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Is Recycling Now a Sham?

Recently on an invoice from our trash service provider I noticed an extra charge of $254 for a “Contamination Fee”. Unfamiliar with this type of charge I contacted the company who told me that the property’s Recycling Dumpster contained items that were not recyclable. I thought, “Okay, maybe I need to educate our Residents better.” Sending emails and letters proved to work for one month. Then the next invoice contained not one, but two of these “contamination fees,” each $254! What?????   I called the company again and was told the only thing the company considers to be recyclable is cardboard. Hummm. But the label on the Dumpster says otherwise. “We recommend that you tell your tenants to only put cardboard in the Dumpster.”   Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of recycling? I asked.   From what I have been told, both Waste Management, as well as Republic Services, another national waste removal company, would ship their scrap paper, plastic materials, and other recyclable items to China for processing. However, last summer, China began to refuse to accept these shipments, virtually eliminating the possibility that they would accept anything from foreign countries. What Waste Management and Republic Services has stated is there is no alternate provider who accepts this type of thing without having to pay extremely expensive shipping and dumping fees. Therefore, waste removal companies are taking the recycling to landfills.   In other words, your contract (usually a 5-year contract) that specifies your property will accept resident’s recyclables in a marked container is in fact collecting......
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April Showers Bring May Flowers: Container Gardening Tips

Sun exposureMay is the perfect time to start thinking about container gardening at your apartment community, so I asked my friends at Gethsemane Garden Center for some advice.  Check out these five tips for keeping your property blooming this season. Summer will be on its way in no time!  Before you head to your local gardening center, here are a few criteria you should consider to help you select the perfect flowers, edibles and containers for your space; and achieve success in your gardening endeavors. 1. What type of sun exposure do you have? When growing in containers, either inside or outside on a deck or patio, light exposure is very important.  You may look at a plant that requires full sun and not know what that means.  To break it down: ·         Full Sun = 6-8 hours of sunlight                  ·         Partial Sun = 4 hours of sunlight ·         Partial Shade = 2-3 hours of sunlight ·         Shade = 2 or less hours of sunlight Which direction you face also plays a part in the type of sunlight you get.  For instance; western and southern facing homes get a longer afternoon sun.  This is ideal for many plants, including most edibles, which need full sun to partial sun (be mindful of any neighborhood buildings that will block your light) for continual harvesting of herbs, vegetables or fruits during the season. 2.  Be aware of the wind This is something not all gardeners consider when choosing where and what to plant.  For example, we are......
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Lead residents down a green path this Earth Day

As property owners, managers or leasing agents, you understand the need to conserve energy at your apartment community.  By installing energy-efficient appliances and windows and using eco-friendly alternatives for floors, countertops and paint, you are not only significantly reducing your carbon footprint, but also banking significant savings on energy costs.  If 10,000 owners of large apartment communities change to Energy-Star appliances, the energy saved could power each of your TVs for 1,640,625 years!  While the people on the property level are doing their part to protect the environment, we want to provide you with four sustainable tips you can share with your environmentally-friendly residents—leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd—that they can put into practice today. 1. Be a Savvy Shopper Cut down on the amount of paper or plastic consumed by bringing a reusable shopping bag to the grocery store.  If eco-friendly shoppers forget their tote, ensure those plastic grocery bags get reused to line garbage cans or when scooping kitty litter.  Additionally, fuel and distribution costs can be reduced by shopping at local farmers’ markets instead of large chain grocery stores for produce.  2. Kick the Bottled Water Habit Americans use four million plastic bottles every hour – but only one in four is recycled.  Instead of reaching for bottled water, use a water filter on the kitchen faucet and fill up a non-leaching, lined aluminum SIGG bottle with filtered tap water.  If 10,000 people gave up their daily bottled water habit for a year, they could ......
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Facebook’s Low-kWh King


Do you have a favorite Facebook app? Farmville? Texas Holdem Poker? Causes? BranchOut? Mafia Wars? For me, I can barely find enough time to respond to notifications, let alone exploring apps; however, one of Facebook’s newest apps has managed to capture my attention. Earlier this week Facebook partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Opower in the release of a new “social energy app.” The Opower app allows Facebook users to compare their energy use with friends and enter energy-saving competitions.

Through this Facebook app, they hope to increase awareness of energy efficient practices and empower people to make more economical decisions. The thinking is that if every household reduced energy use by just 1%, it would cut more than $1.6 billion a year from Americans’ energy bills and carry the equivalent impact of 1.2 million homes going off-the-grid.  At this point, 20 million households are eligible to use the app’s “Utility Connect” feature, which allows automatic, monthly updates on actual utility usage from select participating utility providers. 

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Applying Green Principles In Property Management

A guest post by Samantha Harvey, General Waste Collection, Lancashire, United Kingdom With sustainability becoming more important to the general population, there is an ever-increasing necessity to provide eco-friendly properties. The rise in popularity of green technologies has led an industry that was once seen as expensive and niche-based into one that has competitive prices for many aspects of the building process. With the decreasing initial price disadvantage combined with the always present efficiency positives, the green movement presents a good deal of incentive to implement more eco-friendly resources. With the majority of greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings, incorporating sustainable processes in homes is vital for curbing the impact of global warming. As a property manager, the bottom line is the strongest guide as to how a property is to be managed. Incorporating green strategies can be a very productive aspect of property management. A major incentive for providing eco-friendly aspects to homes are the tax breaks, whether on a local or national level. Whether it is windows, heating systems, or solar panels, incentivized government programs are out there waiting for people to take advantage. Along with tax incentives, the strategies of increased efficiency provide savings in the operating costs of residential buildings. In cases where utilities are included, the bottom line effect can really add up. If utilities are not included, the potential renter will, or at least should, recognize that their own personal utility bills would be lower. This provides a key advantage over non-green buildings where potential......
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Five Tips for Proper Document Disposal after Switching to an Electronic Document Management System

More and more apartment owners and property managers are turning to document management systems to control the paper flow and streamline and improve their business processes. These systems not only manage electronic bills, contracts, and invoices, but also create an electronic library of documents once they’ve been scanned into the system. But after you’ve made the move to an electronic document management system, how do you properly dispose of all the information that has occupied file folders, filled storage boxes, packed file cabinets, and otherwise cluttered up your desk? Proper document disposal is essential as improper or otherwise short-sighted removal can put your property management company, employees, and residents at risk for fraud and identity theft. Consider: In November 2011, a Dallas news crew showed up at an apartment complex and pulled credit applications – complete with copies of driver’s licenses and social security cards – from a dumpster. A spokesman for the complex said the documents were intended to be shredded but were mistakenly placed in the dumpster. In 2008, MSNBC’s website reported that sheriff’s deputies in DeKalb County, Ga., outside Atlanta, found the mortgage records of at least 1,200 former customers of Ameriquest Mortgage Co. in a dumpster behind an apartment complex, two years after the nation’s biggest subprime lenders ceased operation. Having a system in place that securely and confidentially destroys or removes sensitive documents enables apartment property managers and owners to comply with federal regulations, safeguard residents’ privacy, and prevent identity theft and security breaches. Here are......
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Repair or Replace?

As much as we talk about the importance of recycling, the United States is the number one trash-producing country in the world.  This means that 5% of the world’s population generates 40% of the world’s waste! With last week being National Recycling Week, I thought it would be fun to show you some ways to conserve waste and save money by repairing, versus replacing, your appliances.  The below infograph, from Part Select, shows the cost to replace some common appliances.  If you click on the buttons, possible symptoms and their fixes are shown.  Have fun playing around with this and maybe next time one of your resident’s dishwasher leaks, you can save some money by repairing it.

 



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QR Codes for Property Management

By Peter Lamandre, Better By Design Real Estate, Scranton, PA I was out and about this week and while on the interstate I pulled behind a contractor that had a QR code on the back of their tow trailer. While I applaud them for embracing an emerging technology, it occurred to me that that may not be the best application of a QR Code. Some of you are probably wondering, “What the heck is a QR Code?” QR code is an acronym meaning Quick Response code. It seems as though QR codes are the latest rage in advertising. But what are they? Without getting into the computer advantages of using QR codes versus standard bar codes; they are in essence a 2D bar code allowing you to pack a large amount of information in a small space. The QR code was invented by a subsidiary of Toyota in the mid 1990s for tracking parts during shipment. The format of the code allowed machines to quickly scan and track parts on a conveyor belt and route their destination accordingly. Fast forward 20+ years and with the proliferation of smartphones with cameras what was once a way to track machine parts is now the hottest new way to pack more advertising into smaller spaces. Would you rather see this… FOR RENT 3 BR, 1BA ½ double $xxx/mo plus utils call for details XYZ Management, Inc maybe with a picture, a phone number perhaps a website, etc. or A single image that when scanned......
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Property Management Blogs

Industry-related blogs are a great way to pick up expert tips, tricks, and insider knowledge quickly and for free. But, of course, there are a lot of blogs out there. Since you only have so much time in the day to surf the web, here’s a quick run-down of five property management-related blogs you should be reading. Marketing and More Property management veteran Mike Brewer, who runs the M Brewer Group blog, is one of the most seasoned and consistent bloggers in the industry. While his blog focuses in large part on marketing, you’ll also find various additional industry topics included as well. Brewer has his fingers on the pulse of current industry conversations, so this blog is a great place to stop by to get a quick gauge of what’s currently being discussed by industry professionals. Cyber Consultant With Behind the Leasing Desk, Seattle-based property management consultant Heather Blume provides readers with musings on the industry and insights on how to up your property management game.  On her blog, Heather writes about everything from staff-related training class excerpts to tips for greening up your property. With quick, snappy reads, this blog is a great place to pick up a mish-mash of ideas to help you better your own business, including everything from tenant retention to customer service. Property Renovations Though Brownstoner.com’s Renovation Blog is Brooklyn-based, property managers from everywhere can learn a lot from the site’s home renovation section. If you’re the type that likes to take on projects—or if......
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The Value of Tenant Forums

As a property manager, you have a great resource that shouldn’t go untapped right at your fingertips: your tenants. For as well as you know your property, most property managers don’t actually live on-site. Because of this, your tenants are more qualified than anyone else to provide insights into potentially beneficial changes, improvements, and upgrades that can make your property more appealing—and perhaps even more valuable. You can solicit information from tenants in a number of ways: through an old-fashioned suggestion box either on-site or at your property management office, through an online form, or through a questionnaire for tenants to fill out upon move-out (or at any other point during their residency at your property, for that matter). In addition to all this, when it comes to encouraging tenants to share their thoughts and suggestions, property managers may want to consider taking a cue from condo associations. Hosting forums on an annual or bi-annual basis for tenants to submit ideas for changes and/or to vote on potential changes you are considering rolling out at your property is a great way to not only receive important feedback, but also to bring tenants together to brainstorm and share ideas that you may have never even considered. Though you have the ultimate say about what does or does not happen at your rental property, receiving this sort of organic feedback can lead you in the right direction, providing a lot of insight into what tenants do and do not want to see happen......
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