How to Get a Bird Out of Your House (without Harming it)

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How to Break the Lease for an Apartment or Home Legally

In this article, we’re going to cover some ways you can break the lease to your apartment or home without it hitting you in the wallet.

Depending on where you live, there are laws that protect you — in certain circumstances — if you need to get out of your lease before it expires:

  • Active member of the U.S. military under orders: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows service members the right to break a lease early free of charge due to military orders.
  • If the landlord illegally enters the premises: In many states, a landlord must give 24 to 48 hours’ notice before entering your apartment or home. If the landlord violates this, the tenant may be able to terminate a lease early. But sometimes taking legal action is necessary to get this law enforced.
  • Victim of domestic violence, sex abuse or stalking: In many states, including Arizona and Georgia, abuse victims can break their leases without penalty. The victim typically must provide the landlord with a copy of a protective order/police report and up to 90 days’ notice. In most cases, the tenant will still be liable for routine charges.
  • If the dwelling meets the ‘uninhabitable’ definition: If a storm, natural disaster, violence or other damage beyond your control, renders an apartment or home uninhabitable, you may be able to break the lease. Your local housing authority should have details that pertain to your area.
  • If the rental doesn’t meet disability accessibility requirements: Most states don’t let you break a lease for medical reasons unless you can prove that the reason for the malady is the dwelling itself. But under the Fair Housing Act, landlords should accommodate a tenant who becomes disabled.

Regardless of your reason, breaking a lease takes careful planning so that you don’t incur any unnecessary penalties.

Among the most common consequences for breaking a lease:

  • Civil lawsuit by the landlord
  • Demands of immediate payment
  • Forfeiture of your deposit
  • Negative marks on your credit report

Here are five things that should help you break a residential lease with as little impact as possible:

Removing the smell from your clothes

Skunk spray has the tendency to soak into the fibers of clothing, lasting for a very long time. Unless the clothing is a cherished piece- toss it, because the smell is hard to get rid of. If the oily part of the skunk spray is not removed from the clothing, the stink will remain.

  • If you want to try to clean it, washing with your regular detergent may not get the smell completely. Hot water, liberal amounts of detergent and 4 cups of vinegar in the wash water. Otherwise the scent will soak into the fabric permanently.
  • You can try adding some baking soda alternating with vinegar is the wash on alternate loads to get that entire stink out.

One note here: be sure to smell your clothes before putting them in the dryer. If the odor remains, try washing them again. If you put them in the dryer before the entire odor is gone, you will actually seal it into the fabric.

Anyone who has ever come in contact with a skunk knows how hard it can be to get rid of that smell once and for all. By using some of the tips above, you should be able to free yourself and your pets from the stinky remains.

If you think you have a skunk problem, call Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control today. 1-888-592-0387.

Proudly serving: Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Sudbury, St. Catharine’s, Cambridge and the Niagara Region.

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Other considerations when getting a home equity loan

If you think you’re ready to use your home equity, keep the following considerations in mind.

  • Home equity rates are relatively low. Home equity loan rates and home equity line of credit rates are much lower than those for credit cards and other types of loans, and they may be easier to qualify for. This is because home equity loans are secured loans, meaning they use your home as collateral in case you fall behind on payments.
  • Home values can crash. One reason to be careful with home equity loans is that home values fluctuate. If you take out a big loan and the value of your home drops, you could end up owing more than what your house is worth. This is a condition known as being “upside-down” or “underwater.” The housing crash of 2008 left millions of borrowers stuck in homes they could not sell because the value of their homes sank and their mortgage amounts were more than their homes were worth.
  • Your house is on the line. If you bought your house or refinanced when rates were low, you have to ask yourself how wise it is to borrow against your home, especially if the rate you’re now borrowing at is considerably higher than that of your first mortgage. If you fall behind on payments, you’re at risk of foreclosure. A cash-out refi might be a better option if you can get a good rate, but you’d be starting all over again with interest payments.

Does homeowners insurance cover damage from bats?

Bats living in your home can damage your house with foul odors and stains. However, bats are less likely to cause damage by gnawing or chewing. If you see teeth marks, it may be more likely that you have a problem with mice, rats or squirrels. Learn how to spot the signs of other pest problems.

Generally speaking, damage from bats isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance. That’s because pest infestations are considered a home maintenance issue, since the damage is gradual – as opposed to a sudden event, like your neighbor’s tree falling on your roof.An Erie Insurance agent can help you understand what your insurance does (and doesn’t) cover. Find a local agent in your neighborhood to ask questions or get a customized homeowners insurance quote.

How to Keep Mice Out of Your House by Denying Them a Food Supply

Store Food in Airtight Containers

Food left out attracts mice and provides a food supply for them and their offspring. Keeping food put away or sealed whenever possible, denies them food, and encourages them to seek better lodging.

Keep the Kitchen Clean

Mice make their nests near the closest food supply. Cleanliness goes along with sealing food away but goes even further. Mice will eat paper, cardboard boxes, and other debris in addition to food.

Dispose of food and packing quickly in a sealed trash container.

Keep Mice Away from the Trash

Move the trash cans away from the house and use cans with tight-fitting lids.

Metal cans with tight-fitting lids are the best because a mouse can still smell food, even in a sealed can, and will chew a hole in the plastic. They cannot chew through aluminum and other metal cans which keeps them away.

Put Away Pet Foods

Don’t leave pet food and water out where they can attract a mouse. Put pet food away between feedings and remove water whenever possible. Mice will seek out a convenient water supply. If the supply dries up, they will move on. Encourage them to leave.

3) Calculate costs of being a landlord

Any experienced landlord will tell you that cash flow is one of the most important aspects of being a successful landlord! If you don’t have a firm hold on your finances you’ll sink quicker than a lead turd in the bath-tub!

After you’ve calculated your rental income, start forecasting your expenses so you can determine whether or not this venture is even financially viable:

  • Costs associated to meeting health and safety requirements (which I’ll discuss in more detail further down)
  • Finding tenants / Marketing costs
  • Insurance
  • Mortgage
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Income Tax

For more details, I recommend going through my breakdown of the financial costs of being a landlord (but after you’ve finished this blog post)!

Preventing Future Bats in the House

Bearerofthecup / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Once the bat is out of your house, it's worth considering how it got inside in the first place. Most of the time, bats end up in your home accidentally. They may chase an insect through an open window, or they may get confused while finding their way in the dark. If one is resting on the outside of your house and gets startled, the bat may dart in through an opening leading indoors. Bats can also fall down chimneys without a cap screen at the top.

Here are some simple steps to take to bat-proof your house:

  • Use caulk to fill in any openings larger than a quarter inch by half inch.
  • Install window screens, chimney cap guards, and draft guards beneath doors.
  • Ensure all doors close tightly, especially in the attic.
  • Use plastic sheeting or mesh to cover outdoor entry points. These allow bats to exit but prevent re-entry.

Warnings

  • It is illegal in many areas to release trapped animals of any kind on property that belongs to other people. If you trap a mouse, release it into the wild or on your own property.

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What Do Mice Hate?

Vinegar

You knew that vinegar is useful around the house, but did you know it can help you get rid of mice? Mice do not like the smell of vinegar and will avoid it, if possible.

Use this to your advantage by soaking cotton balls in vinegar and placing them around your house in areas where mice visit. Replace or re-soak the cotton balls when they begin to dry out.

Mothballs

Mothballs repel mice and humans, so you will want to be careful where you place them. You don’t want your clothes and personal items to smell of mothballs.

However, put them in storage areas, attics, and other disused places to repel mice and prevent them from nesting in the area.

Run fans

  • Turn on electric ceiling fans and desk fans to keep the air circulating in your home.
  • If you allow the air to remain still and stagnant, the skunk smell will only sink deeper into your fabrics. Turning on all the fans in your home as soon as possible helps to keep the air in your house moving, thereby preventing the odor from settling into anything too deeply.
  • This works especially well when used in conjunction with opened windows.

How to rent out your house and buy another FAQs

Can you rent out your house and get another mortgage to buy a new house?

Yes, renting out your current house and getting another mortgage to buy a new home is possible. However, you’ll need to meet the financial requirements of a mortgage lender to be approved for the new loan.

Can you own a house and rent another?

Yes, it is entirely possible to own one house and rent another. Even if you don’t have experience as a landlord, you can work with a property manager to make a home a profitable investment. Consider talking with a knowledgeable real estate expert to discuss the details of your unique situation.

How much equity do you need to buy a second house?

If you want to use some of the equity in your first home to buy a second house, it is possible. But most lenders will only allow borrowers with good credit to take out up to 85% of the home’s current value. 

For example, let’s say that your home is worth $100,000. In this case, you would only be able to take up to $85,000 in equity out of your home. But if you owed any remaining mortgage balance, that amount would need to be subtracted from the $85,000. So, if you still owe $15,000 on the mortgage, you’ll only be able to borrow up to $70,000.

Can I use my house as collateral to buy another house?

No, only the home being purchased can be used as collateral for a loan. 

However, you can take out a home equity loan to take advantage of the value you’ve built in your first house to fund the down payment for the second. 

Keep in mind that defaulting on a home equity loan would lead to losing the first home.

Can you rent your house if you have a mortgage on it?

If you still have a mortgage on your house, you may or may not be able to rent it out. The decision lies with your mortgage lender. With that, you should read the details of your mortgage agreement or talk to your mortgage lender before renting out your home.

How long do you have to live in your house before you can rent it out?

As a rule of thumb, most lenders will expect you to live in a home with owner-occupied financing for at least 12 months. However, life can change rapidly. With that, you may find yourself with a legitimate reason to rent your home sooner than that. 

But you’ll need to talk to your mortgage lender to determine when you’ll be allowed to transition your home into a rental property.

Can I live in my investment property?

In some cases, you can live in your investment property. For example, let’s say that you have a property with 2 to 4 units. You’ll be able to live in one unit and rent out the others. Additionally, you can live in an investment property without any other tenants. However, you’ll need to consider that the expenses associated with the property will no longer be tax-deductible.

Is being a landlord worth it?

The financial reward of being a landlord can add up quickly. However, you’ll need to run the numbers to determine exactly how much you should expect to make. 

Sometimes, you might decide that the time commitment is too much. That’s okay! Consider hiring a property manager or finding another way to put your money to work for you.

What Causes Squirrels in the House?

Squirrels enter your home for the same reasons as mice, rats, and other rodents: They are seeking food, warm shelter, and nesting areas. If your home has easy access points, squirrels will have an invitation to come indoors and attempt to set up housekeeping.

6) Legal compliance

This is the part which most prospective landlords are most concerned with; all the safety and legal requirements!

I’m not going to lie, it can be overwhelming, and it doesn’t help that different UK countries (e.g. England, Wales, Scotland) have different rule books!

But, actually, there aren’t THAT many requirements you need to be aware of in order to be legally compliant to start letting your home, and most of it is pretty straight-forward to comply with! I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty here, because I’ve already compiled a nifty checklist of requirements for new tenancies (once again, I recommend making the jump after you’ve made it to the bottom of this page).

Don’t want to use chemicals? Here’s how to get smoke smell out of your house naturally

If you’re concerned about toxic or harsh chemicals that may be in some cleaning products, there are several naturally-derived things you can do. Place activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar in a bowl in each room. If you are a coffee lover, you could also use coffee grounds. All these substances can help to absorb odors in a non-invasive way.

You can also mask the smoke smell with vanilla extract. Use a cloth to wipe it over different surfaces in the home, or put some on cotton balls. You can also do the same with essential oils or use scented candles to get rid of the smell. House plants are also excellent at absorbing chemicals and purifying the air. Buy some and place them throughout the house.

Final Thought

In most states, landlords have an obligation to provide a safe and livable home at all times. If that standard is not met, the tenant usually has some recourse to try to break the lease without penalty.

Here’s the thing: It’s going to take time, possibly months. It’s up to the tenant to take meticulous notes and document the problem to prove the reason for wanting to break the lease.

That said, here are three steps you should always take when dealing with a landlord:

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  • If you haven’t signed the lease yet: Make sure there’s an “access clause” in the rental agreement that stipulates when the landlord can enter your place. It should only be with your permission, advanced written notice or in the case of an emergency. This clause can protect you later.
  • Put it in writing and send it via Certified Mail: Assume any communication between the landlord and you may end up in court. To make sure your landlord receives your correspondence, always communicate with a certified letter.
  • Be peaceful: As the old saying goes, you’ll attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Try to compromise with the landlord, even if it means accepting a partial penalty of some kind.

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