As a landlord, you are bound by a number of federal, state and local laws that pertain to your rental property. We are all subject to the Texas Property Code. There is an entire chapter specifically dedicated to landlord tenant laws. It covers what those laws are and what you can get in trouble for. Basically it serves as our bible for properties. If you don’t know this section of the property code, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble. Here are some of the things that are really big for us: Read More »
It is crucial, when renting a property, that property managers and owners avoid discrimination. There are many pitfalls, and it requires good policies, procedures, and practices, to prevent unwanted Fair Housing complaints.
Fair Housing actually began in the United States in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence, which states, "all men are created equal." Unfortunately, despite this solid foundation, discrimination existed, and, subsequently, it led to the enactment of many federal laws that directly affect rental housing. Some of these are the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, and the 1990 American with Disabilities Act.
Based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap, a landlord cannot: Read More »
If you have 100 property managers in a meeting, the majority will agree that settling a security deposits dispute is one of the more difficult tasks in property management, particularly when it comes to determining "normal wear and tear," also referred to by some as "ordinary wear and tear."
Why does this become such a difficult problem? It is because there is NO clear-cut definition for this phrase in legislation. It becomes very subjective, depending on the party or parties involved. You will get different viewpoints from a property owner, a property manager, a judge, an attorney, a vendor, and mostly likely, an opposing view from the tenant. Tenants are prone to use this term, particularly in court, to defend any type of damage, large or small. The burden of proof usually falls to the landlord to show that the damage is not "normal wear and tear."
The laws that govern the security deposit vary from state to state, but the term "normal wear and tear" generally describes the allowable amount of use of a rental without the tenant being financially responsible for repairs or maintenance. A certain amount of "normal" use of the rental unit will result in an anticipated and reasonable amount of wear that will result in the need for repair, replacement, or other maintenance work.
The law generally will rule the tenant should not be responsible for these costs because it is normal maintenance and the cost of being a landlord. However, neither the courts nor the legislators have defined exactly what "percentage" of this maintenance is the owner's responsibility or that of the tenant.
How do you determine what to do about a "normal wear and tear" issue in a security deposit? It is not easy, but there are definite steps to avoid or reduce the problem. Read More »
In a perfect world of landlord/tenant relations, the rent is never late; there are never maintenance problems, emergencies, or any other difficulties; tenants are never angry. However, this delightful scenario is generally not the case and difficult situations take serious consideration and action. However, as your Property Management Company, we normally serve as a buffer between owner and tenant during unpleasant events.
When facing an angry tenant, it is not wise to point out that you have not caused their problems and they are being unreasonable. Ignoring tenant demands, maintenance issues, or emergencies will only escalate matters at hand. As professional Property Managers, we know there are key steps to take when facing difficult issues.
Determine the Problem
First, you need to define the problem as clearly as possible. Taking the time to listen patiently to the angry tenant can reveal there may be more happening than the immediate issue. Example: a tenant is unreasonably angry and threatening non-payment of rent because the dishwasher quit working. Of course, this is unreasonable for a non-emergency repair. Then they reveal they are worried about a very bad performance review at work; the dishwasher was simply the catalyst for their outrage because they fear losing their job and the ability to meet their rental obligations.
Implement a Plan of Action
Next, taking steps to resolve the issue as soon as possible is vital when faced with an angry resident. Delays or avoidance of the situation will increase the tenants' aggravation and could possibly give them grounds for future legal action.
Keep the Tenants Informed
During any difficult situation, it is important to keep the residents informed, by written or verbal communication until you achieve resolution. If they feel no one is responding to their problems, they will only become more antagonistic. Example: a scheduled dishwasher repair can help diffuse the tenant's anger; then, discussing their financial concerns and options on what to do if they lose their job may reduce their anxieties and hostility.
Always Follow Up
Showing the tenant that you have enough concern to verify that a repair was successful, an emergency resolved, or to inquire about their welfare can make a big difference in the landlord/manager/tenant relationship. In addition, finding out in advance there are still more problems to solve could prevent more conflicts with the tenant.
Most tenant issues work out peaceably. However, there are times when problems can escalate and the services of an experienced attorney in landlord/tenant law are required for resolution and expediency.
Document the Events
If another issue arises with the same tenant, or the same problem reoccurs, it is important to show what action items took place. Keeping an orderly and complete record of everything, such as work orders, paid bills, written correspondence, verbal conversations, and more, is a necessity.
The way to resolve tenant issues is to listen, plan a course of action, communicate, follow up, and document all actions. This is part of our commitment to provide "professional property management" for your investment. Read More »