances and home systems are and if the original equipment manufacturer warranties still cover them. Find out what the expected lifespan of each item is to help you figure out if a home warranty is needed.
Some home warranty companies require annual maintenance on appliances and home systems to keep the warranties valid. Some may ask how long you’ve had them. Don’t expect the home warranty company to pay for the annual maintenance of your appliances or home systems.
Read the contract carefully to make sure that old appliances are covered in the home warranty. Some don’t cover old appliances, such as anything more than 10 years old.
Any home, whether old, new or somewhere in between, will have things break sooner or later. Appliances and home systems only last so long. For $50 a month or so, a home warranty can provide peace of mind when things eventually fail.
While world peace is a great idea, if you want to add a touch of calm to your life, begin with your bedroom. Your room isn’t merely the place to rest your head, it’s where you wake, and the vibe of your room can set the tone for the rest of your day. Below are five tips for bringing a peaceful vibe to your bedroom.
Choose calming colors. While red or orange may be your favorite fiery hue, when picking shades for your room, choose soothing, calm colors like light blue or a gentle gray.
Pick minimal patterns. Keep the fun, funky patterns for the living room throw pillows. Busy patterns can make us feel crowded and overwhelmed, so minimize zany patterns in your sleep space.
Clear the room of clutter. Create a sanctuary in your bedroom by keeping it clear of clutter, from laundry to oversized furniture. Spend a few minutes before bed each day storing any items you pulled out, close the closet doors, put the books back on the shelves and dive into bed with a clear head and space.
Bring in nature. Houseplants can boost mood and pump more oxygen into the room. Choose a few easy-to-care for plants, like a fern or a ficus, and place them where you can see them when you wake.
Select the right lighting. While blackout shades can be great for blocking disruptive light, it can also negatively impact your sleep patterns by keeping your body from waking at its natural time. Find a set of blackout curtains that filter light but allow you to wake in the morning naturally.
If you’re nearing retirement and haven’t saved much for it, you’re not alone.
Forty-eight percent of workers age 55 or older say they have less than $100,000 in savings and investments, according to a 2016 retirement confidence survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
They may not want to rely on Social Security to fund their retirement. Social Security will replace 39 percent of pre-retirement income for the average worker retiring at 65, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
If you’re nearing retirement in 10 years or so, there are still some moves you can make to help ensure you’ll have enough money. Here are four ideas:
1. Save more
This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it’s the best way to lessen the gap. Federal law allows people 50 and older to “catch up” in retirement savings accounts by increasing the limits on tax deferred savings to a 401(k) plan of $24,000, and $6,500 to an IRA. If your children are out of the house and you’re no longer paying for college, put that extra money into savings.
2. Collect Social Security later
Social Security benefits can be claimed at age 62, but waiting until you’re 70 can increase the monthly benefits by 8 percent for every year you wait when adjusted for inflation.
Almost half of American workers file at age 62. Waiting can especially help married couples, giving a surviving spouse up to 100 percent of a deceased spouse’s benefit.
3. Work longer
Working beyond age 62 helps in many ways. It gives you more time to earn money and contribute to retirement accounts, reduces how long you’ll need to rely on savings before taking Social Security at age 70, and delays claiming Social Security.
Retirement at ages 65 or 67 is becoming more common, and online, part-time jobs can make working later in life easier.
4. Spending less in retirement
A rule of thumb when saving for retirement is that 80 percent of pre-retirement income is needed to maintain your standard of living when retired. But that goal may be overstated.
You may need as little as half of your pre-retirement income, based on data that people spend less over the course of retirement. You may take a few big trips when you first retire, but chances are you’ll spend less as you get further into retirement.
Retirees can save money by moving to a smaller home or a less expensive location, and can save if they no longer have a mortgage.
I hope you found this information helpful. Please contact me for all your real estate needs today!
Children are often oblivious to the many dangers around them. Accidents in the home are a leading cause of injury and death among children. Here are a few ways to childproof your home and keep your little one safe.
Look at your home from a baby’s or toddler’s perspective. Ask yourself: What would catch my eye if I were low to the ground? Look for those things that your child would reach for, pull down, play with or put in their mouth.
When babies are learning to walk, they grab furniture and bookcases for support. Many injuries and deaths occur each year when young children pull on furniture or televisions and the objects fall on top of them. Secure heavy objects to the walls to prevent this. Keep dressers and filing cabinets closed when you’re not using them. Cover sharp corners on furniture to prevent injuries if your child falls.
Use childproof gates to keep your baby or toddler out of hazardous areas, such as specific rooms or stairs. Choose gates that are difficult to climb and do not have V-shaped openings, which can trap children.
Open windows from the top or keep them closed. A screen is not strong enough to prevent a child from falling out of a window. Do not place furniture near windows because that can make it easy for a child to climb onto a windowsill. Children can be strangled by cords on blinds. Use window coverings without cords.
Outlets are a common source of injuries. Children are tempted to play with them and stick objects in the openings, which can lead to electrocution. Use outlet covers with safety latches to protect your child.
Store any medications, vitamins, cleaning supplies or other chemicals in cabinets with childproof locks to keep them out of reach. Properly dispose of any expired medication. Store the phone number for your local poison control center in your cell phone.
A child can drown in just a few inches of water. Never leave a child unattended in a bath, even if he or she is sitting in a chair. Install a latch on the toilet’s lid to keep it closed. If you use a bucket of water for cleaning, never leave it unattended and dump it as soon as you finish. Always supervise a child using a pool or kiddie pool.
Install smoke detectors throughout your house and check the batteries regularly. When your child is old enough, explain the dangers of fire and how to prevent accidents and injuries. Never allow a child to touch the stove. Put away any appliances that use heat, such as a hair dryer and curling iron, when they’re not being used.
Look Around Your Home
Your child will want to explore your house as soon as they’re able to crawl. Dangers are everywhere, and they will increase as your child becomes more mobile. Take the time to childproof each room in your home to prevent accidents.
Like the generation it’s named for, millennial pink is all around us. It’s a fun, daring, sophisticated hue that isn’t exactly new, but lately seems to have caught the eye of legions of clothing and décor designers.
Not quite salmon, not quite rose and a far cry from traditional Barbie pink—millennial pink can best be described as a soft, subtle pink with some gray tones and a slight hint of peach. It’s hard to miss if you’re browsing the racks for trendy clothes or checking out the newest paint colors.
At your hardware or home maintenance store, check out Victoriana or Precocious by Benjamin Moore or Everything’s Rosy by Behr. If the hues appeal, and you’re ready to add their subtle vibe to your home décor, here’s few fun tips to maximize the color’s sunshine-like qualities:
Mix it up. Paint the whole living room or bedroom pink, or paint just one wall pink and accent with white or other pale neutrals and a touch of black. Framing neutral artworks with simple black frames are a good way to help a pink wall sing.
Add bolder pinks. Accenting millennial pink walls with deeper pink vases, lamps, bed linens, furniture and/or pillows can make the overall look of the room both relaxing and cohesive.
Try it on a door. Want just a dash of millennial pink? Paint a door this color to create an eye-catching architectural statement without overwhelming the room. Switching out the hardware to something with a black or bronze finish can be a perfect punctuation mark.
Use it as an accent color in your guest bathroom. You can add personality to a white bathroom with rosy pink towels, soap trays and other fun accessories. Try a blush pink for small accents, then top off the look with a few fresh pink blossoms in a pink vase to make the small space stand out.
How does the gift tax work when using gift funds to buy a home?
$17,000 ANNUAL EXCLUSION
The federal government gives each of us an allowance to gift anybody $17,000 per year without incurring any gift tax. This $17,000/year replenishes every year, and it’s $17,000 per person. So, theoretically, I could gift every person that I know $17,000 today, and then another $17,000 next year and the year after, and there would be NO gift tax. This $17,000 limit is up from $16,000 in 2022.
$12,920,000 LIFETIME EXCLUSION
What most people don’t realize, is that there’s a second allowance of $12.92mm! This is up from $12.06mm in 2022. In other words, let’s say that I want to give you $117,000. That’s $100,000 more than what I can give you out of my $17,000 annual bucket. That’s not a problem at all because I also have the $12,920,000 bucket. The $12.92mm bucket is called my “Lifetime Exclusion.” If I use any of it during my lifetime, I simply reduce my estate tax exclusion by that amount.
So in our example, if I gift you $117,000, I would take $17,000 out of my annual bucket and $100,000 out of my lifetime bucket. My annual bucket replenishes each year. But my lifetime bucket does NOT replenish. In fact, I must reduce my lifetime bucket by $100,000, so now my lifetime exclusion is “only” $12.82mm instead of $12.92mm.
Now, if my estate is less than $12.92mm, this would not be a problem at all, because my heirs would have no estate tax anyhow. However, if my estate is more than $12.92mm then my heirs would have to pay estate taxes on anything inherited above $12.92mm. In other words, the lifetime exclusion bucket is used for both gift and estate tax purposes. So every time I use it to not pay gift taxes, I’m also reducing my estate tax exclusion… that’s how and why the gift tax and the estate tax are related to one another.
That's the lifetime gift tax exclusion in 2023.
Contrary to popular belief, mortgage interest is not always tax-deductible.
Do you itemize your tax deductions?
You cannot take the mortgage interest deduction if you are taking the standard deduction. In 2023, the standard deduction is $13,850 for single taxpayers, $20,800 for heads of household, and $27,700 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. (Please see a CPA for details.)Is your home a qualified residence?
Mortgage interest is only deductible if the mortgage is attached to a "qualified residence". Taxpayers can generally deduct the mortgage interest on two qualified homes: one primary home and one vacation home.
Is your mortgage classified as "acquisition indebtedness"?
Your mortgage or home equity line of credit is considered "acquisition indebtedness" if it was used to buy, build, or improve a qualified residence. Generally, you can deduct the interest on mortgage balances up to $750,000 of Acquisition Indebtedness. Here are two examples:
$1MM ACQUISITION DEBT LIMIT ON PRE-2017 LOANS.
Your acquisition debt limit is $1 million if you closed on your home loan prior to December 16, 2017, and the loan qualified as acquisition indebtedness at that time. You can keep that $1 million limit if you refinance that home loan as long as you do not increase the current balance on the loan. For example, if your current balance is $950,000, the new loan you’re refinancing into can’t be more than $950,000. This is also true when consolidating or refinancing a home equity loan or line of credit taken out prior to December 16, 2017, as long as you used that home equity loan to buy, build or improve a qualified residence. In that case, your combined aggregate total limit would be $1 million, whether you keep both loans separate, or whether you consolidate them into a single loan.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN A QUALIFIED RESIDENCE AND AN INVESTMENT PROPERTY.
Everything mentioned above pertains to a mortgage transaction involving a primary home or vacation home that is elected as a “qualified residence” for tax purposes. If your transaction involved an investment property, see IRS Publication 527.
Number of the Week: $750,000
You can deduct the interest on mortgage balances up to $750,000. (If you follow the rules outlined above.) Source: Momentifi
WHEN IS INTEREST ON HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
1. THE IMPROVEMENTS MUST BE "SUBSTANTIAL."
In order to deduct the interest on the mortgage as acquisition indebtedness, the IRS requires the project to be a "Substantial Improvement" that:
2. YOU HAVE A 24-MONTH LOOK-BACK PERIOD.
If you are pulling cash out to reimburse yourself for improvements already made, those improvements must have occurred within the past 24 months in order to qualify for the acquisition indebtedness deduction.
3. YOU ONLY HAVE 90-DAYS AFTER WORK WAS COMPLETED.
You must take out the mortgage or home improvement loan within 90 days after the work is completed in order to qualify for the tax deduction. The home acquisition debt is limited to the amount of the expenses incurred within the period beginning 24 months before the work is completed and ending on the date of the mortgage.
HERE ARE 3 IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT FLIPPING HOUSES IN TODAY'S MARKET.
1. THE ROI ON FLIPPING HOUSES REMAINS FAR BELOW ITS PEAK.
Approx. 8.2% of all residential real estate transactions were house-flips in Q2 2022 according to Attom Data Solutions, a leading real estate data provider. That's down from 9.7% in Q1 2022 but still up from 5.3% in Q2 2021. Meanwhile, average house-flipping profits remain far below their peak due to increased competition, rising mortgage rates, and a slowdown in house price appreciation.
2. RENOVATION COSTS AND TIMELINES ARE SOARING.
The costs to renovate and repair a home have soared in the wake of a labor shortage, supply chain disruptions, and rising inflation. This means that it may take you longer than expected to fix and flip the home. Also, be sure to budget for higher costs, which of course, will eat into your profit margins.
3. THE HOUSING MARKET HAS STARTED TO SLOW DOWN.
It's highly unlikely that house prices will crash because we have an ongoing shortage of housing inventory in the US. Even so, annual house price appreciation is expected to slow to its long-term average of 3%-4% during the next 12 months. We've already seen month-over-month price declines in some extra-frothy markets. This means that you may not get as much as you initially anticipated when you go to sell the house.
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