What questions should I ask my estate agent before i rent the flat?
James Conley answers:
What are his fees now and when the agreement is renewed? The main questions are those which you should ask yourself when viewing the accommodation. Rent and deposit amounts, space, heating, bathing, kitchen facilities, electrics, neighbours, garden, dampness, decor, general condition, repair arrangements, heating and hot water maintenance, council tax, rubbish collection, water meter, gas safety certificate (if gas appliance(s)), electrical installation test certificate, parking, smoke detectors, insurance arrangements. Also, most important, ask to read through the agreement in your own time before you commit to renting. This is a recommendation by the Office of Fair Trading which all good letting agents will abide by. Do not be rushed with any of this. Remember, once you put pen to paper there is no turning back as these agreements are legally binding contracts. If you need to wise up, view the link. The Shelter website also has useful info.
Personal Condo Insurance in Florida-what do I need?
Hi. We have purchased a condo in florida, north miami & now trying to figure out what type of coverage we will need for our condo. I think there is personal property & liability-is that the minimum required? Where should we start?
James Conley answers:
You probably know that your condo association purchases insurance on the building and premises. Broadly speaking there are two approaches that condo bylaws take to insure the property.
One approach is the condo association agrees to cover only the exterior and common areas. You are responsible to insure the interior this can include walls, wall coverings, flooring, furnace, appliances, lighting, plumbing fixtures, kitchen and bath cabinets (basically everything inside your condo). In this scenario you are responsible not only for your personal property but also the entire interior of your condo. As an insurance agent I did not like this approach because it is very difficult to determine how much insurance you should have to be able to repair or replace everything in within the walls of your condo.
The other approach, which I always preferred, was more comprehensive where the association agrees to cover the entire unit as it was originally built. In this scenario you only insure your upgrades (i.e. Bookcases, upgrades, finished basements. Etc.) and your personal property.
You need to carefully review your condo bylaws or have a good insurance agent go over the bylaws with you. If you don’t insure the property that you are responsible for you could find yourself woefully under insured and perhaps unable to rebuild your condo.
In addition to insuring the part of the building you are responsible for you need to determine the replacement cost of your personal property within the condo.
Sorry for the long answer but it is a surprisingly complex question.
House burned down- are the salvaged contents toxic?
My house burnt down 6 weeks ago. It didn’t burn to the ground, but the fire started in the attached garage and then the roof caught on fire and completely burned and caved in, and the house is a write off (it was already demolished).
My bedroom was in the basement. There was about 2-3 feet of water that flooded the basement from the firefighters putting the fire out. It wasn’t just water, but all the ash and insulation from the roof. Also the foam that firefighters use sometimes to help put fires out. The water and debris all came down the stairs into the basement, and water dripped down the walls and through the ceiling from the main level into the basement.
The restoration company got into our house 2 days after the fire, but my room they didn’t clear out for probably a week. I know mold sets in after 3 days. I visited the house 3 days after the fire and the basement was very damp and musty and humid. My room looked like nothing was damaged, other than a few drips coming down the walls, and a foot of wet debris on the floor. But I was in there to look for my glasses (I had been wearing contacts when the fire happened), and I touched my blankets and they were soaked. So I guess my room was worse than it appeared, and most everything got wet. The dampness of the air on day 3 also meant that everything would have gotten touched by the humidity.
Anyways, the restoration company took everything out, said they would clean everything, lay pictures and keepsakes out to dry & restore, etc, etc. They ended up washing and drying all of my clothes and shoes, and wrecking most of them in the process, as a lot of them were dry clean only and it seems like they didn’t bother to read labels. Then all the hard contents (meaning everything other than clothes and blankets), they stuck on a shelf and left them there for 6 weeks and didn’t do any sort of cleaning like they said they would. They ended up throwing away a lot of family photos because they just ignored them until it was too late. Now they sent us 80 boxes of stuff to sort through, stuff that they stuck on their shelf 5-6 weeks ago and haven’t touched since.
My question after that whole explanation- Are these hard contents safe? From what I know, they didn’t do anything to clean any of them, other than to wipe off debris. There would have been toxins from the roof insulation, fire extinguishing foam, and mold spores floating around. I had a set of dishes on the floor (packed away for my move to school in the fall), and they just washed them in a normal dishwasher and said they should be okay now. I had a stuffed animal collection on a shelf and all those they sent back, and they said it all looked fine so they didn’t do anything to clean them. They do look fine, and smell fine, but I’m wondering about what sort of toxins and carcinogens I should be worrying about. They are sentimental so I’d like to keep them, but not if it gives me cancer in the long run. They sent along a list of “destroyed” items, meaning they deemed them unsalvageable and destroyed them. One of my photo albums was on that list, and yet I found it in the stuff they sent back. It looks fine, but it was obviously wet enough at one point to be classified as ‘destroyed’ (it has a fabric cover). Could this also have toxins it it?
Please, if you know an answer, or even know who I should talk to, let me know. The restoration company says everything is all good, but I think it’s only because they lose money for everything they don’t “save”.
Good answers so far.
The restoration company is being paid by the insurance company (our insurance is 100% replacement value, so the good news is that we aren’t really financially responsible for anything), and they are cutting a lot of corners. For example, just got my jewellery back and it was thrown into a big tangled mess in a ziploc bag, with a mini chandelier glass ornament. The ornament had shattered, because they didn’t bother to pack anything with padding, so I had to sort through a ball of tangled jewellery mixed with glass pieces.
As far as the policy goes, we have been rejecting everything the restoration company gives us that does not meet our standards (our standards are that it is in the same condition as before the fire). Our insurance agent started making a stink about that, and stopped communicating with us, so we called her boss and as of Monday morning she is not handling our case anymore and we are being reassigned. So basically anything I don’t think
James Conley answers:
I know exactly what you are going through. I’m not an expert, but here’s my story an my opinions:
3 years ago there was a forest fire that burned down my shop and truck and damaged but did not destroy my home. Then 2 years ago there was a flash flood that caused a landslide that buried my car and filled the 1st floor of my home with 4 feet of rocks, mud and debris. Family photos, books, furniture, computer, TV, stereo, record & CD collection, musical instruments, kitchen cabinets & appliances were lost. Heating system, flooring, paneling, drywall, insulation, electrical & phone wiring had to be replaced.
I did not use a disaster recovery company to clean up my mess. I did it myself. For the insurance company, I made a long list of everything that got totaled. Everything that looked like it might be saved went to a storage locker. After the clothes got washed I kept the clothes that cleaned up OK and tossed the rest. I kept whatever hard contents that I could clean up well enough. Things like your dishes should be fine once they have been washed a couple times. If your stuffed animals don’t even smell like smoke, then I think they’re fine.
Mold, creosote, and asbestos are health concerns. Mold needs moisture and can be treated by scrubbing with detergent, then thoroughly drying. Creosote (the oily soot from partly burned items) can be washed off. There should be asbestos inspectors registered with your state health department to test whether asbestos was releqased by the fire. If the insulation was fiberglass, rinse it off hard surfaces. Fibers might remain stuck to soft surfaces. I had to install new fiberglass insulation. I wore a dust mask and goggles and gloves, but part of my arms and face were bare and the fibers made me itch for a couple days – very annoying, but I’m OK. Paint, roof shingles and plastic give off toxic fumes when they burn, but that’s only a problem during the fire. I don’t know anything about fire retardant foam.
Disaster recovery is an attempt to repair a huge complicated mess and sometimes mistakes get made, but I don’t know why the restoration company would cut corners on their work. I think it would be the opposite – that they’d do everything they thought was needed. If the restoration company gets paid by your insurance, the more work they do, the more they would get paid.
It takes a while for people to recover from an event like a fire. Even though it’s been a couple years for me, my life has not exactly returned to “normal” yet. I wish you the best.
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