Understanding Animal Cruelty Law

A look at animal cruelty laws

A look at animal cruelty laws

Animal cruelty can be classified into two classes – deliberate cruelty and neglect. Neglect means that you have failed to sufficiently provide for your animals, shelter, medication, food, water and other essential care. Starving and failing to vaccinate your pets are examples of neglect. Deliberate cruelty refers to intentional physical harm, for example, maiming an animal.  In the United States, animal cruelty is a felony and can result in jail time and monetary fines. However conviction of animal cruelty may differ depending on the jurisdiction.

What Does the Animal Cruelty Law Prohibit?

The animal cruelty law is primarily designed to safeguard domesticated pets (i.e. cats and dogs), farm animals (i.e. pigs, horses, goats and sheep) and wild animals. Under the law, you are prohibited from:

–          Maliciously mutilating, wounding or torturing an animal. Intentional killing of an animal is also forbidden under this act.

–          Intentionally overworking, tormenting, overdriving or depriving your animal of food. The law also bars you from beating or subjecting your animal to unnecessary suffering.

–          Threatening or endangering different animal species. For instance, invading the habitat of protected birds, fish or mammals is a criminal offense.

There are also particular activities, which have over the years have been included in the animal cruelty law. For example, it is illegal to:

–          Poison an animal.

–          Leave an animal unattended to.

–          Engage in dog fighting.

–          Participate in cockfighting.

–          Take part in bullfighting.

–          Declaw an exotic wild cat.

–          Sell puppies that are less than eight weeks old.

–          Shorten the tail of a horse.

If you own a pet store and fail to properly care for the animals, you can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Failure to take proper measures when transporting animals, for example, cattle can result in you being charged for animal cruelty.

Penalties for Animal Cruelty

The penalties for animal cruelty will differ from one state to the other. However, jail sentences and fines are standard in most states. For example:

–          You can be jailed for up to 3 years in a state prison and fined up to $20,000.00 in California if you are convicted of animal cruelty.

–          Under the Animal Welfare Act in San Antonio, you can be fined a maximum of $50,000.00 or jailed for up to four years if you are found guilty of animal cruelty.

In most states, animal cruelty is a grave offense. Understanding the state laws, which govern animal cruelty, will enable you to avoid jail time and hefty fines.



What Does the Future Look Like for Property Management Companies?

What the Future Looks Like for Property Managers

What the Future Looks Like for Property Managers

Like other businesses, the property management industry is bound to change in the next decade. The trend is more likely to skew towards internet usage to find rental properties. In a study conducted by the Internet World Stats on internet usage in the United States, roughly 77.3% of the American population used the internet to find information as of December, 2010. So renters are more likely to rely on the internet to find apartments for rental because:

1. The Generation Y Interacts In a Different Way

The Generation Y is the age group that was born in the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike the previous generation, they have expertise in both digital and electronic technology. As a result, they prefer to:

–          Use emails or short text messages to phone calls to communicate.

–          Complete online rental forms rather than fill a hardcopy.

–          Utilize automatic online payment services to signing and hand delivering checks.

In order to find potential renters, property management companies need to adjust according to the needs of the Generation Y.

2. Tenants Are Increasingly Relying on Online Reviews

According to a research by J Turner Research, more and more people are banking on online review sites to find apartments to lease. As per the survey:

–          64% of high-rise occupants depended on online rental listing sites to identify their apartments.

–          74% of those interviewed relied on online ratings when looking for their current apartments.

–          More than 90% of the respondents used Facebook to find neighborhood information, for example, community events and restaurants.

The findings also reveal that tenant retention rates can be enhanced by using social media sites such as Twitter to educate tenants on the positive aspects of a neighborhood.

Embracing online reputation management is essential in ensuring that property management companies remain competitive.

3. Mass Marketing Is No Longer Effective

In order to increase their ROI (Return on Investment), businesses are adopting customized marketing. This form of advertising not only enables a business to understand its audience, but market exclusively to them. The benefits of personalized marketing include:

–          The ability to improve tenant retention rate.

–          The capacity to increase conversion rates.

The future of property management is promising. But in order for property managers to gain a competitive edge, they need to make changes to their marketing techniques. For instance, they need to start using social network sites to increase their exposure by highlighting the important features of an area.




How to Keep Your Home Insurance Premiums Low

How to Keep Your Home Insurance Premiums Low

How to Keep Your Home Insurance Premiums Low

Like auto insurance, there are a couple of things that you can do in order to keep your home insurance premiums low. For example, you can qualify for discounted home insurance premiums by raising your deductibles and making your home disaster-proof. Additional cost-cutting measures that you can adopt include, bolstering your home security and improving your credit score.

1. Increase Your Deductibles

This is the sum of money, which you have to pay before an insurance company can settle your claim. A higher deductible automatically equates to a lower insurance premium. This is because you’ll be paying for most of the losses from your pocket

2. Make Your Home Disaster Resistant

Increasing the resistance of your home to natural disasters such as windstorms, earthquakes, wildfires and hurricanes can result in reduced homeowner’s insurance premiums. This can be achieved by:

–          Installing storm-resistant shutters. This helps in averting the risk of flying glasses in case of a windstorm or hurricane.

–          Cleaning the gutters. This is important in preventing instances of clogging that may cause damming on the roof. Gutter cleaning also helps in getting rid of debris, which may ignite in the event of a forest fire.

–          Sealing the attic and other crawlspaces. The use of metal mesh screens is crucial in blocking flying embers from getting into you home if there is a bushfire.

3. Boost Your Home Security

Improving the security of your home through the installation of burglar alarms, surveillance security cameras and dead-bolt locks can lower your home insurance premiums. This is because you have taken the steps to protect your home from external assailants.

However you also need to go a step further and safeguard your home from internal threats. For instance:

–          Install and maintain a smoke detector. This helps in protecting your home from the risk of fire and smoke damage.

–          Install a fire alarm that instantly alerts the fire department. This lowers the odds of your home being destroyed by fire in the event that you are away on a business or holiday trip.

4. Improve Your Credit Score

Credit score not only affects how much you’ll pay in home insurance premiums, but the type of policy you can purchase. This is because your credit rating determines your risk level. According to numerous studies, persons with poor credit scores are more likely to file a claim.

Understanding the factors that affect your homeowner’s insurance premiums will enable you to save. However they’ll also ensure that your home is protected from internal and external hazards.

The Four Main Stages of a Divorce Proceeding

The Four Main Stages of a Divorce Proceeding

The Four Main Stages of a Divorce Proceeding

Before a divorce can be finalized, it has to go through different stages. For example, the process starts with filing a petition. This signals your intent to divorce or separate from your partner. Thereafter, the papers are served to the other party. Completion of the two stages paves way for other procedures such as determination on how to share custody of the children and splitting of marital assets.

1. Filing a Petition

The spouse filing the petition is known as the petitioner. The request for divorce or legal separation is filed in a state court within the county where either the husband or wife lives. The different forms that have to be filed in this particular stage include:

–          Form FL-110. This is an application designed to summon the other spouse to a divorce court.

–          Form FL-100. This request seeks to annul the marriage. The form contains important details such as assets owned by the family, the location of different properties and the children’s, husband’s and wife’s names.

2. Service Process

The spouse being served the petition is referred to as the respondent. He/she has to recognize the delivery of divorce papers. If the respondent declines to acknowledge receipt of service, the petitioner may be compelled to enlist the help of an expert process server. This allows for the papers to be personally delivered to the respondent.

Completing the service process, kick starts the waiting period (i.e. the time you have to wait before the divorce can be settled). At this point, the petitioner and respondent are barred from:

–          Disposing any type of asset.

–          Moving children to a different state.

–          Borrowing money against a property, for example, a house, land or car.

3. Child Custody

If there is a child involved, it’s important to understand the difference between sole custody and joint custody.

In sole custody, a parent (i.e. the custodial parent) not only has the legal, but physical custody of a child. In this instance, the parent:

–          Stays most of the time with the child.

–          Makes lawful decisions in regards to the wellness of the child, for example, where to seek medical treatment and where to go to school.

4. Asset Division

Asset division is one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce proceeding. During the procedure, separating couples need to understand the types of assets, which are:

–          Beneficial for short-term financial security.

–          Valuable for long-term financial security.

Laws on how to split marital assets may also differ from one state to the other. However, most Separate Property laws take into account:

–          Assets which were acquired before the marriage.

–          Properties that were inherited prior to and after the marriage.

–          Gifts that were received from third parties, for example, cars, jewelries and houses.

–          Compensation from lawsuits such as workers compensation judgment.

If an asset acquired before the marriage, for instance, a condo is re-titled to include the husband or wife as the co-proprietor, it automatically loses its separate property status.

An understanding of the different stages of a divorce is important in enabling you to prepare for the procedure.



4 Essential Things to Do Before Moving to a New House

Before You Move Into a New House

Before You Move Into a New House

Moving to a new house can be exciting. But the enthusiasm can be overshadowed by lack of preparedness. For example, failing to inform service providers like phone companies of your new address will result in unpaid bills. Failure to make arrangement for someone to look after your children and pets can cause you a lot of inconvenience on the moving day because they’ll need to be fed. Sorting and purging will allow you to get rid of items that you no longer need. Returning borrowed items will ensure the accuracy of the moving estimate.

1. Sort and Purge

This task allows you to dispose of household items, which you are no longer using. For instance, you may have electronics, furniture, utensils and workout equipment that are occupying much of your storage space. Instead of transferring them to your new house, you can give them out to friends or charitable
organizations. Consequently, you will be able to throw away clutter that may make your new house appear disorganized.

2. Return Borrowed Items and Collect Lent Items

If you are intending to hire a moving company, it is important that you collect all the stuff you loaned out to friends and return everything you might have rented in the past. When providing you with a moving estimate, a mover will base their assessment on what they can see.  So if there is a lawn mower that isn’t supposed to be there during the appraisal stage, you’ll end up paying more for the service.

3. Inform Your Service Providers of the Change of Address

Without informing your service providers of a change of address, your bills will continue to be mailed to the previous address. Consequently, you may end up with overdue car loans and credit card bills. To ensure timely delivery of your mails, notify service providers of the new address at least 3-4 weeks before moving to your new house.

4. Arrange for Your Children to be Cared for

Make prior arrangements for a friend or relative to look after your children and pets. If you don’t have someone that you can rely on, you can take your children to a daycare center. Pets like dogs can be taken to a dog boarding kennel. This is because tending to your kids while at the same time supervising the packing and loading of your household items into a moving truck can be challenging.

Moving to a new house can be stressful. However, advance preparation can lessen the agony commonly associated with the process.