Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Water Damage Safety Tips for Homeowners: How to Prevent Costly Leaks

Stop leaks before they start.
       How to prevent costly leaks
Water damage – whether caused by leaks or condensation – can do more than cause unsightly stains in your home.
It can cause permanent structural damage to the home and erode its strength.
When damage is from poor or infrequent maintenance, neglect or general deterioration, water damage isn’t
covered by your insurance policy. But proper home maintenance can help you prevent messy and costly repairs to
your home. Defend your home by stopping that leak before it starts.

Start with the roof
• Check your roof once a year. To avoid damage, keep your weight directly on the rafters. If you have a bowstring or low-pitch rafter, place a plywood sheet across the rafter so you can distribute your weight evenly.
• Check for corrosion or deterioration of your roof; wind or hail damage; improper installation of vents, flues, chimneys, air conditioners, etc.
• Inspect your roof for punctures or cracks. Clean any you find and apply a compatible patching compound or sealant.
• Clean and inspect rain gutters and downspouts for leaks or holes. Remove dirt, leaves, branches and any other debris on your roof or gutter.
• Seal manufactured home metal roofs with a good roof coating at least every other year – or more often in damp or warmer climates. Apply around all vents and seams, coating along the drip edge of the roof. Cover all exposed screw heads, fasteners and other areas susceptible to leaking.
• Look for and repair loose, damaged or missing shingles, vent caps, raised nail heads and anything else in disrepair.

Check your home’s exterior
• Inspect outside walls, doors and windows each spring and fall for unusual wear or tear. Water and moisture can penetrate these common areas if they’re not maintained regularly.
• Repair or replace caulk, weather stripping, glazing, window seals, door seals or any other exterior area damaged by use, abuse or normal weathering.
• Examine your exterior siding and replace any missing or damaged fasteners or screws. Repair or replace punctured siding.
• Remember to look under your manufactured home for a sagging, torn or water-spotted bottom barrier. This can indicate leaks as well as poor or damaged insulation, which may cause water lines to freeze and break.
• Check your home’s pneumatic storm door closer and safety chain. If these are loose or not working properly, the storm door may blow open and let water in.

Horizon Insurance has specialty insurance products.
Not only can you trust safety information from Horizon, but you can trust our broad insurance policies that give you the coverage you want.

Contact your local Horizon agent today for a policy that gives you more!

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Water Damage Safety Tips
for Homeowners
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Loss Prevention Guidelines for Landlords

Call Horizon for insurance.

    Being a landlord isn’t always easy. Problems with tenants can result in loss of time and money as well as unnecessary hassles. If you don’t want to deal with rent collection, maintenance and tenant screening, consider using a Property Management Company to manage your rental properties. However, if you do handle things on your own, the following guidelines may help ensure a good relationship with your tenants, maintain your rental home and make your life as a landlord much easier.

   Tenant Screening

·         Check references. Request at least three references (preferably previous landlords) and take the time to follow up on them.

·         Keep records. To protect your interests and the interests of your tenants, document everything in writing and keep the paperwork throughout the entire rental agreement.

·         Run a credit check. It’s always wise to check an applicant’s income, employment and credit history to verify they can afford to pay rent each month. However, make sure you obtain your prospective tenant’s written consent before doing so.

·         Prepare a clearly-defined lease. Develop an appropriate set of rules and have them reviewed by a real estate attorney. Provide all prospective tenants with a copy of the rules and have them initial each page and sign an acknowledgement.

Important information to consider in a lease agreement

Be sure your lease agreement outlines the specific obligations of each party and is written clearly enough for the tenant to understand what they must or must not do. Standard items to consider include:

·         Rent. Be specific about when the rent is due and when it’s considered late.

·         Deposit information. Outline the amount of deposit required and what circumstances may result in a loss of deposit money.

·         Prohibited activities. Create a concise list of the types of activities you will not allow, such as grilling on porches or decks, use of portable space heaters, renovations or remodeling without landlord consent.

·         Maintenance and repairs. Document who is responsible for routine maintenance and repairs and provide the amount of time you will be allowed to respond to requests.

·         Responsibility for utilities and waste removal. Clearly define who is responsible for each utility and service.

·         Your right of entry to the premises. It’s a good idea to include circumstances in which you have the right to enter.

·         Pet restrictions and policies. Specifically list any pets or breeds you will not allow in addition to any regulations that need to be followed.

·         What stays and what goes when the tenant vacates. If your home provides any removable items, be sure to note that they need to stay in the home when the tenant leaves.

·         Length of notice to vacate. Provide how many days notice you will need when a tenant decides to move out.

·         Renter’s insurance policy. Require that your tenant have an insurance policy in the event of a fire, theft or liability issue.

Product availability is based on authority and all products may not be available in all areas.

This does not constitute legal advice. For a complete list of the specific landlord and tenant laws in your state visit, or for legal advice, speak with a real estate attorney.

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