Friday, September 27, 2013

The New Landlord: Changes to FL Landlord Tenant Law

The New Landlord: Changes to FL Landlord/ Tenant Law
Make sure the changes to your lease are completed by January 1, 2014. 

As a landlord, you may be subject to several governing bodies including but not limited to:

  • Fair Housing Laws
  • State & Federal Landlord/ Tenant Laws
  • State Real Estate Commission
  • Department of Business & Professional Regulations

Educating yourself on these developing laws proves to be a challenge. 

As a landlord, the written lease agreement you use with your tenant is your most important tool. You should ensure your lease agreement protects your investment and your liability.  Your lease should outline all terms of the residency, including rental rate, payment terms, lease length, and maintenance responsibilities for both the landlord and tenant. 

Your state may require certain clauses to appear in your lease agreement, especially regarding tenant security deposits. If you fail to make the proper disclosures, you could forfeit your right to retain your tenants deposit even when there are damages. Additionally, a judge can throw your case out if your lease is deemed "illegal" or "invalid."  

Because of these reasons, Realty Masters has an attorney on retainer that helps us draft our lease agreements. They also keep us up to date on current and upcoming legislation or changes to FL laws that could affect our lease agreements.  

The FL Landlord Tenant Laws were amended this summer and new changes to the law must appear in your lease agreements by January 1, 2014.  Visit our website for a complete listing of changes to the FL Landlord Tenant Law

If you have questions about your lease agreement, we suggest you consult an attorney today to ensure your lease is legal and protects you. 

This is the third article of our new blog series "The New Landlord: Tips & Tricks for the Profitable Landlord." 

Make sure to follow our blog for more advice on how to be an effective landlord!  Do you have any questions for us? Feel free to ask us your Pensacola Property Management Questions!  Email them to or give our office a call at (850) 473-3983.

Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503
Call us at (850) 473-3983

Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hello Fall~

Our take on Fall~
Lowest Utility Bill Season of the yard.

There are thousands of reasons to be thankful for Fall when you live in Florida.  After several months of 80-90 degree days, we are ready for cooler morings and nights, pumpkin pie, hot coffee, and even shorter days.  But did you know, utility bills are most affordable in our area of Florida area during the fall season. What a great reason to celebrate the season.

Happy Fall!

Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503

Call us at (850) 473-3983
Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at
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Bow wow chow: How to make easy, healthy treats for your dog at home

Treat - Sixty-two percent of U.S. households include a pet, and 78.2 million of those pets are dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association's most recent survey. Dog lovers want good nutrition and flavor to ensure happy, healthy animal members of the family.

Today, professional chefs are creating delicious, healthy foods and treats for dogs as well as people. "Understanding nutrition for dogs - and how it differs from what is right for humans - is key," says Chef Jim Gallivan, department chair of culinary arts at The Art Institute of Atlanta. Here are some tips to ensure a healthy diet for your canine friend.

* Provide the right balance of fats, minerals, carbohydrates, vitamins, protein, and - especially during the summer months - lots of water.
* Understand that the right balance for dogs is different from what's right for humans. Dogs have different dental capabilities and a shorter digestive tract so foods need to be able to be processed quickly.
* Avoid foods toxic to dogs, including chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, caffeine and fruit seeds.

Dogs love treats, but be sure you don't undermine your dog's healthy diet with the wrong treats. "One way to ensure an overall healthy diet for our dogs," says Gallivan, "is to prepare dog treats at home from healthy ingredients. And it's not very difficult."

These easy recipes for healthy dog treats were created by chefs at The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes. For instance, Gallivan prepares "Pup-sicles" in the summer for his dog, Cammie (short for Camembert). They take only a few minutes to make and your dog is sure to rank Pup-sicles high on the list of favorite treats, just as Cammie does.

Cammie's Pup-sicles
3 cups plain yogurt
1 ripe banana
1 cup smooth peanut butter (Cammie prefers Reese's)
1 tablespoon honey

1. Puree all of the above until smooth in texture with a food processor or blender.
2. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
3. Pop one out and reward your best canine friend.

Chef Richard Matthews, a culinary arts faculty member at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, adapted this recipe from his sister. Since it bakes in the microwave, it's great for summer.

Homemade Dog Treats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup beef or chicken broth, plus 1/4 cup to adjust consistency

1. Combine all dry ingredients and 3/4 cup of broth.
2. Mix until it forms a firm paste and all is moist. Use the remaining 1/4 cup broth to adjust the moisture if needed.
3. Roll out to a 1/2-inch thick, cut into 1-inch squares and place on an ungreased glass baking dish.
4. Microwave 4 minutes. Turn each piece over. Cook one additional minute.
5. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Note: Microwave ovens vary in power. Watch the treats closely for the last minute.

This produces a very hard biscuit. It can be flavored with bacon, cheese, peanut butter, cooked carrots, fruit or any other non-toxic flavor your dog enjoys.

Chef Jeffrey Floyd, department chair of Culinary Arts at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, says that although table scraps are a no-no, our dogs can still celebrate important holidays with their human families. His most recent canine friend, a cocker spaniel named Jordan, loved hot weather inspired treats like this one.

Coconut Cookies
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/2 cups skim milk (or coconut milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Combine all ingredients, roll into small balls, place on greased or non-stick cookie sheet and flatten to about 1/4-inch thick.
3. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 30 minutes.
4. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Your dog will love these treats - and you will feel good about giving them to your best friend.
To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit

Courtesy of BPT

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jellyfish, Biting Flies & Shark Bites!

September Beach Secrets: Jellyfish, Biting Flies & Shark Bites!
A few tips from long term Florida residents on how to make the best of your  September beach days.

Pensacola Beach~ Annual monarch butterfly migration
Pensacola Beach~ Annual monarch butterfly migration

Fall is around the corner and Floridians all along the Gulf Coast are soaking up the last of the summer sun! 

We're currently in the peak turtle hatching period, with hundreds of turtles trying to make their way into Gulf of Mexico waters this month.  There are few things in life as precious as watching baby turtles hatch and head towards water.  Turtles of all ages are easy to spot in the water this month.

Perdido Key FL rainbow
Rainbow over Perdido Key, FL Beach at Johnsons Beach~
In just a few weeks, Pensacola Beach will encounter the yearly monarch butterfly migration, where thousands of butterflies fly through the area on their way to Mexico.  My favorite place to catch the show is at Fort Pickens in the early daylight hours.

But, remember, mother nature is not all rainbows and butterflies. Here is what you need to know to make the best of your time along Gulf Coast beaches.

While the weather is perfect for a beach day, the purple flags have been flying above Pensacola Beach the last few weeks.  The purple flag signifies "dangerous marine life" which could include large amounts of stingray, jellyfish, or even the presence of sharks.

Jellyfish, Sea turtles & Sting Rays along Pensacola Beach
September sea creatures- Jellyfish, Sea turtles & Sting Rays along Pensacola Beach
September is also peak jellyfish season along Pensacola Beach.  It's best to avoid swimming when the purple marine life flag is up.  Make sure to check the water for jellyfish before taking a swim.  Make sure to avoid both the smaller rounder jellyfish and the larger man-o-wars.  Both types of jellyfish stings can be very painful!  If you are stung, treat the wound with either vinegar or baking soda and salt water.

Biting Flies
Not only are these flies annoying, their bite is painful. Yellow flies, also known as horse flies or biting flies, are in full force right now along the beach.  This is also a seasonal thing that shows up mid September along Pensacola Beach. To enjoy your time at the beach, make sure to bring bug spray that protects you from biting flies! 

Of all the sea creatures and insects along Florida beaches, the threat of sharks scares beachgoers the most!  The threat of sharks is ever present along Pensacola Beach.  In fact, beach goers were terrified this weekend as they witnessed a possible shark attack along Pensacola Beach.
On Sunday afternoon, September 14, 2013, a man suffered deep lacerations to his foot after a suspected shark bite near the Pensacola Beach Gulf Fishing Pier.  (We hope you are okay! See the WEAR news video here) Back in 2001, a Mississippi boy's arm was bit off during a shark attack at Pensacola Beach.  (Read ABC's article here) Despite the recent incident, shark attacks along Pensacola Beach area very rare. However, a few tips can help keep out of harms way.  It seems these events are more common during summer and are most likely to happen near fishermen.

My best advice is to avoid getting in the water anywhere close to people fishing. The Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier is one of the most heavily fished spots and sharks can easily mistake people for food or larger fish.  Also, swim in groups as sharks are more likely to attack one person.  Make sure to read our article "What to do if you get bit by a shark" for more mind easing tips on how to avoid sharks in general.

The beach can be a breathtakingly beautiful experience! We are so lucky to have numerous acres of protected, pristine beaches with abundant wildlife.  With some preparation and a watchful eye, I will continue to enjoy our beautiful beaches and watch our captivating marine line while we live together along the Gulf Coast.

See you at Pensacola Beach!
Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503

Call us at (850) 473-3983
Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Realty Masters Lease Agreement~

Realty Masters Lease Agreement Video~
Your guide to leasing a Pensacola Realty Masters Home!

We are excited to announce the arrival of our Realty Masters Lease Agreement Video. This video was created to assist you in understanding your obligations as a renter. 

Are you renting a Pensacola rental home from Realty Masters?  Bookmark this webpage and reference the video anytime you have questions about your lease agreement.

Do you have questions? Feel free to email them to us: and one of our agents will be in contact soon.

Are you moving to Pensacola and looking for a Pensacola rental home? Visit our home website for more than 35 different rental properties at  If you are looking for a professional property manager, make sure to call the experts at Realty Masters at (850) 473-3983.

Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503
Call us at (850) 473-3983

Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at
Like us on facebook ~ Follow our pins ~ Watch our videos

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to truly make your patio an extension of your home

If you're like many homeowners, you consider the patio an extension of your home. So it's fair to ask: Would you be just as comfortable nestled in with your favorite book or preparing a meal in your outdoor space as you would in your living room or your kitchen? As you contemplate ways to improve your outdoor area, think about projects that can both extend the hours you spend outside and make the time you spend there more relaxing.

Just as technology continues to make life indoors easier, more sophisticated awning systems, heating options and lighting can make your outdoor space that much more pleasant. Here are a few areas to consider as you plot your next round of improvements for your outdoor living space:

* Temperature control: One of the best ways to make your patio pleasant for more of the day - and more of the year - is to add simple temperature control features. If you live in a place where it gets uncomfortably hot during the summer, install misters around your favorite sitting areas to cool things down. Likewise, if you often find yourself heading inside because it gets too chilly in the spring and fall, a few strategically placed overhead heaters can extend your patio season.

* Shade matters: Awnings and umbrellas also play a huge role in regulating the temperature and comfort of your deck or patio. And now, shading options have become more sophisticated and easier to maintain than ever before. You'll never have to worry about damaged awnings on a windy day with a motorized awning system with wind sensors that work together to automatically retract your awnings when winds become too high. Retractable awning systemscan also be accessorized with sun sensors that signal motorized awnings to open as soon as the sun rises, keeping your outdoor space cool from the start of the day. If adding a hint of warmth is needed, simply install an awning heater. All of these accessories can be managed by the same remote that controls your motorized awning. With a system like this, you can leave the days of fiddling with fussy patio umbrellas behind.

* An outdoor kitchen: No patio is complete without a grill, but do you find yourself making frequent trips inside for other prep work? Make outdoor cooking easier by adding a prep island that can be placed near your grill. And if you really want to go all out, look for options that feature outdoor sinks or small refrigerators hidden under the countertop.

* Entertainment connectivity: Well-placed speakers can bring the stereo sound of your indoor system out. By upgrading your system so it can be controlled from your wireless device, you can bring the conveniences of your digital music system outdoors and eliminate the need to get up to turn up the volume or flip to the next song.

* Take look at your lighting: High-powered outdoor lights on sensors might be helpful when you're bringing in the groceries at night, but patio entertaining calls for a little more subtlety when it comes to lighting. Consider zero-energy solar-powered fixtures around the perimeter of your patio for a gentle ambiance to light up your evenings. Motorized systems can also be connected to your lighting, allowing you to adjust brightness as needed from the comfort of your patio lounger.

Now is the perfect time to plan for next year's patio season, and with the right improvements, you can make it the most comfortable one yet.

Courtesy of BPT

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Boost your home's curb appeal for a quicker sale

Boost your home's curb appeal for a quicker sale

Selling a home requires a bit of marketing, some sweat and elbow grease, and a touch of luck. But even in a competitive selling market, it is possible to turn the sign in your front yard from For Sale to Sold so you can move on to your next residence.

First, look at your home as if you were a potential buyer. Drive up to the driveway or the front curb and park, carefully looking at the home as if for the first time. Make note of the beautiful aspects of your home, and also areas that could deter potential buyers. The outside of your home is the first image they will see, both in person, and while pre-shopping online.

One maintenance project to tackle that will really spruce up the exterior of your home is refurbishing the outside woodwork that has been weathered by the sun, rain and snow. If you have a front porch, wooden window edgings or even a back deck, chances are these areas could benefit from new stain for a refreshed and clean look.

Home decks return about 70 percent of their original cost back to homeowners when a house is sold, according to Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report, but that's only when the decks are kept in top shape. To remove moisture and sun damage and protect your exterior woodwork from further damage from moss, mold and rot, Flood wood care offers an entire wood care system from prepping materials such as deck cleaners to stain. Before prepping your deck, consider if you need Wood Finish Remover to remove latex, oil, semi-transparent and solid stains, or if your deck is unstained, you may need Wood Brightener/Cleaner to bring the old and faded gray coloring back to a fresh new wood appearance. Finally, apply a Flood wood stain to your deck and woodwork to give it a beautiful look that will have home buyers and your neighbors impressed.

In addition to your exterior woodwork, also take a look at your siding and gutters. Vinyl and aluminum sidings can collect dirt and look dingy after a season or two. Use a power washer on the siding and gutters to wash away the grime and spider webs and bring some vibrancy back to the outside of your home. Also consider adding season-appropriate flowers, plants or landscaping or replacing gutter downspouts with decorative chains to give your home an artistic look.

Finally, take a close look at your exterior lights. Glass-enclosed lights can become filthy from all the elements, so take a quick moment to wipe them clean with glass cleaner. If your light fixtures are tarnished, or looking run down, purchase a can of spray paint in any complimentary color to the exterior of your home and freshen them up. It will make your lights appear new in no time at all.

These quick-fix projects will boost the look of your home both for prospective buyers arriving at your front door, and also in the photographs visible online. With this better exterior appearance, chances are you'll be able to sell your home much quicker.

Courtesy of BPT

Monday, September 2, 2013

Starting an Herb Garden in FL

Starting an Herb Garden.
Building an Herb Garden in Northwest Florida has never been easier.

Florida Container Herb Garden
5 Steps to an Easy Backyard Herb Garden~ 
Fresh herbs are known to provide nutrients and antioxidants that have immense health benefits.

Store bought seasonings contain harmful additives and high amounts of sodium. Why purchase these products when you can grow your own seasonings at home?

This spring, I started an herb and vegetable container garden in my backyard!  This has been a fun and rewarding process resulting in enough tomatoes, basil, oregano, and parsley to feed my extended family.

Basil, oregano, lavender and parsley in herb container garden
Container Garden with oregano,
basil, parsley and lavender
While traditional in-the-ground planting is difficult, it's very easy to start your own herb container garden! Follow these 5 easy steps and you'll be cooking with fresh herbs in just a few short weeks.

1.  Determine what hardiness zone you are located in!
Our hometown of Pensacola, FL is located in hardiness zones 8b and 9a. (To find out what plant hardiness zone you live in, visit the USDA's map here.)  The map is developed to determine a specific plants ability to live in certain locations and what time of year certain herbs, vegetables, and fruits should be planted.

2. What do you want to grow?
Determine what types of herbs you would like to grow and ensure you can successfully plant them in your zone. Herbs can be planted from seeds or as more mature plants. Many herbs can be planted in spring and fall in Florida and even year round when grown indoors. Do a little research to find the best herbs for your family.

Lavender Plant at store~
Here are some of the most popular herbs which are used for cooking, baking, juicing, and flavoring and thrive in zones 8b and 9a.
  • Basil- Make some homemade pesto
  • Cilantro- Sprinkle on top of your salsa
  • Chives- Spruce up any salad
  • Dill- Perfect with any cream cheese dip
  • Lavender- As a welcomed addition to your bubble bath
  • Lemon Balm- Great in tea
  • Mint- Use for baking 
  • Oregano- Sprinkle on your seafood or chicken
  • Parsley- Pairs with any meal well
  • Rosemary- Add to your tomato sauce for a kick
  • Sage- Completes your Thanksgiving stuffing
  • Stevia- Sugar Substitute
  • Thyme- Common in cajun cooking
3.  Choose the best location for your herbs.
Some herbs thrive better in shade and some thrive in full sun.  Make sure to read the planting instructions for each herb before choosing the perfect location.

Add herbs to your current flower beds or plant them in their own containers. You can place your containers on your front porch or back deck so you can conveniently access them when cooking.

I have herbs in several locations- in the ground, in a PVC container hanging along my fence, and in terracotta pots on my porch.
Parsley grown in container on porch~ florida
Parsley grown in decorative planter

In most areas in the US, your herbs will typically freeze and die off in the winter.  For this reason, many people prefer to plant herbs in smaller containers that could be moved inside during winter. Consider this when choosing your plants and locations.

4.  Gather your supplies!
The fun part. Get your family, go to your local hardware store, and pick up the following: 
  • A few choice herbs! (Or borrow some from a neighbor's garden! Herbs replicate easily.)
  • Potting soil
  • Containers if you need them
  • Garden gloves
  • Pensacola, FL container garden
    Fresh sweet mine growing in container garden
  • Water hose
The initial investment for my herb garden cost less than $50 for containers, potting soil, and a few choice herbs.

Check your home first- do you have any items that could be re-purposed into planters?  A spare tire, five gallon bucket, rain boots with holes in them, or even an old suitcase will work. With some imagination and proper drainage, most anything can become a planter. Have fun with your container garden!

5.  Plant and water! Continue to water.
Fill your container with potting soil. I use the miracle grow potting soil. You can even add in some sand with your indoor soil to help with drainage. Plant your herbs, cover with soil, and water thoroughly. Ensure your herbs receive plenty of sunlight and water regularly. Continuously water your plants as herbs need water every day, sometimes two times a day if the sun dries them out.  If your herbs are inside, make sure not to over water as plants do not survive well with soggy soil.

Cut your plants back every few weeks as the more your herbs are used, the more they produce!

It really is that easy. Are you ready to start growing and cooking fresh herbs?

Container Gardening~ Oregano
Fresh oregano harvested from my garden in Pensacola, FL
Make sure to preserve your herbs by dehydrating or freezing your surplus to ensure you have herbs during the winter months.  Try preparing your herbs and freezing them in ice cube trays with some garlic and olive oil!

Do you have an herb garden design that you'd like to share? Please comment below; I'd love to hear from you!

Want to rent a house in the Pensacola area with a yard large enough for a garden? View Escambia & Santa Rosa County rentals on our website at

See you outside!
Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503
Call us at (850) 473-3983

Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at
Like us on facebook ~ Follow our pins ~ Watch our videos