Squeezed By High Rent

scissors cutting a budget gif 300x300We’ve been talking a lot about how rents have been increasing faster than inflation. We’ve mentioned articles in the Wall Street Journal. Now to bring it all home, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has made a similar report in a recent article Households squeezed by high rents.

The article notes that there’s large segments of the population paying 50% or more of their income for rent. That’s going to make it tough to meet other obligations like utilities, car care and food. And it’s a precarious place to be. One missed paycheck and you could be out on the street.

Time for some solutions

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Getting to Know the Criminal Next Door

crime scene do not cross 300x199Seattle recently approved an ordinance that mostly prohibits landlords from screening tenants based upon their criminal records. This is the illogical extension of recent HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) guidance instructing landlords to consider only actual convictions, not merely arrests, and to consider convictions on a case by case basis.

The HUD guidance is reasonable, but in the Seattle ordinance, a landlord may be able to deny housing to those listed on a sex offender registry, but only if the landlord can show a legitimate business reason for doing so. The standard of a “legitimate business reason,” is a wide-open invitation to litigation. In the meantime, the rest of the Seattle tenant population is immune from being denied housing based upon their criminal history.

Violations of this new law will be painful for landlords, up to $11,000 for a first offense. Continue reading

Bad Moon Rising

witch on a broomstick 300x270I see a bad moon a-rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin’
I see bad times today
– – Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969

OK, so now you know that I’m an old guy. But most people rate this one a classic, so you’ve probably heard it too. The thing about a classic, it always seems timely.

So the bad moon that’s rising today is your rent. Our friends at Apartment Therapy recently had this headline to share: Rent on the Rise: Prediction Says It’s Going Way Up in 40 of the 50 Biggest Cities. You can click on the headline to read the full article.

But here’s the gist of it: The good news is that job growth has come to just about every city, large and small. The bad news is that same expansion of employment brings with it increased population and increased competition for housing and in most areas, new construction has not kept up with demand. Continue reading

Tips for Living in NW Milwaukee

milwaukee skyline at night 300x171Making the move to the northwest side of Milwaukee? Whether you’re a Wisconsin native or relocating from a coastal beach, you’re in for a treat, with its diversity of residents, community groups, businesses, and neighborhood histories.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

The neighborhoods making up the northwest parts of Milwaukee include places like North Granville, Silver Spring, Havenwoods, Park Place, and Menomonee River Hills. Most residents in the area are employed in the private sector, performing administrative, social services, or sales work.

There’s plenty of attractions like museums, arts, markets and galleries for regular enjoyment. The Northwest’s neighborhoods also come with a comparatively low cost of living, so you’ll be able to funnel cost savings into having a lively after-work and weekend life. Continue reading

Living Alone For The First Time

freedom comic 300x225OK, that whole roommate thing is over. Time to strike out on your own, cut the apron strings, forge your own path. Or something like that. It’s good to know that you’ve still got that pioneer spirit, but in case the prospect of having your own four walls seems a little daunting, here’s a few tips to make the transition easier: Continue reading

Can I Smoke In My Apartment?

james dean 300x300Hey, James Dean looked so cool with that cigarette hanging out of his mouth. But here’s a news flash – James Dean has been dead for 60 plus years and smoking is just about dead too.

Of U.S. adults, only about 15% are smokers. Second hand smoke is a known health hazard. At Decker Properties, it is incumbent upon the smoker to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that their smoking does not impair the quiet enjoyment of those around them, including air quality. And if that means that you can’t smoke in your own apartment, then so be it.

E-cigarettes are the new kid on the block, but they really make no difference. Your neighbors’ rights to clean air trumps your right to smoke, even e-cigarettes. Continue reading

To Move or Not Move, That is the Question

moving a house 300x225If the question is whether or not to move from a Decker Properties apartment, then obviously, the answer is no! But for the many folks moving to one of our wonderful homes, the question is whether you should move your stuff yourself or hire somebody.

The main issue here is money. Like many things in life, there’s often more to moving than meets the eye, so let’s take a clear look at what you’re getting into before you head off to U-Haul. Continue reading

The Secret to Some Fast Cash Part 2

community managerThere’s nothing like a few extra bucks in the bank to put a little more spring in your step. Last time we were talking about helping the landlord to make a little extra money. The logical next step to that arrangement is to become an onsite manager.

Can’t neighbors be annoying? Maybe, but not so much if you get to choose them. Since you’ll be renting the apartments, you get to pick who your neighbors will be. And if anybody does get out of line, you’ll have the authority to impose more linear behavior.

Can’t stand litter and dirt? Good. Call me, you’re just what we’re looking for. You can keep the place up to your high standard and get paid for doing it.

Were you trying to get a tan anyway? Great, you can tan while you’re cutting the grass and get paid for that too.

Know how to get things done? Like to clean? Like working with people? Enjoy being your own boss? If so, we need to talk. Don’t keep me waiting!

The Secret to Some Fast Cash Part 1

man pushing a wheelbarrow full of cashHey, is it too soon to talk about Christmas? Or too late to talk about that summer getaway?

Whichever one is your next target, it’s going to cost some coin. So here’s a secret to get your piggy bank to rattle a little louder:

How about a job with a really short commute time? Working for somebody you already know? And must like at least a little?

That wonderful employer might be your landlord.

Chances are, your landlord probably could use a little extra help. There’s grass that needs cutting, apartments that need cleaning and halls that need vacuuming. What about this idea: Does your apartment need an upgrade? Are you a little handy? You might even get paid for fixing up your own apartment!

Whatever the circumstances, there’s at least a good chance that there’s some money to be made doing things you may even enjoy. Instead of complaining about the litter in the yard or the shrubs that need trimming, how about parlaying that into a job?

You might even graduate to being an onsite manager. More about that next time.

To Clean or Not to Clean?

hire a maid to clean your apartment 300x295To clean or not clean, that is the question. I couldn’t have said that better if I was William Shakespeare.

But seriously, are you going to clean your apartment yourself or farm that out to somebody else? Here are the pros and cons.

The biggest drawback – you have to pay for this! But think it through – what would be smarter, an extra hour of overtime at your day job or spending an extra hour at home scrubbing your toilet? Continue reading