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What is a Flash Flood?

- Tuesday, April 09, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Flash Flood

Flash floods occur suddenly and usually within hours of excessive heavy rainfall. Flash floods become raging torrents of water, ripping through neighborhoods, streets, valleys, etc. sweeping away whatever is in their path. Flash floods can also occur with a dam or levee failure. Heavy rain should be a signal that alerts you to the possibility of dangerous flood conditions.


issued when conditions look favorable for flash flooding. A WATCH usually encompasses several counties. This is the time to start thinking about your plan of action and where you would go if the water begins to rise.

Flash Flood WARNING

issued when dangerous flash flooding is happening or will happen soon. A WARNING is usually a smaller, more specific area. This can be issued due to excessive heavy rain or a dam/levee failure. This is when you must act quickly as flash floods are an imminent threat to you and your family. You may only have seconds to move to higher ground.


issued for the EXCEEDINGLY RARE situations when extremely heavy rain is leading to a severe threat to human life and CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE from a flash flood is happening or will happen soon. Typically, emergency officials are reporting LIFE-THREATENING water rises resulting in water rescues/evacuations.


Flood Facts

- Wednesday, April 03, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Flooded House


In terms of number of lives lost and property damage, flooding is the most common natural hazard. Floods can occur at any time of the year, in any part of the country, and at any time of the day or night. While heavy precipitation is the common cause of flooding, hurricanes, winter storms and snowmelt are common, but often overlooked, causes of flooding.


Floodplains are the low lying areas that surround rivers and other water bodies naturally flood on a frequent basis. Naturally frequent flooding makes floodplains the “lifeblood” to surrounding areas.

They provide clean water and wildlife habitat among many other benefits including one of the most visible functions, the ability to store large volumes of flood water and slowly release these waters over time.


Wetlands act as natural sponges, storing and slowly releasing floodwaters after peak flood flows have passed. A single acre of wetland, saturated to a depth of one foot, will retain 330,000 gallons of water – enough to flood thirteen average-sized homes thigh-deep.


Over the last 50 years, Americans have seen a 20% increase in the heaviest downpours. With a changing climate, we know that the size of the nation’s floodplains will grow by 40 to 45% over the next 90 years, putting more people in harm’s way.


In the first decade of the new millennium, extreme rainfall events combined with changes in land use have resulted in an increase in floods and an increase in annual average flood losses from $6 billion to $10 billion despite the billions of dollars invested in flood control.


A homeowner with a 30-year mortgage in a 100-year flood area has a 1 in 4 chance that such a flood will occur and more than double the chance of being damaged by a flood than by a fire.

Floods can happen everywhere, it just depends on whether the risk is high, medium, or low: people outside of “high-risk” areas (or the “100-year” floodplain) actually file over 20% of the flood insurance claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding.


If you live in a high-risk area and you have a federally backed mortgage, you must buy flood insurance. While flood insurance costs vary, flood insurance averages $600 a year. However, if your community participates in FEMA’s voluntary Community Rating System (CRS), you can receive up to 45% off your insurance premium.


Floods are not limited to the 100-year floodplain and 100 year floods can happen more frequently than once every century. Over 20% of the flood insurance claims and one-third of all flood disaster assistance is for flood damage outside the 100-year floodplain. The concept of a 100-year flood is a statistical projection that refers to a flood event that has a 1 percent probability of occurring each and every year. As the climate changes, the size and area subject to the 100-year flood will increase.


When homeowners take steps to protect themselves and to reduce the impacts of flooding through mitigation practices such as elevating or flood-proofing their homes, moving out of harm’s way, and investing in “natural defenses” they can save themselves and taxpayer’s money because it’s less expensive to prepare for a flood than it is to keep cleaning up afterwards.


An estimated 100,000 MILES OF LEVEES crisscross the nation. However, there is no definitive record of the exact number or the condition of those levees.

We do know that over 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties with levees and that many of these were designed decades ago for agricultural purposes but now have homes and businesses behind them.

The good news is there are proven methods to restore and reconnect our rivers. Setting levees back or otherwise modifying levees allows the floodplain to store more water naturally, keep people safe, and provide other benefits such as clean water and wildlife habitat.


Get the Boldest, Brightest Dyed Easter Eggs

- Monday, March 25, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Easter Eggs

Dyed eggs are as synonymous with Easter as chocolate bunnies, colorful baskets and lambs made out of butter. And the egg-dyeing process can seem like a simple one: mix, dunk, dry, done … right?! But the wrong technique can lead to splotchy eggs, stained fingers, and dye-splashed counters, turning a fun activity into a frustrating mess.

To help you really nail the egg-dyeing thing this year, we colored dozens of eggs and tested all of the buzzy hacks, so we could assemble a step-by-step plan for dying Easter eggs with food coloring. (You absolutely don’t need to buy a kit to produce rich, saturated colors. But we do have a few favorite egg-dyeing kits, if that’s your thing.) Now, let’s hop to it!

How to dye Easter eggs

What you need

Step 1: Clean and boil eggs (or don’t!)
Step 2: Mix the dye bath
Step 3: Gently add the eggs to the dye bath
Step 4: Pull eggs out and lay them out to dry
Step 5: Give them a roll
Step 6: Display and enjoy!

Egg dye

Liquid food coloring is the easiest to mix and produces bright, bold colors. We’re now seeing it marketed as “liquid food color and egg dye.”

White vinegar

Adding an acid to the dye bath helps the color adhere to the egg shell, making the color more saturated. If you don’t have any white vinegar in your pantry, lemon or lime juice will work just as well in a pinch.


Wide ceramic mugs or glasses make removing eggs easy, and the dye shouldn’t stain the vessels. You can also use disposable cups, if you prefer. No matter the material, to help prevent overflow, mugs or glasses should be large enough to hold at least 1 cup of water.


Disposable gloves make handling eggs easy, and they also protect your fingers from stains.

Table covering

To prevent getting stains on your work surface, place thick craft paper, a piece of cardboard, or a plastic tablecloth under your dye cups.

Cooling rack

Metal cooling racks with slats can be a convenient place for your eggs to drip-dry. If you have a griddled rack, like the Sur La Table Stainless Steel Cooling Grid, you can flip it over so the eggs will nestle on the underside. Just make sure it’s elevated so the dye doesn’t pool. Not a baker? Small plastic bottle caps can hold eggs upright while they dry.

Baking sheet or cutting board

Line an unrimmed baking sheet or a plastic cutting board with a rag or paper towels, to catch the drips off the cooling rack. (Note: Dye can stain surfaces, so now is not the time to pull out a fancy wooden charcuterie board.) It’s not completely necessary to line a rimmed baking sheet, since there’s less risk of the dye running off the rack and onto your table.

Step 1: Clean and boil eggs

After checking your raw eggs to make sure they’re clean and not cracked, give them a good washing (this helps the dye adhere better). Then follow your favorite hard-boiled egg recipe, to prep eggs for dyeing.

Step 2: Mix the dye bath

Food coloring can stain porous surfaces and fabrics, so you need to protect your work surface. Dyeing eggs with kids? Expect curious fingers and a couple of inevitable spills. Play clothes or aprons are a must.

If you’re using a kit, follow package directions.

If you’re using liquid egg dye, line up your cups and add liquid food coloring, plus white vinegar or lemon juice (see quantities below), and mix together completely. Then add room-temperature water so the cup is no more than half-full. We repeat: half-full. You can always add more water once the eggs are in, but starting with less prevents your dye bath from overflowing. Before you dunk in an egg, be sure to stir the water into the vinegar coloring mixture.

The food coloring–to–vinegar ratio is not an exact science, but the vibrancy of your eggs depends on how much you add at the start.

For pastel eggs: Start with 3 or 4 drops of food coloring, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and ½ cup water, and soak for at least 5 minutes.

For bright eggs: Double the food coloring, vinegar, and soaking time, but stick to ½ cup water.

Step 3: Gently add the eggs to the dye bath

Once the eggs are cool, it’s time to lower them into the room-temperature dye baths. To avoid doing a balancing act, skip the spoon or egg dipper tool, and put on a pair of disposable gloves so you can use your hands. You’ll have more control, which means less splashing, which means less cleanup. Keep a rag or paper towel nearby so you can quickly wipe off any excess dye from your gloves as you go—essential if you want to avoid accidental color mixing.

Leave the eggs in the dye bath undisturbed for at least 5 minutes before you check them. (Remember: The longer you leave them, the more saturated the color will be, so patience is everything if you’re going for bold and bright.) Since eggs have a tendency to float on their side, it helps to rotate them at the halfway mark to ensure even color around the outside.

Step 4: Pull eggs out and lay them out to dry

When your eggs reach just the right shade, it’s drying time. With plastic gloves on, pluck each egg out of the dye bath, give it a light shake (to remove any remaining dye droplets), and gently place it on your cooling-rack-and-baking-sheet setup. Keep that paper towel from before handy—you’ll definitely want to wipe your gloved fingers between extractions, to prevent unwanted fingerprints.

Step 5: Give them a roll

Once the surface looks dry or tacky, use your gloved fingers to flip each egg over. A little bit of dye may pool at the bottom, so we found that rolling them over speeds up drying time and prevents water marks. When the eggs appear dry all around, slide the whole tray into the fridge for a few hours, to prevent the dye from smudging or transferring to another egg. No matter how hard you try, bubble dots and watermarks can be somewhat impossible to avoid. But we think they can be kind of cute and fun, like on our red egg above.

Step 6: Display and enjoy!

Once the dyed boiled eggs are completely dry, you can display them in a ceramic egg crate, a decorative basket, or a kitchen bowl, without worry of transferring colors. Just remember to return eggs to the fridge after two hours, and eat them within a week of boiling, for food-safety reasons. If you’ve dyed uncooked eggs, you should keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook with them.

Tips for Buying Your First Motorcycle

- Tuesday, March 19, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Motorcycle

Consider when, how and where you’ll be riding.

To find the motorcycle that suits you best, you’ll need to think about what you want out of riding in general. Think about the key characteristics you’ll look for in a bike by asking questions such as:

  • Do you want to ride your bike as part of your daily commute? Many commuter riders choose agile bikes with smaller engines that get excellent gas mileage.
  • Do you want to test your skills on a track? A bike built for sensitive handling such as a sport bike or cafe racer might be what you’re looking for.
  • Do you want to take your bike on long road trips? Look into bikes built for long-haul comfort and extra cargo capacity such as cruisers and touring bikes.
  • Will you be riding mostly on urban streets, rural roads or a mix of both? Urban riders typically favor smaller, lighter bikes for navigating traffic, while rural riders may opt either for something a little bigger or for an adventure bike that can tackle dirt and gravel roads.

Research is your friend.

It’s a good idea to go into the buying process with a list of models you’re interested in and features you’re looking for. Do some digging on the Internet to learn about the reputations of different brands and models, including which are known to be reliable and good for beginners. There are plenty of great guides available online to help you sort out the differences between brands and models, as well as to help make sense of the complex performance specs you might encounter.

Your friends who ride motorcycles are a priceless resource here, so make sure to ask for their opinions and learn in detail about what they like about various models–and don’t be afraid to ask them to come along when you make your purchase. Motorcycle forums and social media groups are also often rich with information, and many seasoned riders are eager to share their experiences with new riders. (As always, take anything an anonymous stranger on the Internet tells you with a grain of salt.)

Make sure the bike is a comfortable fit for your body.

Your body has a much closer relationship with a motorcycle than it does with a car or truck. A motorcycle needs to be comfortable for your particular body shape, so spend some time sitting on the bike and feeling out its height and weight. Due to liability issues, you may not always be able to test drive a motorcycle (particularly if you’re buying it from a private seller), but you can at least get an idea of whether or not the bike is comfortable to sit on.

Seat height and saddle shape are particularly important, as these features are usually hard to change without significantly modifying the bike. Newer riders will usually want a bike with a low enough saddle that they can plant both feet flat on the ground at a stoplight. Even motorcycle styles with higher suspensions such as sport bikes have beginner-focused models that often include lower seats.

It’s also key to get a bike that’s not too heavy for you. Many cruisers and touring bikes are on the heavy side, making them potentially tougher to handle for beginners and easier to drop. And while any experienced rider will tell you that dropping a bike is something that will happen to you eventually, no matter your skill level, it’s really helpful to have a bike that you feel confident handling.

Make sure the motorcycle’s paperwork is in order.

If you’re buying a used motorcycle, you’ll need to do a little extra due diligence on your paperwork, particularly if you’re buying a bike directly from its owner. Take the time to ensure that all of the bike’s essential paperwork is squared away, including:

Make sure the seller can present you with a title and that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the bike matches the VIN on the title.

Write up a bill of sale and make sure that you and the seller both sign and date it. (You can find easy-to-use motorcycle bill of sale templates online.)

Check with your state DMV to ensure that the motorcycle is legally registered to the seller. Be wary of anyone selling a bike that isn’t registered in their name, as the bike might be stolen.

Use your state DMV’s website or another VIN search engine to ensure that the motorcycle has no liens against it from creditors and that its title is not a salvage title.

If a private seller seems evasive about the bike’s history and records, stay on the safe side and move on. You don’t want the hassle and risk of buying a bike that may get you tied up in legal troubles when you try to register it, or one that’s been previously wrecked and is no longer safe to ride.

Get your new baby tuned up.

Once you’ve made your purchase, it’s always a good idea to invest in a tune-up for your new bike. You’ll want to develop a relationship with a trusted motorcycle mechanic, so now is the perfect time to find a shop you like. Ask your rider friends to recommend mechanics they trust or look up reviews online to find a great mechanic.

A good motorcycle tune-up should include an oil change, plus a check of other fluid levels and brake pads. It’s also a good time to ask the mechanic any lingering questions you have about the bike mechanically—although hopefully, you’ve gotten clarification on any major points before making the final purchase.

Insurance is a must.

Remember that you’ll need a motorcycle insurance policy on your new bike before you take it out on the road. Most major auto insurance companies also offer motorcycle insurance, so you may be able to find a great policy through the same company that ensures your primary vehicle.

Motorcycle insurance policies cover most of the same things that typical automobile policies do. At the baseline level, that will include liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage, but it can also be a good idea to get collision insurance that will help repair or replace your bike and/or underinsured motorist insurance that will protect you against drivers who aren’t carrying a sufficient insurance policy.

Contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

- Tuesday, March 12, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Corned Beef & Cabbbage

St. Patrick's Day is almost here! What's more Irish than a traditional recipe for corned beef and cabbage? Serve with mustard or horseradish if desired.

If you're looking for the best corned beef and cabbage recipe on the internet, you've come to the right place. You won't believe how simple it is to make this top-rated recipe. It's perfect for St. Patrick's Day, but you'll want to make it all year long.

What Is Corned Beef?

Corned beef is salt-cured beef. Before electricity paved the way for refrigeration, meat was preserved in salt. Brisket (the tender meat from the lower breast) is traditionally used to make corned beef in the United States.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Origins

So how did corned beef and cabbage become such a dynamic duo? It's actually an American invention. Historically, cabbage was paired with pork bacon in Ireland. Irish immigrants in 19th-century New York City, who often lived in the same neighborhood as Jewish butchers, noticed flavor similarities between the corned beef of NYC delicatessens and the pork bacon of their homeland. Thus, corned beef and cabbage was born. These days, it's commonly associated with St. Patrick's Day.

Corned Beef vs. Pastrami

Corned beef and pastrami are both deli staples, but they're not the same thing. Corned beef is salt-cured beef that is cooked by boiling, while pastrami is seasoned and smoked beef.

How to Make Corned Beef and Cabbage


1 (3 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet
10 small red potatoes
5 medium carrots
1 large head cabbage


Gather all ingredients.

Place corned beef in a Dutch oven and cover with water. Add spice packet, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until corned beef is just about fork-tender, about 2 hours.

While the corned beef is simmering, cut potatoes in half. Peel carrots and cut into 3-inch pieces. Cut cabbage into small wedges.

When corned beef has cooked for 2 hours, add potatoes and carrots; cook until vegetables are almost tender and meat is fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Add cabbage and cook until tender, about 15 more minutes.

Remove meat and let it rest for 15 minutes. Leave broth and vegetables in the Dutch oven.Slice meat across the grain. Serve with vegetables and broth.


Best of South Shore 2024

- Tuesday, March 05, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Best of South Shore 2024

Thank you for recognizing us as one of the top insurance agencies on the South Shore. South Shore Home, Life & Style magazine is doing their annual Best Of South Shore event. This is a great chance for you to recognize your favorite small businesses, foods and service people in the area. Take a minute to show your support to those businesses you choose to do business with that qualified. You can help us reach number one by voting here for best home and auto insurance agent. You’ll also see we’ve made it in the finals category for best life insurance agency as well. We appreciate your business and support!

What to do with a Rental Between Tenants

- Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Renter Insurance

The move-out process during tenant turnover can be stressful and figuring out what to prioritize can be daunting. These priorities can shift based on how much time you have between tenants.

What to Always Do

No matter how much time you have between tenants, there are certain tasks that need to be done no matter what. These are the most crucial and time-sensitive issues that need to be dealt with first, particularly, if you only have a few days.

Have the locks changed or at least re-keyed before the next tenant moves in. Despite how nice your last tenant may have been, getting new locks and keys is a matter of safety for your new tenants. Your state or local laws may or may not require this, but it can be a good assurance of safety for your future residents. Another matter of safety is the battery in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Always replace the current batteries with fresh ones, even if your current tenant tells you the batteries are fine.

With Less than One Week

If you have another tenant lined up to come in as soon as your current one moves out, there is a very short period of time that you can get everything settled in.

If they are needed, schedule repairs as soon as possible. When you are doing your tenant move-out checklist, make note of any needed repairs and schedule these appointments as soon as they move out. Depending on the repairs, you can also maximize your time by cleaning while the repairs are happening. If your time is short, you may need to prioritize any maintenance tasks and get the most urgent out of the way. If you note non-urgent repairs, create a plan to address them in a timely manner after your new tenant has moved in.

With One Week

A week between tenants gives you a little bit more time to get maintenance done than in just a few days. Everything above should still be done, but there are a few more issues you can address. Maintenance should be performed first, both indoor and outdoor. Outdoor maintenance can include replacing broken shutters, repairing cracked walkways, cleaning gutters, and resealing windows. Indoor maintenance can involve checking for leaks, replacing air filters, and flushing the water heater.

As soon as the maintenance is done, get the unit as thoroughly clean as you can. Ensuring that the unit is freshly cleaned and maintained will demonstrate to your new tenants that you will be a good landlord. It will also ensure that your tenants will care better for the property and must thoroughly clean the property (or pay to have the property cleaned) if your lease requires the property to be in rent-ready condition at the end of tenancy.

Upgrade to hardwired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors if you do not already have them. Depending on your location, building codes might require these in your units. Make sure that you have the expected lifetime of your detectors recorded and, if they are at that point, replace them.

With Two Weeks

With a couple of weeks between tenants, you should have enough time to do everything above and to freshen up your unit. A common way to achieve this is repainting. If time is short, or you want to give your new tenants some flexibility with decorating, you can allow them to paint the unit themselves. Alternatively, consider hiring a professional or repaint the unit yourself to control both the paint color and the quality of the job. Satin paint sheens in particular are nice because they resist stains, mildew, and dirt, but are still slightly reflective.

If you have carpet in your unit, it will need to be cleaned between tenants. If the carpet is still in relatively good condition, then a vacuum or shampoo might be enough to get it ready for the next tenant. However, if your unit is pet-friendly, then it will most likely need a deep clean. This will help with pest control, fur, odors, etc. Drying the carpet after it is cleaned can take up to 24 hours, so arrange your schedule to accommodate it. Switching to hardwood floors or laminate flooring in the future can also alleviate this situation and make your floors last longer.

The Final Touches

After the needed repairs have been made and the maintenance has been done, it is time for the last piece of the puzzle – your pre-move-in inspection report. This can be done manually, or with an app-based inspection solution. Be sure to take photos of the unit. These pictures of the unit should be taken as soon as all of your maintenance is done. This gives you documentation of what the unit looked like before the new tenants, and can be key when dealing with security deposits. These photos can also be used to advertise the unit when the next tenant is ready to move out. Do a quick run-through of the unit before handing over the keys to the new tenants and you are set.


10 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

- Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance

The Ten Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

  1. Balance calories with physical activity.
  2. Reach for a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  3. Choose whole grains.
  4. Include healthy protein sources, mostly plants and seafood.
  5. Use liquid non-tropical plant oils.
  6. Choose minimally processed foods.
  7. Subtract added sugars
  8. Cut down on salt.
  9. Limit alcohol.
  10. Do all this wherever you eat!
Need more food for thought? Go to

First Valentine's Day Date Ideas

- Monday, February 12, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - First Valentine's Day Date Ideas

You love spending quality time together, so any opportunity to make fun memories together—yes, please!

Find out whether your valentine likes to be surprised or would prefer to be in on the date planning; then, start brainstorming! There are tons of fun first Valentine's Day ideas. If you get stuck when planning the perfect date, we want to help! We've collected many memorable ideas for your first Valentine's Day together.

Traditional First Valentine's Day Date Ideas

Making new traditions is one of the sweetest things to do with your new date. But, since you're still getting to know each other, you may feel unsure about what they'd enjoy the most. The best way to find out is to ask them, but if they aren't sure, a traditional romantic date will do the trick!

If you need help deciding what to do, try a traditional romantic idea—and look for ways to add a personal touch.

Go out for a fancy dinner together. Ask what fancy restaurant they love and make reservations well in advance. Dressing up, sharing a fancy bottle of wine, and chatting in a beautiful setting is always memorable and exciting.

Spend the weekend away. Plan a getaway at a fancy hotel or bed and breakfast. Order room service, sneak in early to sprinkle some rose petals on the bed, and pack a special card and gift.

Go to a romantic spot & exchange gifts. Whether in a restaurant, a beautiful overlook, or a park, you can enjoy each other's company in a lovely setting.

Adventurous First Valentine's Day Date Ideas

If you're an adventurous couple, you'll enjoy something less traditional to get your adrenaline pumping. What's romantic to one couple may be boring to you, so plan an outdoorsy adventure or try something new:

Take a hike! Visit a local trail you enjoy, or drive a little farther to a beautiful location for Valentine's Day. Do your research to find the best trails, lodging, and restaurants—and check their seasonal availability.

Do something that scares you (both). What do you both want to learn how to do or try—from salt water float therapy to ballroom dancing? Trying something new is a great bonding experience, and you can lend each other some courage.

Go skydiving—indoor or outdoor. Maybe you've tried it before, but they haven't (or vice versa). Isn't skydiving on almost everyone's adventure bucket list? Take the first leap together!

"Foodie" First Valentine's Day Date Ideas

It's what drew you together in the first place—besides your actual attraction to each other. You both love food, and there's no getting around that fact. If you’re both self-proclaimed culinary critics, anything food-related will be the best date idea to celebrate your first Valentine's Day together.

Take a cooking class together. Choose a class where you can learn to cook something you both enjoy eating. You can find local in-person cooking classes or virtual ones, but either way, it's an enjoyable (and delicious) bonding experience.

Host a wine & cheese tasting. This one can be just for the two of you, or you can invite some of your favorite couples. Gather a combination of new and favored wines, cheeses, and the food lovers in your life to host a fun & romantic event.

Try an exotic new cuisine (or restaurant). Discover a new ethnic restaurant in your area, or plan a trip to an exotic eatery together.

Low-Key First Valentine's Day Date Ideas

If your relationship is super-new and you want to do something more under the radar this February, opt for one of these more casual date ideas.

Order takeout & watch a movie at home. DoorDash your favorite restaurant & choose a movie from your favorite streaming service to enjoy. The possibilities are endless, whether you want to Netflix and chill or Disney+ and de-stress.

Go to a movie. If there's a movie you both want to see (or you want to treat your date to the infamous Valentine's Day chick flick), grab some movie tickets. Find a theater that also serves dinner & enjoy a super low-key evening together.

Cook them a fancy dinner at your place. Those three sweet words: I'll cook tonight. (Especially if you're a good cook!) Your love will love to relinquish menu planning & cooking for tonight and relax together. Bonus: they don't even have to clean up their apartment this time.

Romantic First Valentine's Day Date Ideas

The most romantic first Valentine's Day dates blend silly, sweet, and sexy moments. So, if you want to up the ante, find a way to combine playful and endearing moments that will fan the flame of your love.

Enjoy a romantic game together. Purchase a fun card game for couples—some focus on getting to know each other more, and others are more adventurous bedroom games.

Two words: couples' massage. Hit the spa together and experience a couple's massage. Try to find a hotel with a spa package so you can enjoy some calming, romantic time together—and you don't have to hurry home!

Play with puppies at the SPCA. And maybe adopt one? If your S.O. loves animals, visit the animal shelter to play with the dogs or cats. (Just be prepared to potentially bring a new pet home.)


Tips to Pre-Screening Potential Tenants

- Tuesday, February 06, 2024
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Rental Home

Screening is an essential part of finding a great tenant. You can begin the screening process immediately, as soon as a prospective tenant calls to let you know they saw your listing and is interested in the rental. In fact, you can even start the screening process before ever having someone lay eyes on your property listing.

Below are a few tips to follow when pre-screening your prospective tenants:

1. Set the Requirements to Your Standards

Simply setting the rent price will screen out applicants who know they cannot afford your property. Additionally, if you list out your other requirements such as a rental application, credit report, and criminal history check, you’ll turn off the prospects that know they wouldn’t pass your tests.

2. Ask How Many People Will be Living in the Unit

When you are on the phone, you’ll also be able to ask about who will be living in the rental, how long they expect to rent, etc.

There’s no need to show the place if the prospects are four people trying to rent your one-bedroom (most states have a law that says you cannot have more than two people per bedroom) or if they’re only looking for a short term rental and you don’t offer that.

Here are additional questions you should ask your prospective tenant.

1. What’s Your Desired Move in Date?

Tenants begin their apartment search at various times of the year, depending on when their existing lease ends. Before getting into the details of the apartment, it’s important to first establish when they’re looking to move in by.

The reason why is because some tenants can be looking several months in advance to see what’s available and aren’t planning on moving right away, which is something to consider if you’re looking to fill the property as soon as possible.

2. Why Are You Moving?

Although most tenants are simply moving due to not wanting to renew their existing lease, it’s still a great question to ask to better understand their reasoning for moving. Their response can help you gauge if they’re moving for a negative reason — such as being evicted from a property — or if they’re moving to a different location due to a new job.

As a safety measure, you can write down their answers to then compare with what previous landlords share when being asked about their experience with the tenant.

3. Do You Have Pets?

It’s not uncommon for a tenant to own a pet when renting out a property. Prior to looking for tenants, you should determine if you want to allow pets on your property.

If you decided you don’t, then this is a question you’ll want to ask any prospective tenant to ensure no animals enter the premises. On the other hand, if pets are allowed, then you can then ask what type of animal they own, the breed, and any important behavioral issues to be aware of.

4. What Is Your Monthly Income?

The industry standard is typically two to three times the set rent price. Learning more about your tenant’s monthly income can help you determine if they meet your requirements or need a guarantor in order to get approved. You can also request a credit report to better understand an applicant’s financial health and see if they have a strong history of making on-time payments.

5. Can You Provide Landlord and Employer References?

Tenants that have previously rented more than one property should have a landlord reference to provide on a rental application. For first-time tenants, they can provide a personal or credit reference to share information on how they treat other people and their overall reliability.

There may be instances where tenants are unable to provide any references, and if that’s the case, then you can either move forward with other applicants or provide other suggestions you’re willing to accept.

6. How Many People Will be Living in the Apartment?

To avoid dealing with squatters — which are unauthorized tenants in a rental property — you’ll want to know whether or not more than one person will be living in the property. If so, you’ll need to individually screen each tenant that’s listed as a co-signer on the rental application.

This will also be important when collecting rent payments, the security deposit fee, and any other fees since it’ll need to be split between each tenant on the final lease agreement.

7. Do You Smoke?

Smoke of any kind can cause extensive damage to a rental property, all of which can be expensive to fix. As the landlord, you are allowed to implement a no smoking policy, but it’s advised to provide tenants with alternative spots where it is allowed. This can be a backyard or certain feet away from the building.

Asking this question gives you an opportunity to remind any prospective tenant of your policy to ensure no one smokes in your property during the lease term.

8. Are You Okay With Paying an Application Fee?

When screening tenants with Avail, either the landlord or the prospective tenant can cover the $55 fee for the credit, criminal, and eviction report add-ons. Although this is a normal part of the renting process, it’s important to know if they’re okay with covering it. An application fee will also filter out tenants that are serious about renting your property.

9. Are You Looking for a 12-Month Lease Agreement?

There are different types of lease agreements, such as an annual agreement, a month-to-month agreement, or one that ends on a custom date set by the landlord. Ideally, you’ll want a tenant looking to sign a lease agreement with a 12-month lease term. However, if you come across someone looking to sign a shorter lease or prefer a rent-to-own agreement, then this can be something to discuss more in-depth.

3. Pay Close Attention to Their Questions

Let your prospects ask their questions during the phone interview. First, you’ll find out what’s important to them and can make sure to show off the areas of your rental that highlight their wants.

Second, you can figure out whether their priorities are in line with yours. If they’re asking about the location of the closest bars and you’re concerned about noise violations, this might not be a good fit.

Create a Rental Application

If you’ve gone this far with your prospective tenant, you should always allow them to submit a rental application, even if you know they won’t work out. You don’t want it to appear that you’re discriminating and at this point, you’ll want to allow everyone that you’ve already shown the property to go through your usual screening process.


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