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April is Tick and Mosquito Awareness Month in North Carolina

Information received from:  http://ncdhhs.gov/pressrel/2015/2015-04-21_tick_mosquito.htm

For Immediate Release
April 21, 2015
Contact: news@dhhs.nc.gov
              919-855-4840

Raleigh, N.C. – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health (DPH) recommends taking precautions to protect against tick and mosquito bites as summer weather approaches.

Tick- and mosquito-borne infections are common in North Carolina, with more than 750 cases of tick-borne diseases reported in 2014 alone. Additionally, more than 100 cases of domestically acquired and travel-associated mosquito-borne diseases were reported in 2014.

“Ticks and mosquitoes are very common in our state, and they carry bacteria and viruses that can cause serious infections,” said Carl Williams, State Public Health Veterinarian. “The good news is that many of these infections can be prevented by following some basic control measures.”

In proclaiming April as Tick and Mosquito Awareness Month in North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory noted that ticks and mosquitoes are a natural part of our environment and cannot be eradicated, so protective measures are the best way to avoid illnesses associated with them.

As warmer weather approaches, tick-borne diseases increase, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis increase, with the majority of diagnoses occurring from June through September.

To reduce exposure to ticks:

  • Avoid tick habitats, such as wooded, grassy or brushy areas.
  • Use tick repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) on exposed skin and wear permethrin-treated clothing. Use caution when applying to children.
  • Reduce tick habitat on your property with selective landscaping techniques.
  • If there is a tick attached to your body, carefully remove the tick by grasping it with fine-tipped tweezers as close as possible to your skin, then apply a steady, gentle pull until it releases.

Mosquito-borne diseases usually cause either no symptoms or mild, flu-like illness. However, they can cause more serious conditions, including encephalitis, meningitis and meningoencephalitis, and can be fatal. To reduce exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) when exposed to mosquitoes. Use caution when applying to children.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside and if possible, use air conditioning.
  • Reduce mosquito breeding by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least once a week.

For more information on Vector-Borne Illnesses, visit: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/vector.html
To read Governor McCrory’s proclamation, visit www.governor.state.nc.us/newsroom/proclamation/20150401/tick-and-mosquito-awareness-month

CMPD Alarm Ordinance

***Information provided by http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD/organization/Support/Alarms/Pages/Home.aspx***

CMPD False Alarm Reduction Unit
601 E. Trade St.   Charlotte, NC 28202
Office: 704.432.0431           
Fax: 704.336.5712
Online Alarm Application Assistance  To apply for an alarm permit click here.

  • To renew / update an alarm permit, pay a fine, or otherwise service your account, call (877)893-5269 to get a password to access the website.

If you have an electronic burglar alarm system installed within the city limits of Charlotte or the unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County, it must be registered.  Auto, Fire, and Medical alarm systems are excluded.  A permit is valid for 12 months from the date of issuance.
Things you should know about your permit
  • Use the above links to apply or renew a permit online. If you choose, you may print out a paper copy and submit it by mail or fax.  
  • An alarm permit may take up to 10 business days to process. 
  • An alarm permit will be issued to the address you specified.  It is non-transferable.  Upon receipt of the permit number, whether electronically or by mail, it is your responsibility to provide this number to your alarm company.  The police cannot respond to an alarm at your address unless the alarm company has this number when calling to request police dispatch.
If you have received an invoice from the Charlotte Alarm Management Services and wish to pay the balance, please choose one of the three payment options.
  • Paying Fines Online [ https://www.crywolf.us/oss/charlottenc ]
  • Be sure to have your permit number and credit card available.
  • To access your account online you will need your account number and password, if you need assistance with your account/permit number or password, please call 877-893-5269 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., excluding federal holidays.
  • To pay online follow these steps:
    • Go to “Registered Alarm Users” and sign in.
    • Select “Pay by Credit Card” from the menu on the left.
    • Select the invoice(s) you wish to pay. Invoice(s) MUST be paid in full.
    • Enter your credit card information and then click “Submit”.
       
  • Paying by check (no cash)
    • Make your check payable to the City of CharlotteMail it to:         
      Charlotte Alarm Management Services
      PO Box 602486 Charlotte, NC 28260-2486.
      ATTENTION: Please allow up to three (3) business days to process all payments received.
       
  • For payment assistance, call  1-877-893-5269

What to Look for in a Property Manager

What to Look for in a Property Manager

Property management companies make it easy for professional landlords and investors alike to own and manage rental properties. But it’s important to choose the right one.
February 2015 | By Brenton Hayden

It’s not enough to hire just any property management company. It’s important to find one that’s professional, reputable, and well established. We’ve all heard horror stories—such as this one about a property manager in Niagara Falls who dropped the ball on one of the rentals that he was supposed to be managing, allowing his buddy to crash in one of the units rent-free. Not only did this cause the landlord to miss out on valuable rental income each month, the freeloading friend attracted a number of unsavory types to the premises, and soon a steady stream of would-be criminals were frequenting the complex.

Despite the frightening stories, the reality is that many property management companies are solid and reputable. A good company will manage your properties efficiently, with a high level of care. But a great property management company will be able to help you to get the most out of your investment.
The good news is that finding a reliable property management company isn’t a matter of luck; it’s about knowing what to look for. Here are a few defining characteristics that all professional property management companies have in common.

A Solid Reputation

First and foremost, a professional property management company should have a solid reputation. These days, it’s easier than ever to conduct research on a company, so head online to do your homework before hiring anyone. Look up the company on the Better Business Bureau website and make sure they have a good rating. Research the state or local governing agencies for the industry in your area. Check out online review sites, and read what people are saying. Run a quick Google search to see if there are any negative blog posts or threads in forums. People talk, and they are especially inclined to share bad experiences online. Chances are, if the business is less than reputable, you will find evidence of that in your research. Pamela Greene opened PG Management Group, LLC after spending 4 years in Property Management and 8 years (as of 2015) in real estate.

Formal Tenant Screening Procedures

One bad tenant can cause a great deal of chaos for any landlord. A reputable company should have a solid tenant screening procedure in place to help prevent that situation. Find one that conducts background checks, reference checks, and credit checks. It’s also worth ensuring that it has airtight antidiscrimination policies in place to protect you in case a tenant alleges unfair treatment. PGMG processes a Nationwide Criminal Background Check, a Nationwide Eviction Check, and a Credit Check. Please feel free to review our Application Qualifications.

Extensive Experience

The average lifespan for property managers is only nine months in the business. Someone who’s new to the game could easily make mistakes that could end up costing you money. For example, an inexperienced property manager could end up calling in a professional electrician for minor maintenance issues that could have been better left for a handyman. These seemingly insignificant errors can quickly add up. Your best bet is to find a property management company that’s well established and that employs experienced professionals who are able to make smart decisions on your behalf. Pamela Greene opened PG Management Group, LLC after spending 4 years in Property Management and 8 years (as of 2015) in real estate. Pamela is also a Professional Member of NARPM® (National Association of Residential Property Managers) Please feel free to learn more about NARPM® by checking out Why Use One?

A Track Record of Short Vacancy Periods

Watch out for property management companies with long vacancy times in between tenants. Ask them how fast are they able to get properties on the market. A property management company with an excellent vacancy rate will be happy to share this information with you, and they may even advertise it on their website. PGMG normally has a lot of interest in our properties, however, not everyone will be able to be approved. This is one of the main reasons we sometimes have a longer vacancy rate. There is not a number of days or time frame that I can give you, however, my goal is to find you a qualified tenant to lease your property for the highest amount, in the shortest amount of time possible.

A Large Client Base

Beware of the property manager with no clients. This could be a sign of someone who has trouble managing rentals and keeping tenants in units. It could also show laziness or disorganization. When vetting property management companies, don’t be afraid to ask for references, and look for one that has an extensive client base. Not only will this verify their capabilities, there’s also a good chance that this company will be well connected with local contractors and better able to find the best deals on maintenance and repairs. References will be available upon request, with my clients approval and please feel free to view my reviews. (you will see them at the bottom of the linked page.)

Strong Policies

Policies can tell you a lot about a company. Any legitimate company will have processes in place and will be happy to share many of them with you. Ask about their systems, and make sure they look solid. It’s also a good idea to find out if they offer any routine maintenance service for rentals because that can help to prevent minor issues from escalating into the need for major repairs. Ask about their system for collecting past-due rent, and what their protocol is for after-hours emergencies. Make sure their solutions are in line with your needs. I am happy to provide you with information on how we operate. Please feel free to email me at pamela@pgmanagementgroup.com or give me a call at the office 704-566-6310 or on my cell at 704-619-4996.

The Ability to Provide Written Contracts

An unwillingness to provide a written contract could be a sign of trouble or at least an indication that the company doesn’t have its act together. A reputable property management company will be more than happy to provide you with a contract outlining its terms and conditions as well as pricing and fees. This will help to keep both parties on the same page, and will outline clear expectations, so nobody is left in the dark. We will be happy to supply you with a Sample Property Management Agreement. Please feel free to email me at pamela@pgmanagementgroup.com or give me a call at the office 704-566-6310 or on my cell at 704-619-4996.

It’s worth the time and effort to fully vet potential property management companies. After all, it’s not just about keeping yourself out of trouble. It’s about finding a company that can help you to get the most out of your rental property.

To view the original article by Realtor® Magazine, please click here.

Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

Information received from: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm/preventing-thawing-frozen-pipes

Being prepared and informed may help you to avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. The American Red Cross provides information and suggestions around how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.

Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem

Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
 
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installers directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Future Protection
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
  • Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.

How To Clean An Icemaker

When you buy your first home or move into your first apartment, someone should hand you a huge book of every little thing you should maintain and clean on a regular basis. I don’t know why it never occurred to me, but for some odd reason I never realized that you should clean an ice maker. Like never. Of all the 99 billion things to clean and maintain in a home, this one has never even blipped once on my radar, until now. I know, it’s gross. Really gross. But, if I’ve overlooked it, I’m betting at least one other person has overlooked it, too, so I thought I’d share how to clean an ice maker on a refrigerator.

how to clean an icemaker

Now my dirty little confession… we’ve had this appliance for two years and I’ve never cleaned it. Two years! I shudder to think of all of the cups of ice that has been filled through the dirty ice maker. Bleheheheh. But when you know better, you do better, so now I clean it once a month.

how to clean an icemakerIt was nasty. It makes me ashamed to share it, but my point is to help someone, somewhere, so I’m sharing.

how to clean an icemaker

I started by pulling out my HomeRight SteamMachine, which they sent me earlier this year. (Can I just say how much I love working with HomeRight?!?)

how to clean an icemakerI filled it up with distilled water (per the directions) and let it heat up. While it was heating, I added on this nozzle that pressurized the jet of steam to get into all the nooks and crannies of the ice maker and get it really clean.

Using the nozzle, spray out every inch of the ice maker within an inch of it’s life. You’re going to need paper towels to clean up all the drippy gunk. It’s gonna be nasty. Really nasty. But, the point is to get rid of the grime, so it’s gotta go somewhere – in the trash works for me.

how to clean an icemaker

The chute that guides the ice is the hardest part. Grime will be trapped under there, so you’ve gotta get it loose to clean an ice maker. Mine slips down a bit by pressing on each side at the top, then working it out. It doesn’t come completely off, but it does come out enough to clean well inside all those tiny nooks and crannies. Yours may be different, so refer to your owner’s manual. *Open the door or turn off the ice maker function BEFORE doing this. If not, you’ll have ice all over your floor. (Ask me how I know?)*

For all of the teeny tiny spots, try using cotton swabs to help grab the grime and get it all cleaned off. It took a good handful and about 30 minutes to clean mine, but if yours isn’t at my horror level, you may not need as long.

While you’re in there, clean up the water dispenser the same way, because if your ice maker is dirty, chances are the water dispenser will be, too.

How to clean an ice makerBefore you finish, pull out the tray on front, because the steam will make the grime slip down under and through the cracks on it, plus you can clean it much easier if you pull it off and clean it. Mine comes off fairly easily by pulling straight out with light pressure.

how to clean ice and water dispenserAfter you’ve sufficiently grossed yourself out with grime and gunk, and you’ve finally learned how to clean an ice maker, stand back and give yourself a hand. Then promptly put it on your calendar to do this once a month so you’ll never be grossed out again.

And if you wonder what else you’ve blissfully been unaware of cleaning, please let me know. I’m probably missing it, too!

*Thanks to HomeRight for partnering with me on this post. All ideas, photos, opinions and grime are 100% my own.*

About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She’s usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She’s addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.

Getting Your Property “Rent Ready”


By Tony Sena on 15 Aug 2011
 
“Rent ready” means the property has been cleaned, repaired, or remodeled and that it’s in rent-able condition for new tenants. Here is a 12-point checklist to make sure your home is rent-ready:

1.    Re-key the locks. Change the garage door and alarm codes.  Re-key all outside doors.  And remember other locks too: mailboxes, side gates, outdoor sheds. Re-keying and recoding locks makes old keys unusable – which is important since you never know who may have a set of your old keys or codes. You won’t need to change them, but make sure you have all HOA-issued gate remotes and codes, plus keys (and codes) to any community pools and fitness centers.


2.    Professionally clean the carpets. Professional “full-steam and shampoo” carpet cleaning works best – you don’t want any residue left because it can attract dirt.

3.    Spruce up the yard. Cut the grass, trim the bushes, prune the trees, pull the weeds, fix broken sprinkler heads, replace dead or dying shrubbery, and add some new flowering plants (if it’s the season) to flower beds. Remember to remove flower pots, yard furniture and garden decorations; and don’t forget to spray any dirt from the cracks in the sidewalks and patio.


4.    Change the air filters. In addition to changing the air filters, cleaning the vents and surrounding ceiling area, it’s not a bad idea to replace any reusable air filters with disposable ones. Disposable air filters don’t require monthly cleaning (like reusable ones) and make for one less maintenance item your tenant needs to remember.

5.    Get a professional top-to-bottom interior cleaning. Renters expect their rental property to be clean for move-in, so have the property professionally cleaned. Professional cleaners can get every area of your property clean – from scrubbing the baseboards to cleaning out the refrigerator, no room will be left behind.

6.    Let in the light. Replace any broken light bulbs; consider putting in energy-efficient bulbs, which reduce energy costs and don’t need to be replaced as often. (And don’t forget the bulbs outside!) For outside lights that don’t need to be replaced, give them a thorough wipe-down: dirt and debris tend to make these lights dimmer; and when it comes to outside security, brighter is better.


7.    Inspect ceiling fans. Make sure that all fans (indoor and outdoor) operate properly and are dust-free. This is especially important if the property is older and hasn’t been inspected in a while.


8.    Clean away all webs (cob and spider). Clean all indoor webs that may hang in corners and walls. On the outside, clean all webs that may be near doors, overhangs and lights.


9.    Inspect and clean windows and sliding glass doors. Windows and (especially) sliding glass doors can easily build up dirt. A good cleaning will not only let in more light, but may help them work better. When dirt builds up, say, on a sliding door’s slot, it may prevent the door from operating properly. The door can jam and become a costly repair for you.


10.    Clean, repair or replace screens. Torn screens can allow pests into your rental property (besides being a security and visual problem). So repairing or replacing screens may save you money (less visits from your pest-control company) and give you peace of mind.


11.    Spray for pests. It’s better to have the property sprayed on a regular schedule than to wait until there’s a pest problem. You’ll definitely want to hire a professional pest control company to give your property a full treatment for all of the common bugs in your area.


12.    Paint, repair and fix. Fix any holes in the walls before applying a fresh new coat of paint. Repair or replace any carpet that shows signs of damage (or doesn’t come clean after a professional carpet cleaning). Fix or replace any damaged tiles.

Hanukkah Dangers — Oy Vey!!

Content From HouseLogic
Written By: Lisa Kaplin Gordon

An electric menorah in a window is a way to safely light your home for Hanukkah. Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

When Jews around the world light Hanukkah candles, they’re playing with fire — literally.

Hot wax can cause burns, and lit candles can spark house fires if unattended. Once, my aptly named cat, Blaze, singed her tail when she flicked it too close to my menorah. It was a Hanukkah miracle that she and the house didn’t go up in flames.

Now, my family obeys the ancient commandment to publically light the menorah, but we stay safe by placing an electric one in the window. 

We light candles, too. But we put them on our granite kitchen island countertop — a non-flammable surface that’s too high for our dogs to reach. (Blaze died years ago from natural, not flammable, causes.)

Another Hanukkah hazard is the hot cooking oil we use to fry traditional potato latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). The oil can ignite and cause a kitchen firethat will wreck the holiday.

We want you have a happy Hanukkah. So, keep these safety tips in mind.

  • Never leave lighted candles unattended.
  • Place the menorah on a flat, fire-resistant surface (aluminum foil or stoneware platter) away from drapes, curtains, and wood cabinets.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles. Or this can happen:

  • Place electric menorahs in the window instead of lit candles. Make sure wires are not frayed.
  • When cooking with hot oil, use a splatter guard and oven mitts to protect your skin from oil burns. 
  • To extinguish an oil cooking fire, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid. DO NOT douse an oil fire with water. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Keep pets away from Hanukkah treats that can make them sick, especially fatty foods and onions (latke ingredients), and chocolate Hanukkah gelt — the coins used to play the traditional dreidel game.

Ever have a Hanukkah accident?

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