Question: My place has been miserably hot, and I'd like to have a window air-conditioner installed. How can I convince my landlords it's a good idea?
Answer: Do the legwork yourself, researching models and costs. Once you've assembled the facts, they may appreciate how easy it is to have the appliance put in.
Window-mounted units are most commonly used; they can either be permanently or temporarily installed. They also work with most existing electrical wiring. With double-hung windows, installation is less expensive than with sliding ones, which may require a kit.
First, figure out what size you'll need. Air-conditioner capacity is rated in British Thermal Units or BTUs. The higher the BTU, the more area the unit can cool. Calculating the BTU isn't difficult; several websites provide suggestions.
Although warehouse, hardware and Internet sources stock air conditioners, installation may not be included. Since installing a unit is not usually a first-timer do-it-yourself project, get quotes from appliance stores that both deliver and install their units. That way, the owners are assured it will be a professional job. Also, if the product is under warranty, it can be repaired or replaced with a minimum of hassle.
When you're ready to make the pitch, point out that the fixture would remain with the property, increasing its value. If the landlords still balk, pinpoint the objection; if it's financial, you can offer to split the cost or pay for installation.
Bigger unit, more spaces for cars?
Question: I rent a two-bedroom unit and one parking space. I heard that I'm entitled to two spaces because of the size of my unit. Is that true?
Answer: The size of the unit has no bearing on the number of parking spaces. In fact, some places have no parking at all, a situation that is addressed in the next reader's question.
Your allocation should be part of your written rental agreement, usually on the first page of standard forms. If the lease is silent on the subject, ask the landlord to specify the parking situation in writing.
The realities of street parking
Question: Is it worth taking a place that only has street parking?
Answer: That depends on the street and the comparable rents. If you're interested in a place that has only street parking, do your homework. Find out the rental amounts for the area with and without allocated parking to make sure the price is in line.
To tell if street parking will work, take a look at the neighborhood. Are there any adjacent businesses, shopping or entertainment spots? Be especially wary if valet parking is offered by restaurants or other nearby businesses. If there is permit parking for residents only, that may help ease the crunch.
Budget in the fact that permit parking is not free. Residents usually pay a nominal fee for obtaining a permit through the city, which may require a trip to a local agency with a copy of the lease, utility bill or other proof of residency. Find out the details required by your locale before heading down and waiting in line.
Vehicles with handicapped permits can be parked in permitted areas without charge. However, like everyone else, the owners of cars with disabled permits can be ticketed for illegally parking on street-cleaning days.
Know the limitations. Some areas have specific time restrictions for un-permitted vehicles, such as two-hour parking.
You can also ask if any on-site parking might become available and, if so, what the additional cost would be. And be sure to ask if driveway or alley parking is allowed for loading and unloading. As a minimum, it's nice to have a spot to run in from with groceries.
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