Easy Gardening at the Apartment - Part 1

I must admit, many find the apartment pretty. But really, the "curb appeal" that most see is attributable to a small but colorful garden that we religiously maintain every weekend.

Watering the Plants

I don't know of many other landlords who visit their property as regularly as I do. In fact, many ask me why I bother to visit the apartment every weekend. There is a bunch of reasons why I choose to do so, but one of these is that we want to see and water the plants at least once a week. We've had tenants who volunteer to water the plants in the plant boxes of their units. I guess some fancy themselves as gardeners or 'green thumbs' of sort and are well meaning. Generally, we let and thank them if they do want to water the plants. And they do water them - for a few weeks, that is. The motivation generally wanes and so we don't rely on tenants to do the watering themselves. At most, that chore will be spotty.

The challenge to watering the planst happens when the apartment is full (all units occupied). The apartment doesn't have an external faucet outside. We intentionally didn't have one installed for fear that tenants would frivolously use it to wash their cars. So what we do is to bring our own water. Friends ask us why don't we just tap into one of the units' faucet with a long hose. Sure, we could do that but that means a couple of negatives for the tenant who we tap into:

  • It's a hassle and inconvenience. It would require us to enter the unit and secure the hose into the faucet at the laundry area. Corz, this won't be possible at all if the tenant is using the faucet.

  • It can be messy. Where there's usage of water, leaks and spills may occur. Droplets of water on the floor may not mean a lot but for the tenant, it may result into slips and accidents.
We carry water in a couple of carboys or huge plastic containers. At the apartment, we transfer the water into a pail and use a dipper (tabo) to water the plants. It's simple, but takes some effort loading and unloading the carboys into the back of the car.


Red Flags from Apartment Hunters

Yes, we've all seen them. Some landlords would include pet peeves. Red flags are those indicators that immediately require a double take. They're warning signs that we see, hear or feel from potential tenants. They're negative hunches and you'd have to be ultra sensitive for these. You'd have to be some sort of a person reader to be good at looking for these signs. Ultimately, they may make or break a tenant's application. So here they are. These are the signs that makes me raise an eyebrow or two when dealing with apartment hunters:
  • Applicant is arrogant.

    This one DEMANDS for stuff. This person has no modicum of courtesy or politeness. Why bother with this person? I've no time for control freaks or those who think they practically own the property. If an apartment hunter shows me the attitude, then sorry, I won't be showing the unit!

  • Kids are very unruly.

    This may be a discipline issue on the side of the parent (having it and giving it). And on the side of the kid? Well, it may mean crayon writings on the walls, broken faucets, flushing trash in the toilet bowl and more "unruly kidstuff"

  • Applicant is in a hurry to move.

    Why? Do you just automatically assume you CAN move in an apartment anytime (at the last minute, it seems) you like? Assume that with other landlords, not this one. Some would even bring out their wallets and flash the cash for the downpayment. Yeah right, these folks probly think landlords are desperate for money. Well, okay fine, "in need of money" but not desperate.

  • Too secretive.

    Does not answer questions like where they live, what they do for a living, where they work (like it's only they who COULD ask questions). I don't do hard sells on the apartment. I don't force nor pressure anybody. It's really up to the apartment hunter. But I do try to highlight the apartment's features which I believe will interest them coz these are unique to the apartment or are just really favorable to the tenants. And I do that for two reasons: I take pride on these features and I believe these help the apartment hunter in their decision-making.

  • Unable to "comprehend" simple instructions.

    I have simple text messages when it comes to stating my requirements. In spite of this, there are apartment hunters who totally ignore what my requirements are. For instance, I explicitly require for a checking account. They say they have it. When I get there to show the unit, they ask if they could just pay in CASH. Gee, what was it about my short and simple sms message that was so totally unclear to you?

  • Smokers.

    I'm biased. I used to smoke before. Generally speaking, smokers are bad with their butts, cigarette butts that is. They flick them anywhere they please. I've had smoking tenants who simply threw their butts in the plant boxes. Getting these smelly, soggy butts out of the plant boxes is a PAIN. I've no evidence but what really prevents these miscreants from throwing and flushing their butts in the toilet bowl? Nothing really.

  • Unreasonably late.

    Simple. Is this how you give a first impression? My impression is if you'll be unreasonably late (like you had to do your nails FIRST), then that only tells me how you'll deal with me in business - unbusinesslike and late.

Nowadays, cellphones are becoming a necessity. This necessity, plus the resulting demand has made cellphones even cheaper. In my landlording experience, there are two real instances where cellphones are particularly effective.

Showing the Units
Applicants who are apartment hunting are typically of the profile who can afford cellphones. When they look at the apartment site and decide that it's a possible find, they'd usually yank out their cellphones and inquire or ask to see it. Now, I normally wouldn't just run over to the site and show the units. I'd rather want to know more about these applicants first. A mandatory requirement is them having a ready checking bank account. Corz, if I get to learn more, all the better. If I hear or read via sms text how arrogant they are by the way they communicate, then that's a peek into their personality. It's easy to identify red flags in many cases. It is convenient for them to just call me, as it is convenient for me to quickly weed out undesirables. With this quick communication, where I may be reached virtually anywhere, I could easily determine if its worth my while to run over and show the units.

Apartment Maintenance
How I wished that ALL people had cellphones INCLUDING contractors. By contractors, I refer to carpenters, welders, electricians, plumbers and all handymen.

In hindsight, this particular idea or article may even be rendered "irrelevant" as cellphones become commonplace and will simply just be THE defacto manner to communicate with anybody.


Demanding Apartment Hunters

A mistake I made prior to showing the units is not asking if the applicant has a checking bank account. This is especially if you only accept checks for rent payments.

A behavior often displayed by applicants is that once they see the property, they WANT to see the inside A.S.A.P. This must be some sort of a norm among apartment hunters. And that is to see the apartment units interior PRONTO! The reason they'd immediately give for wanting to see the apartment unit is: "Because we're already here!" as if demanding that I better be there for them.

In my early years of being a landlord, I was just excited to show the units. I basically had a great script all figured out and all I had to do was dazzle them with the apartment units' features. And with one couple who called me, I did just that - only to find out much later that they didn't have a checking account.

How could I have avoided all this inconvenience of going to the apartment for nothing? Well, I could've asked more probing questions via cellpone text - BEFORE even agreeing to go there and show the units. Don't be too excited to show the units at the drop of a hat.