Window Shades In Rental Units

Though there is no legal requirement in Colorado that landlords provide window shades, all of my clients have agreed to provide window coverings or curtain rods. Most provide simple slatted blinds, however some of the houses I manage have higher-end window treatments. Also, a few units I manage have a combination of blinds and curtain rods where the tenant is expected to provide the drapes.

Curtain Rods

There are a lot of cheapo curtain rods available, so when I have a need to get curtain rods for a window in a rental I aim to get the non-retractable, solid kind, such as a 1″ diameter wood rod.

Types of Window Shades

In regard to blinds, typically I order metal slatted blinds of a thicker gauge than the basic gauge, though sometimes I have maintenance guys buy plastic blinds off the hardware store shelf and cut them to fit.

A few times I’ve installed cellular shades in rental windows. They are nicer looking and they help with heat retention in the winter and cool retention in the summer. But depending on how rough your tenants are when they open and close the blinds, they are a bit more delicate than the slatted blinds.

Sliding Glass Door Shades

For sliding doors, I am moving away from the vertical blinds. They are easy to break, especially if a person tries to slide the whole bank of slats over before turning open the blinds. For a sliding door I supply either a good curtain rod or I get two horizontal blinds, one to cover each panel of the sliding door, mounted on one head rail.

Cleaning Window Shades

Window blinds can be time-consuming to clean. After years of experimenting with different solutions, my current modus operandi is that dirty blinds are one of the few things that I am okay turning over to a new tenant with the caveat that they can turn them back dirty, within reason, at the end of their lease.

Garbage Disposals No Bueno

I dislike garbage disposals with a burning passion. They seem to be mostly a phenomenon in the United States. But dear ones, life elsewhere without a garbage disposal is just fine. In rentals I manage that don’t have garbage disposals-which comprise about 1/3 of all the units I manage, in 12 years I’ve had about 3 clogged sink drains. For the remaining 2/3 of the units I manage that have garbage disposals I get about one maintenance call per month on average about a clogged disposal!

Ninety-nine percent of the time when a disposal jams it’s due to user error.

When a tenant reports a jammed disposal I refer them to online videos that instruct how to unjam a disposal and I let them know that if I have to send maintenance that the bill will be on them, unless we discover that the disposal is just old and worn out. In that case I remove the disposal all together and replace with normal drain pipes. Tenants don’t like this, but I help them to understand that disposals are not essential and are prone to having issues. And I suggest that they keep a small dish next to the sink for debris.

When removing a disposal I have my maintenance person install a “basket drain” in the opening.

In a world with dwindling resources and growing population, do we really need another electricity-sucking gadget in our homes? I say no way! They were invented in 1927 by an American. The rest of the world and everyone prior to 1927 survived just fine without one. You can too.

Water Heaters

Water Heaters!!Smiley_Logo

Most water heaters die right around 10 – 12 years. For properties with unusual water heaters, such as electric (vs. gas), I recommend pre-emptively replacing a water heater if it has the potential to do damage to units below or other areas if it were to leak. Most water heaters start leaking a little bit before they completely cease to function. Renters can be instructed to check on the water heater periodically, but it’s not a guarantee that they will notice a dying water heater in time before it starts leaking badly. Or becomes in urgent need of repair.

Renters expect not to be without hot water for more than a few days, so when replacement is needed it’s usually done in crisis and in a rush. That’s why I recommend foreseeing any challenges in getting a water heater on short notice and planning ahead.

In my experience for the last 13 years, tank water heaters rarely have issues during their lifespan. But when they do it can be a hassle. I recently had a 3 year old Frigidaire water heater that needed a new part. I called the company to order it and even though I had the model number of the unit they insisted that they also needed its serial number. So I had to go back to the house to get the info.

The next time a single family property I manage needs a new water heater I’m going to see if the client will consider a tankless water heater. They are smaller, and much much much more energy efficient.

Which brings me to a topic for a future blog: the conflict for a landlord in regard to spending money on energy-saving things because the tenants, not the landlord, reap the financial benefit of the improvement. So basically, I have to hope that my clients just want to be good world citizens. Here’s hoping : )