How Not to Start a Kitchen Fire in Your Apartment

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Has your smoke detector gone off one too many times while you’ve been making dinner? Are you prone to overdone pan-fried dishes or burnt casseroles? If you’re no Julia Child, there might be more than your dinner’s deliciousness at stake—you might be an apartment fire hazard. But don’t worry! Lest you live in fear of igniting your next meal, keep these 7 tips in mind and avoid starting a fire in your kitchen.

1. Pay Attention to Your Timer
Always use a timer to check your food regularly and keep it from overcooking or burning. It’s easy to forget about something simmering on the stove or slow-roasting in the oven, so whether you set a timer on your smartphone or use a good old-fashioned egg timer, keep track of your cook time.

2. Decrease Clutter
Keep oven mitts, paper towels, dishtowels, wooden spoons, sponges, and anything else that is flammable clear of an open flame or hot burner. Even in the hustle and bustle of cooking a big meal, be sure you pay attention to where you set your cooking implements; one rogue oven mitt could put the kibosh on your dinner.

3. Don’t Ignore Your Smoke Detectors
We have been taught from a young age that smoke detectors are our first line of defense against a fire. And we all know we’re supposed to change the batteries out twice a year. So while it may be easy to simply take the batteries out and leave the smoke detector when it starts to beep, it’s a sure way to make your apartment susceptible to fires.

4. Don’t Leave the Stove Unattended
One of the easiest ways to start an apartment fire is to leave something on the stove unattended. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the number one cause of kitchen fires is leaving your food unattended when it’s cooking on the stove.

5. Dress the Part
Avoid wearing baggy clothes and long, flowing sleeves when you’re cooking in the kitchen. Loose clothing is extremely susceptible to catching fire because it’s easy to brush against a hot stovetop or oven.

6. Clean Your Stove
Has it been awhile since you gave your stove a good scrub? Clean your stove regularly, and be sure to wipe up any spills or spatterings on your stovetop at the end of every use, because grease and food buildup are very flammable.

7. Wait to Throw Grease Out
One of the easiest (and scariest!) ways to start a kitchen fire is to throw your grease in the trash when it’s still searing hot. That grease will heat up anything flammable in your trash can and turn the whole thing into a real fire hazard. Wait until it cools before disposing of grease after cooking.

What to Do About an Apartment Kitchen Fire
If you do accidentally start a fire in your apartment’s kitchen, smother it by putting a lid over the pan or stovetop, use a fire extinguisher, or turn the heat off and wait for the fire to go out. Never, ever throw water on a grease fire, as it will only increase the intensity of the fire. If it’s a small grease fire, throw baking soda on it; otherwise, smother it or use a fire extinguisher.

 

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Small Space Gardening

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gardening in a small apartmentYou don’t have to wait until you live in a house to have the garden you have always dreamed of. It is so easy to turn your patio or balcony into a mini outdoor room that extends your living space, allowing you to indulge in some small space gardening.

But before you get started, you will want to create a plan. I’m all about winging it, but planning is really important in small space gardening, especially if you are adding furniture. Look at design sites, Pinterest, and gardening magazines. Channel your inner Martha.

You always want to start with your big purchases first. This includes things like furniture and rugs. You want to have room to sit and enjoy all your hard work, right? From there, you can add all the softscaping, e.g., flowers and shrubs. This is where the details become important, so here are a few tips I have picked up over the years.

Troll Craigslist. This is my first stop for anything I am about to purchase. The deals you can find are insane! During this time of year, people are buying fancy new patio sets and selling their slightly used sets for pennies.

Pay attention to your lighting. Observe the light your patio gets and research what plants will grow best in your space. I can’t tell you how many plants I have burned up because the sun was too intense. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at your garden store.

Layer your plants. When you have a small space, it is important to go vertical. Find a shelving unit, stands, or a small piece of furniture that gives you the ability to layer plants. I also like to layer the types of plants by mixing herbs with flowers and shrubs. It creates more depth.

Find a focal point. It is really easy for small spaces to look cluttered quickly, so find something that attracts the eye and let that be your focal point. This can be a distinctive plant, small tree, or even a chair that is calling your name.

Mint and rosemary. These two guys are super easy to grow, and they smell divine! The best part is that they are edible. Won’t you feel fancy when you make cocktails with your own homegrown herbs?

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6 Tips for Moving Apartments During the Summer

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Moving season is fast approaching, and if you’re a renter moving apartments, you’ll soon be embarking on a journey fraught with cleaning supplies, cardboard boxes, and heavy lifting. Let’s face it: summer moving can be a stressful process if you’re not prepared. But fear not, renter-to-be. Get a jump on your change-of-address with these tips from Renter’s Voice to make your summer move easier.

1. Be Smart About Finding an Apartment

Be smart about how you look for apartments during the summer. Because competition is high for good apartments during the summer, you’ll have to hunt efficiently. Whether you are moving apartments for a better rent rate, in the military undergoing a COS, or moving into a college apartment for the first time, it’s best to shop around and check apartment reviews before choosing an apartment. A little research in the beginning will pay off in the long run. Use apartment reviews to find the best apartments and choose the one with an ideal rate, perfect location, and the right amenities.

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Tips for Making a Moving Inventory

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Peak moving season is approaching (that’s May through August, in case you were wondering), and with it come the joys and woes of finding an apartment, packing up, and moving. If you’ve already used apartment ratings and reviews to find the perfect new apartment, you know how important it is to have the right resources available during an apartment move. That’s why having a moving inventory can be so useful. Having a comprehensive apartment moving inventory can be a tremendous help, whether you’re embarking upon the move on your own or you are hiring a moving company. If your lease is almost up and you’re wondering how best to get a move on, learn how to make a moving inventory using these methods to get started with the packing process.

Use a Smartphone App to Take Inventory

Moving apartments with a smartphone in tow? There’s an app for that. Try these 5 apps to organize your moving inventory:

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Fred’s Reputation Management Plan

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fred_reputation_managementIt has come to my attention that I need to work on my personal reputation. Reputation management? I thought that was for apartment communities and humans, not dogs! Whatever.

I first want to say that I learned of this so called “reputation management” in a very inappropriate way. We had some visitors at the apartment, and when they arrived, I greeted them in my usual fashion. Big hugs and a smooch or two. What’s wrong with that? Well, apparently a lot.

My human had the nerve to shame me in front of our guests! Right there, on the spot! I can deal with her angry voice. I’ve learned to tune it out over the years. But shaming? HOW DARE SHE!

If she wants me to learn from my so-called mistakes, she needs to work on giving me feedback in a respectful manner that doesn’t put me on the defense. Right? To help her do so, I’ve compiled a few reputation management tips.

1. State cold hard facts, not your version of the truth.
That was a hug. I was not jumping.

2. Be aware of your timing.
How about you give yourself a timeout first so that you don’t say or do anything you could regret.

what_are_they_saying_about_you_reputation_management3. Be consistent.
Stop changing the dang rules on me. Kapeesh?

4. Offer a solution.
You don’t like my behavior? Give me a biscuit and I’ll stop. Sounds like a win-win to me.

5. Don’t be mean.
Your recent habit of calling me chunky hurts. Okay, that was off topic, but it’s still a good tip.

There you have it. If she takes the reputation management list seriously, I think we can continue to cohabitate very happily. Just remember, dogs and humans have the tendency to become what you encourage us to be, not what you nag us to be.

Your Friend and Personal Reputation Management Consultant,
Fred

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4 Tips Every Apartment Renter Should Know

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5-tips-every-apartment-renter-should-knowIf you are a renter, according to RenterNation, you are one of over 100 million Americans choose to rent their home versus buying one.  Whatever your reason for renting, you are not alone and there are a few things all renters should keep in mind.

Here are 4 tips every apartment renter should know:

1. Set a Reasonable Budget

Sure you can qualify to for rent up to 1/3 of your pre-tax income, but is that realistic for your personal financial situation? Make you you review all your bills – utulities, cable, car payments, insurance, credit card, etc. – and then decide what a reasonable monthly rental budget is.

2. Protect Yourself

Not only should you have a written lease to protect your rights as a renter, you should also purchase renters insurance to protect your belongings in case of emergency. Renters insurance is typically very affordable and can give you peace of mind.

inspect-what-you-expect3. Inspect What You Expect

You toured an apartment (if not the apartment you rented) before you committed to the lease, but when move-in day arrives give everything a good once- or twice-over. After all, if there is damage to the home when you move out you will be responsible for the repairs. So if the damage exists when you move in and you do not report it, you’ll be sorry later.

4. Know Your Rights

Your landlord has rights – he owns the property, but as a renter you too have rights. Your lease outlines standard rights of renters, but always ask questions if you’re not clear. Confirm whether or not you can paint, what you can use to hang items on your walls, and even if you can sublet the unit at some point. You might also want to verify fees and penalties for late rent payments or early lease terminations.

What other tips do you think every apartment renter should know? Find us on Facebook and Twitter and share your ideas.

 

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Tips for Apartment Hunting with Bad Credit

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apartment-leaseHaving to hunt for apartments knowing that your credit score is not as great as you’d like can initially feel like a formidable task. After all, landlords use components of credit scores to find tenants who are reliable and have been historically trusted to make timely payments and take care of their property. For prospective renters who have done their research but are toting around a bad credit score, there are a few ways to show potential landlords that having a less than great credit score doesn’t mean you’re irresponsible.

Find a Cosigner

Many students who don’t have bad credit sometimes start out with very little credit at all. Thus, many apartment complexes near college campuses allow for students to have cosigners who have better credit to vouch for them, making the student living process a little bit easier. Cosigners are usually parents or grandparents who have had time to establish and maintain their credit and who are also paying part of the student’s rent each month.

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5 Tips to Get Your Online Review Read

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get-your-online-review-readIf you are going to take time to write an online review, you want to make sure it actually gets read. So here are 5 tips to get your online review read.

1. What is the main point?

Think about the primary reason you want to share your opinion with others through an online review. Is the product the best thing since sliced bread all the way around, do the staff make you feel important, or perhaps you’ve found the perfect dog park.

2. Who are the important players?

If the maintenance team or leasing team at your apartment community are ‘stand-outs’ in your living experience, say so. If the server at the restaurant is what makes it a 5-star experience, be sure to mention this.

5-tiips-to-get-your-review-read3. What other the relevant themes exist?

Sure, that bananas foster might be the highlight of your evening meal, but chances are it was not the only thing you noticed during your visit. The service or reasonable prices could also play a part. Take time to highlight more than one aspect in your review, so readers know you were really paying attention to everything.

4. Are there any pros that could possibly offset cons?

Okay, so the service sucked last weekend. But did the whole experience tank, or were there some positives as well? People are more likely to place weight on a review that is balanced and reflects both negatives and positives.

5. Would you recommend?

Maybe after a poor customer experience, a manager took action to make it right. Perhaps you had a good experience, but there was something that made you uncomfortable staking your reputation on the business when it comes to family and friends. Bottom line, you should always indicate whether you would recommend the business/product or not and your reasons.

Refer to this handy tip sheet the next time you write an online review so you can use these 5 tips to get your online review read.

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Do You Need Renters Insurance? The Answer Might Surprise You

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apartment burglarThink you don’t need renters insurance? Think again. There are lots of reasons to get renters insurance… even if you don’t think you’ll ever need it. A lot of the reasons to buy renters insurance start with the same premise: You don’t think it could happen, until it happens to you. Don’t wait until your best-rated apartment has a fire, flood, break-in, or accident to realize that renters insurance can be a huge help financially.

Why is renters insurance important? Renters insurance will cover you if something happens in your apartment (like damage or injury) that incurs costs. The amount that is covered is determined by the kind of renters insurance you get, and every safety feature you have in your apartment (like an alarm system or a security code for entry to the building) can decrease the cost of renters insurance. That’s why choosing a best-rated apartment can be better overall for apartment life. The better security and apartment quality that comes with a best-rated apartment can ultimately allow you to pay less for your renters insurance and keep you safer.

What does renters insurance cover? Here are a few situations in which you might need renters insurance: Continue reading

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6 Tips to Get Your Deposit Back

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6 tips to get your deposit backIf you want to be guaranteed to get your deposit back, the rule of thumb is “Leave the place the way you found it… or better!” You should take photographs of any damages found at move-in and send them to the property manager so you have a record in writing. Beyond that, here are 6 tips to get your deposit back.

1.       Move EVERYTHING out. If you don’t you’ll get charged.

2.       Empty the fridge. People often forget this one.

3.       Paint the walls back to the color they were when you moved in. Some places allow you to just prime them, but be sure to find out your community policy!

4.       Fill the holes in your walls. At your local hardware store, you can buy a small container of spackling to fill the nail holes in the walls. If your fist (or your roommate) went through the wall, you better Google or YouTube the instructions to fix it!

tips to get your deposit back5.        CLEAN LIKE IT’S YOUR JOB… or hire someone who actually cleans for their job (aka a maid service). This includes everything — the bathtub, the fridge, the oven… everything!

6.       Rent a carpet cleaner. Steam it, scrub it, do whatever you have to do to get it looking better than the day you moved in.

Of course if you’ve turned your apartment into a frat house or don’t start ahead of time, there’s no way all of this is going to happen, but if you do your best, there’s a good chance, you’ll at least get some of your money back!

Also, don’t forget. If you just decide to move out without even attempting to fix things up, there’s a good chance, you’ll get charged even more than your deposit. You definitely want to avoid that!

Find Renter’s Voice on Facebook and Twitter and tell us your tips to get your deposit back.

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