A water leak from your toilet can be trouble, for both the property owner and the tenant. It is something that if left unattended, can become costly and very inconvenient at the same time. It’s important to know that most tenants are responsible for the water bill according to what is stablished on their lease. Also, depending on the situation, if a water leak occurs, tenants might also end up becoming responsible for the extra water usage that goes over the standard bill in the case of a non-reported leak. This extra amount can ascend to hundreds and even thousands of dollars, depending on how bad the leak is.
So, in order to help you prevent having to deal with a billzilla attack, I’d like to give you a few short tips you can use to detect and handle a water leak from your toilet.
We hope this helps for you to be able to better manage your toilet and issues that arise in regard to a leak coming from it. Remember, the more you pay mind to these type of things, the less likely you run the risk of incurring any extra expenses or inconveniences that come along with them.
Hard work is a good thing! But it is not enough for us to develop as much as we are able to. How many times have we seen somebody clocking hours of work along with overtime in order to rise quickly through the ranks and acquire better opportunities within a company. They typically get promoted quickly and then plateau and stop advancing.
This is a common occurrence, and it’s fueled by the misconception that working as hard as you can, as long as you can, will yield the most results in your life. This is wrong. Hard work is not enough. And sometimes, it could even become detrimental. Some people even become workaholics based on this concept, and it completely wrecks every single aspect of their life – at times this yield results at work, but more often than not, it will just mess your life up.
Part of the issue is that much of what you need to be successful lies outside of you and in your ability to make those around you be empowered to create their own success. If you focus is on your own work you may not be able to see how what you are doing is effecting the net productivity of the company or team you are working with in.
A balance needs to exist. People should give themselves time to rest, time to experience life outside work. Time to grow. When you take your time to do these things, you will start developing more as an individual, you will sleep better, you will think better, and you will allow yourself the time to evaluate your life from a perspective than will procure your growth both inside and outside your job. It is a choice that only you can make, and it will in return lead you to better decision making at work, to more creativity, and to bring a positive energy back with you into your workplace. When exchanging these new assets with your colleagues you will notice how things will start flowing differently, and they will flow in favor of those things you want to accomplish.
So, remember, overworking yourself will definitely not help you be more successful, at least in the long run. Overgrowing yourself will!
Today I’d like to share a little bit about the main idea within a book we recently read as a company at RTS. It’s called The One Thing. It’s a fun read, and it’s pretty simple.
First let’s talk a little bit about multi-tasking. Usually people believe that they are “good” at multi-tasking and implement that into their daily lives. This might be true for minor tasks at home and things like that but, if you truly want to excel at what you do, multi-tasking is a no go. If we think about it in a completely rational way, the only way we can be the most efficient and effective at a certain activity is to place our complete focus on that one thing while we do it, otherwise, we’re just doing two things at the same time at a mediocre level.
Once we’re get past this desire to multi-task, and once we’ve accepted the fact that we are not gods capable of doing everything perfectly at the same time, we are presented with the question:
What is that ONE thing that we can do that will make other things in our life will be obsolete, unnecessary, or easier?
This simple question asked about everything in our life has a way of focusing our priorities and sky rocketing our effectiveness. When we can really just relax and focus on the most important thing we can sky rocket our effectiveness and get the important things done first and then at the end of the day we can relax and have fun and not worry about all the important things we never got to.
Here are some example one thing questions:
Posing this question to ourselves, will not only improve our effectiveness in the one thing that we choose to focus on, but will also prevent us from getting drained by doing more unnecessary activities, or by doing certain activities in a more difficult way than we should. It’s something to keep in mind, and I believe it is part of what marks the difference between a successful person and somebody that is not.
At the start of the day, ask yourself, what is the one thing? Then just keep asking yourself the same question during the rest of the day, until you start filtering out everything you don’t need in a probably already very busy life
Have you ever had a really stressed out or extremely busy period of time in your life that wreaks havoc in your sleep habits? This usually comes in the form of big changes in your line of work, or just a larger-than-usual workload. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur, and you’ve been having ideas coming in and out your head for several days now, in order to expand your business in some sort of way. Maybe you’re just plain stressed due to the accumulation of several totally different factors. This type of occurrence can seriously affect your sleep habits, by making your brain work more than it should, at times that it shouldn’t be working – thus keeping you from getting a proper night’s rest, which in return can seriously affect your health.
So, even if we can offer you peace of mind in regards to your property, it’ll never be true peace for you if you can’t have a good sleep due to other reasons. Because of this, I’d like to offer you some general ideas that you could find useful in order to get your rest back.
1.- Know your cycles
By know your cycles I mean you need to understand your circadian rhythms and what they are. So what is your circadian rhythm? It is normally a 24 hour rhythm in your body that involves your body changing temperature up and down. As your body temperature is in the act of rising you will feel alert. As your body temperature is in the act of falling you will feel sleep. If you body temparature flat lines as is the case with many shift workers you will fill numb and lifeless… neither alert nor sleepy. Most of your bodies processes sync up with your circadian rhythm so when you understand what it is you can change this and thus change many processes including sleep as well as day time alertness. Drugs and chemicals that cause you to be more or less sleepy effect your circadian rhythms however the biggest modulator of your circadian rhythm is the kinds of light you experience at different times of your 24 hour cycle. More on that later.
A healthy circadian rhythm involves your lowest body temperature at about 9 AM in the morning. Temperature will slowly rise during the day with a slight dip in body temperature around noon and then continued rising temperature till 9 PM when it peaks. Then as temperature falls during the night you will be more sleepy with a reverse dip at midnight where you might wake up and then continued falling body temperature until 9 AM in the morning again.
2.- Shower hack!
A part of your hypothalamus controls your circadian rhythm, and other factors like levels of lightness and darkness can affect it. At the same time, your body temperature goes up and down one or two degrees during 24 hours in concordance to your cycle. Now that we know this, one way to get your rhythm back into control is by manipulating your body temperature. One very useful hack is either getting a cold shower or hot shower right before you go to sleep. This change in temperature will cause a resetting effect on your body temperature cycle (circadian rhythm) and will get it mostly back in sync with the cycle it should be following, getting you ready to sleep.
3.- Lighting control
As we said before, your cycle can be affected by light and darkness. Certain frequencies of light can seriously mess up your melatonin production. Melatonin is basically the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness in our body. Mainly this light will affect the body if perceived by your eyes, but also to some extent by your skin. If the production of this hormone is stopped or partially impaired, your body won’t be able to get ready for sleep. An example of these types of light frequency is blue light. As technology keeps advancing, we have surrounded ourselves with so many sources of blue light it’s ridiculous, especially during the evening.
One thing we can do to regulate the amount of blue light intake, is the use of special glasses that filter different amounts of that specific type of light. You can find these online as orange or red glasses, depending on the amount filtered, and you need to start wearing them about four hours before climbing in bed.
You can get blue light filter apps for your phone and your computer for late night use.
You can also get light bulbs that do not emit blue light.
In the morning it is helpful to get 30 minutes of unfiltered (unfiltered through a window or glass) sunlight even in the winter. Also doing this mid day will give you a nice boost and help your productivity as well as your sleep later at night. If you can’t get outside in the morning a 1000 watt halogen trouble light with the protective glass removed will help more than coffee to get you all woken up.
4.- Easy on the caffeine!
We are all familiar with the ritual most people have in regard to drinking a cup of coffee in the morning right before they start their day. This is not bad, and it actually brings to the table a whole series of benefits like antioxidants, increased focus, warding off depression, etc. These effects are probably something you’ve heard or read before somewhere – but the thing is, caffeine consumption is something that should be monitored closely depending on the person we’re talking about.
As a rule of thumb, if you have sleep issues you should never have a cup of coffee or any other caffeinated drink after 10:00 am – 12:00 pm depending on how bad the problem is.
Caffeine has a half life of 5 hours which mean that every 4 to 5 hours you will have half the caffeine you previously had in your blood stream. So if you have any sleep issues avoid any caffeine and learn how to be alert with out it. It may be rough at first but you will feel better in the long run.
5.- Mental stimuli
An exciting movie, a difficult argument unresloved or a nagging problem from earlier on the day?
Any of these things can add additional adrenaline into your blood stream and make it nearly impossible to sleep.
Substitute media with a time to journal, read a calming or boring book, meditate or pray.
6.- Sunlight and Walking
A couple other things you can do to help you regulate your health positively (including your sleep) is to simply go out for a walk for about 30-45 minutes per day. A moderate amount of sunlight and exercise is terrific when it comes to taking care of your body and regulating the systems in it. Remember, walking is not for wimps – it’s for smart people. It helps you think, focus, and just take a breather from whatever is going on at the moment. Try it, and you’ll notice changes like I did.
Maybe you’ve heard about this movement, maybe you haven’t. I find it pretty interesting. It basically seeks the improvement of human health through our reconnection with the planet. We’re talking about a physical and energy-based reconnection, getting in touch with the earth’s natural materials directly and “rewiring” ourselves with the planet’s natural energy flows. This movement is all about letting this planet energy to run directly into our bodies, producing all sorts of improvements in our health, by regulating certain frequencies of energy and cleansing our bodies off a whole different set of frequencies we’re constantly being bombarded by. This has also a huge impact in our sleep habits. Just google “Earthing” and you’ll find lots of useful information on the movement if you’re interested.
8.- Stress managing
Stress is one of the main causes for anxiety issues and sleep deprivation, and it comes from several different sources, but it is also one of the easier ones to control if we give ourselves the time. Along with the aforementioned 30-minute walks, we can do several different things in order to combat stress, most of these things are really small but when added up, really make a difference. Some small things you can use in order to regulate your stress levels are: weekly massages, a light and sound machine, therapeutically electromagnetic devices (special mattresses for example), music, warm compresses around your neck, moderate physical activity, or simply laughing at a joke or show. Try any combination of these that you are able to incorporate into your weekly schedule, and even if it’s just a couple times for a few minutes, it will definitely help reduce your stress and increase the quality of your sleep.
9.- Sleep apnea alternative
Many of us have suffered from sleep apnea and the negative effects this brings along with it. This is something that I was diagnosed with myself after struggling with sleep for years. Many of us have gone through the process of incorporating a CPAP machine into our lives with the sole purpose of correcting this. It works for many people, and it’s not that good for others. From a personal standpoint I’m not too keen on prolonged CPAP machine use, since it’s an external device, practically forcing you to breathe correctly, and I think something that is manipulating your body into working well can’t be ideal in the long run (though better than long term effects of sleep deprivation).
I’d like to suggest a different alternative known as the Buteyko Breathing Technique. This is basically a form of alternative physical therapy, used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma. This method is based on the assumption that numerous medical conditions, including asthma, are caused by chronically increased respiratory rate or hyperventilation, and it offers a series of breathing exercises, designed to gradually correct these issues, some of which have helped me personally correcti sleep apnea. In my opinion, it’s something natural and worthy to look into if you’d prefer an alternative to a CPAP machine.
10.- Don’t mess up your sleep cycles on purpose!
This last bit of information sounds kind of obvious and redundant after everything we’ve gone through in this article but hear me out.
There’s a movement related to polyphonic sleep methods; this method seeks to split your usual long sleep sessions into several smaller ones during the course of 24 hours, getting down to 3-hour sleep total in a 24 hour period. At first, I thought of this as a very interesting and worthy idea, but after trying some of these as well as finding others who also had tried them it’s rare to find anyone is able to maintain them long term and most who tried them found them to be terrible for their health and productivity. You can find some people who barely sleep and can maintain high productivity but generally you will see these same people have some serious health issues down the line. Sleep research is pretty clear that even if you think you are getting away with less sleep, you almost always get enough reduced productivity to not make the gain in extra wake time worth it, not to mention the potential health issues that can happen due to chronic sleep deprivations.
When onboarding an owner as well as after serving an owner we periodically evaluate whether we are actually a good fit for you as a property management company or not. It’s important that we do this in order to make sure you as a client or potential client are best served.
Here is what we look for as we partner with you to manage your property:
1) BUSINESS MINDSET – An ideal client for us would be somebody that possesses a business mindset; or at least somebody who can partially adopt this mindset. By business mindset I mean being able to cope with the inherent risks and stress that comes along with owning a business. We are aware that lots of clients don’t begin with this mindset, maybe because of the circumstances in which they obtained their property (maybe a relative left it for them or they weren’t able to sell a vacant home); but at least a partial paradigm shift must be attained if you are to own a business of any type. The property investment environment is full of things you can’t control – people breaking promises, economy changes, tax law changes- so even if we deliver peace of mind for you today, if you can’t stop worrying about what might happen tomorrow and if this affects you negatively, you might not be a good fit for this type of business. Also as part of a business mind set you need to see your rental property as an business that requires capital investment in order to grow it and keep it up.
2) AFFORD PROPERTY AND MANAGEMENT COSTS – Another characteristic that would be a good fit for us is somebody who needs property management services and can afford the expenses that come with maintaining a property. A person without any knowledge of property management and investment properties would definitely need our services. But, there are also people that, even if they have the knowledge and experience related to property management (collections, dealing with tenants, going to court, etc), still come to us looking for our services, maybe because they are professionals who lack the time to do it themselves, or maybe because it’s just comfortable for their lifestyle. It’s really important to also keep in mind that after all of the initial expenses of actually acquiring a property, certain maintenance expenses will come into play eventually. Some things need to be fixed and given regular touch-ups if you are to attract good tenants and keep the property profitable. And remember our priority will always be to give you peace of mind as an owner, but we also have families to support, so we need clients that are not only willing, but also able to pay for our services.
3) AREA – If you own a property in a C-, D or F areas we will likely not be willing to manage it. This is because for us our ability to work for you is tied in with our profitability as a company. Our largest expense is labor. We did a time study and found that low end property will have 20 times the amount of service calls and inquiries as a high end property per unit which also means our labor costs multiply by that factor as well. Considering that this is our number one expense we simply can not afford to manage properties that have 20 times expense while also likely making less income. Frankly you as a client won’t enjoy the reduced service we would have to provide to survive under those circumstances. This is one reason why offer a flat rate management fee module because we want to incentivize those people with higher end, higher rent properties to work with us.
4) YOUR SYSTEM NOT OURS – Another big N.O. for us is when a prospective client that already has a managing system in place (maybe because of their experience or other circumstances) wants to use our services but this person wants us to follow the system already in place. We have our own systems, and they are the foundation of how we are able to deliver a quality service and offer the rates we are able to offer while being profitable. We improve on these systems continuously, and having to adopt a second set of systems, on top of ours will only diminish our efficiency, and double the time we need to get things done for you. Along the same lines if you have your own maintenance we may be able to work with you but if we have issues with your maintenance we will typically have to either take it over ourselves or give you notice as a client.
5) WILLING AND ABLE TO MAINTAIN PROPERTY – I already alluded to this but if a property is not maintained it attracts bad tenants or none at all. Then the bad tenants do more damage and you find yourself in a downward spiral with your valuable investment. Come hell or high water you need to maintain your investments at a high level to see the highest return and sometimes that means acknowledging your return adjusted for maintenance might be lower than you expected in the short term.
All these items boil down to our desire to accomplish our goal as a property management company provide you with peace of mind as an owner. If a factor exists that we think might get in the way of that it’s better for both parties to not do business with each other rather than settle for less than optimal results for all parties.
A question that is commonly presented to us is whether a landlord should work with a property manager that also sells properties, or one that only specializes in property management. Here in Ohio, to become a property management company you’re required to be a real estate brokerage. Unless you’re planning on breaking the law, a property manager needs to be a licensed broker, or there at least need to be a licensed agent working under the oversight of a licensed broker and in the name of a licensed broker.
At Realty Trust Services, LLC, we have both licensed and unlicensed individuals. We have people that exclusively do administrative work that don’t need a license. Still, our goal is to get as many people licensed as possible; this goes in hand with our belief that the more licensed and fully prepared people we have in the company, the more it elevates the company as a whole – as well as the level of service and professionalism we are able to provide.
There’s a world of difference between a brokerage that takes care of property management and one that sells properties. The amount of administrative work, taking care of maintenance, leases, tenants… this is a huge burden that falls on the company that focuses on property management, and it requires a long-term customer service-oriented mindset, in contrast to a sale-by-sale oriented mindset that focuses mainly on completing a transaction that is usually associated with a sales focused brokerage.
With all this information on the table, we would normally suggest that a property manager specialized in your needs (either sales or management) is what you should be aiming for. Instead of one that try to take care of both tasks equally. Nevertheless, at Realty Trust Services, LLC we do have members of our team that are specialized in property sales, with years of experience under their sleeve.
In the end it’s your choice when it comes to which type of property manager you want, and it will probably depend on your specific needs as well, but we sure hope this information is useful at the time you make that decision.
A property management company is like a clockwork machine. If a gear or a cogwheel malfunction or become damaged, the whole system is affected on different levels. So, continuous maintenance is required. I’d like to talk briefly about one of the tools we’ve implemented in order to maintain and improve our quality of service, as well as boost our efficiency as a whole.
We call this self-improvement system the Lean Process Spreadsheet. And it is what it sounds like, it’s a huge spreadsheet, filled with a list of all of the issues related to bad service, errors or things that are just not working. The team has access to this spreadsheet, and they can add details pertaining the things that need improvement, follow up, and full fixes for them. In a similar way, once a solution for a problem is offered, the team is able to offer feedback on this, make additional adjustments or simply give a kudos to whoever fixed the problem. We based this method off a book we read, “2 Second Lean”, and we’ve found it very useful and efficient for scoping our set of processes and finding small things that need improvement.
This is just one way of maintaining a good level of service to our clients, and keep ourselves as productive as possible, but we believe that both in and out of work it’s always important to take a look at the big picture: whenever you fix or improve something -no matter how small or insignificant you might think it is, it will always find a way to somehow improve something larger than itself in the long run.
So, remember… little things matter.
Whether it is nesting mice, pesky bed bugs, or gnawing termites, pests are unfortunately a frequent headache to property owners. On one hand, professional extermination can be pricey, and in certain situations, there can be health concerns depending on the chemicals used and the level of care used by those doing the extermination process. However, in many circumstances, if you don’t get professional help in order to exterminate a pest problem, you can put your tenant’s health at risk as well as cause damage to your property.
But who should be addressing a pest issue? The landlord? The tenant? The answer to that question varies. When a call comes in for pests, we encourage your tenant to handle the issue themselves using easy to find, affordable over the counter pesticides. If the tenant can prove there is an infestation (defined as “to inhabit or overrun in numbers or quantities large enough to be harmful or threatening”), then the landlord will need to send out professional services. We normally ask for pictures to prove there is an infestation.
Any boring insects, such as termites, need to be handled right away as it’s damaging to the property. If it’s clearly not the tenants fault, you as owner would be liable. Bed bugs, however, are usually something that is brought by the tenants. We suggest you have them take care of it themselves. However, be aware that the tenants can call a city health inspector and they can make the landlord pay for a bed bug infestation.
The responsibility of pest extermination for multi-family properties often falls on the landlord because it can be hard to prove which one of the tenants caused the situation. On either case, it is important to keep an open channel of communication between landlord, tenant, and ourselves in order to get rid of any pest problem as soon as possible.
As a property manager, our ultimate goal is to make investment property ownership a stress-free and profitable experience for the property owners we work with. There are many ways we do that and we are constantly striving to find new ways to meet the needs of our property owners.
One of the many services we offer are video inspections. This includes a recorded walk through of the apartment prior to a new tenant moving in as well as a recorded work through of the apartment when the tenant moves out. Video inspections are also provided when large repairs or improvements are being recommended.
We have found the use of video inspections to be beneficial for both us and the property owners we work with. When a property owner decides to work with a property manager, there is a certain level of trust that has to grow in order for that relationship to work.
For example, when a manager contacts the owner to let them know about repairs needed to the property that will cost the owner money, the owner has two options:
One thing we do to eliminate the potential for an awkward situation and to build that trust with the owners is to conduct video inspections. This is effective in several ways. You can see a lot more detail in a video that you can in photo, and it allows us to zoom in on areas of damage while still providing perspective on where the damage is within the property.
A video can also provide a better overall view of the property. This can be especially helpful when comparing the condition of the property when a tenant moves in compared to the condition of the property when the tenant moves out.
Limitations of video inspections
Video inspections can be limited in that it creates a sometimes long process; particularly if you have to look through an entire video just to find one area of damage. However, we mitigate that limitation by using the video inspections in conjunction with a written inspection report.
For example, if a property has exterior damage that needs to be addressed, we can provide a written report detailing the damage, repairs needed, and expected cost along with a video of the damaged area. In this respect, the video will enhance the information provided in the written report.
Interior video inspections while a tenant is living there are sometimes difficult to get due to valid privacy issues for the tenant. However, this particular limitation can be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
Benefits of Video Inspections
By providing the video inspections along with inspection reports we are building trust between us and the property owner while eliminating a possible awkward situation of the property owner feeling the need to ask for verification of property damage and repair estimates.
Videos are also helpful when a case goes to court. We have found that video is significantly more effective when a tenant needs to be evicted or taken to court and there is property damage involved. Getting a video tour of the damage has a greater emotional impact than photos. The videos can also be used to show a clearer before and after condition of the property in court.
If a deposit is withheld due to damages and the former tenant argues that they deserve all or part of their deposit back, it is the property owner’s responsibility to prove the damages were legitimate and caused by the tenant. This is when before and after videos are most useful.
Video can also be used to lease properties faster and more effectively. How to leverage the power of video to promote your properties will be covered in How to Use Video to Lease Your Property Faster.
Every month we read a book together in the office, and today I’d like to review one that we just went through. It’s called Head Strong, by Dave Asprey. Dave Asprey calls himself a “biohacker”. He’s an individual that is always on the look for new ways to more energy, thinking clear, and being more productive overall; and all of these are accomplished through the implementation of life habits tweaking along with the use of interesting technology applications. He’s done research and experimentation of all of this on himself, and this book is based on those findings. We found several bits of useful information in this read, and I’d like to share a bit of that with you.
One of the more interesting topics he speaks about is that one related to how the energy in our cells actually function, and how their efficiency levels change under certain circumstances. First mitochondria provide cellular energy and are the basis for healthy cellular function. These are the “powerhouses of the cell”, the parts of cells that turn sugars, fats and proteins that we eat, into forms of chemical energy that the body can use to carry on living.
When mitochondrial energy reserves dwindle due to any given cause (being sick, lack of food, etc.), one of the first areas that is affected in our body is our brain; more specifically the frontal area of our brain, the one that takes care of higher thinking and all of that which makes us productive. The back of our brain remains a priority, since it’s in charge of maintaining all of the basic functions that we need in order to not die – It’s also important to consider that the brain uses approximately 10 times more mitochondrial energy in it’s cells than most of our other body parts. In the book, he mentions several tips and hacks designed to help us manage this energy reserves and keep our bodies as efficient as possible, in order to maintain focus and keep our higher thought processes in levels that help us maintain our productivity and creativity.
He also speaks about a concept called “light pollution”. Light pollution refers to how we, in our endless quest to embrace more and more technology into our lives, are bombarded by different spectrums of light which are different from the Sun’s spectrum and overstimulate our visual cortex. This area specifically, burns 10 times energy than other areas of our brain, and when overstimulated, can deplete our energy reserves very quickly.
Some hacks he mentions in order to combat this over stimulation is the use of red lights near screens and other blue light sources in order to balance their output and reduce the impact. This is because blue light is the most troublesome type of light when speaking about visual over stimulation, and fluorescent sources as well as LED bring in lots of it with them. Also, the use of blue light-filtering glasses is recommended, and these can be purchased online. Basically, they work by filtering out the amount of blue light we receive into our eyes on different levels depending on the glasses (these can be easily purchased online if you’re interested).
Wim Hof, also known as “The Iceman”, is also mentioned in his book. He holds several world records regarding to survival and resistance to cold. Some of the techniques used by Hof have been recommended by Asprey. Special breathing techniques and cold therapy can dramatically increase energy, modulate immune systems and hormones in order to help you increase and better manage your energy reserves. These are only a few applications of his work, but more exist – if you’re interested in this field as we are, or are looking for ways to make changes to the quality of your lifestyle, we can’t recommend this book enough.