• 'Professional Tenants' and How Not to Fall Victim to Them

    abandoned room in the factory.

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    ShutterstockThe Professional Tenant can leave the landlord with a worthless judgment for thousands in unpaid rent — and a trashed apartment.

    I am an attorney who has practiced in landlord tenant law for over 15 years in Massachusetts, one, if not the most, tenant-friendly states in the country. I’ve seen the good, bad and the ugly when it comes to tenant shenanigans. I’ve written all about it on my Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog. Most tenants are problem-free, yet there is a certain type who make even an experienced landlord cringe with fear: The Professional Tenant.

    Let me give you the profile of what I mean by a typical Professional Tenant. (This is a generalization based on my professional experience.)

    • They have history of litigation, evictions and/or delinquency with prior landlords.
    • They have a surprising (and dangerous) knowledge of local landlord-tenant law.
    • They often have a background in real estate, engineering, contracting or law.
    • They have marginal to poor credit, with a prior history of collections, judgments or bankruptcies.
    • They have gaps in rental history.
    • They have non-existent or incomplete prior landlord references.

    Now the above may sound simply like …read more  

  • 4 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds


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    Weeds are the worst. They compete with my flowers and shrubs for nutrients, water and sunlight. And since weeds are native and superbly adapted to my little slice of heaven, they usually win the war with my exotic perennials, which were propagated God-knows-where.

    I could spray the intruders with herbicides, and continue to pollute the watershed and kill the honeybees, vital pollinators whose populations are shrinking.

    Or I can get rid of weeds naturally, using my brawn and brain to defeat these plants, whose only real crime is growing where I don’t want them:

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    …read more  

  • How Homebuyers Can Avoid Falling for a Money Pit

    flushing one hundred dollars...

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    ShutterstockThere are ways for homebuyers to determine if they’re about to purchase a disaster.

    By Geoff Williams

    Karen Carlson and her husband bought their house last year and encountered problems almost from the start. “Within the first four months, we had to call the plumber five times,” says Carlson, who works in public relations in Orange County, California. When the washing machine or dishwasher ran, so did the downstairs toilet. It overran, in fact.

    “At first, we didn’t connect the appliances with the toilet,” Carlson says. She and her husband thought flushing the toilet upstairs might be causing the downstairs toilet to go berserk. It wasn’t uncommon for filthy water to bubble over the seat, fill up the floor, enter the garage and run down the driveway.

    “There’s no way someone could have lived here for so long without knowing there was a problem.”

    The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house shouldn’t have had water issues, considering it sold for $630,000.

    “By Los Angeles and Orange County standards, that’s a pretty cheap home, but for us, it was a major deal,” Carlson says.
    <br …read more