Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whole Foods Groundbreaking at the Domain

There will be a new Whole Foods in the Domain! After the economic downturn, the project had to be postponed. But on Nov 2 the held the groundbreaking and plan to open in March 2013. So if you want to get in an apartment close to this awesome new building, let us know!

See the full article here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Entertaining

When living in an apartment, it is important to consider your neighbors when entertaining. Now that the wonderful holiday season is upon us, it is a great time to think about neighbor-friendly entertaining!

Keeping the party inside your apartment, and not spreading out into the hallways, will keep the noise level down. This also ensures you do not get in the way of the neighbors.

Consider the noise level inside too. Don't play overly loud music, or keep a noisy crowd going too late into the night, especially on a work night.

Listen to the neighbors and comply if they are complaining. If you consider their point of view, you will understand why they are complaining. Complying with their request, or compromising if possible, will keep your relationship friendly.

Invite them! If you are having a family event, this might not be an option. But they will appreciate you letting them know in advance about the party and inviting them when appropriate.

*List compiled with use of apartments.about.com website article.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Housing Market Moving Toward Rentals


Because the housing market has been down, and lenders have been more strict with mortgages, the market is leaning in the direction of apartments and rentals. This means more apartment and condo building in many cities across America. In an economic downfall, many people do not want to assume the risk of home ownership. Because more people are renting then buying, rental properties have become fantastic investments.

Information provided by USA Today article; Condo Nation: Why so few Americans are buying homes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apartment Resident or Occupant

There is often the question what is the difference between an apartment resident and an apartment occupant. The distinction is easy to explain. A resident has signed the lease and is legally obligated to pay the rent and follow the terms of the lease. An occupant is someone living in an apartment without signing or being added to the lease. An occupant is not responsible for making lease payments or keeping the terms of the lease. This is the reason anyone living in an apartment over the age of 18 should be on the lease.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fun Stuff for Fall!

The weather has been so nice out and so today's blog isn't about apartments. There are lots of fun things to do during the fall in Austin. Below is a list of a few from About.com.

Pumpkin Hunt

Where: Evergreen Farms Christmas Trees in Elgin
When: October 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31. Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sundays from 1-5 p.m.
What: Activities will be ongoing each day, including a petting zoo, beanbag toss, wagon rides, pumpkin decorating (after selecting and purchasing a pumpkin). For $2 each, you can do other activities such as the pumpkin maze and pumpkin slide. Pumpkins will also be available for purchase. Half of all ticket sales for the day go to the Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin

Harvest of Fall Fun

Where: Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls
When: Now through November 14 on Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat from 8:30am to 5:30pm, Sundays 1-5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays.
What: Hay rides, kiddie mazes, stuffing scarecrows, pick your own flowers, eat pumpkin-flavored ice cream, and pet horses and goats. If you come on the weekend, you can also ride horses, have your face painted, and enjoy grilled corn. Picnic tables available.

Halloween Ghost Story Train

Where: Austin Steam Train
When: October 31 at 2:00 p.m.
What: There will be readings of kid-friendly ghost stories, a costume contest with prizes, Halloween treats, and several surprises.
Admission: $12 for child 3-13, $14 for senior 62 and up, $17 for adult.

Boo at the Zoo

Where: Austin Zoo
When: October 16, 17, 23, 24, 29, 30 & 31 from 6-9 p.m.
What: Come enjoy the zoo after-hours. Come in costume and bring a flashlight so you can see the animals at night. You will see the nocturnal creatures out and about. Take a ride on the Haunted Train Ride (ride the earliest departure when it’s still light out if your kids are afraid of the dark).
Admission: $15 per person (children under 2 are free)

The Austin Symphony's Halloween Children's Concert

Where: The Long Center's Dell Hall
When: Oct. 25 at 2 p.m.
What: A concert with spooky music from the likes of "Ghostbusters," "Harry Potter, "Scooby-Doo," and some "boo-tiful" classical music with special effects. There is also an educational aspect; children will be introduced to instruments and learn about the music. Kids and their families are welcomed to wear costumes!
Admission: $8 per child, $12 per adult

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Halloween Safety

Halloween is a great time of the year, fun for kids and parents alike! But making a few decisions can help keep you and those in your apartment community safe. The tips below are from the HalloweenSafety.com website. Enjoy your Halloween this year!

- Check the area you plan on trick or treating in for sex offenders
- Go with your kids or know their route have them check in every hour
- Make sure there is a parent with the group of trick or treaters
- Talk to your kids about vandalism, and the importance of respecting others property

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apartment Associations In Texas

In Austin, the Austin Apartment Association handles dealings with apartments and leases. But these associations are all over Texas! Use the Texas below to find one wherever you are in this great state.

Find Local Contacts

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Renting with a Roommate



When renting an apartment with a roomate, there are several things you should consider.

- The both of you understand the terms of the lease
- The amount each of you will owe for rent each month
- That if one of you does not pay the rent, the other is responsible for the full amount
- If the roommate moves out you will be responsible for the full lease
- Any new roommate will need to be approved by the owner, and a new lease will need to be signed
- Any unauthorized roommate is not considered responsible for fulfilling the lease term

* Compiled from the Texas Apartment Association website

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Accidental Landlord

Becoming an accidental landlord is becoming quite common in today's market. Renting out your home when you are unable to sell can be a useful tool in avoiding foreclosure. Below is an article from ZipRealty. 

In troubled times when sales are sluggish, the rental market tends to boom. This phenomena has a many pronged effect: first, on renters themselves who struggle with more competitive and expensive rentals; next, on buyers, who might now consider purchasing a rental property a very smart investment. But there is a third, and unsuspecting group: sellers.  When homes won’t sell (or will only see for a substantial loss), sellers could opt to assume the role of landlord, forced to turn their home “for sale” into a home “for rent” instead. This is the new class of “accidental landlords.”
But if you are to become a landlord, whether accidentally or on purpose, you need serious advice to protect yourself, your money, and your home.  This advice article offers only a fraction of issues to consider.

  • 1st: Prepare yourself emotionally. Selling is different because you will rarely have occasion to see the inside of this place again once you sell it. As landlord though, you’ll see the home as it suffers the ministrations of various tenants, most of them likely to be strangers, who may or may not care for the place as well as you did. Yet laws prevent you from just walking right in to the place. This could be the making of much heartache, not to mention high blood pressure– perhaps not a healthy choice if you’re not ready.
  • 2nd: Check the bottom line. You need to know how much rent you can collect for any unit, given its size, location, and amenities. You want to be sure that rent will cover your landlord related expenses (utilities, up-keep, advertising, insurance, taxes), including months you may miss income while you look for a tenant. List your expenses for the home and determine what costs you’ll chip in for the tenant, such as water and cable. Research what other homes like yours cost to rent in your area. Will you be able to cover your expenses and make a profit? Zip has multiple calculators, free for your use, here.
  • 3rd: Have a long-term plan. You may not make a profit your first year as a landlord, but if your home appreciates markedly during this year, and you can then put it back on the market, you may have made a great investment after all. Zip offers up-to-date property information on our website (click the tab titled “Find a Home’s Value). Search any address here.
  • 4th: Know the laws in the area you’ll rent in. This means insurance issues, taxation of rental income and expenses, as well as maintenance requirements and leasing/eviction regulations. If you will be absentee, especially if this absence has you in another state from the one your rental’s in, you might want to turn over the reins to a reputable property management company. Note that each state has not only its own laws but also its own forms for rental transactions so downloading a generic form off the Web might backfire.
  • 5th: Find a good tenant. You want to be discriminating, but you cannot legally discriminate. You want to know how to check credit, job and rental references for all tenants without crossing any lines in privacy protection. With written permission from applicants, you can run credit checks and background checks online at places like The Landlord Protection Agency or U.S. Search, or through America’s credit bureaus, such as TransUnion. Again, be sure you know what grounds you can legally use to turn someone away, and consider that these days, spotty employment or credit might not be a sign of a “bad tenant.”
  • 6th: Collecting the rent. Rental income is tricky. Some landlords say that you can protect yourself better if payments come by credit card or through PayPal, since credit card companies offer guarantee of payment even in cases of consumer fraud; however, be sure you know the tax laws for both income and expense as a landlord. In the meantime, to ensure you have a paying renter at all, consider listing your property with local employer bulletins and newsletters: schools, hospitals, major companies, etc.– any of these may find you a dependable source of good tenants.
  • 7th: Get tenant ready. Make sure everything that has to work does, and consider that maintenance is more than a legal obligation. After all, you want to keep your home’s value while you rent, or you may have to spend a lot restoring it once you decide to sell. ZipCode ran a helpful article on inexpensive ways to ready your house for selling that will apply just as much to readying your home for renting. Find it here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Water Conservation


The City of Austin has enacted a level 2 water conservation restriction. Keep this in mind, even in an apartment with no yard you can conserve water!

Stage 2 Water Use Guidelines
  • Residents may only water outdoors once a week. Homes with odd-numbered addresses can water on Saturday, even-numbered on Sunday.
  • Businesses and multifamily units may only water outdoors once a week. Those with odd numbered-address can water on Tuesday. Business and multifamily units with even-numbered addresses can water on Friday.
  • Automatic sprinklers can only operate before 10 a.m. on your watering day. Hose-end sprinklers can be used before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
  • Hand watering can be done at any time on any day of the week.
  • If you wash your car at home, do it on your watering day before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
  • You must use a hand-held bucket or a hose equipped with a shutoff nozzle.
    • You may use a waterless cleaning product or a commercial carwash to wash your car on any day at any time.
  • No charity carwashes unless a waterless cleaning product is used instead of water.
  • No ornamental fountains may be operated except to provide aeration for aquatic life. Automatic fill valves for pools and ponds must be turned off as well.
  • Violations of mandatory watering restrictions will result in an official warning followed by a citation if the violation is not corrected. Citations will be issued in Municipal Court with fines starting at $475.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Renter’s Insurance



Many apartment communities in the greater Austin area are now requiring renter's insurance.  Renter's Insurance is something we recommend that every renter have, whether the apartment requires it or not.  It is very affordable and really for your protection.   Renter's insurance not only protects you and your things from a "natural disaster" such as a flood from the apartment above or an even larger natural disaster like a hurricane, but also an accidental disaster such as a fire.  After all, you never know if the neighbor above is a novice chef or not!
Many Austin apartments will require ‘$100,000 in liability insurance’, although some will require as much at $300,000.  You may be inclined to think "WHOA, that's a lot and probably costs a fortune!”  Don't be alarmed.  That is the amount you will be required to obtain in liability, which means the amount of damage the renter’s insurance will cover if damage occurs under the restrictions of the policy, and is relatively affordable.
The first place to consider obtaining your renter's insurance is through your auto insurance.  Most companies will offer a discount for having 2 policies with them and in the end your increase becomes minimal.  Again, while it is required through most communities, it is for your protection.  If the unthinkable does happen, you'll be glad you have it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Most Expensive Cities To Rent


Forbes News recently released a list of the most expensive cities to rent an apartment in. Phew, Austin was not one of them!

Tokyo
Moscow
Hong Kong
London
Singapore
Abu Dhabi
San Francisco
Paris
New York City

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who "We" Are.


A Plus apartment locators are licensed real estate agents with considerable experience in the Austin apartment market. We work with apartment complexes, rental properties and condos to place our clients with the best rental opportunity for their individual needs. We pride ourselves on customer service and quality results. Our apartment location service is always free to our clients!

You may send your search directly to our office using the easy apartment search form on this page and we will assign an agent to your search; or you may contact one of our expert apartment locators directly using the information below. Finding the right Austin apartment locator can make the difference in finding a suitable apartment or landing the perfect apartment! We are here to make that happen for you!

Visit our website to view our tenured agents.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How do Apartment Locators or Apartment Finders Work?


Finding an apartment can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be.  Apartment finders strive to take the legwork out of your search by saving you time, energy, and gas.  When you are researching apartment locators, it is important to find someone that you click with, who makes you feel comfortable with the whole process.  That doesn't mean you need several apartment finders, just that you should do a little research first.  Check rating sites like Yelp, CitySearch or Google Places, maybe even message your friends on Facebook or colleagues through LinkedIn and see who they recommend.

Once you have decided which apartment finder to work with, It really can be a very simple process:

1) Start by scheduling an appointment or walking-in to the office when you are available.  Most apartment locators do help customers on a walk-in basis, in a reputable office there will almost always be someone available to help you.  
2) Once you're in the office, your apartment finder will call the communities that fit your specific parameters--such as price, size, location, floor level-- Your apartment locator will find out availability, exact pricing  and specifics on what they have coming up.  They will even know when it's available and even what floor it's on.
3) Then using a database we look at pictures, locations on a map, floor plans and move in fees, so that you can narrow it down and choose which ones you like the best.  
4) Finally we take you to the communities that you have narrowed it down to.  

Yes, it's really that easy! What you can spend an ENTIRE day, or even multiple days, doing on your own, an apartment locator can get done in 2 1/2 hours.  Yep!  In 2 1/2 hours you'll have you new apartment all picked out! The choice is always yours, apartment finders just make it a lot easier!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Parkside at Lake Creek

Check out the new video!

Parkside at Lake Creek

Check out the new video!

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Housing Market For Renters

I get asked about the current housing market for renters. My advice? Lock in a lease for the longest term possible. Rent is based on market value and until more buildings are built, the prices for current complexes are going up. The market is crammed which is making rent go higher rather then drop. Sign a 15 month lease if possible. Don't get the idea that a 6 month lease is a good thing, so you can move if you want. Think of it as your rent will increase every 6 months or every 15, depending on how long you lock in your lease terms. A 15 month lock is a nicer scenario for your pocketbook. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Celebrating Our Nations History!

For today's blog, instead of writing about apartments, I'd like to post some of the great events that happened on this day in history. Check out the Library of Congress for more!

Fireworks
World's Fair Fireworks,
Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer, 1939 or 1940.
Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America: Photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner, 1935-1955
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies' separation from Great Britain. The Constitution provides the legal and governmental framework for the United States, however, the Declaration, with its eloquent assertion "all Men are created equal," is equally beloved by the American people.
sheet music cover
Hurrah for the U S A,
words and music by W. E. Howard, 1915.
Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920
Philadelphians marked the first anniversary of American independence with a spontaneous celebration, which is described in a letter by John Adams to Abigail Adams. However, observing Independence Day only became commonplace after the War of 1812. Soon, events such as groundbreaking ceremonies for the Erie Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad were scheduled to coincide with July 4th festivities.
In 1859, the Banneker Institute of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, urged African Americans to celebrate Independence Day while bearing witness to the inconsistencies between the ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the practice of slavery. Banneker's orator of the day, Mr. Jacob C. White Jr., also promised his audience a brighter future:
We have learned by experience and by the comparison of ourselves with people similarly situated, to hope that, at some day not very far in futurity, our grievances will be redressed, that our long lost rights will be restored to us, and that, in the full stature of men, we will stand up, and with our once cruel opponents and oppressors rejoice in the Declaration of our common country, and hail with them the approach of the glorious natal day of the Great Republic. Mr. Jacob C. White Jr., Introductory Remarks,
The Celebration of the Eighty-Third Anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence
Banneker Institute, July 4, 1859.
African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907

Monday, June 27, 2011

Abbey Road Apartment

Check out the video on Abbey Road apartments! Let me know if you want to go have a look!

Are Our Services Really Free?



To you the client, YES! We get paid a commission by the rental property when you sign the lease, so we do get paid. But for you, the client, our services are free! Great to know! So contact us today in your apartment search. We are knowledgeable, certified Realtors that know the market and will find you the best apartment for your price range, location, and needs.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Student Housing

Finding student housing that fits your budget and lifestyle can be tricky. The best time to look for fall housing is early spring, about the time of spring break, so you have plenty of options. Waiting until late July and August will only make the search more difficult, possibly resulting in an apartment you don't want. So contact us today and let's find the right apartment to meet your needs for school! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pet Rent vs. Pet Fees vs. Pet Deposit


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When you are renting, having a pet can cost you a lot more than the food and vet bills.  There are a lot of charges associated with pets, and sometimes the terminology can be confusing. When you ask an apartment if they accept pets and what the “pet deposit” is, you will usually hear something along the lines of “$500, half non-refundable” or “a $250 deposit, $250 fee”.  Pet Deposit vs. a Pet Fee vs. Pet Rent could confuse anyone.  Here’s how you interpret this...
Pet Rent is a per pet monthly fee in addition to your rent, paid at the same time as your rent.  Generally $10-$20 / month per pet, but it could be much more in high-end apartment complexes and condos.  The amount usually does not vary by the type or size of pet, as long as the pet is accepted by the apartment complex.
The Pet Deposit is an amount of money in addition to your standard deposit that will cover any damages caused by your pet. It is paid in full at the beginning of your lease and may be returned to you at the end of your lease if the damage found does not exceed your total deposit.  A portion of the deposit (the pet “fee”, see below) may be non-refundable.  At the end of your lease, management will determine how much damage the apartment has sustained, whether it be from a pet or other cause, and assess that amount against your total deposit (pet deposit + standard deposit).  In that sense, pet deposits are not considered separate from your standard deposit when assessing damage.  A walk-through with management before and after your lease to determine what they are assessing as damage can be a valuable tool in getting as much of your deposit back as possible.
A Pet Fee is a non-refundable pet deposit.  Sometimes the leasing agent will state it separately... “The pet deposit is $250, plus a nonrefundable $250 pet fee”.  Other times they will state what percentage of the deposit is non-refundable... “The pet deposit is $500, $250 non-refundable”.  That “$250 non-refundable” is considered the pet fee.  Pet fees are usually based on the overall pet deposit.  Often it is half of the deposit.
Wherever you are considering renting, its important to fully understand the additional costs associated with your pet.  If you have more questions about renting with pets in Austin, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Property Management


Knowing what you should do when the apartment you are renting is not being properly maintained can be tricky. The Texas Apartment Association has this advice.

You may have grounds to terminate your lease and move out, but that decision will likely be made in court if the property owner disagrees.
If repairs are not being made to conditions that materially affect the health and safety of the ordinary resident, and you follow the appropriate notice provisions outlined in state law, you may exercise statutory remedies that can include terminating your lease.
However, you must follow the notice procedures carefully. You may want to get legal advice before trying to use these provisions in the law.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Military Transfer


What happens to your apartment lease if you receive a military transfer?  The paragraph below is from the Texas Apartment Association website.

Under paragraph 23 of the TAA Lease Contract, the owner is required to allow you to move out early under certain circumstances. You may terminate your lease contract if you enlist or are drafted or commissioned into active service in the U.S. Armed Forces or are a member of the Armed Forces or reserves called to active duty AND are either:
(i) given change-of-station orders to permanently depart the local area;
(ii) deployed with a military unit or as an individual in support of a military unit for 90 days or more; or
(iii) relieved or released from active duty.
When a member of the Armed Forces terminates a lease under paragraph 23, the termination automatically terminates the lease for any spouse or dependent who may have signed it.
If, at the time of signing a lease, you already knew about the change of duty station or retirement or knew that your term of enlistment would expire prior to the end of your lease term and if you failed to inform the owner of such facts prior to signing, you are liable to the owner for liquidated damages in the amount of all rent losses that the owner may incur during the remainder of the original lease term'even though you have terminated the lease under paragraph 23.
A landlord and resident may agree in writing that the lease cannot be terminated in order for the resident and dependents to move into base housing or other housing within 30 miles of the property, unless that property is owned or rented by the resident's family or the resident has experienced a significant financial loss, which is defined by law.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Security Deposit Deductions

We all hope to get the majority of our security deposit back after renting. But what can an apartment complex deduct? The answer can be found on the Texas Apartment Association website.

  • Any charge specified in the lease or any charge resulting from your breaking the lease.
  • Charges for damages, wear and tear resulting from negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse on your part. "Normal wear and tear" items cannot be deducted.
  • Unpaid rent and other unpaid charges listed in your lease, such as those for late rent payment, returned checks, missing furniture or fixtures, keys you don't return to the management, etc.
  • The reasonable cost of cleaning if you fail to properly clean before you leave. Many rental properties have written cleaning instructions for you to follow.
Any deduction must be listed in a written description and itemization mailed to you on or before 30 days after you leave. However, there is no obligation that you be furnished this information if you have not paid all of your rent or if you have not given your forwarding address in writing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Large Dogs


Apartments usually view any dog that weighs over 35 lbs as a ‘large dog’.  Apartments that do not accept ‘large dogs’ will probably abide by that standard.  Other apartments will cap the acceptable weight of your dog at 70lbs and a rare few apartments actually have no weight limits on dogs.
The good news is, if your dogs weight is within the apartments standards, then typically your pet rent will be the same as if you had what was consider a ‘regular’ sized dog. It should also not affect the availability of particular units, meaning you can live on the 3rd floor if you want to.  Finally, leash rules, restricted areas, etc. will most likely be the same for all dogs, small, regular or large.
On the flip side, it’s important to consider your dog’s happiness as well.  Some apartments offer a small yard with a few of their first floor units.  Others have dog parks or are close to Austin’s dog-friendly areas, like the greenbelts, trails and city dog parks.  The happier your dog is, the better behaved it will be, making for happy management :-).
No matter the size of your dog, but especially with a large dog,  it’s important to be prepared when you are applying at apartments.  Most Austin apartments will require your vet records or a letter from your vet stating that the animal is up-to-date on their shots and  the breed of the animal.
If you need help finding an apartment that will accept your large dog, give us call!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Finding a Special on Apartments

Finding the right apartment for a great deal makes for a happy renter. Our website has a listing of current specials, and by contacting us you can stay on top of even more specials that come along. What a great reason to use A Plus!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lease Contract

The Texas Apartment Association came up with six important points to read carefully in a lease. Here they are:


1. Check to see how much advance notice you must give before moving at the end of your lease term. (A 30-day written notice is most common when rent is paid monthly. However, some properties may require more notice.)

2.  Look for security deposit refund restrictions.

3.  Look for your rental housing owner’s obligation to make needed repairs. (A requirement for diligence is common.)

4.  Be sure to read any cleaning instructions. (Cleaning costs usually can be deducted from your security deposit if you fail to follow instructions.)

5.  Check on prohibitions against subletting or keeping animals. (Written permission is usually required. Also, there is usually an extra deposit for animals.)

6.  Ask the manager to write in and initial any oral agreements or changes in the lease that are agreed to by you and the owner’s representative.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rent Payment

If you have questions about rent payments, the Austin Tenants Council has a great fact sheet with some helpful advice. 



Tenants have a responsibility to pay rent to their landlord as stipulated in the lease whether the lease is oral or written. Either type of lease is a contract binding on both parties. The information in this brochure is provided in an effort to clarify the obligation of tenants to follow the terms of their lease in relation to paying rent.
How to Pay Rent
Tenants should be clear about the terms of how the landlord will accept the rent payments. Is it permissible to mail the money? Should rent be hand-delivered? Can you drop your payment in the landlord’s mailbox or on-site management drop slot?
If a lease allows rent to be mailed to the landlord and the lease does not state that rent must be received within a grace period, rent is considered paid on the date of the postmark (that is, rent is paid if it is postmarked on the last day it is due). With Texas Apartment Association and Texas Association of Realtors leases, the postmark is not considered timely payment. The TAA and TAR leases state that rent must be received within the grace period (not after).
The same rule applies if the lease does not say whether rent can be mailed or not and a pattern of mailing is established. Under these circumstances, the tenant is permitted to mail the rent unless a written notice is received from the landlord indicating that the payment arrangements will change in some way.
The risk of placing any payment in the drop box or mailbox is that it could be lost, misplaced, or stolen. The burden of proof would be on the tenant to show how or when the rent was paid. Therefore, the tenant should bring a witness when the money is deposited. For example, two neighbors could witness each other’s rent payment.
If a tenant uses cash or a money order for the rent payment, a receipt should be obtained from the landlord at the time rent is paid. In fact, the landlord is required by Section 92.011 of the Texas Property Code to provide a written receipt for a cash rental payment. If the landlord violates this law, the tenant can recover $500 or one month’s rent, whichever is greater, plus court costs and attorney’s fees.
If a tenant pays with a money order, the money order should include the tenant’s name, address, and the month of the rent payment. If payment is made through the mail or drop box, the tenant should get a written acknowledgment as soon as possible that the landlord received the money so that there is never a question about whether rent was paid by the due date.
If Rent Is Late
The landlord has the option to follow legal means for eviction for nonpayment of rent or late payment of rent if not paid on or before the due date. Though it may be difficult for the landlord to evict a tenant for paying rent on the second day of the month, the best policy for a tenant is to be in the habit of paying rent by the date due.
If the rent is going to be late, the tenant should contact the landlord and attempt to reach an agreement with the landlord to get the rent current. It is best for the tenant to get a clear agreement in writing that the landlord will accept the late rent on a certain date and, in exchange, will allow the tenant to continue under the original lease agreement. This is a protection for the tenant because if rent is paid late and accepted, the landlord can still proceed with the eviction process for breach of lease due to late payment of rent. There is no requirement that a landlord give a tenant a grace period to pay delinquent rent.
If the landlord accepts late rent before giving the tenant written notice to vacate for failing to pay rent on time, the landlord gives up the right to evict for late payment of rent.
The landlord may be prevented from evicting a tenant if a pattern is established of accepting late payments from the tenant. The tenant’s proof would be the dated rent receipts. For the landlord to require the tenant to begin paying on the due date, the landlord should clearly inform the tenant that the landlord will not accept future late payments. Thereafter, if rent is paid late, the landlord could follow the eviction process for breach of lease due to late payment of rent. The exception to this would be if there is a “no waiver” clause in the lease agreement which would explain that the landlord can accept rent after due date. But in accepting it, the landlord would not waive his right to evict for breach of lease for late payment of rent even though the tenant may have had a pattern of paying late rent.
Late Fees
Most lease agreements state that rent is due on a specific date. Sometimes, the actual due date and the date when late fees will begin to be charged is different. The Texas Property Code, Section 92.019, states that a landlord may not charge a tenant a late fee for failing to pay rent unless:
  1. Notice of the fee is included in a written lease;
  2. The late fee is a reasonable estimate of damages to the landlord as a result of the late payment of rent; and
  3. The rent has remained unpaid one full day after the date the rent was originally due. This means that if the lease states that rent is due on the first, the landlord could not charge a late fee until the third.
If the landlord violates this law, the tenant can recover $100, three times the amount of the late fee wrongfully charged, and reasonable attorney’s fees.
Any provision in the rental lease that purports to waive a right or exempt a party from liability or duty of the late fee requirements is void.
If Landlord Refuses to Accept Rent
If the landlord refuses to accept rent, the tenant should make a second attempt to pay. The second attempt should be on the same day if possible. The tenant should be accompanied by a witness if there was not one present the first time. After second refusal, the tenant should mail the rent payment by certified mail, return receipt requested. Should the landlord attempt to evict for nonpayment, at the time of the court hearing, the witness and the return receipt from the post office could serve as proof the tenant made a second and/or third attempt to pay rent.
Proof of Rent Payment(s)
Keep a file of all your rent receipts as documentation that your rent is always paid and current. If the landlord will not provide you with receipt(s) for rent payments, write the receipt(s) yourself and obtain the landlord’s signature on those receipts for your records.
The information in this brochure is a summary of the subject and other pertinent matters. It should not be considered conclusive or a substitute for legal advice. Unique facts can render broad statements inapplicable. Anyone needing legal assistance should contact an attorney.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Multiple Pets and Apartments: How do most apartments handle multiple pets?


View this article on the A Plus Apartments Slideshare account!

As an apartment locator I get a lot of questions about multiple pets. How many apartments take? Are houses or duplexes more likely to accept multiple pets? Does the type of pet affect how many apartments will accept? Apartment pet policies are in place to help them minimize the potential damage from a renter, not because they don’t like your pet. In order to do that, pet policies tend to be complicated, so here is the long and short of it in regards to multiple pets.



Most apartments will accept multiple pets, but the majority cap it at two pets. A rare few apartments will accept three pets. Apartments that accept multiple pets still have other guidelines that must be adhered to regardless of the count. For example if an apartment does not accept aggressive breed dogs or exotic pets, they certainly aren’t going to accept two or three.



The type and size of the pet often comes into play when apartment consider multiple pets. Some apartments will only take one dog, but will allow an additional cat or other small animal as long as the other animal does not violate their other pet policies, for example an exotic pet. Truly small animals like fish, birds and gerbils are not usually counted by quantity, however they are often excluded as an exotic pet. Yep, gerbils too.



Pet deposits, non-refundable pet fees and pet rent will all be affected by the number of pets you have in the apartment. It varies by apartment, but some will double the fee for the second pet, while others will double both the fee AND the deposit. Pet rent is almost always calculated per pet, so you will pay pet rent for each pet you have.



So the big question...is it easier to rent a house or duplex if I have more than two pets? The answer to that question really depends on the owner of the property. Most homes and duplexes have yards, and many independent landlords don’t have a firm pet policy, however they are also less financially insulated from any damages, so they tend to error on the side of caution when it comes to animals.



Got more questions on renting with pets? Give me call or visit the A Plus Austin Apartments website!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Our Blog Now Publishes to our Facebook page!

We are excited to announced that you can now find our blog posts on our A Plus Apartment Locators Facebook page under on the wall and under the "Blog" tab.  For those of you who don't get to visit the blog site much, we hope this is an easy way for you to get your updates!

Great article on Tenant Rights in regards to Utilities!

The Housing Rights Advocate, the quarterly publication for the Austin Tenant's Council had a great article on Tenant Rights in regards to utilities. This subject is a mystery to so many, I thought I would share it. The portions of the article, titled "Court Orders Landlord to Restore Utilities", are shown below.
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UTILITY SHUT OFFS
A landlord may shut off any utility (electricity, water, wastewater, and gas) to carry out repairs or construction or in an emergency. A landlord may never shut off electricity, water, wastewater, or gas because the tenant is delinquent with a rent or utility payment. Any provision of a lease that purports to waive any of the tenant's rights, liabilities, or duties under the utility shut-off law is void.

TENANT REMEDIES FOR ILLEGAL SHUT OFF
If a landlord or a landlord's agent violates any of the rules for shutting off electrical service, the tenant may:
Either recover possession of the premises or terminate the lease; and
Recover from the landlord actual damages; the greater of one month's rent or $500; reasonable attorney's fees; and court costs, less any delinquent rent or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord.

TENANT'S RIGHT OF RESTORATION
If a landlord has interrupted utility service in violation of Section 92.008 of the Texas Property Code, the tenant may obtain relief after filing a sworn complaint specifying the facts of the landlord's disconnection with the justice court in the precinct in which the rental premises are located. The tenant must also state orally under oath the facts of the unlawful utility disconnection during an appearance in court.
If the court believes that an unlawful utility disconnection has likely occurred, the court may issue an order that entitles the tenant to immediate and temporary restoration of utility service pending a final hearing.
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Hopefully you're never in that situation, but if you are, it's important to know your rights and the landlord's rights.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Check Out Our Brand New Apartment Locating Video!

Apartment locators, a little bit myth and little bit mystery... Okay seriously; if they even know that apartment finders exist, many people still don't fully understand the apartment locating industry or how it can help them. We are on our second video helping to answer people's questions on how apartment locating works and what they can expect from their apartment finder! Check it out!