The Top Property Management Newsletter and Events for July 2022

Back to School Time – Time For Pre-Fall Cleaning!

We wanted to bring you a round up of the latest news, ideas and tips to maximize your experience as a landlord or REALTOR®.

Time To Clean Out the Garage!

The Garage Living website (yes, there really is a garage living website) recently published a list of 13 Essential Garage Safety Tips that every homeowner (and especially every landlord) should be aware of to keep their investment and people safe.

The garage is often one of those afterthought areas of our homes – and, even at that, a very important area.  If you park your car in there, you are in there multiple times a day. Families use them as extensions of their living and storage space.

Garages are meant to be one of the home’s most functional spaces.

And it’s because garages are so active that they also require diligence and effort in order to keep them as safe as possible.

Now that school is starting again, you may find that it is an ideal time to take a look at the garage, clean up and put away, and ensure that it is a safe spot in your home.

We all know that things are constantly getting moved in garages, work is getting done inside of them, vehicles are regularly coming and going…the list goes on and on in terms of the safety considerations this busy space requires.

How a garage is designed and put together also brings up other safety considerations that warrants some attention from any homeowner.

13 garage safety tips for a safer home

Take the time to thoroughly assess how safe your garage is for you and your family by going through our list of 13 garage safety tips.

These garage safety tips are even more important to follow if you have children. Take the time to educate your kids on any safety hazards that may exist in your own garage.

See how your garage and how you use it measures up to our list of recommendations.

1. Lock up hazardous materials

All garages contain many different types of hazardous material products that need to be stored responsibly. Fertilizers, pesticides, gasoline, cleaning products, pool cleaning supplies, car maintenance fluids, and paints and solvents are just a few examples.

2. Store power tools safely

An unsupervised child might feel the urge to try out that big, noisy power tool they see mom or dad occasionally using in the garage. Eliminate any safety concerns by making sure any power tools kept in the garage are properly stored so your kids can’t access them.

3. Keep sharp tools safely stored

In addition to ensuring safe, secure storage of your power tools, take the same care to make sure any sharp yard tools or hand tools are stored safely. After a long day of yard work, it’s easy to get a little careless and just lean your tools or a ladder against the garage wall, or just stash them in a corner.

4. Maintain a safe garage workspace

If you have a garage workshop, you’ll need to pay even more attention to how safe you’re leaving your garage. In addition to following the aforementioned garage safety tips related to storage of your tools and hazardous materials, clean up your garage work area when you’re finished for the day. Sweep up any spills, sawdust, and debris on your garage floor to prevent anyone from slipping. And properly dispose of any oily rags that may have been used during your work session.

5. Inspect your garage doors and opener

Considering a garage door is a home’s largest moving object, it only makes sense to give it some close attention when you’re evaluating how safe your garage is.

Here a few garage safety tips for your garage doors:

  • periodically inspect your garage door springs and cables for excessive wear
  • keep garage door opener remotes out of the reach of children
  • know where the emergency release handle for your doors is and how to use it
  • check that your garage door photo eye sensors are properly aligned, clean, and unobstructed
  • test the auto-reverse safety feature on your garage doors and opener monthly

6. Deal with your garage clutter

Garage clutter doesn’t only make it difficult to find things and prevent you from parking your vehicles in the garage. All that junk also poses several safety hazards.

First, there’s the very real danger of clutter that’s stacked too highly falling over and injuring someone. Even brand new cardboard boxes aren’t the most stable storage container to be stacking and they only deteriorate over time.

Secondly, too much garage clutter (especially boxes, newspaper and magazine bundles, and flammable materials) also makes your garage more of a fire hazard.

Leaving too much clutter on your garage floor is also a tripping hazard.

Get your space straightened up and clutter-free by making use of the numerous helpful garage storage systems available, such as slatwall, storage racks, or a cabinet system.

7. Dispose of old paints and chemicals

If you’ve lived in the same house for awhile, you’re sure to have compiled a collection of empty and half-used paint cans, solvents, cleaners, spray paint cans, and other items that can’t just be thrown in the trash.

And if you’re the hands-on type and like doing your own vehicle maintenance, there are probably a few old car batteries, vehicle parts, and tires lying around your garage.

Taking the time to deal with what may be many years worth of accumulated hazardous materials clutter in your garage will free up valuable space. Finally taking these old hazardous materials to your local recycling or disposal depot will also remove potential poisoning and fire hazards from your garage.

8. Use well-anchored storage systems

Proper garage storage systems will help you stay organized, but they need to be up to the task of handling the heavy weight capacities of the items you’re storing.

That means making sure the garage storage systems you use are well-anchored, whether they’re wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted.

9. Garage lighting

One of the less obvious garage safety tips you might not have considered is to simply improve your garage lighting.

Relying on one or two incandescent light bulbs or a flickering fluorescent light to illuminate your entire garage is an outdated concept. There are many modern garage lighting ideas available that can make your garage easier to function within, which makes it safer.

A modern LED light fixture or two, for example, will provide better energy efficiency and more uniform lighting for your garage.

Everything from driving in and out of the garage, working with tools, and finding a specific tool becomes that much easier when you can actually see what you’re doing.

10. Take proper fire safety measures

Hopefully you’ll followed a few of these garage safety tips to remove some fire hazards from your garage. But, even if you are keeping garage fire hazards to a minimum, take some additional proactive fire safety measures. A heat detector alarm or smoke alarm are a wise investment for your garage.

Another great investment is a fire extinguisher for the garage. If you live in a colder climate, make sure to get a model that can be stored in lower temperatures.

Otherwise, keep a standard fire extinguisher just inside your home’s garage access door. Make sure anyone old enough to operate the device is properly trained on how to use it.

11. Limit your garage’s carbon monoxide exposure

Carbon monoxide from vehicle emissions doesn’t pose a health risk in the small amounts that are generated by vehicles being started and parked in garages.

It’s when vehicles are left to run for longer than recommended periods in the garage that safety becomes an issue. That’s why you should think twice about warming up or idling your vehicles indoors for extended periods, even with your garage doors open.

This harmful odorless and colorless gas can also build up if you’re running any gas-powered tools or recreational vehicles in your garage.

If you’re doing maintenance on a lawn mower, grass trimmer, or anything else run by gas, be mindful of not running them for too long in the garage.

And operating any type of barbecue in your garage (possibly to cover yourself from inclement weather) is a huge no-no. Aside from the obvious fire hazards, charcoal grills generate high levels of carbon monoxide.

Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector that’s specifically made for garages.

12. Keep a well-maintained garage floor

Another overlooked area when it comes to garage safety is the garage floor.

A garage floor surface with cracks and missing chunks of cement doesn’t just look terrible, it also presents a major tripping hazard. You could stub a toe or, even worse, take a serious fall without having an even and unbroken surface to walk on. 

13. Replace old electrical cords

The last of our garage safety tips involves getting rid of any old, frayed electrical cords that have seen better days. They’re not just a fire hazard, they’re also a shock hazard.

Be diligent with what type of power cord you’re using with a specific tool or for a particular job. Make sure a cord with the correct gauge is being used for the tool or appliance you’re using.

Avoid overloading your garage outlets with charging devices and extension cords. And if your garage’s electrical wiring and infrastructure is especially old, don’t wait until an accident happens to get them updated.

Make your garage safer and more functional

We hope these garage safety tips are beneficial to you in order to make your garage a safer space.

It is important to you as a homeowner, and especially if you are a landlord.

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And While We Are Talking About Garage Safety…

The most unpredictable part of my day is when the wifey asks me each evening:  “How was your day?”  I never know what the answer will be…that’s what makes it fun.  Here’s a sample of what I consider ‘fun’…

Background:  As you may know, Polaris Real Estate is a large leasing brokerage firm in Indianapolis for residential leasing. (ADHD moment:  Did I mention the outstanding staff  that work with me?  Thank God I own the company—not sure I could get hired there today if I didn’t.) 

Message from Dan Baldini

Owner, Polaris Property Management

Ok.  Back to the background  of the story.  Part of our leasing process entails processing and reviewing extensive background checks on each adult who will be occupying the property.  These include lots of things like credit scores, criminal backgrounds, OFAC (if you don’t know what this is, Google it, but be prepared to cringe…yes, I’ve had 2 individuals show up on this list.  DHS was called immediately), and Sex Offender backgrounds.

We get lots of ‘fun’ findings.  I’m sharing with you some screen shots of an application from November that’s a perfect example of why we are so scrupulous and detailed in our methodology.

This person applied to lease a townhome we represent…very nice hardwood floors, granite countertops, the whole ball of wax, right. 

Let’s go through it, shall we?

Good income of $4,300.  Even substantiated with paystubs from her job. (Lord help her employer….)

  1. Applicant score, according to what she entered on the application, indicates a score of 99 out of 100.  Coolio!
  2. Oh-oh.  I rejected her. Big meanie Dan! Read on for more “fun.”

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Now that’s weird….how can a person have No Credit on file?  Surely Polaris Real Estate can’t be the ONLY creditor doing a credit report on this person—EVER!??  (She’s in her late 40’s.)

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?

 

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If you haven’t guessed the answer yet, it’s simple:  This person is a fraud.  She has created an identity that consists of a name, Social Security Number, and Date of Birth from different people and combined them into one new person.

My Landlord Client dodged a major bullet because we are PITA’s on our rental application process.  Can you imagine how difficult it would have been to try and evict her in Small Claims Court—when she doesn’t Exist??  Or better, what type of criminal background she truly has??

I’m a big meanie. So be it.

That’s my job.

Here’s the take-a-way folks:  Leasing properties is not as simple as “running a credit report” and collecting a rent check.  There’s plenty of upside in terms of profit and opportunity.  There’s also plenty of downside in terms of downright atrocities.

Make sure you know who you’re dealing with on each deal.

If you don’t know, call me.

I’ll know.

If you own property, or are thinking about investin, and would like to discuss steps to obtain your own financial independence through property ownership and professional property management, please contact us today: Dan@PolarisManage.com