Tragedy at College Station reminds landlords that evictions are a hostile process

by Mirania 28, November 2012 17:12

Recently , we all heard about the tragic shooting incident at College Station. I came across an article about it on Chron.com.

The tragedy was a shootout incident at College Station that killed three people including a constable leaving a Houston woman seriously injured amongst the wounded. This unfortunate incident seems to have happened because of an eviction notice. This noxious incident has rocked College Station and its neighboring areas including the extended Aggie network.

Brazos County Constable Brian Bachman brought an eviction notice for Alton Caffall, and as a result of being served the notice a confrontation took place between both of them. The heated argument between the two sparked a gunfire exchange killing and injuring people. Both of them were later pronounced dead at a hospital. Bachmann who was killed in the shootout was a law enforcement officer for about two decades. He took the office as a constable last year in January 2011. According to sources, deceased tenant and shooter, Caffall had relocated to College Station early last year.  As a landlord, this incident will hopefully remind landlords to protect themselves and their property by following these steps.

Landlords should consider that this tragedy would have been difficult to predict, but it does not mean a landlord should not make to find the best tenant possible. 

Things to consider:

Screen your tenant:  Before renting out a property, you should conduct a thorough tenant screening. Besides checking the credit history of the tenant, it is equally essential to review for criminal history or history with previous landlords. There are not always signs that these kinds of tragedies will happen, but any clues that a tenant may not be a positive prospect should be considered before making a decision to rent to them.

Keep correspondence professional and clear: Finally, please remember that you should conduct your activity as a landlord in a fair and consistent manner with the lease. Keep correspondence polite, concise, and clear. Try to avoid increasing the hostility by increasing the emotional nature of the situation.

Document Incidences and Consult Legal Help: As soon as you get enough evidence about the violent activities or criminal activities of a tenant, you may be required to send an eviction notice or an official warming  to state no tolerance of violence or illegal activities. However, if it comes to an eviction for these reasons, then this process should be conducted with the help of an attorney.  The landlord tenant law has processes and procedures that must be followed for a legal eviction, and if you fail to follow those rules then you as the landlord could also be facing fines and punitive damages for an illegal eviction.  Landlords have to cognizant of fair housing rules, Americans with Disabilities rules, landlord and tenant law, etc; so navigating those waters with legal counsel maybe appropriate.

Tragedies like what happened at Texas A&M are a rare occurrence, but it does provide an important reminder that being a landlord can have momements where you will face a confrontational moment (late rent, tenant  damaged the home, etc). It is important for landlords in Houston, Dallas, or anywhere to conduct themselves in a professional manner consistent with the law.

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Rental Unit - Great Way to Earn a Living

by Mirania 27, November 2012 16:59

To state the obvious, it is always better to own a rental unit that generates regular income than owning a property that creates heavy expenses. According to an interesting article published on Forbes.com (Click here for the full story from August 8th A 2012) earning an income from your rental units can prove to be a better financial strategy. 

Owning a rental unit has the following advantages:

  • It helps you earn a regular income (rent);
  •  It helps you obtain a positive cash flow ; and
  • You will be in profit even after paying all the expenses mentioned above.

Renting out your property can prove to be a profitable venture. There are countless landlords in Houston and Dallas area who have a flourishing business by renting out their assets. If you are looking forward to entering the business of renting property in Houston or Dallas area, you should master certain essential skills. The following tips and tricks will guide you to enter into the business of rental property. An ideal landlord possesses the following characteristics

  • Do you Deal with People well?: Being a landlord requires you to deal with vendors, tenants, governments, HOA, etc.
  • Do you know the right people? To be a successful real estate investor and landlord, you will need to build trusted relationship with real estate agents, contractors, banks, etc.
  • Do you have time to deal with a potential 24/7 commitment? You cannot expect that all repair emergencies will happen during business hours or when your not on vacation. If you work a job, then you will also feel times where those commitments will pull you in different directions.
  • Are you willing to build for a long term? The work you put in maybe only for $100 to $200 a month profit above your expenses (mortgage payment, management fees, taxes, repairs,etc), so you have to accept that your building a long term profit stream.

When you begin to answer those questions posed by Forbes, you may find yourself with answers like these:

  • Working with rental agents and property managers can reduce your cost of advertising and cost with failure to screen for tenants. For example, many property managers in the Houston and Dallas area have extensive marketing programs, can develop a better idea of market rent, and perform extensive screening that a typical investor may not be able to perform.
  • It might become impossible for you to manage several rental units concurrently. A successful landlord prefers hiring a property management company to take care of the rental units on regular basis. Similarly, if you have a huge rental asset, you should look for a property management company who can handle all the household problems effectively.  Property managers can remove the issues related with rent collection, dealing with emergency repairs, book keeping, keeping up with changes in landlord and tenant law, and more.
  •  You must have sufficient savings to buy properties. The best thing about purchasing a property with cash is that you can do away with the burden of mortgage payments.  Moreover, housing loans have also made it easier for an individual to become a landlord. However, if you have sufficient savings to invest in your rental property business, it will generate more profit.

Being a landlord is a viable way to earn a living for the right kind of person who has the financial resources, long term vision, risk tolerance, and ability to build the right team around them.

Tips to Avoid Rental Scams

by Mirania 27, November 2012 16:25

Rental Scams have become a common phenomenon these days with several tenants falling victims to apartment rental scams or a fake landlord scams every other day. Recently, I came across a news report at Myfoxphilly.com that speaks of an unscrupulous landlord who has duped several prospective tenants by luring them to sign false rental agreement for the same property. The prospective tenants have claimed paying thousands of dollars to the landlord as security deposits that he did not pay back for a house.

In order to avoid rental scams, tenants should be careful and follow certain measures to avoid such scams.  The number of rental scams is multiplying by leaps and bounds in real estate market. This article would focus on few guidelines that a tenant should follow in order to avoid getting scammed by dishonest landlords.

1) Read your documents: Never pay a security deposit before signing the rental agreement. If you have rented before, you can hopefully recognize some of the features of your standard lease (name of landlord, payment terms, late fee, rules,etc), and you should inspect your documentation to see if it looks legitimate.

2) Check out the Property in person:  Checking out the rental property if you can; because you may never get back your money, if it is a scam.  If you can drive by the property, then you can see if there is a rental sign in front of the property and this number matches the online advertisement contact numbers. Also, make sure that you check with the people in the neighborhood to confirm who owns the property.

3) Check if property ownership information matches online:  Ensure that the property you are renting is a legitimate rental property. The increasing number of foreclosures has encouraged the scammers to rent out properties that do not belong to them. Thus, before renting a house, spare some time to do an online investigation on the landlord and see if the name of the owner matches the party that you are contacting.  Additionally, usually property records will indicate potential mailing addresses , then you can use that to identify irregularities, if any.  The online records may indicate a ownership by the bank, so it may help identify that the landlord no longer owns the home.

4) If it sounds too good to be true,then it probably is:  It is not an easy task to identify a rental scam.  Often times, we as consumers or tenants get attracted to the astounding offers, attractive prices, and great deals that we open ourselves up to being fooled by the scammers.  One way to check is google the address and check the local real estate association sites and see if the property is listed on other sites for different prices, listed as a short sale, pre-foreclosure sale, or other contact information may differ. It maybe that the scammers are find their potential target properties by scanning other real estate listing and co-opting them for their purposes. In the case of this landlord in Philly, you may find out that the bank has listed the property for sale or short sale, and the owner or former owner did not have the right to lease it out again.

These are few important tips for tenants so that they can avoid being scammed by landlords. Therefore, as future tenants you should always be vigilant to avoid scammers and keep these guidelines in mind next time you look out for a rental property. It also helps to work with licensed real estate brokerages and property managers as they are governed and monitored by state regulatory agencies, so it does provide some  level of comfort that you are working with legitimate parties.

 

Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29

Landlords in Columbia facing scrutiny for not providing safe places to live for tenants

by Mirania 27, November 2012 16:09

Recently, we came across a write-up on The Maneater.com about maintenance issues in Columbia that are seriously affecting the relationship between tenants and landlords. The dilapidated condition of the rental units have left the renters in a condition that has violates the minimum health norms set by housing law. The article states that in the Dumas apartment building, located towards north of campus, a tenant used to sleep every night for over two months in a bedroom that had the windows removed, and due to the lack of a window rain and animals  entered the room.

In another East Campus house, there was an animal carcass had rotted in the house of a student. Moreover in  another rental apartment, the tenants were compelled to sleep in the dining room as the wed bedroom carpet used to smell like mold.

We often explain to our landlords both the investor and the “accidental” landlord (a person who is renting his home till the market gets better) that there are minimal standards. If you do not think that you can maintain minimal health and safety standards, then you will be violating Texas property code standards, which outline that a landlord should provide a home free of things that would affect the health and safety of a normal resident. Unfortunately, some landlords will not or cannot understand that, and they could face legal issues as well difficulty maintaining quality tenants in their properties.

As a property management company who operates in both the Houston and Dallas markets, we know it is important to make a healthy profit for our landlords and investors, but our property managers cannot do so at the expense of legal and moral obligations to our tenants to provide a healthy environment.  Therefore, if we feel that a client will not make the appropriate repairs in a safe and proper manner, then we are prepared to walk away from that client.

For the full story about the issues facing these Columbia tenants, click here.

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Landlord & Tenant Disputes in Dallas and Tampa

by Mirania 8, November 2012 15:25

Several landlord and tenant disputes make news every week with incidents covering a broad variety of strong conflicts taking place between landlords and renters. We will discuss some of the most notable incidents of landlord-tenant disputes.

1)  In February 2012, Dallas police had arrested a landlord who had shot a tenant at a condominium in the 5200 block of Bent Tree Forest Drive off the Dallas North Tollway in far north Dallas. According to Dallas police, the landlord Gabriel Abraham, was trying to evict Daniel Sipes, his tenant when there was some sort of argument. Finally, Abraham shot his tenant multiple times leaving the victim in a critical condition. Abraham was arrested by police on the spot. (Click here for the story)

2)   Another incident took place in Florida in September this year when a Tampa resident was stabbed several times following a tussle with his landlord. The landlord was taken into custody by police and the investigation is underway. (Click here for the story)

How to avoid Landlord and Tenant Disputes?

Such incidents of landlord and tenant dispute generally arise due to disagreement over a rent increase, return of security deposit and responsibility for repairs. To avoid such disputes both landlords and tenants should know their rights and responsibilities under federal, state, and local law. Also, the landlord and tenant should ensure that the terms are precisely mentioned in the rental agreement. It is also important to keep copies of each and every correspondence that takes place between the landlord and tenant and make notes of conversations about problems, if any.

A responsible landlord and a good tenant should always follow these tips in order to avoid conflicts with each other and to co-exist better with each other. If a landlord is having a problem with a tenant for nonpayment of rent, then they should refrain from engaging in personal attacks and focus on following the eviction procedures as outlined by the letter of the law in their state and local area.

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Philly Tenant scammed by landlord

by Mirania 7, November 2012 15:47

Rental Scams have become a common phenomenon these days with several tenants falling victims to apartment rental scams or a fake landlord scams every other day. Recently, I came across a news report at myfoxphilly.com that speaks of an unscrupulous landlord who has duped several prospective tenants by luring them to sign false rental agreement for the same property. The prospective tenants have claimed paying thousands of dollars to the landlord as security deposits that he did not pay back for a house. (Click here for the full story)

In order to avoid rental scams, tenants should be careful and follow certain measures to avoid such scams.  The number of rental scams is multiplying by leaps and bounds in real estate market. This article would focus on few guidelines that a tenant should follow in order to avoid getting scammed by dishonest landlords.

1) Read your documents: Never pay a security deposit before signing the rental agreement. If you have rented before, you can hopefully recognize some of the features of your standard lease (name of landlord, payment terms, late fee, rules,etc), and you should inspect your documentation to see if it looks legitimate.

2) Check out the property in person:  Checking out the rental property if you can; because you may never get back your money if you are duped.  If you drive by the property, then you can see if there is a rental sign in front of the property. You can see if number matches the online advertisement contact numbers.  Please note that licensed real estate agents can also cooperatively show the property for other brokerages, so if the numbers do not match; you may need to investigate who the person marketing is and what there relationship is. It is okay to use a agent to help you see homes and it is a common practice, but you just need to make sure that you understand that relationship early in the propcess. Also, another advantage of checking out a rental property in person is you maybe able to check with the people in the neighborhood to confirm who owns the property or situation.

3) Check if property ownership information matches online:  Ensure that the property you are renting is a legitimate rental property. The increasing number of foreclosures has encouraged the scammers to rent out properties that do not belong to them. Thus, before renting a house, spare a moment to do investigate if the landlord who is talking to you is the name of the owner in the county records. 

You can use this kind of research to identify irregularities, if any.  The online records may indicate a ownership by the bank is the owners, and this may mean that the landlord no longer owns the home. 

4) If it sounds too good to be true,then it probably is:  It is not an easy task to identify a rental scam.  Often times, we as consumers or tenants get attracted to the astounding offers, attractive prices, and great deals that we open ourselves up to being fooled by the scammers.  One way to check is google the address to see if the listing comes up under as being listed by any agents or brokerages.  You can check the local real estate agents or real estate brokerage site or real estate association sites to verify information about the agent or listing. 

Things you maybe able to determine by doing some research:

  • Is the property is listed on other sites for different prices?   Scammers love to list property for well below market price to entice people to work with them.
  • Is the property listed as a short sale, pre-foreclosure sale?  Scammer love to look for property where people may have vacated home and use that to help perpetrate their scams.  In the case of this landlord in Philly, you may find out that the bank has listed the property for sale or short sale, and the owner or former owner did not have the right to lease it out again.
  • Does the contact information differ? Sometimes scammers will look up information to make it seem like it maybe the owner directly marketing it. They will create fake email addresses that are similar but not exact.  It maybe that the scammers are find their potential target properties by scanning other real estate listing and co-opting them for their purposes.

These are few important tips for tenants so that they can avoid being scammed. Therefore, as future tenants you should always be vigilant to avoid scammers and keep these guidelines in mind next time you look out for a rental property. It also helps to work with licensed real estate brokerages and property managers as they are governed and monitored by state regulatory agencies, so it does provide some  level of comfort that you are working with legitimate parties.

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