Popularity of pet-friendly rentals sparks growth in dubious online services

The popularity of pet-friendly apartments has led to development of dubious services on the Internet designed to get owners out of paying high pet fees. The services allow people to obtain phony dog service certification deeming the animal an “emotional support pet,” a designation that not only exempts owners from pet fees but often grants the animal access to rentals that are not pet friendly.

The problem with such efforts is they are sparking more scrutiny from landlords and more calls for increased regulation on issuing emotional support pet certification, which ultimately may make it difficult for people who legitimately need it.44334346_s-228x300

Many of the dubious services have online “therapists” who provide documentation that an emotional support pet is needed. Many provide the “doctor’s note” within 24 hours. As I was looking at some of these websites, one was summoning me to register a pet with them via a pop up. They are very persistent. These services provide a method for people to avoid pet fees and a way to have a pet in a residence that does not allow pets. Pet rents range from $25 to $75 monthly and up front pet fees range from $250 to $1,000 on average per pet.

Emotional support pets are companion animals that provide a therapeutic benefit to individuals with a verifiable mental or psychiatric disability. Emotional support pets are one type of assistance animal, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. An emotional support pet can be any type of animal and is allowed as a reasonable accommodation in a residence that does not otherwise allow pets. This allows dogs, cats, alligators, any type of pet at all with no restriction. You do not have to pay pet fees to a landlord for an emotional support pet.

The difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal is a service animal is trained to perform certain tasks to help people with disabilities, while an emotional support pet is not trained. Unlike service animals, an emotional support pet is not granted access to public places such as movie theaters and hospitals.

HUD does not require a tenant to disclose their disability to a prospective landlord, but they will need to provide documentation from a doctor or other health care professional that the assistance animal lessens one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability.

A companion animal can also travel with their person in the cabin of a plane, as allowed by the Air Carrier Access Act, without fees. Typically, the fee to have a pet fly is about $125.

The Transportation Department formed a panel of advisers to look into the issue. Airlines are concerned about the safety of the passengers around the untrained animals and want to know whether their owners legitimately need them for emotional support or are just trying to avoid a fee. The panel was disbanded without a solution, experts say, but with the increase of animals on flights this is bound to come up again.

There is no standardized form that can be used to prove an emotional support pet’s status.  The increase in people fraudulently identifying their pets as assistance animals has led to a consideration of  more regulations for identifying an assistance animal.

An online petition being circulated through Change.org is asking Anna Maria Farias, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, to reform laws surrounding emotional support animals. While supporting people who legitimately need comfort animals, the petition wants the government to stop allowing owners to get doctors’ notes for emotional support pets online for a fee. The petition asserts these online methods are not credible.

More regulation is needed to prevent people from falsely claiming their pets as companion animals. Let’s hope the regulations will not hinder the process for people who have a legitimate need for an emotional support pet.

 

Source: washingtonpost.com

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Southwest Wake County’s growth spike shows it’s no longer a bedroom community

What used to be a mere cluster of Triangle-outskirt towns is now one of North Carolina’s centers for economic growth. Even by Triangle region standards, which have been significant, Southwest Wake County’s growth has spiked over the last two decades.

The Census Bureau recently reported growth rateCaptures of approximately 26 percent in Apex, 35 percent in Holly Springs, and 44 percent in Fuquay-Varina, outpacing Raleigh in 2016. Residential growth in Holly Spring

 

s alone is expected to grow so rapidly that for every three residents today, there will be five by 2025.

As a site selection specialist and a local resident, I have seen the impact this has had on the workforce. Joanna Helms, Apex Economic Development Director shared, “Most people don’t realize that Apex has over 50 thriving companies that range from advanced manufacturing, wholesale distribution and precision machining to information technology, computer gaming and software development, as well as micro brewing.”

 

Following the population growth, retail market vacancies have been competitive, and are currently at 2.8 percent according to CoStar. It seems that almost every week, another grocer, restaurant, or other retailer announces an opening. As of November 2017, Southwest Wake had almost 30,000 square feet of retail space under construction, as well as five shopping centers proposed. Current mixed-use developments in Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina create tremendous retail and mixed-use opportunities for business owners and consumers alike.

While retail development will always follow the rooftops and urban areas continue to thrive and grow, a new trend is emerging where many companies are migrating closer to their workforce. This has not only reduced geographic and traffic concerns during the recruiting process, but has also developed a quality of life for employees that, in turn, improves the quality of the company. Names such as Dell Inc., Rovisys, and Sequirus are located in the heart of Southwest Wake, producing thousands of jobs and catalyst for economic growth.

 

“Town leaders have strategically positioned the assets of the community to attract more life science companies. Highlights include: more than $100 million has been invested in roads, water and sewer projects and parks and recreation facilities in the last 10 years,’ said Holly Springs Economic Development Director, Irena Krstanovic.

Southwest Wake currently has over 75,000 square feet of industrial and flex space under construction. These properties are in addition to almost one million square feet of proposed development. Local municipalities are looking to grow their commercial tax base, as well as offer incentives for businesses to join their communities.

This, along with land availability, provides development opportunities for any

 

thing from spec space to owner-occupancy. Additionally, the construction of “Complete 540” project going through the southwest, there will soon be expedited access to RDU and other parts of the region. According to Economic Development Director, Jim Seymour, “Fuquay-Varina continues to see strong growth in the expansion of our medium to large manufacturing firms. Our geographical location is one of our community’s greatest assets for manufacturing and distribution.”

Source: https://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2017/12/12/southwest-wake-county-s-growth-spike-shows-it-s-no.html

 

Renters unite to demand affordable housing

1The lack of affordable housing across the country has gained increasing attention in recent months. A report released earlier this year by the personal finance website SmartAsset found that in 12 of the top 15 US cities, rents had increased from 2015 to 2016. In some places, rent prices skyrocketed; San Francisco, Seattle and Miami all had increases of over 7 percent. In Los Angeles, average rental rates went up 17 percent.

Activists and renters nationwide are agitating around these issues on Thursday, September 22, to draw attention to what they are calling a “National Renter State of Emergency.” Over 50 protests, marches and other activities are occurring in more than 45 cities for the “Renters Day of Action,” with tenants coming together to put forward a list of national and local demands.

Organized by the housing coalition Homes for All, the national campaign is seeking a broad list of changes, including a national rent freeze, a freeze on all unjust evictions, and community control over land and housing. The campaign’s demands also include the right of tenants to organize and bargain collectively without fear of discrimination, retaliation or eviction.

For some local actions, evictions are the main focus. Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with the Chicago’s Autonomous Tenants Union, said his group planned their protest at Daley Plaza, where all the city’s eviction cases are heard. In 2012, Chicago had more than 32,000 evictions in the city. (This statistic is from four years ago becauseit can be hard to track eviction numbers; the federal government has not recorded these numbers in past years and court records are incomplete and hard to navigate). “The process itself is very rapid and it’s always siding with the landlord or the landlady,” Gutierrez said. Tenants have very little opportunity to advocate for themselves. Housing advocates have also noted that cases in eviction court are not being properly recorded, making it nearly impossible to make an appeal.

Who Faces Eviction?

In Chicago, as with other cities, Gutierrez finds that women and their children are disproportionately affected by rising eviction rates. “We definitely see a pattern of single mothers and women with their kids being the target of these evictions,” he said. “We see a lot of kind of discriminatory policies that are happening, in terms of new companies coming into neighborhoods that are populated mostly by people of color, evicting them, and then getting new tenants that are of a different class, and sometimes racial background.”

Matthew Desmond, a sociologist whose recent book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, helped bring national attention to the housing crisis, had similar findings. In a 2015 report, Desmond notes that low-income women, in particular Black women, are at high risk of eviction. In Milwaukee, one in five Black women reported being evicted at some point, compared to one in 15 white women, or one in 12 Latina women, according to Desmond’s research.

Eviction doesn’t just impact one’s housing, it destabilizes communities and families, often forcing kids to leave their schools. Desmond found that “workers who involuntarily lost their housing were roughly 20 percent more likely to subsequently lose their jobs.” The study also ties eviction to mental health problems and future difficulty with finding alternate housing and/or employment, as being evicted through the court system leaves a tenant with that judgment on their record.

Knowing Your Rights

Felicia Alston-Singleton, a tenant advocate in Newark, New Jersey, got involved with her work as an organizer after successfully fighting her own eviction with the city’s housing authority. Several years ago, she said the housing authority fixed a problem with backed-up sewage in her unit.

“They fixed it but then my walls started turning green,” she said. “So I stopped paying rent.” She went to court every month for seven months until finally a decision was made in her favor. They dismissed her case and gave her back her rent money.

Alston-Singleton educated herself along the way, oftentimes Googling information she didn’t know. “It was very inspiring… to know that I did have rights,” she said. “So I said, ‘If I can do this for myself, let’s do it for my complex’ … And then other people started calling me.”

For the “Renters Day of Action,” Alston-Singleton is taking part in Newark’s 36-hour demonstration outside of City Hall. She plans to be at City Hall for the duration of the event. Activists and renters are calling on city officials to pass a rent control ordinance and to implement existing protections, like maintaining the city’s affordable housing. Alston-Singleton said the city has been tearing down subsidized housing and replacing it with luxury units. “They are making it unaffordable,” she said.

Indeed, last week the developer Dranoff Properties closed on $116 million in financing to build a high-rise luxury apartment building in downtown Newark.According to The Wall Street Journal, apartments in the building “are expected to rent at $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom and $4,500 a month for a three-bedroom.”

Anthony Romano, a national organizing director with Homes for All’s Right to the City Alliance, noted that one of the campaign’s goals for the September 22 action is getting people familiarized with their rights as tenants. “We needed to unite and have a day where we can really lift up our collective voice,” Romano said, “and to lift up our solutions.”

Gentrification Threatens Tenants

In some cities, gentrification is the most pressing issue tenants are facing. Tenant organizers in Minneapolis are leading people on a tour of the city’s light rail today, pointing out recent areas of gentrification. These activists are part of Defend Glendale, a group working to defend Glendale Townhomes Public Housing, which is under threat of demolition. Ladan Yusuf, who lives in Glendale, said the housing units are in the middle of an affluent neighborhood and property value has gone up since the light rail went in nearby. “We found out through the grapevine,” she said, that the city wanted to demolish Glendale. “We’re fighting to keep our homes.”

She is one of 30 tenant leaders from the housing complex, where she says most residents are people of color and about 60 percent are immigrants. “We are seeing huge amounts of displacement right now,” Yusuf said. A lot of families are finding it hard to find affordable housing in the city.

“Gentrification is really happening here and Betsy Hodges isn’t doing anything about it,” Yusuf said of Minneapolis’ mayor. “A lot of working-class families feel that she is not on our side.”

Growing Population of Renters

Romano pointed out that the number of people affected by rent increases is growing as fewer people are owning homes. “It’s an economic reality,” Romano said. “People just don’t have the money to buy homes.” He believes landlords and the real estate lobby are taking advantage of the increased number of renters by jacking up the cost of rent.

“We don’t lightly use the term ‘state of emergency’,” Romano said. “‘State of emergency’ is used because of the sheer quantity of people suffering and the severity of that suffering.” A 2016 Harvard study found that the number of renters who are “cost burdened” rose by 3.6 million from 2008 to 2014, to a total of 21.3 million households. The Department of Housing and Urban Development considers a family to be cost burdened if they pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. To put this in perspective, the number of people who rent has increased by 9 million between 2005 and 2015, an earlier Harvard study noted, making it “the largest 10-year gain on record.” In the same period, renters who are severely rent burdened, meaning they pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing, went from 2.1 million to a record 11.4 million.

The organizers of the September 22 actions know that spreading the word about these issues and about tenants’ rights is an important first step and the Renters Day of Action is intended to broaden awareness while bringing impacted people together. “When you are going through something and you meet someone else going through it, you don’t feel so alone,” Alston-Singleton said. “Then you’re ready to fight.”

Source: truth-out.org

General rules to follow for an efficient and fire hazard free dryer:

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General rules to follow for an efficient and fire hazard free dryer:

1. Clean the lint trap screen after each dryer cycle.

2. Wash the lint trap screen after 20-30 loads. Let it air dry before replacing.

3. Use a vacuum hose to suck out any remaining lint inside the dryer where the lint trap is stored.

Happy Ask a Stupid Question Day

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Happy National Ask A Stupid Question Day! Now’s your chance to ask us questions you’ve always wanted to about #Leasing and #PropertyManagement, but didn’t because you felt they might be “stupid”.

Property Manager… solving problems you didn’t know you had in ways you can’t understand.

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Although few outside the profession may understand what we do and how we do it, the basic facts remain unchanged: Property Managers play a critical role in a landlord’s success. As the rental market grows increasingly tumultuous, property managers toil quietly and efficiently behind the scenes to come up with solutions to problems that the average landlord doesn’t understand or even know he has.

Bev Roberts Rentals Presents: Festive Decorating Contest 2016

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Hello tenants, we have a new contest for you to get excited about!  The Bev Roberts Rentals family is bringing to you a chance to embrace your creativity with the Festive Decorating Contest!

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of fall?  Is it spooky spiders for Halloween, is it pumpkins and falling leaves for Autumn, or is team spirit for football season?  Whatever that is, send us your photo portraying your festive indoor or outdoor decorating!  The winning resident receives a $50 Visa Gift Card!  Please read the above flyer for more details.

The contest officially starts October 1, 2016.  Winner will be chosen on November 30, 2016!