How to Make More Money with Your Rental Properties

landlord on phone explaing rug cleaning laws to a tenantOwning rental properties can be stressful. First, you have to create a livable space in which people will feel comfortable raising families, caring for pets, and having visitors. Then come the background checks and further headaches of collecting rent and filing your taxes properly. Fortunately, there are several things you can do that will help improve your relationship with your tenants and, therefore, make more money in the long run.

Properly maintain your properties.

A well-maintained rental property will not only please your tenants and keep them paying on time, but it will also reduce the amount of time and money you spend on repair costs and lawsuits down down the line.

  • New Tenants: Across the United States, a landlord is responsible for providing rental properties in habitable condition when a new tenant moves in. A habitable property is defined as a structurally sound home with adequate heating, water, electricity, and cleanliness.
  • Ongoing Repairs: Most states require you to maintain the same habitable condition for tenants that you provided upon their moving into the home. However, the maintenance of your tenant’s personal property is their responsibility. For example, you are required to keep any wall-to-wall carpeting in good, clean condition throughout the property, but the renter is responsible for their own area rug cleaning and replacement.
  • Tenant Safety: Landlords of rental properties are required to provide safe buildings and grounds for their tenants. They must comply with all state and local health and building codes for both the home and any outbuildings that exist on the property.

Build quality relationships.

As a landlord, you may be hoping to kick back and let the rent checks roll in, but without quality tenant relationships, you will end up spending all your time trying to find someone willing to write those checks.

  • Respond Promptly to Emergencies: Unique situations, such as broken heating, plumbing, gas, or electrical systems should be handled within 24 hours of receiving notice that there is a problem. It is also important to remember that you are not required to give prior notice to tenants when entering the home in an emergency.
  • Communicate Professionally: The best landlords keep in constant contact with their tenants. In many areas, you are required to give 24 to 48-hours notice before entering a tenant’s rented premises and doing so will lead those tenants to trust you and keep paying their rent. If your tenant prefers telephone communication to email then you should oblige them of this regardless of your preferences.
  • Don’t Break Promises: In addition to maintaining professional communication with your tenants, you will also want to be honest and keep your promises. For instance, if your tenant needs a repair made you should be upfront about the timeline and the processes involved in carrying out the needed repair.

It can be hard to find quality tenants that are willing to pay what your rental property is worth, but maintaining the both the home and the relationship with your customers will ensure your success as a landlord.

5 Tricks to Keeping Your Carpets Clean

Children playing with dog on carpetWith kids, pets, and the normal dirt and grime that goes with everyday life, your carpets can start looking the worse for wear. If you’re like a lot of folks, you’d prefer to have your carpets look as pristine as possible between professional cleanings. Here are some ways you can make that happen.

Vacuum Regularly

Carpet actually works like an air filter of sorts—it collects dirt and dust. If that dirt stays in the carpet long enough, it might get embedded and stay there. Good Housekeeping and other experts recommend vacuuming once a week and some even recommend vacuuming twice a week, particularly if there is heavy traffic. The very industrious take it even further and vacuum daily.

Your house may need more or less cleaning, depending on how many people and pets live in the house and how often dirt gets tracked onto the carpet. Just make sure you’re vacuuming heavy traffic areas regularly and vacuuming the entire house thoroughly once a month.

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda has many uses. It’s commonly used in refrigerators to absorb odors, but it can also be used to do the same for carpets and rugs. If you’d like to freshen up your carpets or get rid of a smell, sprinkle some baking soda on the carpet and let it set. Ideally, you should leave it there overnight to perform the task, but you can also get by with leaving it there for 15 minutes. Then, vacuum it up. This is a great solution to use after a smelly accident. It’s also a better option than commercial carpet powders, which can cause damage.

Treat Stains Right Away

The best time to clean up the ketchup, coffee, or other stain-causing substance is right away. Otherwise, the longer it’s left, the more it sets in and the harder it is to get it out. A conventional carpet spot cleaner usually does the trick. But there are also a number of homemade options you can try. (Note: It’s best to test a solution on an inconspicuous spot to make sure it won’t permanently discolor your carpet.)

Here’s a list of common household solutions you can try:

  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Shaving cream
  • Cornstarch
  • Baby wipes
  • Borax

Use Rugs and Runners

Rugs and runners serve more of a purpose than just looking pretty. You can place them in places where spills are more likely to occur. Small rugs are generally machine washable, which makes cleanup easier. Larger rugs will require cleanup much like carpets, but if you choose one with a colorful pattern, stains may be less noticeable. Some rugs are designed to hide stains and dirt.

Get Them Professionally Cleaned

Nothing beats a professional cleaning. Take it from the experts—carpet manufacturers recommend that carpets get cleaned professionally once a year in order for a carpet to last longer. Check carpet cleaning reviews to find the company that is going to do a great job for you.

It’s possible to maintain a clean-looking carpet, even with a busy household. Regular maintenance, combined with immediate stain cleanups and annual cleanings, will keep your carpet looking almost as good as new!

3 Steps to Caring for Your Carpet After Flood Damage

man-writing-carpet-cleaning-reviews-on-laptop-in-restored-homeLow elevation cities are especially prone to flooding from the overflow of tidal waters, as in the case of coastal areas, or the rapid accumulation of surface waters in other places. While there is little that can be done at the moment a flood occurs, homeowners can be prepared to restore their properties in a timely and cost-effective way. Below is a list of tips to getting your home’s carpets and flooring back to their original condition as quickly as possible.

1. Extract it.

Failure to quickly remove the moisture from your carpet and flooring after a flood can lead to costly renovations and cleaning costs in the future. By extracting the water from your carpet, you will avoid these high costs. First, it is important to quickly remove any furniture from the affected areas. Failure to do so can damage both the carpet and furniture. Experts agree that professional extraction is best.

Carpet cleaning companies will usually use a hot water extraction unit and perform what is commonly referred to as steam cleaning. These industrial vacuums are mounted on a truck or in a van thus increasing the power of the vacuum and resulting in faster drying times. Surf the web and read carpet cleaning reviews on sites such as Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau to find an expert near you.

2. Dry it.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to quickly and adequately dry carpet and cushioning material. To top it off, your wet flooring can mold easily and could lead to health problems for your family and visitors. The presence of mold can cause irritation of the nose, eyes, throat or lungs. In some, it even may trigger hay fever, asthma, or allergies.

To ensure timely drying times, it is best to begin by using professional quality drying fans, ideally within 24 hours. Then, even when you think your floors are dry, experts suggest continuing to use the fans 24-hours a day for at least one more week. Finally, the sub-floor may also need attention because they are likely to swell, cup, and buckle. Once the sub-floor has buckled, its costly replacement will be your only option for restoration.

3. Dispose of it.

Mold is not the only health hazard associated with flooding. Flooding can cause the disruption of water purification and sewage disposal systems causing contaminants to enter your home. Contaminants after a flood often include intestinal bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. Hepatitits A, typhoid, paratyphoid and tetanus may also be present.

If there is any possibility that your flooring may be contaminated, it is best to dispose of both the carpet and pad. This is mainly because contaminated materials need to be washed in 130 degrees for at least 10 minutes in order to disinfect them properly. Carpet and cushioning materials are highly absorbent materials and cannot be washed in these conditions. Be sure to dispose of contaminated flooring materials responsibly.

A flooded home does not mean certain doom for the carpeting in your home. With a little knowledge, fast action, and professional help, your carpets can easily be restored to their former glory after flooding occurs.

How To Decorate with Rugs

Entrance with curved staircase and luxury rug with chair.Rugs have been a staple throughout millennia. They’re used for practical reasons, such as coverage for heavy traffic areas and cold hardwood or tile floors, but they’re also used as signature pieces or decor enhancements. There’s a rug for every decorating style. All you need to do is find the one that fits yours.

Start with the Rug

If you’re decorating a new house (or giving your home a makeover) and you want to incorporate a signature rug, start with the rug. It’s how professional designers do it. If you wait to get the rug until after you’ve painted and decorated the walls, put up the curtains, bought the furniture, and selected patterned throw pillows, it’s going to be difficult to find a signature rug that ties it all together. It’s much easier to select the rug first and then design the rest of the room around it.

Choose the Right Shape and Size

It’s important to make sure that the rug corresponds with the furniture and room shapes—a round rug for a round table, a rectangular rug for a rectangular table or room, a round or hexagonal rug for a square table, a square or rectangular rug for a living room grouping, and so on. Ideally, all edges of an area rug should be at least 18 inches from the wall. For a dining room, the rug should be at least two feet larger than the table so that the back legs of the chairs can stay on the rug. In a bedroom, you can opt to have the entire bed and flanking nightstands, or just half of the bed, on a large area rug. Ideally, there should be enough rug around the bed to provide a soft landing space for your feet and show off some of the rug.

Place the Furniture Correctly

Designers often recommend placing the front two legs of a chair or sofa on a rug. However, if you’re using the rug to set off a certain area of the room, you can place the entire seating arrangement on it (with all furniture legs on the rug). You can also opt for a small rug in the center of your furniture. In this case, you will want to select a rug that is a similar length as your couch and keep all of your furniture close to the rug. Just make sure the room doesn’t look unbalanced or cluttered.

Use a Rug Pad

Rugs can slip and slide, and rug tape can ruin the floor below it. So invest in a solid rug pad to stabilize your area rug and prevent accidents. Your husband, kids, and pets will appreciate the foresight.

Dress Up a Dull Room

Normally, we think of rugs covering hardwood, tile, or laminate floors, but rugs can also be used to dress up carpets and create layers on top of larger rugs. This is a great trick when you want to save a little on that expensive Persian rug (smaller sizes cost less) or when you don’t want to commit to strong patterns or bold colors on your walls or floors, but you still want color and personality in the room.

Get a Bargain

Shop sites like eBay, Etsy, Overstock, and RugsUSA to find incredible deals on rugs and interesting patterns and designs in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Flea markets and thrift stores are also great places to spot unique and interesting bargain rugs. And of course, there are department stores like Target and Ross that offer some delightful rug options.

Keep It Clean

Rugs are not only a great decorating piece, but it’s important to keep them clean too. A noticeably dirty rug ruins its effect. Throughout the year, you can vacuum most rugs to remove dirt and spot-clean noticeable stains. Some rugs (smaller ones) can even be thrown in the washer. For larger rugs, an annual professional rug cleaning will do the trick.

Rugs are versatile decorating pieces, and every home should have a few of them. They make it easy to create warmth, personality, unity in a room, or even a conversation piece.

How to Clean & Protect Your DIY Area Rugs

little girl cleaning area rug in bedroomThe do-it-yourself revolution has led to an uptick in homemade area rugs. A Google search will reveal pages upon pages of projects that save homeowners money on what was once considered an expensive luxury item. However, creating your own area rug is only the first step. Once you are finished you will need to keep that DIY project clean while also protecting it from damage. Keeping your new area rug in good condition will depend largely on what material you used in its construction.

1. Burlap

A fun and easy project for caffeine addicts is the burlap coffee bag rug. The main tip to protecting your favorite burlap sack is to use it in areas of low humidity and moisture because it will mold easily. Gentle hand washing in cold water is preferred in order to keep it from fraying. Stains should be blotted, not scrubbed, and burlap should be dried flat.

2. Cotton

Those traditional braided rugs are usually made from clothing remnants. Those made from 100 percent cotton can be washed as usual in a normal, warm water cycle and tumble-dried on low. However, those made with cotton blends may require a different approach so be sure to check the garment labels before starting your project.

3. Canvas

Most people would love to have a zebra-skin area rug in their home, but have no desire to use a real skin. Therefore, the latest DIY projects include the use of canvas painted with zebra stripes. For best results, a simple wipe down with soap and water is sufficient, but be sure to keep the rug flat to avoid warping while drying. Also, priming the canvas with gesso before starting your project will make your future area rug cleaning efforts easier.

4. Cork

Cork mats are easiest to keep clean if you can spot clean them regularly. For more difficult marks you can use sandpaper to scrub the area and then blow off cork dust and wash with warm soapy water. Be mindful to dry cork thoroughly as these mats will easily grow mildew if left damp. This is especially true when storing the mats between uses.

5. Felt

The colors used in traditional wool felt are likely to bleed if not washed properly and should only be hand washed in cold water and laid flat to dry. Newer felts, such as those made from recycled plastics can be machine washed, but most crafters still recommend that you avoid using the dryer.

6. Paint

If you have created a painted rug, such as the aforementioned zebra-skin, the paint itself will require a different process of cleaning than the canvas on which it exists. First, you should dust the surface well before cleaning. New spots can usually be cleaned with plain water or you can use a mild soap solution in circular motions with a barely damp sponge or cloth for more resistant stains. Then be sure to rinse the area with plain water and dry it thoroughly with a towel.

7. Remnants

Carpeting made from polypropylene and other synthetics, including nylon and polyester, are quite stain resistant and easy to spot clean. If you vacuum these rugs often, they are less likely to need deep cleaning. Depending on the severity of the stain, you can use warm water, a mild soap lather, or vinegar solution. Just be sure to blot – not rub – spots to get them clean.

8. Rope

The nautical-themed, twisted nylon rope rugs look amazing in bathrooms and kitchens. For effective maintenance, use a mesh bag in the washing machine with cold water. Woolite is usually sufficient for light cleaning or you can use regular detergent for dirtier mats. The rope’s softness can be revitalized by simply placing it in a bucket with fabric softener overnight, and then rinsing it clean before hanging it out to dry.

Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Keeping your area rugs clean is easy to do as long as you do it in such a way that will not damage your project. However, it is highly recommended that larger area rugs are professionally cleaned at least once a year.

The Right Materials Make Area Rug Cleaning Easier

Cute Labrador dog on gray carpet, closeupShopping for a new area rug can be overwhelming for most homeowners. There are so many materials, colors, and designs, so how do you choose? Of course, finding the appropriate shape and size is easy, but they are available in every conceivable material. You may have active, outdoorsy children that drag dirt and mud through your home. Or you may need extra water-resistance for placement in your kitchen. The following is a quick breakdown of the easiest to clean, and keep clean, area rugs on the market.

What it’s made of.

Not all rugs are created equally and their price does not have much effect on the cleanliness of carpeting. For example, wool rugs offer a natural, insulating feel that repels water stains, but these are also some of the most expensive rugs on the market. On the other hand, a polypropylene flatweave rug is a less expensive option that is just as easy to keep clean. The nature of this manmade material makes it stain resistant and easy to spot clean. Also, dirt cannot penetrate the tight weave and vacuums can easily pass over the surface because there is no resistance from the pile.

Other synthetic materials such as nylon, acrylic, and polyester are usually preferred over wool for use in long shag carpeting because they will not shed or mat together. They colors are also less likely to fade over time. However, seagrass is a very pliable material made from natural plant fibers that will not retain watermarks when cleaned and is considered the best option for layering. Likewise, genuine leather is not only soft and durable, but also stain-resistant and easy to clean. Just be sure to avoid placing leather rugs in damp or humid rooms in order to maintain their texture.

What it looks like.

Homeowners will often find that available designs are just as varied as the materials, but there are some things that can affect the cleanliness and durability of area rugs. To begin with, a busy design will hide dirt and appear to look better longer. This is a benefit for busy households because they require professional area rug cleaning less often than simple patterns and solid colors. Another good choice is a rug created with a multilevel loop pile. This weave offers the most versatility in design and pattern and is considered extremely durable.

Pile length is another consideration to be made when purchasing a new rug for your home. A rug’s pile is formed by rows of knots and carries the visible color, design, and pattern. A longer pile will require more work to keep clean than say, a cut pile twist. This weave construction is ideal for high foot traffic as it is very durable and maintains its finish well. Berber loop-pile is easy enough to keep clean, but this weave type will fray and develop a fuzzy appearance if a rotary vacuum brush is used so experts recommend using a suction-only machine. Adversely, cotton rugs attract dirt and are usually best in small sizes because they are more easily machine washed than their larger counterparts.

Being informed is the first step to making the right choices when looking to purchase a new area rug for your home. You wouldn’t want to spend more to keep a rug clean than you did to buy it in the first place. Just sure to examine the material and weave used in its construction in order to properly gauge the amount of time and money you’ll be spending to keep it looking like new.

Buying Carpet? Here’s a Quick Guide to Your Carpet Choices

Carpet rollsCarpets come in a myriad of colors and styles. When you’re choosing a new carpet, the choices can be overwhelming. This quick guide will help you identify which type of carpet you prefer for each room.

Berber

This is a loop-pile carpet, meaning that the carpet pile has no exposed tips. The loops are tightly weaved, which leads to some attractive features—stains have a tougher time settling in and vacuum cleaners don’t leave marks. Because of its durable and stain-resistant nature, this is a carpet style most frequently seen in high-traffic areas, such as offices, schools, patios, foyers, staircases, and hallways. Berber carpets, however, don’t mix well with pet claws. Make sure your pet’s claws are trimmed or removed!

Frieze

Frieze is a common carpet style in homes. It’s the modern interpretation of the old shag carpet style of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Frieze has long, loose fibers with a high twist, which hide dirt very well. This makes it very attractive to busy homeowners. It’s also soft and comfortable, as well as long-lasting. As a well-rounded carpet style, it can be installed in almost any room.

Plush

A plush carpet is luxurious. Some also refer to it as a velvet carpet, so named for its velvet-like appearance. If you’re into having an extra-soft carpet to sink your feet into or an elegant look for a more formal room, then you might want to splurge on a plush carpet. This carpet is a favorite for master bedrooms and formal living rooms, or even formal dining rooms, since it has a tendency to show stains, vacuum cleaner marks, and footprints.

Shag

If you want a room to have a retro look or you just want a contemporary floor covering that shows a little personality, the shag carpet might be just the thing for you. The pile in this carpet is so long it can’t stand upright—hence it’s name. Shag carpets come in all colors these days and have a reputation for being soft, cozy, and luxurious while managing to look sophisticated. Be aware, though, that all of these amazing features come with a caveat: the long fibers can get caught in the vacuum cleaner. You can avoid this by setting the vacuum height to high and scheduling a professional carpet cleaning periodically.

Choosing a new carpet is a fun experience—you’re getting a new look and a new carpet that is unsullied by stains, worn areas, pet dander, and dirt. Choose the style and colors that fit your personality and lifestyle.

Top 4 Websites for Carpet Cleaning Reviews

beautiful asian woman using laptop computerWith fake news stories permeating our online society it can be difficult to believe anything you read on the internet. Luckily, there are several reputable business review sites that do their best to reduce the biased opinions sometimes posted by companies and their competitors. They also protect consumers from disreputable online business practices.

Businesses have limited control.

Since being founded in 2004, Yelp.com customers have written more than 115 million reviews. These “yelpers” write about everything from hotels and restaurants to contractors and carpet cleaning reviews. Business owners are able to post images and message customers, but Yelp does not allow them to change or reorder the reviews written about their company.

They perform background checks.

The most reputable review sites vett businesses and perform background checks to ensure they are qualified to get the job done right and safe enough to allow entry to private residences. Websites such as Porch.com and Angie’s List pride themselves on connecting customers with reliable and reputable, local businesses.

Customers are protected from lawsuits.

California’s Assembly Bill 2365, the Yelp Bill, would prohibit businesses from enforcing clauses in contracts that prevent customers from publicly sharing their experiences with a business. The bill will make it unlawful for businesses to threaten or penalize customers for making negative statements.

Review sites warn customers.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) “Scam Tracker” allows customers to inform the BBB of illegal or fraudulent business practices. In turn, the BBB will investigate and warn others of these disreputable businesses. Likewise, Yelp’s  “Consumer Alert” warns visitors if a business has issued legal threats against the writers of negative reviews.

“Before Angie’s List, selecting a service provider was like throwing darts blindfolded,” Nancy of St. Paul, Minnesota says in her review. This was more than true before the days of home computer and internet usage. Customers had only word-of-mouth recommendations and their local Better Business Bureau when looking for quality home service professionals. Fortunately, today’s customers are given a wealth of reliable information and reviews from others on the aforementioned review sites that are available.

Have you found any reputable business review sites not mentioned here?

How To Install Tile in Your Bathroom

New Tiled BathroomSo you’ve decided your bathroom needs a makeover? Tiling your bathroom is the first step. Maybe you have a vinyl or hardwood floor that’s not appealing anymore, or you just want a change in appearance. By following the steps below, you should be able to tile your bathroom in no time.

Determine What You Need

Determine what you’ll need in regards to how much tile, grout, and underlayment you’ll need before starting to lay tile. Measuring the dimensions with a tape measure will allow you to get the correct amount of tile from the start and eliminate possible mismatched tiles later on.

Get Underlayment Ready to Install

It’s best to use cement board when installing your underlayment to allow for an even surface when laying your tile. Be sure to cut holes that allow for the toilet and other accommodations to fit comfortably. Drill into the underlayment and space screws six inches apart for the best results. Go here for more help with installing your underlayment.

Lay the Tile Out

Lay contrasting tiles along the edges first before laying out the rest of the tile. Try to organize the tiles in a way that ensures the maximum amount of whole tiles are used and that you minimize the appearance of any tiles you may have to cut. Use dividers to keep the tiles distributed evenly.

Apply the Thinset Mortar and Lay the Tile

Apply a thin layer of mortar on the underlayment with a notched trowel. Start laying the tile in their designated positions a few at a time with spacers to keep everything aligned. When all of the tile has been laid, allow for the mortar to dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding to the next step.

Apply Grout

When the mortar has dried, mix your grout, remove the spacers, and fill the area in between the tile with grout. After all the grout has been spread, use a sponge to wipe off any access grout on the tile. Be extremely thorough when wiping down excess grout as grout left over can cause a hazy appearance on the tile that’s difficult to remove later on. After 24 hours, spray on grout sealer to keep it protected. For more information, visit this site about applying grout to your tile.

After your tile has been laid, visit our site for more information regarding tile and grout cleaning.

How to Avoid Common Carpet Cleaning Pitfalls

Vacuuming very dirty carpetToday, most homeowners insist on professional services to avoid the problems that result from using the improper procedures. While DIY carpet cleansing does not void your warranty, experts can help you to avoid the common pitfalls and increase the longevity of your carpet. The development of toxic mold and mildew is one of the most common problems that homeowners encounter. The excessive use of detergents, as well as moisture damage, can affect the integrity of your carpet. Take advantage of the following tips if you are looking to get value for your money for decades:

Hot Water Extraction

Hot water extraction is one of the most popular carpet cleaning methods for a wide array of homeowners. While there are plenty of hot water extraction units in the market, homeowners should avoid the temptation to cut corners through the DIY methods. Even with a hot water extraction unit, the results will depend on the detergents you use and the amount of dirt on the carpet. If you have some stubborn stains, or some oily patches that generate grime, you require the assistance of a competent carpet cleaning company. Also, you do not want to remove the bristles and fibers in the process. A carpet cleaning company relies on high-quality detergents that dissolve the dirt quickly. With a pressurized pump, you can remove the stubborn stains while keeping the fibers intact. Avoid leaving the detergent on the carpet for lengthy periods. If the goal is to keep the carpet looking neat and tidy, allow the soap to soak for 6-7 minutes before rinsing. It is critical to clean the carpet in a dirt-free environment to avoid soiling.

Dry Powder Cleaning

Dry powder cleaning is also becoming increasingly prevalent in a vast array of homes. This technique takes advantage of the organic materials and powders. These powders are made of saturated dry solvents and detergents. Avoiding a prolonged duration of wetness is one of the reasons why professionals use this method. Wetness can encourage the development of mildew or toxic molds. Once you apply the powder, be sure to use a vacuum cleaner to agitate the fibers and eliminate the dirt. While using this method, you do not need a lot of water. Once your carpet is clean and tidy, you can use a rug drier to reduce the moisture content and allow your carpet to dry faster.

Avoid Cutting Corners

A dusty rug can expose your family to many respiratory diseases. In addition to the health problems, a dirty carpet can make your living room uncomfortable for your family and guests. However, having a sparkling carpet in your home offers a host of health benefits. By cleaning the carpet properly, you can prolong its lifespan significantly. If you cut corners when deciding on the right carpet cleaning regimen, you will have to replace it sooner than later.

You want your living room to look cozy. A professional carpet cleaning company will not only eliminate the dust with a vacuum cleaner but will also keep the harmful allergens at bay. Bugs, beetles, and other pests thrive in a dirty carpet, and a thorough cleansing exercise will eliminate these pests while keeping your house odor-free.