Absolutely! Empire partners with different agents who have been trained by us on what makes a good investment. These agents will be more than happy to look for investment properties for you. Just call our main number at 888.866.6727. Empire is a full realty and brokerage office with licensed Realtors who can help you buy or sell you a property.
Absolutely! Empire has contacts with many investors looking for investment properties. Empire typically markets their client’s investment properties to their buyer list prior to even putting the property on the MLS. Empire is a full realty and brokerage office with licensed Realtors who can help you buy or sell you a property.
We can start the process immediately. Contact us today so we can find out more about you and your property and see if we are the right property management company for your needs. You can email us at email@example.com or call us at 888.866.6727 and ask for the sales department.
Today what we are going to talk about is people that want to do it themselves with Property Management. We get a lot of people that ask why can’t they just self-manage. I myself was an investor that used to self-manage properties, so coming from experience I understand why they are curious and why they may want to do that. One of the things you want to ask yourself is if you are attempting to do it yourself, there is a lot of complexities with self-management; we are going to just touch the tip of the iceberg here, but if you do want to go into the self-management route I would suggest you explore these options and see if maybe you can answer these questions for yourself. I feel there are a lot of pitfalls, I personally have fallen into many of these pitfalls when I was learning property management of my own properties. And I am going to share some things with you that you should ask yourself if you are the right person to self-manage.
First question I would say is can you stick to your policies and procedures if you have to evict a family that has fallen on hard times? We all know that we get people that for whatever reason why they cannot pay their rent or they are having problems. Deep down you know they are good people. Can you actually be the one to evict them, can you do that. If you cannot follow your policies and procedures and you cannot stick to them you could actually be violating a Fair Housing Law or Discrimination Law by letting one tenant slide and not the other. So, when you are self-managing you want to make sure that you stick to those policies and procedures.
Second question is how would you go about evicting a tenant? How would you go to court, what would you say in court when you are there? Do you bring all the documents and what are the proper procedures for filing the eviction in court?
Next thing is, do you feel comfortable with the tenant having your phone number? Some states you have to be available twenty-four hours a day seven day a week for any emergencies that may arise with your tenant. You got to make sure that if you self manage you may have to be available all the time and that can lead to them calling you for things that are really not major emergencies, but they may think they are emergencies.
Are you knowledgeable about the laws? Right now the landlord is the highest sued person in real estate. Mainly because they do not know some of these laws such as Fair Housing, Texas Property Code, Discrimination Law and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. All these things are rights that are afforded to the tenant and you need to make sure that you know all these rights and you know all these laws.
Next question is how you will handle situations if you are not accessible. Let’s say you are on vacation and you are traveling with your family and the next thing you know, you find out Murphy’s Law, the house is flooded. How are you going to deal with that is you are out of the country? How are you going to have somebody come and handle these situations for you? And make sure you are not getting ripped off.
Then let’s say you do have to get a contractor. How do you deal with the vendors? How do you know if they are doing quality work to your property? If you have just one property and you bring a plumber out, you are probably not going to see that plumber again, so there is no real major recourse unless you go after them in legal matters. But how do you know they are going to do good work? How do you know if you are going to get the best pricing from that vendor. And if it is an emergency, you are really going to be at their mercy if you are out of the country and you are calling them to do work.
How are you going to find the best tenant? And when you do find that tenant, how are you going to verify and background check them to see who they really are? You want to define what you will and will not accept and make sure that you are protecting their rights.
Are you able to enforce your lease and collect the late fees on what your agreement states? You want to make sure that if your agreement says you are going to collect “X” dollars in late fees you need to perform. A lease is a bi-lateral contract. Meaning you have to perform and the tenant has to perform. If the tenant does not perform, it is your responsibility to enforce these late fees.
Next big thing that a lot of owners get in trouble with is bookkeeping. How do you handle bookkeeping? How do you know all the current laws of co-mingling funds and other things that come with accounting on your rental properties? You want to make sure you are up to date and you know these laws.
And number ten, main thing is what is your time worth? Normally a property management is going to be a couple dollars a day is what it actually factors into. Maybe it is the cost of a cup of coffee. Is a cup of coffee worth your time to not have to deal with it and not have to learn these things? And obviously only you know the answer to that but you may want to ask yourself these questions. And if you cannot fully answer these questions, before you make that decision on self-managing you may want to look more in depth on how you can learn these things so that the business that you are in, which is the rental business, you know these answers.
If you would like any questions answered please feel free to give us a call. Our number is right there and you can call me, we will give a free conversation, free sit down with you and see if maybe self-managing or property management is the right fit for you.
What we have done is we have compiled some of the basic questions that we think are important and that people ask us and if you are looking for a property management company that you should ask when you are searching.
So the first one would be What Makes You So Different from other property management companies? People always ask us that and first of all, when it comes to us we are investors just like you. We own properties. My properties are in the property management mix. We basically created a company because we could not find one that we liked as investors. We looked around, we couldn’t find anything so we did the next best thing. We created our own investor minded property management company to fit our needs as investors.
We are a national award winning company, we won Best Marketing in North America by Business Excellence and we were the winner of the Better Business Bureau Business of Distinction for 2015. And currently we are the highest rated and reviewed company on Google in the city of Houston.
Next question is What Are Your Average Days on Market for your vacant homes. I think that is an important thing, I think we want to know when a property manager has your properties, how long will it take to get a tenant in? Empire, currently our days are eighteen to twenty-five days vacant. And the average in Houston is forty-five days. So we are running about twenty to twenty-five days ahead of the average. Just so you know, every two weeks that your property sits vacant is a 2% annual revenue that is lost on your property and you will never recoup it. So we realize as investors that you want to make sure that you get your property rented because it is not making you any money.
Next question is What is the Average Rent Amount for all of the Properties that You Manage? Empire, we manage, our average rent is $1553 and the Houston average is $1189. So if you are looking for a property management company, you want to find out do their properties fit the type of properties you have? We have properties that are two, three, four thousand dollars per month and then we have other ones that are a thousand dollars per month. We do not rent anything that is a thousand dollars or below because it is a different business model. We know because we have owned them in the past and they can be quite a lot of work and we just choose not to handle lower end properties.
I think the eviction rate is very important to know. Empire has a 1.36 eviction rate currently and we manage over five hundred houses. The Houston average is 9% eviction rate. We have learned that it starts with who you do and do not accept in the property. That is where your problems will start and if you nip that in the bud in the beginning you will have to deal with a lot less headache down the road.
Average make-ready time frame? Empire’s make-ready time frame is two to three days the Houston average is five to seven days. So you want to know when my property is getting ready in-between tenants. How long will it take to get the property rent ready; that’s very important to know.
All of my invoices, are they uploaded to my owner portal? We make sure that all owner invoices are uploaded and the actual receipts are uploaded for the owners to see. A lot of the other companies, they don’t even have online access or the owners, so getting things uploaded, you may be able to get them faxed or mailed to you. I don’t know how other companies do it. But, we try to use as much technology as we can. It is important because 50 – 60% of our owners do not live in the city of Houston, in the state or even the country. So we feel that using technology is important that they should be able to see everything live as we see it.
Next question is How Do You Advertise Your Vacant Units? At Empire we receive about one thousand phone calls and internet inquiries every month on our vacant units. We lease about thirty to forty homes per month. A lot of people come to us just to lease their properties because they know we are considered experts in what we do. We use every form of marketing technique at our disposal to get your property rented quickly. That’s MLS, Craig’s List, Zillow, Trulia, we use our website which goes up to about fifty-five different websites. So, a lot of people know who we are because of our reputation and because of that we are able to get a lot of inbound calls.
We realize that vacant property is lost money. If the thing is not rented quick and if you don’t have any phone calls you are not going to be able to select the best tenant and you are going to take whomever comes when you have only gotten one phone call in the last thirty, forty-five days. Houston average, most companies may use one to two mediums. They may use the MLS, they may use Craig’s List, they may use the free newspaper. We feel that you should be using all forms of leverage in muti-media to get people inbound on your marketing. If you are not doing that you are probably missing out on some potentials.
People ask do you have a set-up fee, we do not have a set-up fee. The average in Houston, it varies. I’ve seen 100, 195, 350, it just depends. Some companies don’t, you may want to talk to them to find out.
Up charging on maintenance, we do not up charge on maintenance at all. The same volume discount that we have negotiated with all of our vendors you will receive. Our investment homes are getting repaired just like yours are. Like I said I am an investor, my properties are in the mix also so we make it a point not to have maintenance be a profit center for us. But it is a necessary means to run our business. The Houston average, 5 – 10 percent is the average mark-up and they get a kick-back from the vendor. A lot of people have different things working. Again, you may want to talk to them and see what other companies do when you are asking them these questions.
When do you make owner payments and how often? At Empire we feel that you should get your money right away. We start wire transfers right into your bank account on the 10th, 15th and 20th. So in case there is a late paying tenant we are able to get you your money. The Houston average, they normally do a one-time payment the 15th of the month and for some reason you miss that cut-off date, you’re not going to get your money until next month.
Are you a Certified Property Manager or just a Realtor? In Houston you can be just a regular Realtor and manage properties. I feel that that’s like being a general practitioner and doing brain surgery. So you want to make sure you know who is managing your properties and do they know the laws and your best interest. We have a Certified Property Manager with over twenty years’ experience. The majority of property managers are just realtors. They are not investors, they don’t know anything about investing and they are not Certified Property Managers.
Next question is are you a member of NARPM? NARPM is the National Association of Residential Property Managers. It is a great organization that really brings up the standard of the property managers and what they are held accountable for. My co-founder and business partner, Pete Neubig, was the Houston Chapter President for 2015. And he was the winner of the Rocky Maxwell Award. It is a National award given out to people that have made the biggest difference in NARPM. Houston average, it varies, not that many people are part of NARPM in Houston, but you definitely want to check to see their accreditation and how serious they are about being a property manager.
What is your guarantee? We offer a 7 point guarantee or we do not charge a management fee. No other company offers that guarantee. We are the only ones that offer a 7 point guarantee to our clients.
If you would like more information feel free to give us a call. If you like this information in a written form I would be more than happy to email it to you. Or call me, you can email me and I would be glad to send that to you. If you are looking for a property manager definitely talk to us. If you want to give us a call at least you have some questions that you can ask.
Our management fee is a percent of the monthly rent depending on the rental amount, location and number of properties. There is a $75 minimum monthly fee.
For more information watch this video: http://blog.empireindustriesllc.com/what-do-i-get-for-my-management-fees-from-empire-industries/
- Attend to daily telephone, email, portal and fax inquiries
- Timely rent collection
- Accounting for security and pet deposits
- Preparing month end statements for property owner and collating supporting information for the owners statement
- Preparing annual year end income/expense statements & IRS 1099 Forms
- Organizing keys for viewings, inspections and vendor repairs
- Vacant unit inspections and reports
- Move in inspection report with pictures and video to ensure security deposit disposition
- Move out inspection report with pictures and video to ensure security deposit disposition
- The latest technology in leasing
- Lease enforcement with tenants
- Organizing maintenance repairs and quotes
- Copying/scanning of invoices
- Monthly newsletters to owners and tenants
- Conducting annual rent review
- Processing notice to vacate
- Provide a 7x24 hour maintenance hotline
- Constant ongoing staff training
- Professional office with latest in technology and property management tools in our industry
- Highly skilled staff including Licensed Realtors, Certified Property Manager, Licensed Broker, NARPM RMP designation, HAR lease specialist designation and HAR MCE certified instructors.
- We are members of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), the national association of Realtors, Texas Association of Realtors, and the Better Business Bureau.
- We have sat on the NARPM Houston chapter board of directors, HAR property management committee, the TAR property management committee, NARPM national membership committee, IREM board of directors.
We do not manage any properties with conditions that will affect the health and safety of a tenant.
Yes, we are licensed Realtors and have a Certified Property Manager and licensed broker on staff.
Watch Steve interview or CPM, Lisa Porterfield on what it means to be a CPM.
We are members of:
- Houston Area of Realtors
- Texas Association of Realtors
- National Association of Realtors
- Houston Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers
- National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM)
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
We have served on the board of directors of the National Association of Residential Property Managers – Houston Chapter, HAR property management committee, TAR property management committee, NARPM national membership committee
We have served on the board of directors for the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
Vendor of the Month – Lifestyles Unlimited – October 2012
Top Producing Agent for Century 21 – Olympian 2013
Pacesetter Gold Award – Century 21 – 2013
Certificate of Achievement – Masters Program – Century 21 – 2013
3rd Place Vendor Expo Booth – Wealth & Passive Income 2013
ActionCOACH Fastest Growing Company – Q4 2012
ActionCOACH Fastest Revenue Growth – Q1 2013
ActionCOACH Systems Award – Q3 2013
ActionCOACH Revenue Growth – Q4 2013
ActionCOACH Marketing Award – Q1 2014
Business Excellence Award – Semi-Finalist Marketing 2013
Business Excellence Award – Semi-Finalist Customer Service 2013
Better Business Bureau Business of Distinction – 2015v Business Excellence Marketing Campaign of the Year - 2015
Pet Fee Guarantee+
The portfolio model of property management allows one property manager to be the single point of contact with all matters related to your property. Our property managers are all licensed Realtors with some property management experience. Each manager will only handle between 150 – 175 properties. We keep the property count low so that each property will be managed efficiently and effectively.
With a portfolio management style there is no “passing the buck”, the portfolio manager is ultimately responsible for the home. As a client, you do not have to make multiple calls to talk to multiple people in our office to get answers.
In October 2015, Empire transitioned over from a departmental based structure to a portfolio based structure and we have been able to provide an even higher level of customer service to our owners.
Empire has found that the Internet receives tremendous exposure.
- MLS Listing – We have found that the Multiple Listing Service is the best way to advertise the property. Over 23,000 agents use this service and over 50,000 people access the site daily. Empire uses power phrases of descriptive words, wide-angle pictures and video when listing a property. Empire is one of the few agents who upload video for rentals. The latest data from Internet marketing shows more people are looking at video.
- Empire Website – We upload the property to our website. Our website spiders out to 100s of websites including popular ones like Trulia and Zillow.
- GoSection8.com – Empire pays for a yearly subscription with Section8 housing assistance. If the property is approved by the owner for Section 8, we will advertise on this website.
Empire purchased technology that allows prospects to text a code to a phone number. This code provides specific information about the house they are in front of. Each house that we list has its own texting number. The prospect will receive a text within seconds that gives them the lease amount, security deposit amount, number of beds, baths and square footage. It also gives them picture’s and video of the home. At the same time, a text is sent to our leasing agent assigned to the property with the phone number of the prospect.
Marketing studies have shown that 80% of people do not want to be “sold” and will text instead of calling to get basic information. Texting technology increases leads for your property.
Empire displays “For Rent” signs prominently. Signs promote calls.
Empire will display bandit signs throughout the area if a property is having problems renting. Bandit signs are only displaced in lower income areas as higher income areas will take down the signs and fine us. There is a charge for this service. Service is for 10 signs, this includes material and labor.
Partnership with Local Agents
Empire has partnered with real estate agents. We send all leads to local agents. Potential clients are responded to quickly and scheduling showings around the client’s timeframe is easier with this format.
Showings and Applications
Empire uses Centralized Showing Service to schedule showing times. This is a call center that is approved by the National Association of Realtors. This service guarantees that all calls to schedule showings will be answered. The showing service website is set up to email you on any showings and feedback on your property.
Empire utilizes an online application. Any prospect who would like to submit an application can do so 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The prospect pays for the application with a credit card at the time of submission.
Power Words & Phrases. Both Steve and Pete have been educated in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). NLP is the method of influencing behavior through the use of language. Empire uses specific descriptive words and phrases in our marketing to get prospects to view the listing.
Listing Video. Empire takes a video of each vacant unit once they are ready for show and link the video to all of our marketing. Video has increased on the Internet by over 80%. More people will want to view a home after they watch a video instead of just looking at photos.
GEO and Meta Tagging. Empire GEO codes and Meta Tags each listing videe. This is important during Google searches. Due to this coding and tagging your home will be more likely to show up in a Google search for someone who is searching a specific area.
YouTube. Empire uploads each video to our YouTube channel. YouTube is now owned by Google and is the second most used search engine.
DriveBuyText. Empire purchased technology that allows prospects to text a code to a phone number. This code provides specific information about the house they are in front of. Each house that we list has its own texting number. The prospect will receive a text within seconds that gives them the lease amount, security deposit amount, number of beds, baths and square footage. It also gives them picture’s and video of the home. At the same time, a text is sent to our leasing agent assigned to the property with the phone number of the prospect.
Marketing studies have shown that 80% of people do not want to be “sold” and will text instead of calling to get basic information. Texting technology increases leads for your property.
(NEW!) Online Showing System. Empire has created a system where prospective residents can schedule a showing for your property anytime – day or night – over the Internet. This system allows Empire to give the resident what they want instantly. A resident can schedule a showing at 10:00pm for the next day at any available time we have on the schedule. The showing system sends follow up emails and texts to remind the prospect. This system has increased showings dramatically!
(NEW) Leasing Call Center. Empire now has a leasing call center 7 days a week from 8a – 8p Monday through Friday and 8a – 6p Saturday and Sunday. The leasing call center guarantees a prospects call is answered within three rings. Other companies may have an answering service or they have an agent that takes the calls. If a prospect calls an answering service there is a high possibility that the client will be lost by the time someone tries to call them back. With our leasing center the prospect is scheduled for an appointment right there on the initial call. If an agent is receiving the calls there is a high probability that the call will go to a voice mail as the agent will most likely be on the other line, busy with life or in the middle of a showing. Again, if a call is not answered right away there is a high probability that the prospect will be lost.
All applicants must submit verifiable information on their income to show they can support the property. Rental history or previous home ownership is carefully checked. Cross-referencing all three areas – credit, tenant history, and income provides the answers to qualify or disqualify prospective applicants.
- Must make three times the amount of rent
- No evictions
- If there is a broken lease in the last five years, must have re-established rental history
- Criminal records and convictions may be grounds for denial
- Credit is on a case by case basis. The higher the rent the more weighted the debt to income ratio becomes. Bad credit or No credit is acceptable.
- Bankruptcy MUST be dismissed or discharged
- Must submit the last three paycheck stubs, if self-employed must have last year tax return
- Must submit a copy of driver’s license
- Must submit a copy of social security card
- Pets are a case by case basis. No dangerous breeds
- Anyone who is 18 or older MUST submit an application
- The total number of occupancy must not exceed two persons per bedroom
Most companies only verify a handful of items for an incoming resident. At Empire we verify 20 points. We use a third party screening company to verify these points. Due to our 20 points verification system we have been able to decrease our evictions to less than 1% annually.
Our 20 Points Verification:
- Government Issued ID
- National Criminal/Alias Search
- National Sex Offender Registry
- Employment Verification
- Residential History Verification
- National Eviction Search
- Social Security Fraud Search
- Credit Score
- Broken Leases
- Currently Delinquent Accounts
- Previously Delinquent
- Collection Accounts
- Prior Credit Inquiries
- Public Records
- Credit History
Always be courteous, but kindly tell them that you have hired a professional management company to manage the property and they should contact the management company. If they state they have tried contacting the management company but no one will ever pick up the phone, understand that this is a ploy to engage you. They feel that when they are talking to the owner, they can negotiate whether it is maintenance or rent payments. You hired us to manage your property and ultimately to create a firewall between you and the resident. Allow us to do our job for you.
- Rent payment has been received
- Rent is past due
- Notice of Lease Expiration
- Lease Renewal Notification
- Vacancy Notification
- New Tenant Notification
- Tenant Move-Out Notification
- New Work Order
- Owner Statement published
- Document published to portal
- Low on funds
- When there is a scheduled showing
- When an agent leaves feedback on a vacant unit
Every Monday our leasing assistant sends out an update on all vacant units.
Every Tuesday our property manager sends out an update on all evictions.
If you feel that you need to contact your property manager directly, you may call our main line at 281.407.0099 or toll free at 888.866.6727 and enter ext. 703.
For a complete list of emails, phone extensions and responsibilities please review the owner manual.
Leasing & Move In
Congratulations, you have a tenant and your tenant has been approved through our twenty point verification system. We start our relationship with a great start with the tenant. You always want to have the tenant feel real welcome and have a great start and can start the relationship off in a positive way.Well, for one they were able to pay all their funds online. That means that they did not have to go to the bank, get a cashier’s check and then have to come to our office and drop those off, they do everything online.
Secondly, they were able to do a lock box move in. This means that they did not have to drive through traffic to come to our office. Which may or may not be forty-five minutes away from where they are moving to, to come pick-up a key and some paperwork. So they can pay on line and do a lock box move in. Meaning that they can move in at any time of the day that they want. Which means it’s a lot easier for them.
When they open their door they not only come to a clean house, they have a folder with all their paperwork. So they have their lease, their inventory condition form and their tenant handbook. They also have a gift bag courtesy of Empire Industries. We give every new resident a gift bag and it just has essentials when you are moving in. Things that you might forget.
We have already contacted the locksmith to change the locks. We have to call a locksmith within two business days to be able to change the locks. All of the utilities have already been transferred using our free utility connect program that we allow our residents. So they can for free, they can actually have a company perform all of their utilities, all of the transferring of their utilities.
Landscaping has been turned off as well. So now the resident is responsible for all their utilities and landscaping once we have them moving in.
Just remember that at the first of the month the rent is due paid out to the brokers. And the next months’ rent will most likely be prorated in most cases. Well if the resident did not move in on the first then it will be prorated. So, this way you understand that you might have less money that second month versus when they have a full months’ rent.
Maintenance & Inspections
The resident can enter a maintenance request through the resident portal or by calling. The resident can enter an emergency maintenance request by dialing the main number and selecting the emergency extension. Empire will contact the resident within 24 hours for a non-emergency and within two hours of an emergency. Empire will send a licensed and insured vendor for any work that requires a license. Empire maintenance service technicians perform non-licensed work, are insured and have had a criminal background check. The vendor will contact the resident and coordinate a date/time to enter the premises. Someone over the age of 18 must be present for the vendor to access the premise.
Empire management will send updates regarding the work order to residents and owners through the portals.
Empire staff takes before and after photos of all work completed and has the resident sign off on the work order.
Our residents have a special phone line they can call for emergencies. Our property manager will determine if the call is truly an emergency. A partner vendor will be dispatched or one of our internal maintenance technicians will be dispatched ASAP. Dispatch typically takes about two hours.
If the emergency is under $400 to fix, the property manager will approve the work. If the emergency work is more than $400 then, the property manager will contact you via phone, text and conversation portal. If the owner does not answer, the property manager determines if the issue can be patched up for a short time to relieve the issue. This will give us time to work with the owner and receive the funds to fix the emergency completely. If the issue cannot be patched, the property manager will make a decision based on numerous factors. Per the management agreement, Empire does have the right to approve any maintenance emergency whatever the cost. However, we do everything we can to make sure you are part of the decision process.
If the issue is an emergency, we will handle it just like we handle any maintenance emergency (see How Do You Handle Maintenance Emergencies?).
The property manager does not approve any work greater than $400 without written approval from the owner. Furthermore, the property manager will typically not approve the work until the owner deposits the money into the property account.
Only during a maintenance emergency where the property manager cannot contact the owner will the property manager approve work greater than $400.
To prevent the owner from incurring a service call, we always try to contact the owner while the vendor is at the property to complete the work.
- You are the one who coordinates between your vendor and the resident.
- We close the work order and we do not get or give updates on the work order.
- We do not pay your vendor.
- If a resident calls and complains that the work has not been scheduled or completed within 48 hours we re-open the work order, inform you that your vendor did not do anything for two days, and dispatch our vendor.
Our reputation, with both tenants and owners is largely determined by how well we handle maintenance. Our maintenance vendors are a big part of our team. They are insured, bonded, licensed and have gone through training and an approval process on how to work with Empire. This ensures that work orders will be done quickly and to Empire’s guidelines.
Ugh! We HATE home warranty companies! We beg you to not use home warranty companies.
Empire has personally lost clients because of home warranty companies. Every time we coordinate maintenance with a home warranty company it is one problem after another. First, they never respond in a timely fashion, getting them on the phone is difficult and then there is the “he said, she said” between the resident and the home warranty company.
Next, they deny service either on grounds of lack of maintenance or abnormal wear and tear. When it comes to exclusions and small print, warranty contracts say a claim can be denied for lack of maintenance, improper maintenance, improper installation, pre-existing problems, code violations and numerous other reasons.
Warranties are typically purchased by home sellers or their real estate agents to avoid lawsuits if something breaks in the first year. Not to be confused with a builder’s warranty, a so-called home warranty — actually a service contract — is typically purchased for existing homes, especially homes sold by real estate agents. These service contracts generally cost $300 to $600 for a year-long basic coverage plan that includes items like ceiling fans, water heaters and furnaces.
The contracts come with loopholes. You need to carefully read your service agreement to determine what is and what isn’t covered. Coverage for plumbing, for example, typically ends at your home’s foundation, so leaks or breakages beyond that would be your responsibility. “Pre-existing” problems typically aren’t covered, nor are breakdowns that result from poor maintenance or improper installation. The contract also may require that a system be upgraded to current building code standards — at the homeowner’s expense — before they agree to consider repairs. People who have had problems with the home warranty companies say that the more expensive the repair or replacement, the more likely home warranty companies are to invoke these exclusion clauses.
You don’t have control over who does the work. The home warranty provider contracts with local service companies to perform the actual inspections and repairs. You don’t get to choose and scheduling repairs can sometimes be a trial. The service technician may also try to sell you unneeded services.
Empire can find a pool company for the owner, but we would rather continue to use the company that is currently maintaining your pool.
Empire used to only perform inspections on month 9 of the lease. However, due to demand from our clients we have implemented an inspection on month 3 of the lease.
Owners wanted someone to review the property prior to month nine and have been happy that we now offer a three month inspection and a nine month inspection.
There are a few reasons why we perform the inspections at nine months.
- We want to determine if the resident is taking care of the property. If they are not taking care of the property, we will not send them a lease renewal.
- It allows us to determine if there are any maintenance issues that can be taken care of. If the resident is taking care of the property we want to make them happy. Fixing a bunch of small maintenance items will make the resident happy and want to renew their lease.
- The lease renewal goes out to be signed at month ten. It is important to gather information and take care of anything prior to the lease renewal.
- Empire has an internal maintenance department. Empire feels it is a conflict of interest to be the company who manages the property, inspects the property and maintains the property. Having a third party inspect the property solves this issue.
- Empire property managers use to walk a property in twenty minutes, produce a handful of pictures with no write up to the owner. The third party company uses trained professionals, takes numerous photos and produces a 30+ page report. To see a copy of the report http://www.empireindustriesllc.com/pdf/Sample-Inspection-Report-4-14.pdf
We encourage you to go view your property every one or two years. We require a few day’s notice so that we can make arrangements with the tenants. Often the trip to view your property is tax deductible. Check with your CPA.
Residents are responsible for most HOA Violations. Anything to do with landscaping, gardening or cutting the yard. Garbage cans or debris, if there is debris on the side of the house they want you to put it in the backyard or hide it. Oil spills, if there is an oil spill on your driveway. Mildew on the house, it’s your responsibility to get that off by power washing it or cleaning it yourself. Vehicles, if there is un-authorized vehicles or too many vehicles. And the fence, there is an issue with the fence. These are the responsibilities of the resident.
Some of the responsibilities that are not the residents are cutting back the tree branches, painting the house or putting numbers in the front of the property.
When you receive this email, you will have five days to resolve the issue. Most HOA letters give you between 5, 10, 20 days to resolve the problem. So, you have five days to resolve the issue and you need to show proof by taking a photo. So, if it’s landscaping take a photo, paint, etc. Oil spills or garbage or whatever just take a photo and email that back to your property manager so that we can let the owner know that the HOA Violation has been resolved.
There is a $25 charge to your account when Empire receives the HOA Violation. Please review your Tenant Acknowledgements for this. If the problem is not resolved with proof within five days; so you might have resolved the problem but you have not shown proof. Empire will still go out there to inspect to make sure it is completed. If that is the case, Empire charges $55 for the inspection back to you the resident. So please do resolve the problem. Please make sure you snap a quick photo and email your property manager. Again, this is in your Tenant Acknowledgements.
If the issue is not addressed or resolved at inspection time, Empire will then address the issue and the invoice will be invoiced back to the resident. For example, if you had to cut the yard and five days later you never respond back to us, Empire will go out there and if then yard has not been cut we will contact a landscaper to cut the yard.
So, your charge will be $25 for the letter, $55 for the inspection and potentially another $30, 40, 50 for the landscaping. So it’s important that you do resolve the problem and you send us proof.
If the owner is fined for any reason, then that fine will come back to you, the resident. So, it’s important that you resolve these HOA matters pretty quickly and send us proof.
We start our process 75 days before the end date of the lease. If you do not want us to renew the lease, please contact us immediately. If you do not let us know and we renew the lease you will have to abide by that legal binding document. So, if you do not want us to perform a lease renewal, please let us know as soon as possible. Empire will not renew the lease if the resident has not allowed us to inspect the property. What happens at that point is they go month to month, we’ll increase the rent dramatically so that they will allow us to go ahead and perform that inspection. If our resident does not allow us to inspect the property, that is usually a red flag.
We run a CMA, a Comparative Market Analysis on every property. We have three decision points. If the market rent on the CMA is less than the existing rent, then there is no change in the rent. We still renew the lease but we don’t increase the rent. If the market rent is greater than the rent and that increase is equal to or less than 10% or $200 or below, then Empire will go ahead and renew the lease at the market rent. If the market rent is greater than the existing rent or over 10% or greater than $200, then Empire Property Management will contact you to determine what the next steps or how much you want to raise the rent.
What we find is that most of the people will leave if the rent goes up by more than $200 or 10%. So we’ve been very careful on how we increase that rent amount. And that is our lease renewal process.
Our goal is to lease your property before the Tenant’s move out. Our lease states that we could put a key box on the door and market the property within 30 to 60 days before the tenants move out. So, what we do is we put a key box, we market the property and we also walk the property while the tenant is still living in the property. We advertise the property, we use Centralized Showing Service to schedule appointments so that agents can show the property while your tenant is still there.
The resident can pay you a one month fee to not show the property. So, they can pay for us not to show the property. The tenant, if they do not want to pay and they cancel CSS notification, they will be charged for not approving the showing.
Once they move out, we do a move out inspection, we upload the inspection to your portal so you can see what the property looks like after they moved out. Our property manager will do a security deposit disposition and we will charge the resident any items that they should be charged for. After that, if they have any money left over, our property manager will send them their refunds for the security deposit and then the property manager will send the owner the funds that they get from the security deposit to fix any items.
If the resident does not have enough funds to cover all of the charges, then we send them to collections to cover the rest of the charges.
We send one of our team members to do the make ready bid to inform you what the cost will be to bring it back to rent ready. Obviously, if we get this property leased out while the resident is still in there, we move very quickly on the make ready to make sure that we can get the new resident in. We do not allow residents to move in until two weeks after the residents move out. That gives us enough time to move the resident out, get the make ready bid, get the bid approved and get the work done. In this way, we are not rushing, we are not putting a resident in a property that is not rent ready
This is the move out process after one of your residents has put in their notice to vacate
Most lawsuits against a landlord actually are because of security deposit disputes. In some cases the landlord can lose up to three times the security deposit.
So, how does Empire prevent the security deposit disputes? Well, the way you win most cases is by preventing the dispute itself. So, Empire does a few things. One is that we have move out procedures that the resident signs off on. These move out procedures go over things like how they are going to keep the property what is required of them and also has a list of charges for common items that they can be charged for. For example, a stove cleaned can be “X”, carpet cleaning would be “Y”. If they have other things that are not cleaned or have issues with they have an itemized list of what we charge.
We also perform a move in assessment, we typically do this about two or three days prior to their move in. This report consists of 150 to 200 photos. Photos like taking pictures of the inside of the stove, the inside of the kitchen drawers, the inside of the kitchen cabinet and so forth. We also have a video of the property.
So, between the report, the photos and the video it gives us a very good idea of what the property looked like before the resident moved in.
What we do is when the resident gives us their notification they are leaving, we actually send them an assessment report. The resident knows what the property looked like before they moved in so they can review the report, pictures and the video so they can bring the property back to the way they received it.
And that is how Empire Industries prevents security deposit disputes.
Rent Collection & Eviction
One of the things we are going to discuss is when you do collect rent you want to make sure you have standardization and you don’t deviate from that standardization. And, when you are collecting rent, what is your policy and do you enforce it?
I always think that it starts with setting the right expectations with the tenant. You need to let them know in the beginning what you expect them to do. And you want to be very upfront with your policies and procedures. When you talk to the tenants you want to make sure they realize rent is due on a certain day, rent is late on a certain day and what repercussions will happen when the rent is late. I suggest, in the beginning, you are very clear and very upfront. I suggest always putting it in writing so that there is never any he said, she said down the road where they never told me about that.
One of the things you want to do is you want to make sure that you must follow what your lease states. Follow the lease agreement and you want to make sure that the tenants are on a current lease. A lot of the time the main reason is the laws change and if you are on an outdated lease agreement that could affect you enforcing the lease. It also, I feel is a sense of commitment by the tenant that they cannot just leave whenever they want to leave. I think you want to have someone that is responsible in the property. Part of that responsibility is committing to a time frame and you can plan your cash flow and your financials based on expecting it to be in that property.
Strict policies and procedures, I cannot say enough. Make sure that if you put it in your lease agreement that you are prepared to enforce it. I see a lot of owners that put things in the lease and they may say I want a $250 late fee charge. Well, I am going to explain in a minute why that is so important. But if you put it in the lease, you better be prepared to enforce it. Whatever the lease says you have to follow. If you charge the tenant or in the lease agreement say that you are going to charge them an outrageous amount because you want to scare them and you do not enforce the lease and you do not charge them those fees you could actually be the one violating the lease agreement in the contract before the tenant. You could be setting yourself up for Fair Housing, Discrimination law violations and potential lawsuits.
Remember, a lease agreement is a bi-lateral contract. That means that you have to perform and the tenant has to perform. You cannot pick and choose when you are going to enforce the lease. So, for example, you can let the tenant slide a couple times on the late fees and then all of a sudden say now I am going to start charging the tenant. You cannot do that. The judge can look at it as you setting a precedent possibly by you letting them slide even the first time. So, again, if you don’t want to enforce it don’t put it in the lease.
One of the things that I have learned as an investor is with most tenants they have been renting their whole lives. You have been a landlord a fraction of that time. Who do you think knows how this operates better? You or them? Most of the time most tenants do realize that rent is due and it’s late normally about the third or the fourth. So it just depends if they feel that they can push you off because they have other pressing priorities. My suggestion is you need to establish with them in the beginning that you are the number one priority and you’re not going to allow yourself to be pushed off. So, make sure that you know that. You need to teach them how you’re going to do business or they or going to teach you how they do business. They know what the consequences are, they just want to see if you are going to be the type of landlord that enforces them or that does not enforce them.
If you would like to know some more information you are free to go to our web site. We have a tone of information on there. Everyday use for a lot of investors is on there, video blogs, documentation, you name it, it’s on there. We are at www.empireindustriesllc.com and if you would like you can give us a call today. I would be more than happy to help you out.
Empire recognizes that many things can happen where it concerns rent; rent can really be lost “in the mail”, employers can delay the tenant’s paycheck, there are real tenant emergencies, and more. Therefore, we make a serious effort to determine why the tenant is having a problem. If Empire receives the rent prior to issuing owner funds, Empire does not contact the owner unless the Empire management team determines there is an ongoing rent issue.
Empire can and will accept credit card payments from tenants.
Notice to Pay or Quit
If Empire does not receive rent by the due date, Empire prepares and delivers a timely notice to pay or quit, as the law allows. Empire makes every effort to mail and post notices properly should legal action be required. If Empire determines the tenant is not going to pay the rent during the notice to pay or quit period, or shortly thereafter, Empire contacts the property owner and works out a plan of action.
The court charges $101 to file an eviction. This is for a single lease holder. The court charges an extra $67 per lease holder. At this time there is no charge for occupants.
Empire charges $295 to process an eviction. This fee covers the following:
- Empire going to the courthouse and filing the eviction
- Empire going to the courthouse for the court case
- Empire going to the courthouse to file the writ
- Empire going to the property to meet the constable to obtain possession
This charge does not cover appeals or pauper’s. If Empire needs to go to the county courthouse to represent the owner in an appeal or pauper, then section 11G of the management agreement would be initiated.
Today we are going to talk about the Eviction Process here in Houston. The Tenants rent is due on the first of the month. It is late on the fourth of the month. And on the fourth of the month we send out Three Day Notice to Vacate to your tenant. They are sent out three different ways, they are sent by email, certified mail and regular mail. On the tenth of the month we will file an eviction. Between the fourth and the tenth of the month before the eviction is filed we do attempt to collect the rent from the tenant. Once the eviction is filed on the tenth, we then wait for our court date to be filed to go to court. It takes approximately twenty-one days for us to go to court to get the judgement against the tenant.
Once we go to court and get the judgement against the tenant you are notified and you are given a Writ date which will be available to go move the tenant out. Once we have the Writ date, we file the Writ which then goes to the Constables Office. And once the Writ is filed within that five days we follow up with the constable as well. So once we talk with the constable and we have an appointment to go visit with the constable to meet at the house for the Writ to move the tenant out we also hire the re-key company to re-key the property as well which is required by law.
In this time, it takes approximately twenty-one days to take this whole process through. If the Writ does not go through and the Tenant files an appeal within the Writ time, which the five days from the time that we have been given the judgement, then we have to take it to the County Court. It is then sent down to the County Court House. And I will give you more information on the Appeal in just one second.
Once we have done the Straight Eviction, meaning they have been given the notice to vacate, gone to court, we have got the judgement, it takes approximately forty-five to sixty days to do that.
Now, if the Tenant files an Appeal, the process does take longer. So the Tenant can file the Appeal within the five days after the judgement has been granted. The two Appeal types that are available since January 1st, 2016 are a Cash Bond and Paupers Appeal. A Surety Bond is no longer available as of January 1st.
On a Cash Bond the Tenant has to put up three times the amount of the rent. So, basically the Tenant will feel like they are in the right if they are able to do that. Paupers Appeal is the most popular and what happens on a Paupers Appeal is the Tenant has to put in one months’ rent into the registry. They have to do it within that five days, if they do not put in the one months’ rent within five days, on the sixth day we can go down and file the Writ of Possession. It’s very important to do that and that’s why we have the Eviction Service to take care of this because they stay on top of it and know that on that sixth day, when that money is not there, we can go to the court house and get the Writ filed immediately. So, once we do that, it then goes to the constable’s office and we are able to get the Writ of Possession then.
That is the Eviction Process here in Houston.
The Federal Fair Housing Act refers to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This Act, in addition to the Texas Fair Housing Act, protects your right to rent an apartment, buy a home, obtain a mortgage, or purchase homeowners insurance free from discrimination based on: