Monthly Archives: October 2010


Tips on Renting Your Home

Tips on renting your home

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Renting out your property can be a great source of income, but you should make sure you’re prepared to take on such a responsibility. Here are some basic tips on renting your home, as well as some excellent resources to help get you started, including all the forms you’re going to need.

Get references. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you should take it a step further than just calling the current landlord of the potential tenant. Ask the potential tenant for the contact information for  a few past landlords. The current landlord may be itching to get their tenant out so their “recommendation” could be dishonest. If you check with previous landlords, you could get a more honest opinion.

Make sure you’re ready. Renting your home isn’t as simple as collecting a cheque at the end of the month. You, as the landlord, will have several responsibilities including safety and repair maintenance and upkeep of the home. To learn more, click here.

Increase the rent for pet owners. Even if the potential tenant promises their cat or dog is well behaved, you shouldn’t take their word for it, or you could be the one who pays for it later. Even well trained pets can track mud in the house, stain carpets, have accidents, scratch the floors with their claws … you get the picture. If you’re not completely opposed to the idea of allowing pets, you should consider increasing the monthly rent by $25 or so, to help compensate for any clean-up or repairs you may need to make when the tenant moves out.

Renting to pet owners

Do a walk-through. Make sure you do a walk-through with the new tenant before they move in, and document the condition of the home (link to printable form below).  You can also consider taking photos of the place to further protect yourself.

Make sure you have the proper insurance. It’s extremely important that you check with your insurance provider before you rent your home to make sure you have proper coverage. Don’t assume your current policy will cover your home once you are renting it out. Should your tenant accidently burn it to the ground, it could be a very costly mistake.

Rental forms

Don’t forget the paperwork. There are several forms that should be filled in to help protect yourself and the tenant. Some of which include (clicking on the name will open the PDF copy of the form in a new window so you can print it):

Accommodation Inspection Report

Residential Lease

Security Deposit Remittance Form – If you’re collecting a security deposit from your tenant, you must complete this form and hand it in, along with the security deposit, to the Office of the Rentalsman within 15 days of receiving it from your tenant. The amount of the security deposit cannot exceed the equivalent to one month’s rent. As the landlord, you have 7 days after the tenant moves out to make a claim to the Office of the Rentalsman to redeem any of the deposit, whether it’s for rent owing, damage, etc. The deposit will be given back to the tenant if you fail to make a claim. For more information on security deposits, read this form.

Notice of Termination to Tenant

Make regular inspections. For long term rentals, make sure you do annual inspections to ensure the tenant isn’t causing any damage. You could find yourself with a nasty surprise when the tenant moves out if you don’t make an inspection on a regular basis. You must give your tenant notice before entering the premises though, and the length of notice depends on why you’re entering the premises. Click here to learn more.

Keep it professional. If you get too buddy-buddy with your tenants, it’s going to be difficult to deal with them if they break part of the rental agreement (for example, smoking in the house or getting a cat).

Consider hiring a property manager. If you want to rent your home but don’t feel you’re up to all the responsibilities attached to being a landlord, you could consider hiring a property manager. Hiring a property manager is also a good idea if the home you’re renting is in a different town, province, or country than where you live.

Additional Resources

Two resources that should answer any questions you have and that offer additional tips on renting your home are:

CMHC (Canadian Home and Mortgage Corporation)

Office of the Rentalsman

A big thank you goes out to Moe Martell of GreenLight Property Management, Inc. for allowing me to pick his brain in order to provide up-to-date information and accuracy when writing this post.

What tips do you have?

Do you have any great tips on renting your home? Are you a home owner with some tenant horror stories? Leave a comment so others can learn from your mistakes!

Ideas for Chore Charts & Awesome Free Chore Chart Downloads

Ideas for chore charts

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If you’re a parent, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how difficult it can be to get your kids to help out around the house. Creating family chore charts can be effective for kids of all ages. For the little ones, a kids chore chart will – in their eyes – give them a fun daily activity and teach them responsibility. Creating a chore chart for teenagers can help remind them what needs to be done, so you aren’t forever nagging them. Like the old saying goes, “raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree.”

You have several options when it comes to creating chore charts; you can make your own, you can find blank printable chore charts or free chore chart downloads, or there are even online chore charts for kids who are a little more tech savvy.

Whichever road you take, you’re going to need to come up with various responsibilities to add to the chart. Here are some ideas for chore charts worth considering. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s age appropriate so your child doesn’t get discouraged if they are unable to do the job properly.

Ideas for Chore Charts

Inside

  • Vacuum
  • Sweep
  • Dust
  • Help fold laundry (older kids can fold their own laundry and put it away)
  • Make the bed
  • Wash the dishes (or rinse and load the dishwasher)
  • Dry the dishes and put them away (or unload the dishwasher)
  • Clean out the kitty litter box
  • Clean their room
  • Water the plants
  • Organize the Tupperware cupboard (doesn’t this always need to be done?)
  • Wash the windows
  • Take out the garbage
  • Set the table/clear the table
  • Help make dinner
  • Help make lunches for school
  • Feed the pets

Outside

  • Walk the dog
  • Rake the leaves
  • Bring the garbage to the curb on garbage day (and then bring the cans back when empty)
  • Wash the car
  • Clean out the inside of the car
  • Mow the lawn
  • Chop wood (obviously age appropriateness is huge for this one)

Now, if you’re looking for free chore chart downloads that you can print off, customizable chore charts, or online chore charts for kids, check out these sites:

ChoreCharts.com – This site offers a ton of awesome and free chore chart downloads. In addition to these pre-designed printable options, the website will soon be offering users the ability to design their own chore chart.

ChoreCharts

DLTK –   This site lets you create customized kids chore charts. The step-by-step process is extremely simple and provides you with various customizable options, such as the chore chart theme and image (you have several to choose from, such as popular cartoon characters, animals, seasons, or if you prefer, you can leave this blank), the font and text size for your chart, the ability to create a title for your chore chart, etc.

DLTK Custom Chore Charts

MyJobChartThis free online chore chart is fully customizable and works on a reward/points system. The way it works is you assign the chores you want your kid to do and then they log into their account to view these chores and to see how many points they have earned towards their reward. You have the option to include images of the reward for incentive, and when the child reaches his or her goal, you’re notified via email or text.

MyJobChart

Do you have ideas for chore charts?

Is there something missing from the list above? We’d love for you to leave a comment letting us know your ideas or suggestions on other great websites where you can get free chore chart downloads.

You might also be interested is reading these two posts:

Top 26 Home Organizations Tips to Get Rid of Clutter

Top 33 Ways to Improve the Look of Your Home for Under $100

Top 26 Home Organization Tips to Get Rid of Clutter

home organization tips

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You’ve got junk drawers coming out the wazoo, your closets need rebar to keep ‘em closed, your family room looks like a bomb has exploded, and you need to let your loved ones know where you’ll be whenever you need to go into your kids’ bedroom so they can call in a search party if you aren’t out in 30 minutes.

Does this sound familiar? If so, check out these tips to organize your home so you can spend more time doing what you want to do, and not hours trying to find those bloody rechargeable batteries that you just know were in the kitchen drawer.

Top 26 Tips to Organize Your Home

1. Use checklists. Make a list of what needs to be organized and check them off as you go.

2. Ask yourself are you really going to use it? If something’s been sitting in a drawer since you moved in 15 years ago, you’re probably better off throwing it out or donating it.

3. When organizing cluttered spaces, get three garbage bags or boxes and label them “Keep”, “Throw Out” and “Donate.”

4. To stay organized, keep a donation box in your garage so things can be tossed in there as they are no longer wanted or needed. Once the box has enough in it, take it to your local thrift shop or have a garage sale.

5. Organize all those papers by getting a filing cabinet or, at the very least, some sort of system that will help you organize. For example, use an accordion folder for bills/invoices, instruction manuals, receipts, and other need-to-keep papers.

6. For kids’ artwork, put up a corkboard to display their masterpieces, or run a piece of string/wool along the wall, using clothes pins to hang their work. Rotate the artwork once a month. When you rotate the artwork, the ones you take down should immediately go into a photo album or scrapbook of some kind, and throw away the rest. If you have a hard time throwing out your child’s painting and drawing, use your digital camera to take a picture of it so you have a digital copy to have as a keepsake instead.

7. Baskets are your friend. Use wicker baskets to organize papers, toiletries, or anything else that doesn’t have a proper home around your house. Baskets are a great way to utilize shelf space too.

8. Label the front of containers or stacked boxes so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.

9. One year in? One year out! Go through your closets, linen cupboard, and even the toy box. If you’ve had it for 6-12 months without ever using it, you probably don’t need it! Donate it to someone who could.

10. Put your take-out menus into a folder and keep them with your cookbooks or where you keep your phonebooks.

11. Use a shallow plastic container to store all those gravy and seasoning packets (or cut the bottom of a shoebox out and use that).

12. Keep a list of needed groceries on the refrigerator – let everyone in the house know that if they use the last of something to write it down.

13. You can take it a step further and create a template which categorizes various shopping needs. For example, divide the piece of paper into large squares, each having a title such as “Cleaning Supplies & Toiletries”, “Dairy”, “Meat”, “Fruit & Veggies”, etc. Then when you go grocery shopping, you aren’t running up and down the aisles like a chicken with its head cut off.

14. Reuse empty baby food jars to organize various small items, like screws, nails, thumbtacks, paperclips, etc. If you don’t have access to empty baby food jars, you can purchase small plastic containers for cheap.

15. Use a mesh bag to store the kids’ bath toys. Hang it on the faucet so they can drip-dry.

16. Get rid of old newspapers and magazines. Start a scrapbook or use a binder to store cut out news items or stories you’re interested in.

17. Zip-lock bags are great to help organize everything you stuff into junk drawers. Use a bag for rechargeable batteries, one for Band-Aids, one for hair elastics, one for … you get the idea.

18. Another way to help organize your junk drawer is to put a plastic cutlery tray in it or several shallow plastic containers (without their lids).

19. To help eliminate some of the paper clutter, get a white board or chalkboard and hang it by the phone. Make this the place to leave phone numbers, messages, or notes to each other.

20. Another way to reduce the paper laying around the house is to get your bills sent to you electronically. Having your bills sent to you via email is a great way to reduce paper clutter (and better for the environment too!).

21. Only keep out the shoes/boots suitable for the season you’re in. If it’s winter, stash the flip-flops and sandals in a bag in the garage or shed. When summer comes, switch the snow boots and wellies with the previously store summer footwear.

22. Do the same for winter/summer clothes and outerwear.

23. Organize one room at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed and ditch the idea entirely.

24. Go through all the cupboards/cabinets in your bathroom and get rid of all the lotions and potions you haven’t used in over 6 months.

25. Check the expiration dates on all the meds in your medicine cabinet and dispose of the ones that are out-dated (make sure you dispose of them properly. A lot of pharmacies will get rid of old pills for you – you shouldn’t flush them or toss them yourself.).

26. When shopping, don’t buy larger quantities than you are realistically going to use. Sure, it might seem like a better deal to buy the 500 count of Tylenol over the bottle of 100, but not if you’re only going to use 50 of them before they expire! Same goes for buying in large bulk – if you aren’t really going to use that ginormous tub of mayo or that massive Costco-sized jar of pickles, do yourself a favour and purchase the smaller option! Not only are you wasting your money, these items take up a lot of precious space in the pantry!

tips to organize your home

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Share your home organization tips!

We’ve shared our tips to organize your home, now it’s your turn! Leave a comment to let us know your top home organization tips!

New Brunswick’s Ghosts, Ghouls & Haunted Houses

Happy Halloween

It’s nearly Halloween. If you’re looking for some great local ghost stories to creep out your friends, or some scary Halloween haunted houses to visit, check these out.

Boo at the Zoo & Boo Light

Boo at the Zoo & Boo Light is located at Moncton’s Magnetic Hill Zoo. There are several spooky Halloween activities going on throughout the month suitable for all ages (they have family nights and adult nights) and according to the official website: “ … all funds gained through Boo at the Zoo will be put towards the construction of a new Amur tiger and Amur leopard exhibits.” For more information on the events, to purchase tickets, get directions, and everything else you need, visit their website.

Halloween Haunted Houses

New Brunswick Ghost Stories & Haunted Houses

Ghost stories are always creepier when they’re about places you’ve been to or know of. This website offers up some New Brunswick ghost stories told by the locals.

EverythingCreepy.com has a few true New Brunswick ghost stories about the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel in St. Andrews, the Genii in St. Andrews, and the Charlotte County Court House located in Charlotte.  You can also search by province for other Canadian ghost stories and find information on various Canadian ghost walks.

Taking you back to Moncton, Rebecca’s Grave is a popular ghost story about Rebecca Lutes, a 16 year old girl accused of being a witch. There are several websites that are about Rebecca’s Grave, including Facebook pages, Flickr pages that show images of the real grave as it can be seen today, YouTube videos and there’s even a short film about this local legend. Here are a few websites to check out:

Rebecca’s Grave on Flickr –  This Flickr page tells the story and has some images.

Rebecca’s Grave short film – This website is dedicated to the short film created about the story. Here you can read the legend of Rebecca’s Grave, learn about the known facts and truths behind the legend (supposedly), and find out about the actual film made about the legend.

Rebecca’s Grave on Facebook – Created by the producers of the short film mentioned above, the Facebook group has a ton of information.

New Brunswick Ghost Stories

Creepy Halloween Haunted Houses & Local Ghost Stories

Have you heard any local ghost stories that are sure to spook? Do you know of any great Halloween activities and events happening in and around Moncton (or New Brunswick)? Leave a comment and let us know!

Cheap Homemade Halloween Costumes

Martha Stewart Halloween Costumes

Looking for some great homemade Halloween costume ideas? Whether you’re against store-bought costumes, don’t have the money to spend on them, or are looking for something that’s unique, here are several creative homemade Halloween costumes that you can make easily and affordably.

Your kid doesn’t need to be dressed like the hundreds of other Buzz Lightyears, Woodys, Disney Princesses, or Hermiones and Harry Potters that are trick-or-treating this year. And you don’t need to be dressed in that Austin Powers costume from Wal-Mart (though I must admit, that one does scream “yeah, baby, yeah!”) or that so unoriginal sexy maid, cat, or devil costume everyone else is wearing. I mean really, how many “sexy” maids can one handle looking at when at a Halloween party? On second thought, don’t answer that.

Beekeeper Costume Martha Stewart

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Here are some totally awesome, totally creative homemade Halloween costumes that are cheap, easy, and fast to make.

Kids’ Pirate Costume

What you need…

  • Black dress pants
  • White dress shirt. If it’s too big, all the better, as it will give the costume that pirate-style “poof” look.
  • Old vest. You can easily find one for pennies in a second-hand store. Don’t worry about what it looks like on the outside, simply flip it inside-out so the dark coloured satin lining is on the outside.
  • Red rags or bandana. If you have an old pillowcase, towel, or other material that’s red, you can use that (if you don’t mind cutting it).
  • Scissors
  • Stuffed animal of the flying variety
  • Safety pins
  • Black mascara
  • Eye patch (optional). You can find one of these in your local dollar store or make one using black wool, cardboard, and a black felt (instructions below).

How to make it…

1. Get you kid to put on the dress pants, shirt, and inside-out vest.

2. Take the old red rags and cut to a size where it can be worn on the head like a bandana.

3. Take the stuffed animal – preferably a parrot, but anything with wings will work, be it a pterodactyl, bat, or hawk – and pin it to your child’s shoulder using the safety pins.

4. Draw a moustache and beard on your child’s face using the black mascara.

5. To make the eye patch, simply cut out the shape of the patch from the cardboard and colour it black with the felt pen. Punch a hole on both the left and right side of the patch to thread the wool through, which will fit around the child’s head to keep in place.

Done! The cost of this homemade Halloween costume is next to none if you already have the items at home, which you probably do. Even if you need to make a trip to the second-hand store, you can probably make this kids costume for less than $10.

Adult Farmer George Costume

What you need…

  • Old overalls. If you don’t have any sitting in your closet, you can pick a pair up at the second-store for less than $5.
  • Plaid work shirt
  • Old truckers hat
  • Sheets, towels, or other “stuffing” (if needed!)
  • Black wax (optional)
  • Black mascara
  • Dark foundation/bronzer
  • Piece of straw (optional)

How to make it…

This is an awesome and creative homemade costume for a woman.

1. Get into the work shirt and overalls.

2. Stuff yourself with the sheets in order to provide a little more junk in your trunk, jelly in your belly, and – for the women – to hide your lovely lady lumps.

3. Use the black wax to blacken out a few of your front teeth.

4. Draw on some facial hair with the black mascara.

5. If you have long hair, put it up into the hat to hide it.

6. Smear the foundation or bronzer heavily onto your face to look like dirt. You could, of course, use real dirt if you like.

Websites with great homemade Halloween costume ideas

Martha Stewart Sheep Costumes

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If these creative homemade Halloween costume ideas don’t tickle your fancy, here are some websites that offer up some super cool homemade Halloween costume ideas.

Martha Stewart Homemade Halloween Costumes – Oh yeah, no do-it-yourself list is complete if it doesn’t include Martha Stewart. This link will provide you with some of the greatest and most creative homemade Halloween costume ideas with instructions on how to make them. Martha Stewart gives you homemade costumes ideas and instructions for adults, kids, families, babies, makeup tips, no-sew costumes, and easy Halloween costumes that kids can make themselves. (If you’re interested, check out these home decorating tips by Martha Stewart.)

Halloween Chicken Costume by Martha Stewart

Great Do It Yourself Nintendo Character Costume Ideas for Halloween – This article offers up ideas on how to make your own Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Link, Yoshi, and Toad Halloween costumes. If you don’t want to make them, the article also provides you with details on where you can purchase the costumes.

50 Homemade Costume Ideas – The instructions are sparse at this site, but it can help get the creative juices flowing and point you in the right direction.

Make Your Own Halloween Costume from Recycled Materials – This article will give you some homemade Halloween costume ideas for both adults and kids. The ideas include: the classic ghost (though I’m sure you don’t need to be taught how to make that one), cardboard warrior, recycled robot, little pumpkin, and a big baby.

Kaboose Homemade Halloween Costumes – This site has great ideas (and instructions) for creative Halloween costumes for girls, boys, and several costumes that are animal and insect themed. You can learn how to make a popcorn costume, a ladybug costume, a clownfish costume, and everything in between.

What’s your favourite homemade Halloween costume?

Martha Stewart Halloween Costume Cowboy

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Do you have a Halloween costume that you love to make? Something you’re particularly proud of? We’d love for you to share your ideas and designs with us! Leave a comment to tell us about it.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Poll: What Are You Most Thankful For?

Pumpkins

It’s Thanksgiving in a few days, so we thought it’d be fun to ask our MHB blog readers what home appliances, gadgets, or technology you’re most thankful for, whether it makes your life easier or more exciting.

We’d love for you to answer this poll and leave a comment letting us know why you’re most thankful for what you’ve chosen!

The MHB team wishes you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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