7 Renter-Friendly Kitchen Updates

Residing in a rental doesn’t have to mean living vicariously through your decor inspo Pinterest Board. While you may feel stuck with those dated built-ins and hardware, there are actually plenty of temporary kitchen upgrades that *don’t* involve losing your security deposit. Scroll down for a few ways that you can jazz up your space in just one day.

1. Create a Kitchen #Shelfie: Remove the cabinets from one bay and style your prettiest ceramics and canisters for an Instagram-worthy shelving moment.

2. Update the Fridge: Some peel-and-stick wallpaper is all you need to make an old refrigerator stand out. Go with a solid color or opt for a gorg pattern for a big statement.

3. Add More Storage: Bookshelves aren’t just for the living room and bedroom. Move a unit into the kitchen to show off your best glassware, colorful cookbooks, and lush plants.

4. Color Code Your Collection: Get some extra work out of your kitchenware by arranging it by hue and putting it on display.

5. Create an Arty Backsplash: No room in a sea of cabinets to hang your favorite prints? Get a little creative with your decor and use art as an edgy backsplash.

6. Switch up the Pulls: Replacing the cabinet hardware is a simple task that makes a HUGE difference. Just be sure to stow away the old knobs so that you can swap them back before you move.

7. Stock up on Storage: Maximize any limited cabinet and wall space by installing picture ledges/hooks for a little art, decor, and your favorite patterned kitchen textiles.

Looking for more rental upgrade ideas to accomplish this weekend? Follow us onPinterest for more home inspo!Allison WheelerAllison Collins lives in Denton, Texas with her husband and two dogs. She is a honky tonk connoisseur, Bruce Springsteen enthusiast, and proud member of the West Texas Cloud Appreciation Society.

Starbucks Failure to Send a Letter Results in Class Action Lawsuit

A word from Rachel Decamp: An adverse action is a very important document that must go out whenever an owner declines an application for winter. Solutions Property Management will, and has always, followed Fair Credit Act and the rights of applicants. Some companies are not doing this which is causing lawsuits and eventually penalties and legal fees that are very expensive.

It’s important to owners to know that our background screenings are conducted thoroughly and accurately so that they can make the best decision on a potential renter. We will always conduct business accurately and within the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Piece from Fidelity Data Service:

Kevin Wills applied for a job with a Starbucks store in Buford, Georgia and as a precondition of employment a background check was conducted.

In an all too familiar scenario, he was denied a job based on a faulty background report. The background screening company reported that he had been twice convicted of domestic violence. Several glaring problems escaped the eye of both the background screening company and Starbucks. First the criminal report pertained to a Kevin Willis, not Kevin Wills. Second, Willis was from Minnesota and not Georgia. The report did not report whether the dates of birth and other data were in agreement with both individuals which raises other problems as well.

Based on the bogus report, Kevin Wills was telephonically advised that he would not be hired based on the investigative background report. It was Starbucks standing procedure not to supply the applicant with a “pre-adverse” letter including the investigative report. This practice is a clear and flagrant violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Federal law that regulates background screening. The purpose of the regulation is to give the applicant an opportunity to dispute any inaccurate information prior to having any adverse action taken against them.

According to Starbucks, it operates over 25,000 stores worldwide so the class of plaintiffs could be enormous. That translates into a potential multi-million-dollar payday because every applicant violation performed makes the defendant liable for damages of $1,000 plus punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the jury.

It’s amazing how failure to follow simple rules makes corporations liable for multi-million dollar judgements.

Source: http://www.fidelitydataservice.com/us/2018/11/17/starbucks-lawsuit/

4 Responsible Pet Tips for Apartment Living

You’ve finally found an apartment for rent for you and your pet – not an easy task in many large cities – now how do you stay in your pet-friendly community’s good graces? Badly behaved pets are a liability and result in no-pet policies, so make a good name for owners everywhere with these pet tips.

1. Pick up after your pets
Common areas are there for everyone to enjoy. Imagine stepping in some dog doo while walking to your car – not a pleasant experience for anyone, and a sanitation issue! Bring a bag with you on walks, or use the pick-up stations pet-friendly apartment complexes provide. If you have a litter box in your apartment, clean it out frequently to prevent strange odors from making their way to a neighboring unit.

2. Vaccinate & Spay/Neuter
Prevent the spread of avoidable diseases by making sure your pet gets regular check-ups and is up-to-date on all of its shots. It will eliminate the additional risks if your pet comes into contact with other animals in the building. As Bob Barker always put it, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”

3. Keep your pet leashed
Even if your pet is perfectly trained, be considerate of other residents who might not be so fond of pets.

4. Pay attention to maintenance notices
Your landlord should give you advance notice if there’s any maintenance work that needs to be done in your unit. Make sure you crate your pet or take your pet with you during the time frame so they don’t risk hurting anyone or running away through an open door.


How Safe Are Your Residents?

A property management company is only as good as its reputation. A reputation that relies firmly on the safety, security and contentment of its residents.

So it’s obvious to say that background screenings are important, right?

You know this. And yet, the process is still getting bungled up.

Let me tell you a tale told to me by one of our recent new clients:

A man was recently arrested in Florida for exposing himself to fellow property residents, as well as community neighbors. He passed all property management screening stages, because his sex offender background was categorized as a misdemeanor thanks to slick lawyer lobbyists and lax screening loopholes.

His property management company welcomed a sex offender, and they had absolutely no idea who he was.

Most Common Screening Loopholes

1. Plea bargaining, reducing felonies to misdemeanors
2. False landlord references
3. Haphazard criminal database searches

Mistakes like these leave your property management company at risk for lawsuits, but just as important, you’re left behind with a damn near impossible to repair reputation.

Protect your business’ assets (AND REP!) by opting for a comprehensive background check. We mean comprehensive, down to the county level as well as nationwide and reporting misdemeanors as well as felonies.

Our team searches and cross-references hundreds of databases to ensure the Joe Smith in front of you is exactly who he says he is, so you can rest easy that you’re not the company from our tale… And your tenants are actually more secure.

Source: Fidelity Data Service

Is It Time to Hire a Property Manager?

Many people aren’t born to be landlords, and many property owners find hiring a third-party company to be very beneficial to their portfolio. Is this right for you?

The decision to hire a property manager for your rental properties can be a tough one, particularly for small-balance multifamily owners. If you have tight margins to begin with, bringing a property manager into the mix could make your properties operate at a loss. However, most people aren’t born to be landlords, and many property owners find hiring a property management company to be very beneficial to their portfolio.


According to Chris Wright of Wright Property Management, a property management firm just outside of Los Angeles, many of his clients feel that their time is worth more to them than saving money by managing themselves. They are willing to pay to no longer worry about the micro details and instead focus on other things such as business or family.

“We’re not in property management, we’re in people management,” said Wright. Often times, the people aspect of owning an investment property is the most daunting. Having a property manager on board will allow you to dodge those late-night phone calls and avoid hunting down a late rent payment.


Property managers have more to offer than just dealing with resident and maintenance issues. We live in a litigious world, and there are many laws and regulations landlords must follow that they may not even know about. Staying on top of these laws is an important, yet overwhelming, task for many, and a property manager can often insulate landlords against any liability.

Additionally, a third-party manager can make owners face reality. “Sometimes, if you’re an owner, your objectivity of what needs to be done gets clouded by the fact that you believe you are entitled to a rent because you have something to rent,” said Wright. “Just because you have a vacant unit doesn’t entitle you to a tenant—you have to provide certain standards of habitability.” Having an experienced property management team can help provide valuable insight.


Once you have made the decision to hire a property manager, you must do your due diligence to select the right company for your needs. If you have a company in mind, you can ask if you can talk to some of their clients about their experience with the firm. You can also ask other local landlords for referrals.

Online reviews are another source, but Wright warns to be careful when taking to the internet. “There are always going to be complaints from tenants, because we are working for the property owner, and the tenants who complain are the ones that are typically breaking the rules,” he said. If you see bad reviews from owners, however, that is something to be cautious about.


The hardest part about having a management team for many property owners is giving up control. You should cut the cord with the residents and allow the property manager to take over. “The way I like to explain it to owners is by saying, we are now the CEO, and you are chairman of the board. If you want us to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that, it’s not going to work, because tenants will go around us to you and then all control is lost,” said Wright.

Owners can, and often have, managed their own properties, but eventually come to a point where they still want to collect the rent check but don’t want to deal with the issues associated with it. You may be able to effectively manage your own properties and make extra money doing so, but for most owners, this is not the case. If you decide you would like to bring a management company into the mix, make sure they align with your goals and you feel comfortable giving away some control.

Florida bill would prevent local restrictions on vacation rentals

As Orange County and Orlando look into allowing short-term home rentals under some conditions, a bill filed in Tallahassee might take that choice away from them entirely.

Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, introduced a bill last week that would strip local governments of the right to regulate short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb and give all such power to the state.

Stuebe’s bill, which did not have a companion bill in the House as of Tuesday, states property owners have “constitutionally protected” rights to use their residential properties as vacation rentals.

“Vacation rentals play a significant, unique, and critical role in Florida’s tourism industry, and that role is different from that of public lodging establishments,” it states.

If the bill passes during the upcoming state legislative session that begins next week, it would have a major impact on Central Florida cities and counties.

Current law prevents any new restrictions on short-term rentals but allows older laws from before 2011 to be grandfathered in. Under that law, both Orlando and Orange County currently ban short-term rentals of less than 30 days.

Both are looking into allowing “hosted” rentals, in which the owners stay on property. The Orlando city planning board approved such a change in November, with staff drafting an ordinance to be voted on by the City Council.

Orange County is looking into how other places have dealt with short-term rentals before the commission decides to make a decision on hosted rentals.

Under Steube’s bill, such local discussions would be for naught. All regulation and control of such rentals would be “preempted to the state,” with owners needing to obtain a license every year. A license would not be able to be transferred from one place or owner to another.

The state could refuse to issue or renew a license if an owner has been found guilty of crimes ranging from soliciting prostitution to dealing drugs.

While local governments couldn’t create any additional restrictions, local law enforcement would be required to help the state go after any illegally operated rentals.

A spokesman for the Travel Technology Association, an industry trade group that includes Airbnb on its board, said they were aware of Steube’s bill and were taking a look at it.

TTA vice president Matt Kiessling said last month he thinks vacation rentals should be allowed with no conditions. Any restrictions are due to “antiquated laws,” he said, and limiting it to hosted rentals would be difficult to enforce.

“Whether it’s a primary or secondary residence, it’s irrelevant,” Kiessling said. “Owners should be able to do as they wish with their properties.”

The bill is just one of several controversial bills Steube has filed in the past few months, including one that would prevent local governments from enforcing protections on treesand one that would eliminate Daylight Saving Time.

slemongello@orlandosentinel.com, 407-418-5920 or @stevelemongello