Sunday, July 29, 2012

Still No Free Tolls for Disabled Veterans

There are still no free tolls for disabled veterans, despite a 2009 law that the Texas legislature passed permitting toll road authorities to allow disabled veterans to use their roads for free.  The Statesman reports that only Harris county has provided free tolls for veterans.

The legislators who sponsored the 2009 bill saw it as a way to lighten the burden on vets, who could use the toll roads to get to appointments at VA hospitals in Temple and Austin, and to thank them for their service.  The bill only permitted individual toll authorities to provide exemptions and discounts, but did not reimburse the authorities for the cost nor require them.

Houston decided to provide veterans with free tolls after one meeting with veterans advocates.  They see it is an important advantage to veterans and say that it has only cost them $6 million over the last 3 years, which isn't even one percent of the $1 billion in tolls it collected over the same period.  They also think the number is slightly skewed because many veterans would not have used the toll roads if they weren't able to use them for free.

Other toll authorities, such as the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, are concerned that providing discounts to veterans would significantly reduce their income, open the door to other groups asking for discounts, and cause problems with their bond authorities.  They feel that if the legislature really wants to see the discounts put in place, they will fund them.  Advocates for the discounts say the toll authorities are overestimating the number of trips veterans will make on the toll roads and that veterans are a special class provided with many benefits so there is no reason to believe other groups will piggyback on this request.  They also say that contracts with bondholders can be renegotiated to put discounts in place.

Looking for a great new apartment close to the toll roads?  Call A Plus Apartment Locators today!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Renting with Dogs

Renting an apartment with a dog can require a little more work than if you don't have a dog, but it's still achievable.  Sometimes landlords have had bad experiences in the past with their tenant's dog, but you have a chance to show them what a responsible pet owner you can be. gives you the lowdown on renting with a dog.

If you already own a dog and need to rent, be sure to mention your pet to potential landlords right off the bat.  There is no use wasting your time with buildings that don't allow pets if you already have one.  Once you think you've found the perfect place for you AND your dog, go over the pet policy portion of your lease with a fine toothed comb.  Make sure you know all about pet deposits, cleaning fees and any restrictions that exist on the size of your pet.

If you are already renting and decide you want to get a dog, check your lease to be sure pets are permitted.  Even if the lease doesn't allow pets, you might approach your landlord and ask, you never know.  If your landlord gives the go ahead, make sure to get more details.  What is the weight or size limit?  Are puppies allowed?  How much is the deposit and any additional monthly fees?  What are the rules about where a dog can be walked on the grounds of the apartments, leash-free areas, etc?  If your landlord says no, either don't get a dog or move to a rental that allows them.  Never try to hide your dog, both you and your dog are likely to wind up homeless!

Finally, if you do get a dog, make sure to be a responsible pet owner.  Don't leave your dog home alone for long periods of time so they start barking and destroying your house.  Clean up after your dog when they go outside and only let them off-leash in designated areas.  If your dog does tend to ruin your furniture and home when you leave them alone, crate training can save your belongings and your deposit.

Looking for a place for you and Fido to live in peace?  A+ Apartment Locators can help you find a place that loves your well-behaved pet as much as you do!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Austin Moves to Twice a Week Watering

Twice a week watering is now back, starting Monday, reports.  The city of Austin has decided to go to Stage 1 watering restrictions (we've been in Stage 2 since September 6th, 2011), because the lakes have seen higher levels.
The biggest difference between Stage 2 and Stage 1 is that you can now run a sprinkler system twice a week.  Restaurants can also serve customers water instead of having to wait for the customer to ask.  Travis County is still under severe drought conditions, but because winter and spring were wetter than expected and replenished lakes Travis and Buchanan a little bit, and the forecast is for more rain, the restrictions were eased.

Another concern was that Austin's trees need more water and were under duress because of the dry conditions.  1,200 trees on city land are estimated to have died last year due to the drought.  New conservation policies will likely be passed in August to make tree watering easier in a drought.  It will allow people to install a drip irrigation system which they can use whenever they want.  This is because the drip irrigation systems are much better at getting water to trees and waste a lot less.

The twice a week watering will now only allow people to water before 5am and after 7pm to prevent water being lost to evaporation.  Under the old rules, watering was allowed until 10am.

Looking for a great apartment to live in where you can enjoy the view?  Call A Plus Apartment Locators today!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Apartment Rents on the Rise

Apartment rents are on the rise and vacancies are becoming scarcer across the United States, reports.  During the second quarter, vacancies were at a new 10-year low and rents jumped more quickly than at any time since before the financial crisis.

The average U.S. vacancy rate was 4.7 percent, the lowest since the last three months of 2001.  Asking rental rates soared to $1,091, the highest increase since the last three months of 2007.  The average effective rent, which excludes incentives designed to lure tenants, rose to $1,041.

The increase in rental rates seems to be the rule across the country, even in smaller areas such as Providence, RI and Knoxville, TN, places you normally would not see as popular.  In fact, no area in the country saw a decline.

The uptick in prices charged for rentals seems to be driven by an increasing number of home seekers who do not want to or are unable to buy a home because of the housing market crash and tight lending conditions.  The lack of new construction also contributes to the current market condition, as well as Generation Y's preference for renting apartments in urban areas rather than moving out to the suburbs.  Generation Y generally doesn't see home ownership as the "American Dream" as their parents or older siblings' generations did.

Looking for an apartment in this increasingly tight rental market?  An apartment locator can help you find a great place that meets all your criteria without the hassle.