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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Psycho: Norman Bates was evil, but Marion Crane was no saint either.

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 7, October 2012 15:40

As a child, I had a strong appreciation for Alfred Hitchcock's brand of horror. It was chilling, but subtle. Psycho was a prime example of the brilliance of the gifted Alfred Hitchcock. However, as I was reviewing this movie for our Ashoka Lion Facebook list of horror movies for property managers; I realized that Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) was no angel herself. If you recall, Marion had embezzled $40,000 from her employer, and this is why she was hiding at the motel. Unfortunately for Marion, she met her untimely death in one of the most famous murder scenese in cinematic history (the bathroom scene in Psycho is a all time classic moment).

As a property manager, I am obviously scared of knife weilding lunatics; but Marion's crime is equally as scary for a property manager. As a licensed Texas real estate brokerage in both the Houston and Dallas markets, we are bound by ethical and legal obligations of fiduciary duty to our clients.  Marion's crime could devestate a firm like ours if that money stolen was the client's rent money.  Our duty as a property managers includes safekeeping of the client's rent monies collected, insuring appropriate disbursement of funds to vendors, and keeping record of income and expenses. This is a duty that our firm takes very seriously, as we want to limit mistakes and issues from ever arising. It would be nice to claim mistakes would never occur, but this would be foolish, as humans are bound to make mistakes. The key is to reduce those occurences. Our processes and procedures are sometimes unique from other property management firms. For example:

 

  • Rent is not to be mailed to our offices in Houston or Dallas.   Many firms do allow tenants tenants to mail in payment, but our property management policy is to disallow this. Over the years, tenants will claim that the rent is lost in the mail, and they did send it In fact, tenants will go so far as to show receipts from money orders,etc to prove this. These kinds of issues can be dealt with at a eviction hearing, but today, some judges will have sympathy for the clients who provide some kind of documentary proof. The burden is on the landlord to prove that the rent was not paid at that point.
  • Property managers do not pick up rents.   We do not pick up rents from tenants. A few years ago, one of our property managers had her purse stolen after leaving a property. Reprimanding the property manager does not solve any issues, and a landlord may have sympathy to our plight, but they expect their money to be remitted to them. Fortunately, this crime only resulted in the loss of a few hundred dollars of rent, and reimbursing the owner for that loss was not dramatic. However, that lesson taught to my property management team has stuck with us to this day. Our rent collection process does not involve picking up rents either.
  • Double entry accounting of money on two systems: We maintain our records of our bank accounts on Quickbooks for our internal records, but we also maintain our owners and tenant records on a web based system as well. By utilizing the two systems, we are able to identify issues more quickly as we use different staff to handle each system's entries.
  • Match Bills to Work Orders: To pay bills of nonutility nature, our accounting staff is required to upload invoices to an appropriate work order. If they cannot locate the work order or the work order amounts do not match, the back office staff will assign a review to clarify and approve the bill.
  • Person who organizes payments is not person entering bills: Our staff divides the role of uploading bills and paying bills to two different persons. Occassionally, our office will get a bill that we missed or some how the system was not working, and our managing director will sign off on the overriding the control. This separation of duties further insures that bills are paid as appropriate and reduces risk of a employee embezzling the funds.
  • Person who organizes and sign off on payments does not perform the reconcilation of the bank account.  Our managing director approves payments if they do not follow our process procedure and he is the only signer on the account , but another member of our back office team does the reconciliation of the various property management accounts (escrow owner reserve, accounts, escrow deposit accounts, etc). This separation of duty further reduces risk that a fraudulent act could occur.

Marion Crane may have been victim to a insane man living in a creepy house with his deceased mother, but her crimes against her employer scare property management firms like ours almost as much as Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins).

 

 

The Omen: Signs of the appocalypse that we see as property managers

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 6, October 2012 00:30

The original The Omen was a 1976 movie that scared me witless. I remembered that I watched the movie on local network 20 Vision in Houston, and I was way too young to watch something that scary. The movie was just so scary to me, as it involves the story of the AntiChrist's arrival to a family by way of a secret adoption by Robert Thorn (played by Gregory Peck) due to the loss of their own baby that very same night.  The adoption was secret to protect Robert's wife, Katherine (played by Lee Remick), from the emotional trauma of losing her own child. 

This first movie was focused on this child's infancy stage to being a young five year old child.  The signs of evil surround Damien as he grows up. Among the signs that we come to bear witness to are that he had a birth mark under his with the numbers 666, a nanny who commits suicide proclaiming it is for Damien, a evil nanny who replaces the recently deceases nanny and brings with her a Rotweiller (who brings a Rotweiller to a new job?), Damien's own terror when approaching a church or sacred ground, and many other ominous signs.  The protagonist is Damien's adopted father, who is faced with the decision to try and stop his adopted son. Being a property manager in the Houston and Dallas area, we have our own version of omens that fortell of doom.  4 omens are:

1) Owners ignoring preventative methods to maintaining their property- Sometimes owners will ignore issues that should be dealt within a prompt manner for numerous reasons including financial ability to pay, desire to improve profit, belief that the problem is not severe to merit attention, and various other reasons. Like The Omen, these ominous signs rarely go away, and in fact, many times, they just get worse. For example, we always warn owners to consider preventative maintenance of their AC systems, Furnances, etc. We know that the situation may get worse and lead to a owner having a larger issues later on down the way.

2) Owners who only focus on price when comparing our bids to a untested random vendor- Another dangerous omen that we come across are owners who refuse to accept pricing from qualified vendors. Some owners will balk at the idea of spending money for various maintenance service, but in our experience as property managers; we know that the vendors that we are asking for assistance are expeirencd and qualified.  Our property management company will request fair pricing, but we do not necessarily work with vendors on the basis of price alone. Our goal is to find affordable, experienced, responsive vendors so that we can balance quality and price.   Sometimes, owner's balk at prices of services, and they will use vendors that they find on Craigslist and compare them to the prices that our property management companies vendors will charge. We warn owners that using untested vendors on the basis of price can lead to heart ache.

As property managers, we are caught in the middle, as the owner will have issues with quality, price, and responsiveness with these untested vendors; but we are also hearing from the tenants, who are demanding problems get fixed in a timely manner.  This is why we always invite owners to provide us the names of quality, respected vendors that they have experience with who will be open to joining our vendor list when they sign up for property management services from us; but we warn them that just using any random vendor could be a disastorous.

3) The owner who refuses to set the price near the recommended rent that the market indicates- Prior to listing a property for rent, our broker will send a landlord a rental maket analysis (referred to a comparative market analysis or "CMA" for short).  We do this to help set the expectations that a property hopes to achieve in terms of rent rates. Ocassionally, our property managers will come across a owner who has their own value that they feel, and they will ignore our suggestion. We have often learned that this owner will still blame us if their property is not moving off the market.

4) The owner with unrealistic expectations of money being remitted- This owner will not accept our processes and timelines as realistc. We tell these prospective owners that we often will remit rents back in the middle of the month, and they find it unacceptable. They argue that they have to pay the mortgage. However, we tell them that this is not a unrealistic expectation because the tenants could be late, bank holidays and weekends adjust when rents will clear a account, our staff has to reconcile and review the owner's  rental property activity to make sure that we have netted all appropriate expenses prior to sending it out, and a myriad of other reasons.

We explain that a owner should not bank on the fact that the owner's rental draw will to be in prior to most mortgages being due. This kind of owner tends to get mad and frustrated at the onset, so we always politely explain that our processes and services are built on reducing mistakes and insuring that we are carefully accounting for the monies provided to us. If they refuse to see rationale of our systems, we will let the owner know that our firm may not be the right fit for their services.

Though our signs are not the same as world ending signs that the threated in The Omen, but these signs do scare us as property managers.

 

 

The Shining: Horror that many people have to deal with

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 4, October 2012 23:18

The Shining is a 1980 horror movie that was based on the Stephen King novel, that was directed by Stanley Kubrick and starred Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. The story is about a young family that is taking care of an isolated hotel that is haunted by a demonic presence. The hotel's demonic element slowly begins to turn the father and drag him into insanity. In the end, the mother and son flee the deranged father as he tries to kill them.  Now, fortunately, in our time as a property managers in either the Houston or Dallas area, we have not faced a tragedy on that scale, but we have come across tenant's whose lives are marred by family violence. Unlike this movie,  where the family is trapped together till the very end when they escape, the Texas property code does allow tenants to terminate a lease without reprecussion when dealing with incidences of family violence.

We advise tenants to put the request in writing, so our property managers can document the incident. Additionally, our property management company policy is to request tenants provide us copies of police reports or restraining orders to help us document the incident further. As the property manager, we still have to relay information to our landlords and owners; and the written documentation will help us in explain what is going on at a property.  Additionally, in those situations with the appropriate written notice and supporting documents, our property managment company will not report the incident as a broken lease or evict a tenant for moving out.

Normally, we like to be joke and tease about movies relating to our lives a property managers. However, the Shining is a movie that too often hits home for too many families in Houston, Dallas, Texas, and everywhere. We hope that tenants will not face horrorifying situations in their family life. If they do have to deal with this horror, then please remember to document and provide proof to your landlord or property manager to not compound the personal tragedy with an eviction or broken lease.  I am sure that many property management companies or property managers will be understanding.  If you do get a broken lease or eviction due to those circumstances, then you have to sometimes deal with a hassle to remove those items from your record.

The Shining, a classic movie, whose horror hits too close to home for too many people.

 

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Seven: The sin of gluttony brings flashbacks to how tenants sometimes take care of their property

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 4, October 2012 13:16

When I watched the movie "Seven", there were many graphic and difficult scenes to watch.  Seven was a thrilling movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, and Kevin Spacey.  In the movie, a unnamed killer (who in the end is simply identified as John Doe) arranges several gruesome murders to replicate the seven deadly sins.  If you watched the movie, you probably cringed at how graphic and disgusting some of the scenes were. However, over the years as a property management company in the Houston and Dallas markets, we have found homes that would have seemed to be scenes straight out of the movie. I never understood why tenants would request a home be immaculate, but then upon a inspection, we discover that they take very little care of a home after they are given the keys.  Ashoka Lion will share one tenant story (name will not be revealed) to illustrate the kinds of flashbacks to Seven that we get as a property management company on a periodic basis.

My tenant story involved a lady who on paper seemed to be a solid prospect. Solid work history, no eviction or broken leases on record, made pretty good money , and did not register any red flags criminally. However, after this tenant moved in, we had a plumbing request. She had garbage disposal problem. We sent repair guys to the home, and they were thoroughly disgusted. In the home, they found dishes were piled high with uneaten foods left around the room and trash everywhere. The repair guys are instructed to inform our property managers of these kinds of issues, so we can schedule follow up inspections or send warning letters to tenant.  The guys continued to resolve the issue, and in the garbage disposal; the repair guys found pork bones and silverware in the garbage disposal. We obviously warned the tenant regarding this matter, but like a horror movie, this was just the begining. She later complained that the toilets were blocked up, so our property managers had to send repair guys out again. She had called our property managers to tell us that the toilet was blocked at 1 pm on a weekend, and we got a guy there around 6 pm. To our horror, her toilet was blocked up, but instead of leaving it alone; her family decided to continue using the toilet and caused it to over flow (no further details needed).

Truthfully, dealing with a tenant like this will make property management firms and their landlords think of the sin of wrath (not discussing further to avoid revealing too much about the movie).

 

 

The Fly: Another reason to not bring your work home with you

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 3, October 2012 14:37

The Fly is a movie about a scientist who uses a warehouse like space to live and conduct experiments. Unfortunately, his experiment involves teleportation of items, and during one of his experiments a fly is trapped in the teleportation pod. THe unfortunate scientist begins to mutate to a savage cross of insect and man. Now, I know that most people are carry out teleportation or time travel experiments in their homes, but as property managers,we do come across people who try to use their home as a place of business. Our property management company's policy in our Houston and Dallas leases is that a home, duplex , condo, or apartment is used as a residence.

Allowing tenants to run a business out of their home is not a good idea on so many levels. First, the business is probably prohibited by community or homeowner association. Second, the business customer traffic to your home increases the risk that a incident can occur at the home. Third, many homeowner policies do require notice if the home is being used as place of business.  Our stance against home based business is not to be confused with a stance against people who bring their work home or who telecommute into their work.

Therefore, when our property management firm was approached by real estate investors or others who seek to use our homes as group homes, day care business, etc; we politely explain that most of our properties would not be qualified to be used in such a manner. However, in parts of Houston (namely the Heights and Museum District areas), where homes and properties can be used in a mixed use manner. In these scenarios, it is possible to lease to a person in this manner, but it would be important to use a commercial lease and know up front that the tenant's intent is to run a business.

Next time, your tenant backs up a truck filled with large nuclear powered pods, just remember that we warned you.

 

 

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What is Green Property Management?

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 17, May 2011 16:05

What is Green Property Management? Ashoka Lion has spent the better part of three years revising its processes and procedures to be more ecologically conscious. This evolution has involved revising our processes for rent collection, leasing, reporting of repairs, financial reporting, communication with tenants and owners.

When we started the company in 2006, our firm was heavily reliant on filling out paper leases; driving to pick up rents from tenants; depositing rents to each owner's bank account. This resulted in reams of paper being used as well as gallons of gasoline being spent on driving with very little gains for our clients in terms of time or money. In fact, our old processes involved spending more time as we had to allocate more time scanning, filing, and driving during business hours to insure that these objectives of leasing, collecting rent, and sending the owner their funds. 

Now, we have previously illustrated in our previous entries about things that we implemented over the years for Houston and Dallas clients in terms of services and tools for "Going Green and Mobile".  However, we wanted to help investors and understand what this philosophy mean? Does it mean that we will force owners to accept every new environmental technology or fad? Will we force you to install solar panels on your rentals? No, our goal as a property management company is to balance our duty to our owners, tenants, and local ordinances by providing solutions that align the owner's goal of having happy, longer term tenants paying market or higher rents, but we must these strive to achieve these goals by balancing our duties to our communities in Houston and Dallas. Ashoka Lion believes that by demonstrating a constant committment to improve ourselves that we can reflect a sincere desire to balance this goal while carrying out our property management duties for their houston and Dallas properties.

Every day, we find out devestating news that affects our world in regards to the environment (Global Warming, Water Shortages, Air Pollution); and our property management team believe that it is only a matter of time before these rules and regulations will seep into the multifamily and residential investment industries. In the commercial industry space, it is being regularly reported how buildings are committing whole heartedly to offering more eco-friendly features, and new home builders are marketing the "Green" features of their homes very heavily.  It is only a matter of time before either through market dynamics for new renters will require this of rentals in the single family home or multifamily home markets. Additionally, if market dynamics do not reach that point, then government regulations will increase the regulations for rentals. My investment clients may not realize it, but rental properties are often more stringently regulated than traditional homeowners. For example,  do regular homeowners have stringent inspections of the interior and exterior of their homes to make sure that repairs are taken care of? No, well rentals in the City of Sugar Land are required to have these kinds of inspections annually (read here).  Does your home have a requirement for door viewers, keyless entry, and keyed deadbolt? No, well Houston and Dallas rental properties must have these kinds of locks due to regulations in the State of Texas. Do you have inspections to bring up building items to code even if it was built prior to any new code? No, well the city of Houston, required a building that we managed to make those kind of upgrades even though it was built in the 1940's. 

In our opinion, it is better for us to embrace this paradigm shift versus being stuck catching up. Also, our firm is investigating how we can incorporate these techniques into make readies and property upgrades so we can better align our rental properties with consumer preferences. If you think about it, where do you pay the most money for food? Whole Food or Central Market came to the top of your mind, but what businesses are booming? Those very same brands. Though the industries are different, however they do provide insight into consumer preference for things that are more ecologically friendly and more organic.

Ashoka Lion will continue to roll out new improvements to our Green Management philosophy. Currently, our property managers are evaluating how we can improve our internal processes. Our next evolution, is we are evaluating how we can evaluate our manager's carbon foot print, while we also incorporate more ecologically friendly update as part of our make ready process.  In our humble opinion, it is better to be moving forward versus being stuck in old trends.

 

It is appropriate that you enjoy the Michael Jackson "Earth Song".

 

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 wants to help Realtors Grow their businesses when they refer us property management clients!

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 26, March 2011 16:33

Ashoka Lion launching a "Thank you for the property management client referral" marketing campaign for Real Estate Agents. It is a quick social media campaign that we will do for our property management client referring Realtors. Social Media is a buzz word, but with this quick campaign, you will gain some exposure without it being perceived as you marketing yourself. Here are the three aspects to our "Thank You" program.

1)www.LionRentalMangaement.com Blog Entry: The basis of the program is that we are providing the agents a blog entry off our property management site that links back to your webpage of choice (as long as it is related to your business). Also, if you provide us a bio about yourself and the type of clients that you work with or areas, we will intertwine that in our blog entry off our website (www.LionRentalManagement.com).  The bio will give visitors about the type of practice that the Realtor has, areas that they provide service, and any other information that will personalize the Realtor to visitors who read the "thank you" blog entry.
 
2) FaceBook Marketing: www.FaceBook.com/AshokaLion   We will market the property management "thank you" blog entry on our FB business page that will state "We got a great referral from "JOHN or JANE DOE REALTOR, and we wanted to let you all know about him/her. Check out their story at XXXX.com".   Your also welcome to "like" our Business Page so our update will show up on your Facebook page wall.  This will allow you to share this update to your friends if you have a facebook page.  By "sharing" or "liking" that particular entry, the entry willl show up on your Facebook page wall that your friends and family can see.   This is a subtle marketing announcement that will remind all your facebook friends that you are in the Real Estate business.
 
3) Twitter Marketing: We will blast this property management blog entry on our Twitter account: www.Twitter.com/AshokaLion that has over 500 followers. If you have twitter, you can pass it along (Retweet) to your friends.  This is another method that you can let clients and followers know that you do real estate and a little about your practice.
 
We hope this exposure will be good for our Realtor referral partners, and we hope that our Realtor friends will continue to see our property management team as a valuable asset to their real estate practice. Additionally, the link to your real estate website or profile in our blog entry will be credited as a "quality" link in regards to search engine optimization as our site is a real estate related site that is constantly adding content and updates regarding real estate. Basically, we will be assisting your website in being found by Google or other search engine searches.

Thank you for providing us property management referrals in the Houston and Dallas area markets, and we look forward to working with you in the future as well.
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What is normal wear and tear? 6 techniques to reduce down issues with tenants

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 15, March 2011 11:28

I came across a article on the AshokaLion Twitter account, and it got me thinking about "wear and tear" clauses in leases. Every lease has a "wear and tear" clause in it, but it always remains a vague concept. I decided to research what other investors and real estate sights came across, and I found most had the vague notion of the wear and tear clause. I did find one article by Rental Housing Online (http://bit.ly/gklzFl) and they had a pretty good list. It definitely was not exhaustive, but either is our addendum that we provide to tenants at their walk through with our property managers upon moving in.  We have tried to provide a list of common types of damages, explainations what we consider to be "normal", and we try to explain to them what potential charges may be upon them moving out (at least some minimums that we have come across). We know this is not a complete list, but it is impossible to have a complete list due to all the circumstances at the property (including condition of the property at the time of  tenant moving in and age of the items).

I know it is impossible, but we do try to explain that "normal" is based on reasonable standards. For example, we state that scuffing a wall and it needing to be repainted is not "normal".  However, it is "normal" to have a rug steam cleaned with a rug doctor machine. However, if I have to get a commercial cleaner to take out damages to a carpet, then this should be considered "excess" of normal wear and tear".  As a kid growing up in the Houston area, my family lived in a home for over 10 years as kids, and when we moved from that home; our family was able to cleaned our carpet  to make it presentable.  It is not a huge leap of faith to think that our care was not extraoridinary, and this is why our property managers in Houston or Dallas do not understand tenant's claims that it is normal to have punch stains in the floor or bleach on the floor. 

Typical things that we would deduct from the security deposit for include:

  1. Scuff Marks on walls requiring us to paint
  2. Nail Holes in Walls
  3. Damages to windows
  4. Broken Knobs on ovens or stoves
  5. Unreported leaks that cause damage to cabinets or floors
  6. Carpets requiring commercial carpet cleaning
  7. Smoking in the house and it sticking to walls and carpet (we request all tenants if they smoke to smoke outside the house).
  8. Pet Urine requires us to get  a professional cleaning
  9. Lost Keys
  10. Unreturned Garage Remotes
  11. Food left in the refridgerator (if mold is in the refridgerator, then we may just replace refridgerator)
  12. Broken door knobs
  13. Missing Smoke Detectors after it was installed
  14. Blinds damaged
  15. Carpet that burn marks or bleach stains (replacing room carpet)

I know that there are horror stories for tenants about items being charged that they would not consider normal wear and tear. To reduce these confrontations between tenants and landlords or tenants and property management companies in the Houston and Dallas area, I would suggest doing the following:

  1. Fill out the Inventory and Condition Form within the requested time and keeping a copy. Many real estate agents and property managers will give you this form to fill out, so I would strongly urge you to do.
  2. Take Pictures and/or Video.  You, your property manager  and/or real estate agent should take pictures and/or video of the property at the time of the move in. I would make sure to have the correct time stamp on videos and pictures, so you can demonstrate what condition the property is at move in.  As you usually are given a few days to finish documenting this form, it is not hard for tenants to document with video and cameras damages.   I would suggest sharing this with landlords and managers as soon as possible to make them aware of these damages that you find subsequent to the move in walk through, if you want to claim it on your inventory and condition form.
  3. Report damages quickly. Landlords can charge tenants for damages that they fail to report on a timely manner that get worse. For example, if you see a leaking pipe under a kitchen report it, as it may lead to damaging the wood in the cabinets.
  4. Know how to shutoff toliets and cut off water at the main water cutoff. If you see water flowing, know how to cutoff the water at the main water cutoff. This will reduce down damages that remain that could have been prevented.
  5. Do not use items that you know are possibly damaged. If your AC is having problem, shut the AC off to prevent further damage because you used it after it was having problem. The same could go for appliance, disposals, and anything else that you fear may not be working. You should report these items and take the appropriate precautions. These kinds of damages could be grounds to deduct part or all of a repair cost for the matter.
  6. Keep up your preventitive maintenance. If your home has a AC unit, then I would suggest changing the filters to avoid damaging the system. Unpaid repair costs in our leases can be deducted from the security deposit.

I know that some of our real estate investors probably have more examples, so if you do not mind sharing on our Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/dQDvrM) that would be great. We will post a discussion under that tab to collect feedback and input regarding example of what is and is not considered "normal wear and tear", and while you are there; please do not hesitate to "Like" our facebook page.

If anyone has dealt with court cases that involve these issues, then feel free to share this as well in our discussion section. We would love to see how any of our Houston, Dallas, Texas, or any courts around the United States for that matter adjudicate these standards.