Karen Skeens

Karen is a creative director / writer / designer / strategist with 20 years of passionate dedication in digital agency and broadcast media work helping companies of all sizes grow.

Buried “escape” clause in AZ law means jail time for pet

Did you know that if you submit a repair request to your landlord in Arizona, that suffices as “notice to enter?”

Per the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, if the tenant requests a repair or service, that constitutes permission to enter. Period. The tenant unknowingly waives his right to receive notice.

This means the landlord can help himself into your apartment or rental house, any hour (within reason), any day, any month. Without a head’s up to you. Yes, really.

This also means your pet can escape the minute Maintenance opens your door, if Maintenance ignored your appointment request and showed up while you’re not home. 

Just ask Taco, who landed himself in jail at the Humane Society. He did what any anxious, high maintenance dog would do when strangers invaded his territory.  He escaped!  Right through the open door, thank you maintenance crew. The good news is Taco got picked up. The bad news is:

 – His 26-year-old owner f-r-e-a-k-e-d when she came home during lunch and couldn’t find her little dog (no note was left.)

 – Taco bit the good Samaritan who tried to rescue him out of heavy traffic. 

 – And Taco now has a record because he (gently) bit the good Samaritan.

A sincere thanks to the Humane Society who saved Taco, held him at their facility, verified his rabies and license records, then tracked down his owner a couple hours later. And another big thanks to Humane Society for helping fill in the blanks to what happened.  

Maybe Arizona Department of Housing needs to do a better job protecting the right to privacy and safety for AZ tenants and their pets?

Taco, Escape Artist

The "pet escape" clause per AZ law

You have to dig deep to find this clause in the 47-page Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act. It is buried.

*B. If the tenant notifies the landlord of a service request or a request for maintenance as prescribed in section 33-1341, paragraph 8, the notice from the tenant constitutes permission from the tenant for the landlord to enter the dwelling unit pursuant to subsection D of this section for the sole purpose of acting on the service or maintenance request and the tenant waives receipt of any separate or additional access notice that may be required pursuant to subsection D of this section." https://housing.az.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/Landlord-Tenant-Act-ADOH-Publication-July-2018.pdf

arizona residential landlord and tenant act

The solution and problems with the law

A landlord should be required to give 48 hours notice of a specific date to enter, whether they generate the request to inspect or repair, or the tenant generates the request for a repair.

Current "notice to enter" AZ laws

1. Current law states that a landlord must give 48 hours notice to enter, but the law fails to require that landlords state a specific date.

2. That’s not the only bad thing about the landlord/tenant act’s notice clause: Currently, a landlord does NOT have to give any notice to enter to handle a service request, if the repair request was submitted by the tenant. Per the AZ Residential Landlord Tenant Act, the tenant’s request for repairs automatically infers notice, even though the tenant is not necessarily aware of this. (Best guess and a reasonable one: Most tenants have no clue about this obscure law.)

Tenant not told they waived their right to notice

In the handful of examples that we reviewed, the tenant was never told that they’d waived their right to notice during or after submitting a repair request. That doesn’t mean that some landlords do not inform tenants as a courtesy. (There likely are many customer service oriented landlords and property management companies who do provide notice to enter to conduct repairs.)

Obviously, one temporary band-aid solution is for the landlord to inform/remind the tenant that the tenant’s repair request waives his/her right to notice per law. This way the tenant can, at minimum, make arrangements. Like send their pet to a pet sitter while waiting for the landlord to handle the repairs. Or, in Rocky’s case, make sure his harness is on him. Because that harness has his ID and rabies tags on it.

Disclaimer: Landlords typically provide the tenant a copy of the 47-page AZ Residential Landlord Tenant Act during move-in. But this law is buried in the fine print.

Misleading offer to book appointment buries the law even more.

Typically, a tenant generates a repair request online or by email with the expectation the landlord will contact them to schedule or confirm the  appointment time. For example, BH Management Services, a property management company, provides an online app that tenants can use to pay rent or order repairs. The app provides the tenant an option to request an appointment for the repairs. However, the app does not inform the tenant that, per Arizona law, their repair request automatically constitutes permission for the landlord to enter. The app does not inform the tenant that the landlord can ignore the request for an appointment and just show up unannounced a week later.

So, even if you ask for an appointment, the landlord can ignore it,  show up when you’re not home, and inadvertently let your dog escape.

Arizona Department of Housing, it’s time to enact some more clearly-defined laws to better protect tenant rights to privacy and safety.

 

WA Dept of Retirement paves the way for identity thieves…

Washington Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) paves the way for identity thieves…and murderers too.

Read this real-life story.

Sometime around 2014, Washington Department of Retirement decided to make it easier and quicker for its members to change beneficiaries on their retirement accounts. 

They likely didn’t realize they were also making it easier for identity thieves to change beneficiaries too and potentially steal a member’s lifelong retirement savings.

Here are the changes Washington Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) made as of about 2014:

1. WDR posted a blank retirement beneficiary designation change form on the internet so members could download at their convenience.  

2. They made the form searchable, apparently so members could easily locate and download the form on their own. This means the public could also easily locate and download the form.   

3. WDR removed the witness signature line on the form, meaning no witnesses were needed to vouch for the identity of the person signing the beneficiary change form.

4. WDR does not require a notarized signature on the form, meaning proof is not required that its the authentic member signature on that form.

5. WDR does not save the original beneficiary forms. They say they scan them and throw away the originals after 30 days according to several WDR officials.

This means anyone with access to an app like Photoshop, or even a simple copy machine, can easily copy and paste the member’s signature from one document to the blank beneficiary designation form, steal their identity and, and possibly all of their retirement savings, with little fear of being held accountable.

If this sounds like a stretch to you, read this real-life story…

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

“Steve” (60) met a woman, “Diane,” through Match.com. Diane lost her job soon thereafter, moved in with Steve and they were married about a year later. Ten days after the marriage, Diane emailed Steve, “This isn’t working out. This is not what I expected in a marriage.”

It is unclear what happened after that, except a flurry of online and email activity with Steve’s online investment accounts began almost immediately after the email was sent. Steve died 3 1/2 months later in a highly suspicious accident.

Three weeks before he died, someone mailed a beneficiary designation form to DRS in his name, replacing his existing beneficiaries (his two teenage daughters, his only children) with only Diane’s name. Diane’s handwriting appears in the beneficiary field, where she wrote in her two last names.

Steve’s signature on the form floats uncharacteristically above the line.

Steve always signs right on the line.

Because DRS destroys the original beneficiary forms, this makes it virtually impossible for a forensic document expert to analyze the form for forgery. And DRS isn’t held liable paying out retirement funds to the wrong party.

Who exactly benefits from DRS’s loose policies with beneficiary form designation changes? The member? Or Department of Retirement Systems?

Is DRS opening the door for identity theft or, worse, murder?

Public Storage privately hides their rent hikes in the fine print.

So you’ve just busted your butt negotiating an expensive but fair price to store your stuff at Public Storage in Seattle, Washington. It’s only for a couple of months, right? And it’s only $71 per month for a 5 x 5. Cool.

But wait. Four months later, that $71 now shows up as $91 in your online bank statements.

You call Public Storage to ask about their increased bill, and what do they tell you? 

Public Storage: “It’s in the contract you signed.”

You: “What? That contract was like 20 or more pages long, and it was a few minutes before closing. I expected my online sales person to disclose all rent costs to me when I called them for a quote. I was never told that the monthly rate would go up after three months…”

Public Storage: “It was your responsibility to read the contract before you signed it.”

You: “Your online salesman  said nothing about a rate increase after only three months…And neither did you…We shook hands…”

Public Storage: “Dial tone.” 

The local Public Storage employee literally hung up on you.

Your call to Public Storage’s 800 number got you nowhere, as they said they were powerless to help.

Your voicemail for Public Storage’s regional manager went unanswered.

Conclusion: You form the strong opinion Public Storage represents a bunch of unethical thieves and their handshake is meaningless.

Tip for Public Storage: Public Storage in Seattle should be more public, forthcoming and transparent, and not so private about their billing practices. People generally expect a business to verbally disclose key information, especially pricing, prior to entering into an agreement – especially when pricing is specifically requested by the consumer. By Public Storage hiding their pricing increases in the fine print, deep in a contract, it comes off as if they are trying to deceive their customers.

Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act offers room for abuse

There’s a lot of wiggle room in the the Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act, creating unfair disadvantages for tenants. 

Some property management companies regularly take advantage of the vagueness in the act’s “access” section that describes the law requiring tenants to give 48 hours notice to enter a tenant’s unit. 33-1343. Access  While landlords will give proper notice, they often don’t provide a specific date when they want to enter.  This defeats the spirit of the law, and leaves the tenant hanging, not knowing when their landlord is going to pop in.   

Arizona’s landlord tenant act is intended to protect the rights of landlords, as well as the rights of tenants. For example, tenants have the right to peaceful enjoyment in the space they rent. 

To ensure this peaceful enjoyment, the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant act requires landlords give 48 hours’ notice to enter when inspecting the rental unit or making repairs, etc. 

Here's the 48-hour access law

Here’s the exact verbiage of the “access” clause in the AZ Residential Landlord and Tenant Act: “Except in case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least two days’ notice of the landlord’s intent to enter and enter only at reasonable times.” https://www.azleg.gov/ars/33/01343.htm

The law is missing specific language

The reasonable way to interpret this is a landlord should give 48 hours notice in advance of the SPECIFIC day they intend to enter. Put another way, they should inform the tenant of the specific day they intend to enter at least 48 hours in advance.

But some Arizona property management companies dance around this law by giving two days notice to enter ANY TIME Monday – Friday for up to a week or longer. Clearly taking advantage of the loophole, the landlord often fails to inform the tenant of the specific day they intend to enter. They keep their options open by requiring that the tenant makes their unit available for inspection for a range of days, up to a week or more.  

Obviously, that kind of advance notice of an unspecified specific entry date wasn’t the intent of the law.

Technically, due to the loose wording of Arizona’s law, a landlord could legally give 48 hours notice to enter ANY TIME over the next year. Landlord tenant law doesn’t require that the landlord specify the specific day they intend to enter, only that the landlord gives 48 hours’ notice.

Landlords regularly give this kind of broad sweeping notice, presumably for their own convenience, despite it invading on the tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment and creating great inconvenience to the tenant.

Landlords sometimes use intimidation tactics

In addition, some landlords intimidate tenants into cooperating by:

1) Threatening fines or lease violations if the landlord can’t get access during their FIRST attempt to enter and has to return. 

2) Unreasonably requiring tenants to lock up their pet in a bedroom or crate for up to five days or longer, if the tenant’s pet is left alone in the unit while the tenant is away or at work.

And issuing fines or lease violations is legal, per AZ law:

33-1376. Landlord and tenant remedies for abuse of access

A. If the tenant refuses to allow lawful access, the landlord may obtain injunctive relief to compel access, or terminate the rental agreement. In either case, the landlord may recover actual damages.

See the below real examples of landlord letters, which were clearly written with the intent of intimidating the tenant into submission.

Arizona should follow Seattle's lead

Arizona should adopt some of Washington and Seattle’s landlord tenant laws which are much more fair and progressive for both landlords and tenants.  For example, if a landlord enters a tenant’s unit without notice in Seattle, the tenant can fine the landlord $100 for each time they don’t give proper notice. In addition, the tenant has the right to inform the landlord that “it’s not convenient” * within reason * right up until the scheduled entry time. 

In Arizona, the tenant does not have the right to reschedule if they get ill or have a personal emergency, for example. Not only that, but the tenant is subject to fines and threats of fines if the the landlord is not able to enter on the first or subsequent attempts to enter. 

That is not reasonable.

Arizona’s residential landlord and tenant act’s own verbiage weakens the law even further, making the 48-hour rule pretty much a moot point: “Except in case of emergency or WHEN IMPRACTICAL TO DO SO,” the landlord must give 48 hours notice.

Any landlord can claim it was “impractical” to give 48 hours notice.

It’s time for Arizona to clean house and clean up their verbiage to protect a tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment. The vagueness of the 48-hour access rule begs for abuse by landlords and is not reasonable.

Real Example #1 from AZ apartment complex property manager

Real Example #2 from AZ apartment complex property manager

My old blog articles

To see past samples of my article writing, check out my articles posted at the blog at Ad Ventures’ Branding & Marketing site.

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24 Hour Fitness runs out clock on cancellation request

Twenty-three year-old Hanna doesn’t like to complain about her food to servers. She doesn’t like any kind of confrontation. So when she was kept on hold for over an hour by 24-Fitness Center when she called to cancel her fitness membership, she finally gave in when they insisted she accept their 30-day free month. 

She said she agreed so she could get off the phone from them.

She believed that her cancellation request would go into effect at the end of that 30-day period.

A year later, she still gets billed every month by 24-Hour Fitness.

Turns out they didn’t cancel the membership as she had asked.

She had no appetite or time for calling back, knowing the agent at the other end of the line would once again use high pressure tactics to keep her on the phone and block the cancellation.

A Google search and a deep scour of the 24-Hour Fitness website turns up only cancellation instructions to call or go in person to a local 24-Hour Fitness store – more opportunities for 24-Hour Fitness to use their high pressure sales skills on their targets.

The instructions also say you can submit your cancellation in writing, but there isn’t a specific address listed where to mail cancellation requests. 

It’s clear 24-Hour Fitness wants to keep your membership 24-7, 365 days a year indefinitely.

Mike’s Wish: Send his Ashes to the Sky

Help us grant Mike Anderson's wish and set his ashes free.

“Don’t ever let me be buried,” is what Mike Anderson of Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo and Bremerton, WA mentioned periodiocally to his daughters throughout their youth. Yet, Mike was buried anyway after he drowned, and his daughters’ urgent alerts about his wishes were ignored.

Coach Michael J. Anderson was cremated on the third day following his death. His ashes were put in an urn and, about two weeks later, buried in the ground on top of his mother’s grave – on her chest area, a little to the right, as if makeshift. He doesn’t have his own spot. 

His young adult daughters, Kendra and Hanna Anderson, have wanted to find a way to release his buried ashes to the sky.

Mike Anderson vacationing at Spieden Lake, WA

This was Mike’s longtime wish he often expressed to his daughters during the 18 and 21 years he knew them. He would say, “don’t let me be buried.” It’s as if he had a vision into his future. 

His daughters, whom with he shared a deep bond, did not forget.

Those first couple of days after their dad drowned, then 18 and 21-year-old Hanna and Kendra both quite literally frantically and repeatedly tried to relay their dad’s last wish. To no avail. 

A response after he was cremated was eventually emailed to Kendra and Hanna that said Mike’s end-of-life decisions had changed.

This is not true.

There are no plans for anyone to join Mike next to his grave, not then, not now. Only Anderson children can legally be buried in Mike’s parent’s personal plot. 

And so Mike’s daughters wish to take this plea public.

Please sign the petition to send Mike’s ashes to the skies.

They hope to gather signatures to create awareness and reach people who might share this plea with others or advise how to legally set Mike’s ashes free. For Mike. 

See full article at JusticeforMike.org.

 

Why Choose WordPress?

WordPress saves costly testing time.

There are many benefits WordPress website content management software offers. This article discusses one of its biggest benefits when implemented correctly and efficiently: it saves costly testing time.

In 2001, I began specializing in custom built-from-scratch websites for businesses and organizations – big and small. I was fascinated by the web and dove in, exploring the many bells and whistles the web has to offer. At the time, my role was project manager, yet I spent a lot of time conducting web testing, troubleshooting solutions and handing them off to developers. 

Testing custom websites is exhausting. You must test every page in dozens of different browser / operating system combinations. You must test again every time a change or fix is made to a page. This adds a lot of extra cost to developing custom websites.

Enter the scene: WordPress themes and page builders. 

WordPress has come a long way since it was first released in 2003, but especially the last five years. If you work with a good, newer theme and/or a good, newer page builder that requires minimal (if any) HTML / CSS coding from scratch, there isn’t a need for traditional browser testing. The issues are already worked out, except for the occasional bug that may pop up during development or after WordPress or theme updates.

How to choose a good WordPress theme

I am reminded when developers, including my firm, used to build shopping carts from scratch. They were nothing but headaches due to the need for excessive testing. Like other agencies, we moved to customizable “off-the-shelf” shopping carts that already had the bugs worked out and were in use in thousands of websites.

That’s where websites are at. Why build a website from scratch that’s going to need a ton of testing when you can get a highly customizable and functional “off-the-shelf” WordPress website? It means a lot less cost, testing time and headaches.

Don’t talk your way out of the job interview

Want that job interview? Don’t talk your way out of it.

You’ve sent your resume to dozens and dozens of potential employers. You know if only you could get in front of the employer, they’d see your talents and realize how great you are and hire you right away. So when you finally nail an interview during your initial phone call or email, why keep talking and risk talking your way out of a job before the interview has even happened?

Here is one way to handle an interview request from a prospective employer:

Get in and out of the phone call or email as politely and accommodating as you can. “Yes, Tuesday at 10AM works great for me, looking forward to seeing you then.” Assuming the scheduler or employer doesn’t ask you anymore questions, you’re done.

Unless asked, save your own questions for the interview. Resist the temptation to contact the employer again ahead of the interview to ask directions, how much the job pays, if you should bring anything, or details about the specific job.

Keep in mind that most employers and human resource professionals are busy and processing hundreds of resumes. Many applications don’t even get opened.

If you need to ask a question prior to the interview, make sure it absolutely cannot wait until the interview. Because you might talk yourself out of the interview. The employer simply may not have time to respond to several questions from multiple similarly or higher-qualified applicants. Also, any time you communicate by email, there is a chance for misinterpretation because of the nature of email versus communicating in person. For example, if you ask for directions, this may suggest to the employer that you may not be a good problem solver. If you ask about money at this stage, the employer may think money is the most important thing to you.

Save your questions for the interview

Remember, the hard part in getting a job is getting in front of an employer. Once you’re in front, you can show your stuff and ask questions when you have the employer’s attention.

Here is a REAL email my former company received from a job applicant who responded to my interview request. It’s an example of the wrong way to respond. Ultimately, the interview was never scheduled. The candidate “talked” her way out of it by asking too many questions at the interview scheduling stage. Check it out:

 

 

 

 

Actual follow-up email from job applicant

“Dear Karen: “My office can’t spare me tomorrow but I might be able to get Friday free. I should know by the end of the business day tomorrow. Or, if a time outside of normal business hours would work for you, I might be able to make that work too. In the meantime, if you have any questions for me, feel free to ask away. I’ve got a couple myself. For example: If hired what specific tasks would I be doing (what would an average “day in the life” look like, what hours would I keep, etc) How much (if any) of my work could be done remotely? Such as working from home. Would I be in a bullpen, in a cubicle, in a shared office, or in my own office? Are there any rules about playing music during work? (Such as headphones being required, etc) Thank you again for getting back to me. I look forward to your reply.” Sincerely, XXXX

- Job Applicant (name redacted)

My Favorite Search Engine

Yes, it's Google.

Google is by far my favorite search engine. It’s also known as “Google Search.”

I tend to use multiple browsers like Firefox, Explorer and Chrome. Bing will sometimes “slip in” as Firefox’s default search engine on my computer, for example. I notice the difference.

When I need serious results, I go to Google. It usually delivers results that are more relevant and delivered faster. Google is considered the largest single source of web pages. It has had a reputation of being the top search engine for years which equates to a built-in credibility in search results. The paid ads are more subdued, the organic results presented in a simple interface. All of this contributes to its suburb user friendliness.

I like the Google Chrome browser because of the “Chrome DevTools” as well as Google webmaster tools (renamed to Google Search Console), which is an extension of the Google search engine. Overall, I favor Google because I trust that it invests in its products to maintain quality and keep its leading position in the marketplace.

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