Can Empire help me purchase a property?
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. Empire Industries Realty Services
Can Empire help me sell my 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. Empire Industries Realty Services
How soon can Empire start managing my 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.
Should I Self-Manage?
What questions should I ask a property management company?
What is your Management Fee?
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.
What do I get for my management fees?
What type of Properties do you manage?
We manage single family homes up to four-plexes.
What types of Properties do you not manage?
We do not manage any properties that have more than four units. We do not manage commercial properties or apartment complexes. If you are looking for a property manager for apartment complexes, we recommend CKR Management. Contact Caroline Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do not manage any properties with conditions that will affect the health and safety of a tenant.
Are you licensed?
Yes, we are licensed Realtors and have a licensed broker on staff.
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).
What awards have you won?
Top Producing Agent for Century 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 2015 Business Excellence Marketing Campaign of the Year – 2015
Read our Pet Fee Guarantee (PDF)
What does a portfolio management style mean?
Marketing: How do you market my property?
Our marketing strategy is explained at Marketing Your Property
What are the tenant qualifications?
Thorough screening is crucial to successful Property Management. Empire requires all applicants to fill out a detailed application and submit it for processing/approval. A credit check is NOT enough! Our company conducts a careful review of their credit, income, and tenant history or ownership.
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.
The following criteria are used when screening a resident:
- 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
What is your rental application process?
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.
Read: How Empire Industries Selects Rental Applications
Read: Our 20 Point Verification System
What should I do if a tenant calls me?
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.
How often am I notified about my property?
Our system is set up to notify our owners on many aspects of their property. Just to name a few:
- Rent payment has been received
- Notice of Lease Expiration
- Lease Renewal Notification
- New Tenant Notification
- Owner Statement published
- Low on funds
- Move-Out Notification
Not only is our system set up for notifications, Empire truly believes in customer service. We believe customer service is keeping our owners and residents updated. Our motto is “our owners should know everything about the property, but not have to do anything”.
Realtors send weekly information on vacant/listed properties. Weekly our property manager sends out an update on all evictions.
How do I contact my Property Management team?
All questions you have regarding your property should be directed to your property management team using the owner portal conversation thread. This thread is extremely important for communication. First, it timestamps the conversation and it is saved in the software. Second, it alerts all team members. Should an owner have an issue with response time, it allows the managers of the company to review the request with certainty.
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
You just leased my property but I did not get any money?
The first month rent is the leasing charge that is split between the listing and buying broker. This is a standard commission in Houston.
Who holds the Security Deposit?
By law, the security deposit is not the owner’s money. It is a deposit on the property. Empire Industries holds the security deposit in our deposit trust account. If you are holding the security deposit on an existing property, it is highly recommended you send it to Empire once we take over management.
What is your move in process?
Read Move In Process
Why do I need to change locks each time a new resident moves in?
Maintenance & Inspections
What is the Maintenance process?
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 and 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.
Read more at: Work Order Process
How do you handle Maintenance Emergencies?
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.
How do you handle After Hour Calls?
Empire has a 24 hour answering service that will contact us after hours. Our property manager will contact the resident to determine if the issue is an emergency or just a standard maintenance request.
If the issue is an emergency, we will handle it just like we handle any maintenance emergency (see How Do You Handle Maintenance Emergencies?).
How do I know you will not spend my money on large repairs without my approval?
Empire does not spend any amount greater than $400. This is our contracted price and it is equal to the reserve amount we hold for your property. Our Vendors have been trained to contact Empire for any issue that is going to cost more than $400.
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.
Do you provide multiple bids?
We do not, but we will if requested. We have been working with many of our vendors for years and there is a trust that has been built up. We trust that our vendors are giving us competitive pricing and that they are evaluating the situation correctly. However, there are times when a second or even a third bid makes complete sense. Examples of this might be an AC system needs to be replaced or an underground pipe needs to be replaced.
I want to use my own vendors, can I?
We prefer that you use our vendors. If you want to use your own vendor we have specific guidelines.
- 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.
You can invite your vendor to join our vendor list if they are qualified and insured. However, we cannot promise that a specific vendor will be dispatched to your home for specific repairs.
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.
Do you charge a service fee on maintenance?
NO! Not only do we say it, but we show it. All invoices are uploaded to your owner portal for you to review.
Should I use a home warranty company?
Read: Should I use a home warranty company?
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.
I want to handle the maintenance myself, can I?
No. We only use our qualified vendors. We are not able to use you for liability reasons to perform work on your home unless you are licensed.
My property has a pool. How do you handle maintenance?
We will only manage the property, the owner is responsible for all pool and spa maintenance. We have seen too many times where the resident does not care for the pool and it costs the owner too much money and stress.
Empire can find a pool company for the owner, but we would rather continue to use the company that is currently maintaining your pool.
Why do I need to have my property inspected?How often are they done?
How do you handle HOA violations?
What is your lease renewal process?
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.
What is your move out process?
How do you handle security deposit disposition?
What do you do when my property is vacant?
Rent Collection & Eviction
What is your rent collection process?
What happens if a tenant does not pay rent?
Rents are due on the 1st day of the month and late if not received in the Empire office by the 3rd of the month.
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.
What does an Eviction cost?
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.
What is your eviction process?
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: