Austin Property Management Blog

Tips for Winterizing Your Austin Rental Home

Grant Williams - Friday, February 12, 2021

Unexpected weather can happen at a moment's notice and it can have a serious impact on your Austin rental home. While typically we must prepare for things like floods in our area, it’s always a good idea to know how to act if any situation comes up. 

In light of the record-setting winter storm we are experiencing across Texas, here are some tips and best practices for Austin property owners and tenants to winterize their Austin rental home. 

The first step to take when temperatures are approaching freezing is to turn on the faucets throughout your home and let the water drip. This allows the water to flow through your pipes and helps prevent them from freezing in the cold temperatures. This is important and should be the first step you take as a property owner or a tenant in an Austin rental property. Failure to run water and let it flow can result in burst pipes and leaking water throughout the home. 

If your pipes are already frozen it can be a good idea to go ahead and shut off the water to your property to prevent further damage once things are able to thaw out. This will allow you to do a much more controlled restart to your home’s water network once the weather is back to normal.

Once you’ve addressed the water in your home, keep these other tips in mind to help you withstand the winter elements at your Austin property:

  • Close off any gaps around your doors. This can be important for those of you who experience power loss in a winter storm. You’ll want to make sure you address any insulation leaks so that any warm air remains in the home with you and doesn’t escape. They make products for this, but you can accomplish this same effect with a towel. 

  • Leave the heat on. This should go without saying, but when the temperatures drop below freezing, as long as you have power, be sure to leave your home’s heat on. This will also help prevent your home’s pipes from freezing. 

  • Remove A/C units from windows. At times like right now, you won’t be needing this so remove any A/C units from the window and pull them inside. If you have a wall unit.

  • Beware of dangerous tree branches. If it is too late and the tree branches are already heavy and weighed down by ice, be sure to stay clear of these for the time being. Once things return to normal it may time for a consultation with a tree removal service if you notice dangerous branches around your property. They can pose a hazard to people, the property, cars, etc. 

  • Be sure to inspect your fireplace before using it. Odds are you don’t use your fireplace a lot here in the Austin area. With snow covering the ground turning on the fireplace can seem like a great idea! Just be sure to check your fireplace and chimney for anything that can cause issues while operating, such as blockages.

  • Take advantage of your ceiling fan to help disperse heat. Don’t forget, heat rises! Turning on your ceiling fan can help disperse heat around the room.

These are a few quick tips to help you prepare your Austin rental home for any harsh winter weather. Preparation is important as once weather like this happens it can be tough, if not entirely impossible, for maintenance and emergency services to reach you. If you have questions about winterizing your Austin rental home or want to speak with a property manager please don’t hesitate to contact Stone Oak Property Management - 512.617.6766

8104 Daisy Cutter Xing for rent in Georgetown, Texas!

Grant Williams - Wednesday, February 10, 2021

8104 Daisy Cutter Xing, Georgetown, TX 78626

1,393 SF | 2 Bed | 2 Bath

For more information about this rental home in Georgetown, Texas visit our available rentals page.

Own a property like this one? Learn how much you could be earning in monthly rent with a free Market Analysis packet from Stone Oak!

8315 Burrell Drive Available for Rent in Austin, Texas

Grant Williams - Thursday, January 21, 2021

8315 Burrell Drive, Austin, TX 78757

2,025 SF | 4 Bed | 3 Bath

View this and more available rental properties in Austin, TX

Own a home like this one? Learn how much your property can earn in monthly rent by claiming your free rental market analysis.

How The Eviction Process Works in Austin | Travis & Williamson County JP Courts

Grant Williams - Wednesday, January 20, 2021

One of the best investments someone can make is real estate, more specifically in rental properties. As an investment vehicle, rental properties allow individuals to generate cash flow while at the same time increase their equity in an asset that should appreciate over time. However, if landlords learned anything in 2020 it is that nothing is guaranteed

Once COVID-19 came rushing onto the global stage in March of 2020 most owners would start to feel the changes that were occurring in the rental market. Once the Travis County and CDC eviction moratoriums were announced landlords essentially lost the right to remove a non-paying tenant from their home with no end in sight. These moratoriums have extended since then all the way into 2021 and are set, at this time, to expire on January 31, 2021. With the changing of administrations in the White House, the new administration has released the details of their stimulus proposal, which includes direct payments to owners for rents. While this is a step in the right direction the proposal also includes an extension of the federal eviction moratorium until September 2021

Regardless of any proposals, it’s best to prepare in the event evictions come back online soon. Stone Oak regularly partners with Texas Tenant Evictions, which is a third-party eviction service here in Austin that we outsource non-clients who contact us about an eviction. With the influx of calls they’ve received over the course of 2020 with no recourse for owners it’s not far out there to say that once the Justice of the Peace courts open back up they will be busy. Failure to act in a timely manner on any eviction you need to process could result in a long waiting period before you ever get in front of the judge. Keep in mind that the eviction moratorium specifies that evictions are allowed, just not ones that pertain to non-payment of rent due to COVID complications. 

To prepare, here is a short summary of how to get your eviction started in both Travis County and Williamson county. (Williamson County provides the same tools as below for its property owners. You can mirror the Travis County process for Williamson County using the appropriate Wilco JP court site.)

How to Evict a Tenant in Travis County

Before getting started evicting your tenant in Travis County, you’ll need to know which precinct your property is located in. Travis County is broken up into 5 precincts. To find out which precinct your property is in you can use the JP court precinct search feature provided on the county’s website.

Once you know which justice court precinct would hear your eviction case you’ll want to visit the precinct's site and review their information posted about evictions. One thing to keep in mind before ever getting started with the courts is that proper notice must have been provided to the tenant before an eviction can be filed. Typically, this will require a 3-day Notice to Vacate, but your eviction petition could require a longer notice. It’s best to check with our friends at Texas Tenant Evictions or your preferred real estate attorney to make sure you’re providing the right amount of time as required by the Texas property code. 

Once you’ve served your eviction notice and the time frame provided has expired you will want to visit the appropriate JP court site on the county’s website. From there you should find a link on the left side of the page accompanied by text that reads ‘Guide & File’ or ‘Step by Step Civil Filing’. From there you will be redirected to eFile Texas’ website where you can file your petition for eviction online for your specific JP court. 

The cost for filing a petition for eviction in Travis County is $101.00.

As you move through the eFile process, you’ll be required to upload any and all required documents. Such as the lease between you and the tenant, a ledger of payments owed, any communications between you and the tenant regarding the case, the paperwork that must be submitted alongside the petition for the county. You must always include a military affidavit with your filing to ensure that any tenant involved in the eviction is not active military. 

If you’ve submitted everything required successfully, the court will need to pay the filing fee and the court will send you a filing confirmation. You’ll want to make sure that you provided good contact information when filing as the court will typically contact you via the email provided with further information about your court date, etc. 

Once the JP court provides you with a date and time for your hearing you’ll want to be there on that date to fight your case to the judge. If all boxes were checked and no corners were cut to get the eviction process started faster you should be in the clear and receive a judgment for possession of your property as well as back-due rents if you chose to pursue this as well. 

What does an eviction judgment do for you though?

A lot of property owners and individuals think the process is finished there and the eviction is done. Realistically, all you have is a piece of paper from the courts saying you won. Now, some tenants will take this as a sign and remove themselves from the property in which case the issue would be over and you’d have your property back. But…

What if the tenant doesn’t remove themselves from your rental property after the judge sided with you in the eviction hearing?

This is where your precinct’s Constables office comes into play alongside a process called a writ of possession. This is the process of filing your judgment from the eviction hearing with the Constable’s office. 

The cost to file a Writ of Possession in Travis County is $160.00.

Once you’ve filed the Writ of Possession with the appropriate constable (It’ll be the same precinct as your JP court) you’ll hear from the Constable in a few days to set up a time and date to show up at the property and physically remove the tenant and any items in the home. 

Time is of the essence during this process as the constable will allocate you only a couple of hours of time that he is on-site to monitor the removal of items from the home. You’ll need to prepare for the writ of possession beforehand. You’ll definitely need a locksmith and moving crew that show up with you the morning of. The locksmith will work to change the locks ensuring you possess the keys that open the doors to the home. The moving crew will be required to remove all possessions from the home, as required by the constable. Every single item that belongs to the tenant(s) who was evicted needs to be removed from the property to satisfy the deputy on site. This to avoid tenants coming back and stating that their property was stolen and locked away from them. 

A tip for owners who are facing a writ of possession process - don’t skimp on the moving crew. You never really know what you are walking into when doing a writ of possession and if you don’t have enough manpower to remove the contents of the home in a timely manner the constable will begin to charge you an hourly rate for being on-site. Having a crew on site to handle the full removal of items in as little time as possible is ideal. 

The contents of the home must sit outside on the curb of the property for at least 24 hours before you, the owner, can schedule a junk removal service to come to haul the items from the property. 

At this point you’ve received a judgment, have gone through the writ of possession, the locks have been changed and the tenant and their personal belongings have been removed from the property. Congratulations, you now have possession of your rental property again! While it’s easy to sum the process up in a few hundred words, we expect this process to be extremely bogged down once the courts are back in a place where they are processing all evictions so please adjust time expectations accordingly - this entire eviction moratorium situation is unprecedented. 

Depending on your circumstances and the circumstances of the tenant in your rental property, 2020 may very well have been a rough year for you as a rental homeowner. Having received calls from dozens if not hundreds of self-managing owners who have tenants who are taking advantage of COVID eviction moratoriums we can only hope that these landlords are able to find relief soon. Having an experienced Austin property manager on your side can make all the difference. 

>>>> Learn more about Stone Oak’s property management services for Travis and Williamson County rental homes

This blog is an informational article and does not constitute as legal advice. Please consult an attorney if you need clarification on any of the legal processes described above.

Austin, Texas Leasing Market Update | January 2021

Jason Huval - Friday, January 15, 2021

We are off to a running start for 2021. The 2020 year was full of surprises and pitfalls, but as a company we fared better than most. Our rent collections stayed consistent and we were able to continue to practice property preservation with a pandemic in full swing. Our staff at Stone Oak is dedicated to serving you and your Austin property management needs in 2021 with the same integrity and passion for excellence that you expect from us. 

On January 14, 2021, President-elect Biden announced his stimulus proposal. In this plan, he proposes some payments to landlords, forbearance options and more money directly to taxpayers that qualify. The proposal suggests the payments for rents included in the proposal are to be made directly to landlords. This would be a move in the right direction, however, he is also proposing to extend the eviction moratorium until September 2021. The issues are complex and create more challenges, however, we are doing our best to stay ahead of them and continue to remain effective in rent collections. Keep in mind, this is simply a proposal and will likely be further modified, but we are aware that it could be coming down the pipe and wanted to make you aware that it will be coming soon.  

We have maintained open communication with all tenants that fall behind in their rent payments and have been successful in executing payment plans and voluntary move-outs where possible with tenants that are cooperative and that can no longer afford rents. We will continue this effort in 2021 and make changes to our approach as more options become available. 

If you have any questions about the Austin market please don't hesitate to contact our team of Austin property managers at Stone Oak!

Available Austin rental homes >>>

More information about our property management services >>>

2316 Hat Bender Loop Available for Lease in Round Rock, Texas!

Grant Williams - Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2316 Hat Bender Loop, Round Rock, TX 78664

1,867 SF | 3 Bed | 2 Bath

View this property and more available rental homes across Austin, Texas!

Considering renting turning your property into a rental home? Learn how much you can earn in rent every month with a free market analysis for your property from Stone Oak Property Management!

1009 Alden Court for Lease in Austin's 78758 Zip Code!

Grant Williams - Monday, January 11, 2021

1009 Alden Court, Austin, TX 78758

View this and more available Austin rental homes!

Have a property just like this one? Learn about Stone Oak's Austin property management services.

21402 Greylag Drive for Rent in Pflugerville, Texas!

Grant Williams - Thursday, January 7, 2021

21402 Greylag Drive, Pflugerville, TX 78660

For more information about this property visit our Austin, Texas rental properties page. 

Considering renting your property that's similar to this one? Claim your free rental market analysis packet from Stone Oak!

Should I Get a Home Warranty for My Austin Rental Property?

Grant Williams - Monday, January 4, 2021

Having been in property management for over 10 years, Stone Oak Property Management has worked with our fair share of vendors in different industries. One industry our owners are always checking to make sure we work with are home warranty companies. As a leading Austin property management company, Stone Oak advises our current and potential clientele to leave the home warranty policy behind. While a home warranty policy can seem attractive on paper, typically they just add another layer of work on top of any issues with your rental property. 

Typically a Home Warranty is “gifted” to our property owners during the purchase of a rental property to enhance the perceived value of the property “deal“. Other times they are purchased by the home buyer/owner that may be afraid of an avalanche of maintenance costs. In both cases, the perception of value is far greater than what will typically ever be realized.  Not only will the value prove to be less than was hoped for, the aftermath of trying to utilize it can cost you in a number of untold ways.

In every case, the first action the Home Warranty company will do, when contacted by your property management company, is seek to deny your claim.  If they cannot disallow the claim through the fine details of the contract, they will arrange for a vendor to go to diagnose the issue, and further try to disallow the claim using terms like negligence, life expectancy, improper maintenance, etc.  Regardless of what they determine, you will be charged a fee for their trip.  Typically that is around 75 dollars, whether they do anything or not.

The two major items that they can on occasion help offset the replacement costs on are the water heater and HVAC system.  Assuming you had a property inspection at the time of purchase, you likely know approximately how old your water heater is, and if it is approaching 8 plus years in age this could become a consideration, though a typical complete replacement of a standard residential water heater is around 1200 dollars - or roughly two years premiums for Home Warranty coverage.  So let's say you keep the money in your reserves that you would have paid the Home Warranty Company instead, if the water heater lasts just three more years, you are way ahead financially.

If the diagnosis requires a repair or replacement of a water heater they usually find a way to stick the homeowner with the bulk of the cost.  They always say the unit must be brought up to code and will give a price higher than our cost of replacing the unit.  The warranty will not replace the unit unless the additional money is spent to bring it up to code, and they will not send other vendors to bid the job nor will they allow ours to do so.  This is just one example of how they increase your cost and provide the bare minimum. 

So that leaves us with the Air Conditioner.  This is where they scare you and sell you., and this is the area that will cause you the greatest discontent, extreme upset, and disloyalty from your residents.

In the hot summers of Austin, every HVAC breakdown is critical, and rapid response is crucial in maintaining strong resident appreciation and ultimately retention.  Home Warranty companies DO NOT accept after-hours calls, and the vendors do not do after-hours work even if the call was received during business hours.  It is not uncommon to get a call from a resident on a Friday afternoon that cannot even be assigned a vendor until Monday morning when dealing with home warranty companies.  When a claim is made it is put in the queue of vendors that often means they will not get an actual visit to the property for at least 3-5 days.  So in this scenario, we could have a resident go well over a week with no air conditioning in order to access home warranty benefits.  Sometimes if it is something simple they are able to do a quick repair and the home warranty serves its purpose, but most of the time what we see is that the vendor has to report back with a diagnosis and seek approval from the home warranty company.   This can lengthen the process and then if the home warranty approves the work they have to order parts and/or schedule a follow-up visit that further delays the repair all the while the tenant is without AC.

In addition to that delay, which is not the exception, rather the norm, there are other problems that come from warranty contractors.  The people that are sent to do the work are not vetted by us and we have no control over the customer experience with your resident. They are paid flat, predetermined amounts for work that is usually under market rates thus they may cut corners or do otherwise shoddy work. 

Financially, we have to consider the reality of what they are selling as well.  These contracts typically range from $450-$850 depending on the company, coverage, etc.  The reality is that they would go out of business pretty quickly if they were paying for $1200 water heaters or $5000 HVAC replacements on a regular basis. 

These are only a few points that come from our experience with dozens of home warranties, of which most are overall terrible while others are ok to work with even though we end up with similar results.  Some other points that contribute to our assessment without getting into the details are long delays in getting vendors to the property including some that go on for weeks, vendors failing to show up or respond, long wait times to get someone on the phone to file or follow up on claims, and no urgency when an actual emergency repair is required to protect your asset. 

In summary, understand what you may be purchasing.  In our opinion, it all but guarantees your residents dissatisfaction when living in your Austin rental home and having maintenance issues. Tenants will definitely remember these things when it is time to renew and it's in our client's best interest to keep rent-paying tenants in their properties!

Have questions about your rental property and the different protections you can offer it? Contact our team of Austin property managers today to learn more about our company & services!

103 Insider Loop Available for Lease in Elgin, Texas!

Grant Williams - Tuesday, December 15, 2020

103 Insider Loop, Elgin, TX 78621

1,539 SF | 3 Bed | 2 Bath

Visit our 'Rentals' page to learn more and view our available Austin rental homes.

Showing 11- 20 of 226

Contact Us

Stone Oak Property Management
13497 N Highway 183, Ste. 700
Austin, TX 78750

Phone: 512.617.6766
New Accounts: 512.615.7737
Toll Free: 888.892.7940
Fax: 512.994.2300

Copyright © 2021 Stone Oak Property Management. All Rights Reserved.

Stone Oak Management is committed to ensuring that its website is accessible to people with disabilities. All the pages on our website will meet W3C WAI's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level A conformance. Any issues should be reported to Website Accessibility Policy