Fort Bend Landlord Sued For Failure to Maintain AC

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 25, April 2011 16:28

A Fort Bend area landlord was named in a lawsuit that alleges his failure to maintain a air conditioning system lead to a disabled man's death in the Third Ward area.  His estate is alleging that the disabled man was hospitalized and eventually died to the heat and humidity in the home due to the broken air conditioning unit. This case brings up several issues that should be addressed:

1) Did his lease require written notice? If so, did the tenant provide the landlord or his property management company this notice?  This is why we tell our Houston and Dallas area tenants if they cannot provide certified mailed letters for the notice that they can provide notice by fax or online through their tenant portal.

2) Did he have a unpaid balance at the time of the written request being submitted? The Texas property codes allows for landlords to not be required to make property repairs if the tenant was not current on their rent.  This is why we provide tenants a portal to check their balances and make their repair request.  

3) Did the owner carry liability insurance coverage? Liability coverage can assist when the owner is found negligent for harm caused by property conditions.  Ashoka Lion recommends that our Houston and Dallas property management clients carry $1,000,000 of coverage, but at minimum max out your coverage (usually in a homeowners policy, $500,000 without any special underwriting required). Additionally, you can obtain a umbrella liability coverage to cover any amounts that are not covered in your primary insurance coverage. If you are not comfortable with determining your needs, you can contact a insurance professional to walk you through this process. Ashoka Lion requires all owners to name the property management company a additional insured on the policy to insure appropriate defense in suits like this.

However, the problem is that this landlord will have to incur cost and time loss due to these kinds of legal actions.   This requires a clear documentation of all actions and communications for homeowner and their property management company. This is why Ashoka Lion  works to transcribes our  notes to histories for our owners, tenants, properties, and vendors. Our goal is to archive all documentation and actions taken to mitigate claims of negligence on behalf of the property management company and the Houston and Dallas property owners that our property management company represents. You cannot prevent someone from suing you, but it is prudent for landlords and their property management companies to take appropriate risk mitigation techniques to reduce impact of charges such as these.

Ashoka Lion and its partners take marketing vacant rentals seriously

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 14, April 2011 17:15

Ashoka Lion and its affiliated real estate brokerage have developed a marketing program that is one of the most extensive for filling vacancies. We know that our property management clients want their vacancies filled as quickly as possible. Our vacancy marketing program includes the following tools:

  • Online Posting to over 20 online databases including RentalHouses.com, Rental.Com, RentalHomesPlus.com, Homes.com
  • Videos posted of our rental properties on YouTube (AshokaTenants)
  • Listed through our Realtor Partners to Multiple Listing Services (MLS)
  • Distinctive Yard Sign
  • Online Application
  • Realtors can pay their client's app fees through our Pay Lease, Inc
  • Marketing through our Twitter Accounts: LionRealEstate and HoustonRenting and DallasRenting
  • QR Bar Codes linking to mobile ready listings for vacant properties
  • Text marketing programs
  • Periodic Marketing reports tracking views, appointments, and applications
  • Showing services track all agent showings and collect agent feedback

In addition, to our extensive marketing program, Ashoka Lion demands that our Realtor partners also take additional precautions to reduce risk that our marketing is misappropriated by scam artist. These steps include:

  • Watermark Pictures with Brokerage name
  • 3rd party sites must also reference MLS listing number to help tie the 3rd party site ads to the local association MLS site.

These techniques are designed to give potential prospective tenants confidence that our rental listings are legitimate and not some exotic scheme designed to bilk them of their rent money. Therefore, when prospective owners of rental property in Houston and Dallas are looking for a property management firms to help them lease their properties; they can feel confident that the Ashoka Lion team is giving a maximum effort to fill their vacancies.

Ashoka Lion partners with Realtors to preserve their sales business: 4 important reasons

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 3, April 2011 01:45

Ashoka Lion introduced our marketing program to Realtors, and we have had people asking us what are the benefits to referring the property management/leasing business to our firm in the Houston and Dallas markets.There are 3 easy reasons to partner with our firm to handle this business.

1) Ashoka Lion pays a 25% Referral Fee  After we successfully lease a property, we will pay the referring agent through a check to his broker a referral fee equal to 25% of the final lease price. This is the easiest fee that you can earn as you do not have to do showing, use up fuel for showings, spend time filling out paperwork ,etc. We handle the leasing and property management, and when your client is ready to sell or buy more property; then we return it to the agent who referred us the client.

2) Our primary business is property management and leasing: Our Houston and Dallas property management teams are focused on the business of managing and renting out homes in the Houston and Dallas area. In most Realtor's businesses, this is a time consuming process with very little upside due to the lack of manpower to help assist you in preparing financial statements, recording work orders, paying our repair bills, etc. These are time consuming processes, and they really eat into a Realtor's time and margin.Our leasing packets are very thorough and include processes to make prospective tenants aware of eligbility requirements, screening that goes beyond just a credit check, and providing tenants the option to digitally signing off on lease packets that are almost 60 pages with all the required addendums and sheets.  If we list the property, the agent can still provide leads and get the buyer's agent portion of a commission, but they avoid the responsibilities of screening, advertising, and coordinating showing. Our marketing program for leasing includes listings being included in Rentals.com, RentalHomes.com, Homes.com, GoSection8.com and other sites that require to pay per listing.  Our program includes these marketing opportunities as standard. This is in addition to the marketing that is done through MLS and yard signage.

3) We will honor any noncompete for the sales business: Most agents who cannot manage a home may not take on that business, and in doing so; their clients will find someone else that can provide the property management service. These other Realtors will also position themselves to take on the future sales business in the Houston and Dallas markets with your investor. Our firm will sign a noncompete and return the sales business back to the referring agent, when the investor is seeking out property sales related assistance for this property.

4) Realtors grow their "team": Realtors are often solo practioners in most real estate practices in the Houston and Dallas market. This means that you have a lot of responsibility to growing your practice. With our program, the client can position herself as the "Sales Expert" who has a property management team to handle the day to day property management business. This will impress upon your clients that you are building a niche and emphasize your expertise that makes Realtors today successful.  In addition, by stating that you have a team that you work with,  you can draw yourself into a role of a expert guding your clients with your various connections and resources. This helps once again emphasize that your clients should work with you as your sphere of contacts seems more complete and full service.  Our goals is for successful Realtors is to make clients feel that there is a advantage to working with you versus simply doing the research through all the various online tools at their disposal. By positioning yourself as a person with contacts, resources, and tools; investors will feel that you as their Realtor can make their buying and selling experience more pleasant and less confusing.  Ashoka Lion's property management team is ready to help your Houston and Dallas clients feel like you have top notch operational suppport at your disposal.

As TREC has clarified that agents cannot do property management without their brokers approval including that rents must be collected through Broker trust accounts, the days of agents doing property management "on the side' is not really a option. Check out the TREC Advisor here.  Working with our firm allows you to avoid losing clients to brokerages and agents who can do property management and sales activities, and it also provides you another tool in the tool belt to impress clients. Also, we have a great marketing program to thank the realtors that do provide referrals. Check out a summary of those efforts here.

 

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