International Assistance Dog Week – August 2-8

International Assistance Dog WeekWe love service dogs! Occasionally we have a renter who has a service animal. Our staff sits through regular training on how to properly interact with and respond to service animals. It is important to help these great animals help their handlers!

Did you know that this week (August 2-8) is International Assistance Dog week (IADW)?

International Assistance Dog Week was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations. Assistance dogs transform the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their companion, helper, aide, best friend and close member of their family.

The goals of IADW:

  • Recognize and honor assistance dogs
  • Raise awareness and educate the public about assistance dogs
  • Honor puppy raisers and trainers
  • Recognize heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs in our communities

International Assistance Dog Week was established due to the efforts of Marcie Davis, a paraplegic for over 35 years. Davis is the author of Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook, a resource book that captures personal stories, checklists and practical tips to provide the reader with an A-Z guide about service dogs. As a member of a service dog team, she founded Working Like Dogs to honor assistance dogs around the world and is sponsoring International Assistance Dog Week.

For more information about assistance dogs, please visit:

Assistance Dogs International
ADI is a coalition of not for profit organizations that train and place assistance dogs.

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners
IAADP is a non-profit, cross-disability organization representing people partnered with guide, hearing and service dogs.

Working Like Dogs
WLD is a resource for people with working and service dogs, or who would just like to learn more about them.

2015-08-04-IAWD

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A Conversation About Finding Children Locked In Hot Cars

We meet as a team every week to connect and work on our business processes. In our meeting this morning, the conversation turned to a recent story about two adults leaving a baby in a locked car in Merriam, Kansas. (Click here for coverage from ABC News) It’s a terrifying story that makes you wonder how in the world anyone could actually do something like that. (The child was rescued by bystanders who took action!)

Fake Child in Hot CarDid you know?

Since 1998, the average number of child vehicular heatstroke deaths every year is 38. (See the study here, the data is current as of July 18, 2015)

Media reports about the 637 child vehicular heatstroke deaths from 1998-2014 yielded the following statistics:
53% – Child forgotten by caregiver (parent, babysitter, etc.)
29% – Child playing in an unattended vehicle
17% – Child intentionally left in vehicle by an adult
1% – Circumstances unknown

What would you do?

We asked our team, “what would you do if you found a baby or child locked in a hot car?” The responses were varied, but all focused on making sure the child was safe, no matter what had to be done. Here’s a great article that talks about what to do if you find a child locked in a hot car.

ResQMe Safety HammerGetting a child out of a locked car would require breaking the glass. We talked about how hard it can be to break a car window, even if you have a tire iron or a big rock.

Did you know there are automotive safety hammers that are made specifically for this situation? Many models have integrated seat belt cutters, usually built into the handle of the safety hammer.

Get a safety hammer for your car!

Here’s a link to a highly rated safety hammer on Amazon.com called the ResQMe. You can buy two for $17.95 and get free shipping if your total order is more than $35. Many households have at least two cars.  It might be a good idea to put a safety hammer in the glove box of all your vehicles.

Let us know what you think! Have you ever seen a child locked in a car and no parents around? Our hope is that this post will help you prepare yourself mentally to do the right thing in case you ever do.

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Summer Vacation? Awesome. Water Damage When You Get Home? NOT Awesome.

So here we are in the middle of July.  Friends, family and co-workers are taking vacation and going to fun and interesting places.  It would be a shame to end a great trip by coming home to a nasty surprise… running water dripping through your ceiling.  Can you imagine how shocking and a little scary that would be?  We have people on our team that have experienced that first hand, and it is no fun at all.

Ceiling Water Damage

All you have to do to make sure this doesn’t happen is turn off the main water supply to your home before you leave for an extended period of time.

Also, be sure to turn your hot water heater to the “vacation” setting or turn it down to a lower setting.  That way, you won’t risk damage to your hot water heater if the water level gets low, and you will also save money by not having to keep the water as hot while you are away.

First, you have to find where the main water line comes into your home.  Usually, this is located in the basement along an exterior wall and enters your house close to ground level.  You will see a pipe coming in and either a round, turn-type shutoff or a straight, lever-type shutoff.  (See the pictures below for examples of both types.)  All you have to do is make sure either type is turned from the open position to the closed position, and you have shut off all water to your house.

Main Water Shutoff - Round/Turn Type Main Water Shutoff - Lever Type

Our friends at Sage Restoration shared with us recently the three most common types of water damage they see:

Sage Restoration1.  Washing machine line bursts or was not connected properly
2. Dishwasher water line connection bursts or leaks
3. Supply line to the toilet bursts or leaks

Be sure to avoid this potential problem at the end of a great vacation by turning off the main water supply to your house before you leave!

 

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Deeding a Property to a Trust or Business? Be Sure to Review Your Insurance!

Home InsuranceMoving property into a living trust or business (partnership, limited partnership, family limited partnership, LLC, or corporation) usually happens as part of an asset protection plan or an estate tax plan.

Deeding a property to a trust or business is a common practice. The problem we’ve seen is that people forget to review their insurance policies after making this kind of change.

It started with you purchasing insurance for your home.

When you buy a home, you also buy property and casualty insurance to protect your investment and liability.  The policies are written with the legal names of the owners of the home.

What happens to the property and casualty insurance when property is moved into a trust or company?

When you deed a property to a trust or business, you are legally choosing to have the trust or business own the property.

A sobering example:

Let’s say Jane and John Doe buy a home and insure it under their names.  Years later, they decide to set up a living trust called the “Doe Family Trust.” For estate planning purposes, they deed their home to the trust.  But they forget to call their insurance broker to add the “Doe Family Trust” as an additional insured on their insurance.

Sadly, a fire destroys their home.  They file a claim with their insurance carrier.  One of the first things an insurance adjuster does is make sure the legal entity named in the insurance matches the legal entity that owns the property.  In this situation, the Doe Family Trust owns the home, but the insurance is owned by Jane and John Doe.  These are different legal entities and the insurance company can (and probably will) deny any claims.

Yikes!  What Should I Do?

Home InsuranceIf you’re in this situation, we recommend you contact your attorney and your insurance broker to determine the best plan of action to make sure that you are properly insured.

It could be as easy as an email to your insurance broker asking them to list your trust or LLC as an additional insured.  If they agree, they will mail you updated policies. It’s also possible that your broker will require you to switch your personal insurance to commercial insurance depending on the situation.

Regardless, we wanted to blog about this to make sure you were aware of the potential exposure you could have if you’ve deeded property to a trust or business but haven’t adjust your insurance policies as well!

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Tips For Preventing an Ant Infestation

Have you ever walked into your kitchen and found a bunch of ants on your counters? What about in your bathroom? If you’ve ever had an ant infestation, you know it isn’t any fun. Here are some great tips to avoid having this happen to you in the future!

Ants in HomeHow to Prevent Ant Infestation

  • Store food items that attract ants, such as sugar, syrup, honey, and pet food in closed containers.
  • Rinse out empty soft drink containers. Make sure you dispose of them in your recycle bin or trash in a timely manner.
  • Thoroughly clean up grease or spills.
  • Move garbage bags from your home to the larger collection containers outside or in your garage on a regular basis.  Daily is ideal, but a few times a week is fine.
  • Correct any plumbing leaks because moisture problems can attract ants.
  • Eliminate wood-to-ground contact, such as where landscaping has pushed soil or mulch up against the wood siding of a home.
  • Clip back tree limbs and vegetation touching the roof or siding of the house. Limbs and branches serve as bridges between tree limb nests and the structure of your home.
  • Seal cracks and openings in the foundation, especially where utility pipes and wires enter from the outside.
  • Stack firewood away from the foundation, and elevate it off the ground. Never store firewood in the garage or other areas of the home, as firewood is a major ant nesting area (and a fire hazard as well!).

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Check out the new Home Rental Services website!

Home Rental Services - New WebsiteWe are excited to let you know that our new, mobile friendly website is live!

Check it out by going to home4rent.com.

Top 5 Features of Our New Site:

Caitlin managed this project for us and did a great job of keeping things on track. If you’ve ever been involved in a website project before, you know that it takes a lot of work to get the content, look and feel and functionality just right.  Thanks to Caitlin for knocking this out of the park!

 

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So much rain! Be sure to keep an eye on your basement.

Splash GuardsWe’ve gotten some record breaking rain in the past few weeks.  In the past week alone, we’ve gotten between 3 and 5 inches of accumulated rain in the Kansas City area. (You can see this data on the Storm Watch website. Storm Watch collects rainfall data across dozens of sensors located around the metro.)

With so much rain, it’s very important that you regularly keep an eye on your basement to watch for any sign of water leaks. Our renters are asked to notify their property manager immediately if they find water in their basement so that we can address the issue.

It’s important to make sure that the systems installed in your home to divert water are working properly.  Here are some basic, but important tips for you to consider:

Gutters, Downspouts and Splash Guards

Disconnected DownspoutOne of the major causes of water damage in basements is storm water that’s not properly directed away from the foundation.

Make sure your gutters are draining well during light/medium rains.

Check the downspouts around your property to make sure they are attached properly and angled away from the foundation, preferably towards soil graded away from the house.

Splash blocks can help move water away from foundation walls but don’t work at all when broken or turned back towards the house. Make sure your splash guards are positioned correctly beneath your downspouts.

Sump Pump

Sump Pump Discharge LineIf your house has a sump pump, check the drainage lines for leaks or breaks, especially at the exterior of the home. Some of these pipes have complex runs (like the picture at the right) to move the water to an appropriate drainage point.

A break at any point drops the water back against the foundation creating an unproductive loop.

Watch Your Basement for Signs of Moisture

Keep an eye on your basement (especially finished basements) for signs of water or moisture. If you notice a musty or damp odor, chances are there’s water somewhere, even if you haven’t been able to find it visually.

Humidity can be controlled with a properly sized, stand-alone dehumidifier or potentially by alterations to the HVAC ducting (with owner approval for our tenants).

Utility drains should be inspected regularly and kept free of debris or potential blockages.  Did you know that obstructions leading to flood are potentially a renter liability?

Avoid Expensive Repairs

Hopefully, this information will help you avoid expensive repairs by making sure water is being diverted away from the foundation of your home during this rainy season!

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Happy Memorial Day from Home Rental Services

Monday, May 25th is Memorial Day. We’ve had discussions in the office about what Memorial Day is all about as well as the fact that people sometimes get it confused with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

Did you know that Memorial Day started out as “Decoration Day” and was observed to honor and respect the memory of those that lost their lives in the American Civil War? It later became a Federal holiday to honor anyone that lost their lives while in military service.

We are so thankful for the men and women who have protected the freedoms we enjoy each and every day. Many of us won’t ever know what it’s like to be in a war zone. Or worse, to lose our life in that war zone. Thank you to the brave men and women who have done so for so many decades. And thank you to the families that survive them for being strong.

Grilling Safety Tips for this Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial day is not only a time to remember and reflect those we’ve lost, it’s also a good time for family gatherings.  One of the fun things to do when we get together is eat, and a popular menu is burgers and brats on the BBQ. We thought it would be a good idea to share some grilling safety tips!

Please watch the three minute video below from the NFPA for some great tips… and if you need some motivation, here are some statistics that grabbed our attention:

– In 2012, 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.
– One of every six (16%) home structure fires in which grills were involved in ignition, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill.
– Overall, leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported grill fires.
– Gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts

 

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2015 Pop Tab Pandemonium – HRS at the Ronald McDonald House Event [PICS]

Ronald McDonald House Charities LogoEvery year, we support the efforts of the Ronald McDonald House through their “Pop Tab Pandemonium” event.  This year, the event was held on Saturday, May 9th, and many of our team members were able to attend.

Pop Tab Pandemonium is an event where people bring the aluminum pop tabs and old keys that they have collected as a donation for the Ronald McDonald house.  We save pop tabs all year long, and in the course of doing business as a residential property management company, we accumulate quite a collection of keys that can be recycled. We had hundreds of keys and a bunch of tabs to drop off!

The Ronald McDonald house partners with a local salvage and recycling company to convert the keys and tabs to dollars that go directly towards supporting the Ronald McDonald house programs and projects.

Pop-Tab Pandemonium is an opportunity for groups and individuals across the metro area to visit the Ronald McDonald House and drop off pop-tabs.

On any given night, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City serves 87 families. Last year, our Houses and Family Room provided lodging to more than 4,500 families as well as opened our doors to support over 63,000 visits from family and friends of in-patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

On February 12, 2015, the third home named Wylie was opened.  This new house added 20 more bedrooms, taking the total up to 87 bedrooms in Kansas City.  Here is the Grand Opening video!

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Carbon Monoxide Kills – Make Sure You’re Prepared!

The following quote from the Rossen Report on the Today Show really caught our attention:

Last month, seven children were killed along with their father when carbon monoxide filled the bedrooms of their Maryland home.

It’s shocking how many people don’t have carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.  Did you know that 20,000 to 30,000 people every year get sick from carbon monoxide poisoning?  Even worse, roughly 500 of those people die while sitting or sleeping in their own homes.

As we did some research, we were surprised to learn that carbon monoxide will seep through drywall.  In other words, carbon monoxide can get to any part of your house, regardless of closed doors and what you might think is a sealed room located far away from your gas heater or HVAC unit.

The Centers of Disease Control reports that only 30% of American homes have carbon monoxide detectors in them.  That matches up with the real world survey we did with our team.  (And yes, we encouraged everyone to get a carbon monoxide detector!)

Kidde Carbon Monoxide DetectorPeace of Mind

It’s not expensive to get a Carbon Monoxide Detector.  There’s a highly rated Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector with a 10 year sealed battery for less than $50 on Amazon.com.  The nice thing about these units is that they can sit on a dresser or shelf once activated.  It does come with a mounting bracket if you prefer to install it on a wall.

Where to Install Your Detector

If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) suggests that it be located where you sleep.  Additional detectors on every level of your home, and in every bedroom of your home, would provide extra protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, please consider getting one!  Wouldn’t that be cool if our “public service announcement” saved your life?

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