Motorcycle in the Pathway

One of our tenants had an old motorbike. But since they had a car, they were already taking a parking slot. And there are only a few limited slots in the parking area.

With no place else to put the motorbike, they parked it in front of a vacant unit. This vacant unit is adjacent to theirs. Unfortunately, we were using this vacant temporarily for our personal stuff. The front of the units is the pathway and is common to all the tenants.


Garbage Disposal

Many years ago when the apartment building was new, the first tenants thought of having a nice trash bin outside the apartment gate. It was essentially a metal drum cut in half with some short iron legs welded at the bottom. It was fine except it didn't have a cover. Since it was a bit low, sometimes stray cats and dogs would climb on it and gnaw on the plastic bags thus spilling the contents. Yuck.


Drummer Tenant Noise

When one of my tenants was new in the apartment, I didn't realize that her sons were "musically-inclined".

Okay, some may consider drumming as music and some as noise. But apparently, her sons and their friends were into it. And these drums aren't little bongos but a whole drum set for a band.

How they managed to fit a drum set in such a tiny apartment still baffles me. The first time I heard it, I was appalled at the ruckus. At first I thought that maybe it was a passing, temporary thing. But in the next few weeks, we discovered it wasn't. We were at the apartment every weekend and every time, there were drums playing.


No Pets Policy

In my almost 10 years of landlording, I've only had to reject a potential tenant only once - because of pets. The applicant was actually a very amiable guy. He was a German mestizo working as a nurse. He came to the apartment riding a big bike - the Harley Davidson kind of a bike. No problem there, I thought. He could use one of the parking slots for the motorcycle which was too big to park in the walkway.

He wasn't renting with anybody else, but he had a big dog, a Labrador I think. The way he described it was it was very gentle. He could be right, but I'm sure there are some days when a dog's temper may not be pleasant. The scenario raised several of concerns in my mind:
  1. The dog will be left alone when the tenant is out working. It will need to pee and poo. Who'll take care of the mess and the stink, meanwhile?
  2. Damage to property. Some dogs scratch on doors and bite on other objects.
  3. Danger of bites to other tenants. You can never be sure. There are small kids in the apartment who run and play within the compound.

It wasn't too hard to advise him though to look somewhere else since we do have a "no pets" condition in our lease which I'm reproducing below:
"That the LESSEE shall not keep any pet (like cats, dogs, snakes and the like) without the written consent of the LESSOR;"


Paying for a Vacant Unit's Utilities

Maybe 5 years ago, I learned from a mistake and the hassle that went with it. I was asked by a tenant to come over to the apartment. We had a vacancy back then and has been vacant for quite a while. Upon reaching the apartment, we found the water meter of the vacant unit gone! Whoa! We later learned that the subdivision office confiscated the water meter since we've been remiss in paying for the vacancy's water bills for two months. Was the confiscation legal? I don't know. But it was certainly done to penalize our nonpayment. How did it come to this?

You see, the subdivision charges a monthly minimum amount for water - whether or not you consumed water. Yeah, bummer. The thing is, we do consume water in that vacancy, although minimally. Almost every week, we visit the apartment to water the small garden and therefore get water from the vacant unit. And we were always confident we could handle the monthly bills. Well, we didn't have problems with the amount. It's the frequency of paying that did us in. We would pay for 2 or 3 months at a time, because sometimes we'll be there on Sundays when there's no office. Honestly we didn't know the office would STILL go to that length of removing the meter even with a minimal amount. But hey, sh1t happens.

And so we had to pay for the re-installation fee to get the meter back. Lesson learned: be updated with your payments just as you expect your tenants to be updated with theirs.


Cigarette Butts on the Roof

Just recently we had some parts of the roof repaired at the apartment. Imagine my dismay when I learned from Dods, my handyman, that one of the units had cigarette butts on the roof of the toilet. The toilet is on the first floor and my hunch is that the butts were thrown from the unit's second floor bedroom window and landed on the toilet's roof. Well it's either that or the butts have been tossed upwards from the laundry area onto the roof - which is rather unlikely.

This angered me and told the occupant about it. Only the dad was there visiting and apparently he didn't know about the smoking that was going on! He promised to relay the info. I later texted the mother about the problem just to reiterate.

This problem has a couple of serious issues:
  1. Fire hazard. Smoking in the bedroom should be a definite no-no. Not a few fires started from a sleepy smoker forgetting a lighted cigarette.
  2. Drainage problem. When butts get down the storm drain, you could imagine the potential clogging.

If I still catch this habit, I'll give them the final warning. And then off they go, if I catch them the third time. That's a lot of leeway, in my opinion.


No Power at the Apartment

If you were a homeowner and you notice one day you turn the bulb switch and the light doesn't turn on. What do you do? Of course, you'd check first if there's no electricity or power. If there's none, you'd probably check if the neighborhood has no electricity. If there's none, you'd call the power company to report it. Maybe somebody else in the neighborhood has done it and that's okay. Your calling would serve as a followup to the power company nonetheless.

If you were a tenant, you may not be the property owner, but you'd still be the HOMEowner since the property is presently your HOME. When there's no power, do some investigation first. I may be the landlord or property manager, but I'm not a babysitter. Call the power company. Ask your neighbors, do some followups with the power company. The utility may be in my name, but it's you who's directly affected by the power interruption.

So as a landlord, what do you do when a tenant calls you and tells you there's no power at the apartment? You tell him to call the power company!

Ever had this problem of getting paint in the crevices of your fingers and fingernails and having too much difficulty getting it out? Of course after painting, you could always use paint thinner or some other solvents like WD-40. Soak a little into a rag and rub it on your fingers and fingernails. Or, you could simply wash it away with plain water!

The trick is initial preparation. Just before your painting job, get a few drops of some liquid hand soap. Liquid detergent is also okay. Rub thinly on your palms, back of the hands and wrists. Spread liberally in the crevices of your fingernails.

While letting the soap dry a little, you could do some other preparation work like stir the paint, lay newspapers for the paint drips, etc.

After painting, you might STILL need to use a little solvent, but your fingers and nails will be so much easier clean by simply washing with water.

A month ago, a tenant raised a concern about water trickling down the wall from the ceiling when it rains hard. One of my frustrations at the apartment is that some portions of the roof leak and I've no idea why. I've had a couple of workers do the roof (Bert and Gerry) at different times and apparently the problem persisted. I knew the vacancy at Unit D was the most affected.

Anyway, after the concern was aired, I asked Dods to put roof sealant (Shelby GutterSeal as he requested) on all the affected units. I asked the tenants to observe and monitor when it rains. Typhoon Feria came with heavy rains and after leaving, the tenants reported no problems. And so I asked Dods to come back, this time to fix the ceiling at Unit D that has long been unattended.

See how some parts of the ceiling plywood had rotted. It became brittle due to the constant rain-drenching and sun-drying.

Notice the watermarks left on the wooden spacers. A couple of these spacer have been waterlogged for some time. That orange thing is the plastic flexible pipe for the electrical wiring.

Dods added a thin piece of wood to splice the two waterlogged spacers before covering with a new panel of 1/4" thick marine plywood. And the new panel was repainted after that.

Fortunately, it was just one panel of the ceiling.


Browsing this Blog

From recent developments, I realized that this blog is best viewed using a browser OTHER than Internet Explorer Version 8. Version 8 is the latest version of IE (Internet Explorer) as of this writing. You will not receive any errors when using IE8 to view this blog but you will not see the blog displayed correctly. The blog's sidebars don't appear on the main page and the posts are incomplete when browsing with IE8.

I've used Mozilla Firefox and have never had problems with it thus far. There are other browsers like Apple Safari and Google Chrome which I haven't tried. But for now, I would strongly suggest to avoid using Internet Explorer when viewing this blog.

If you're unsure, shown below are the icons of the above mentioned browsers:


Easy Method to Store Used Paintbrushes

One of the maintenance activities for a landlord would invariably include some painting. The best way to store used paint brushes away is to clean them first. For brushes used in oil-based paints, you clean them with turpentine or paint thinner. For those used with latex paint, with water. If the paint job is just for a day or two, handymen would just dip the brushes in either water or paint thinner (whichever is appropriate) in between painting.

But there's one thing you can do to store away paint brushes without dipping them in solvents or water. Here's what to do:
  1. After painting, ensure the paint brush has little paint left on it.
  2. Wrap the paintbrush's bristles with a plastic sheet or insert the bristle end inside a small plastic bag. The plastic should be long enough to cover the handle's neck or that narrow portion of the handle near the metal ferrule.
  3. Tie the plastic sheet tightly around paintbrush's neck twist tie or a thin wire. The wrapped paintbrush should look like the one in the photo below.

  4. Put the wrapped paintbrush inside the refrigerator (yes, refrigerator!) where it's unlikely to be moved.
  5. Tell all that you have a paintbrush inside the ref so nobody mistakes it for a popsicle!

When you're ready to use the paintbrush, simply take it out the ref and it's good to go! Don't forget about it though if you need to defrost the ref.


Simple Way to Thwart a Burglar

If there's one thing that burglars and other malefactors don't want, it is CATCHING ATTENTION.

I had an incident at the apartment when the tenants discovered a burglary one morning. Some small appliance items were stolen in one of the units. One of the other tenants not burglarized said that in the middle of night before, she saw someone jumped over the front gate. This was around 1 to 2 am.

She didn't see the face because the guy wore a baseball cap. At first she thought it might have been one of the other tenants because of the guy's built. The guy, she assumed, probably just locked himself out.

But then it also crossed her mind that it might have been a burglar. She wanted to shout to catch the guy's attention. But the thought froze her. She was afraid that the burglar would recognize it's an old lady shouting, see her and somehow harm her. Not only that, being petrified, she probably wouldn't even have had the voice to shout in the first place.

And that gave me the thought of giving each of the tenants a whistle just like the one below.

Here are some advantages I can think of:
  1. It's cheap. A plastic sports whistle costs something like Php15 to Php30 depending on the size.

  2. It's handy. And with a lanyard, it can be hung just about anywhere. The bedroom would be a logical choice with the whistle by a table or hung at the closet or bedroom door.

  3. Anybody can use it. You only need a good strong breath to make it work. You hold it, put it in the mouth and blow.
  4. It's always ready to use. There are no batteries to charge and no switches to fumble just to turn it on. You can even operate it in the dark.

  5. It easily grabs ATTENTION. A purposeful and determined whistle sound is a standard attention getter. People recognize it as coming from authority: police, security guard, nightwatch, etc. and that typically stops them in their tracks. And hopefully for a burglar, would be enough to change his mind and scoot.

There you have it. A cheap and hopefully effective solution. Happy landlording!


DIY Apartment Maintenance

As a landlord or property manager, maintenance will ALWAYS be a priority for your property. And property maintenance has its headaches. To assess how hard or difficult maintenance can be, just multiply the number of potential headaches you will have for a unit and multiply that by the number of units. Some handyman tasks are fairly easy: patching up cracks, repainting window frames, replacing light switches, unclogging drains and so on.

So why do it yourself? The reason, is obvious – time and cost. Why pay a contractor big money to do a job you could do yourself, or find an inexpensive handyman to take care of, or even leave to the tenants? Doing it yourself will also save you stress from tenants if you can do the work quickly and efficiently.

  1. Does the idea of repairing something yourself turn you off?
  2. Afraid to get your hands soiled with grease, dirt and oil?
  3. Averse with power tools and other handyman tools?
Then hands-on apartment maintenance may not be for you. If you can't do this work yourself, then you’ll be better off finding a good handyman. A good handyman will go a long way towards apartment maintenance (and lesser headaches!).


Make Money While You Sleep

"Make Money While You Sleep". Hmmm, this might as well be the title of this blog, don't you think? Or, in the context of this blog, make money while you and the city sleeps. Sounds really tempting to say such. I mean, my friends and co-workers, typically say that I've got it all too easy and that I only wait until the end of the month and, presto, moolah! Well, yes and no, actually.

"Yes" because as in most other streams of passive income, income is derived from the service. And that's given by way of the shelter provided. And most of the time, since this is property rented out, there's hardly anything that needs to be done on a DAY-TO-DAY basis - in other words, no "daily operations" as what other businesss would have. What's passive income, anyway? Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

Passive income is a rent received on a regular basis, with little effort required to maintain it.

Some examples of passive income are:
  • Repeated regular income, earned by a sales person, generated from the payment of a product or service that must be renewed on a regular basis, in order to continue receiving its benefits - also called residual income.
  • Rental from property;
  • Royalties from publishing a book or from licensing a patent or other form of intellectual property;
  • Earnings from internet advertisement on your websites;
  • Earnings from a business that does not require direct involvement from the owner or merchant;
  • Dividend and interest income from owning securities, such as stocks and bonds, are usually referred to as portfolio income, which can be considered a form of passive income;
  • Pensions.

So, from the examples given, passive income isn't just rent. We're all familiar with interest and dividend income. We practically don't do anything there. But rental property? Nope, and that's why I say "yes and no" to my friends - that I just wait for the end of the month for income to come in. There's a slew of activities that need to be done. There's contract management, property maintenance (biggie here), rent management, business licenses and permits, and actually, so much more!


Very Long Hiatus

The last time I updated this blog was geez, a few years ago! Anyway, I'm now ready and raring to resume blogging. So, what's been keeping me away?
  1. Until recently, work, work and more work.

  2. Another thing that distracted me was my family's transition into our newly constructed house in December of last year. This meant packing, moving and finally settling in.

  3. Until recently, I had flaky internet connection at home. I had to wake up really early to get a sure connection and then it was a slow one too. Arrgh! Now, I have a more stable connection at home after the DSL was finally installed last March 13. This after repeated follow-ups to the phone company for 3 weeks.

Now that I'm more certain of the months ahead, I'm now more comfortable in my situation as a blogger. And with this the belief that I can give an (almost) undivided attention this blog deserves. So there you have it. The long hiatus is now over and it's now "back to your regular programming."