Austin Property Management Blog
Unlike most states, Texas doesn’t have laws specifying the amount of deposit you can charge new tenants but we do have laws protecting this money for both the landlord and the tenant. If you
Limits on Security Deposits
Owning a rental home is no small feat and you should be proud. However, not everyone considers your rental home the precious asset that it is to you. The good news is that Texas is one of the most landlord friendly states in the Union. Currently, there is no limit on what a landlord can charge for a security deposit. With that said, it’s popular to charge up to one or one and a half month’s rent. Going above this can hurt your property when trying to find excellent tenants. You may be the best landlord in the Austin metro area but if you charge too much for entry into your property then finding quality tenants on time will be harder. Keep in mind there is no shortage of rental options in a city like Austin.
Returning the Security Deposit
The deadline to return a security deposit to your tenant upon move-out is 30 days. There are a few stipulations that allow you to keep the security deposit regardless of this. They are as follows:
- If your lease requires a 30-day notice for move-out and the tenant doesn’t abide by this then you are eligible to keep this deposit in full.
- Damages to the property grant you the right to apply that deposit to repairs. It’s required for the landlord to have these charges on record and to itemize them for the tenant(s) so that they know exactly why they aren’t receiving their deposit back. If the tenant still owes rent at the end of their lease term it is not required to provide this list as long as there is no discrepancy regarding the amount of rent owed.
Wrongful Withholding of the Tenant’s Deposit
If you, as an Austin landlord, chose to wrongfully withhold your tenant’s security deposit from your tenant’s you can face some hefty fines. You can be found responsible to owe your previous tenant three times (3x) the amount of the deposit plus attorney’s fees racked up by the tenant in trying to pursue money that is rightfully theirs. We at Stone Oak Property Management advise against being a slumlord and playing with other’s money. Once you are on the receiving end of a non-paying tenant or something along those lines you’ll appreciate those who keep their end of the bargain and you’ll attract better tenants as a better landlord!
Security Deposits and the Sale of Your Property
If you own a rental that is occupied and you are in the process of selling the property you are required and responsible for transferring the deposit to the new owner. You are held liable for these deposits until the new owner has provided a written statement to the tenants stating they are now in possession of the deposit and funds. Once this notice is received you are no longer liable for these amounts!
Are you curious about the actual Texas property code and what it states regarding security deposits? You can read the Texas property code about security deposits here. If you have any questions about security deposits pertaining to your Austin rental home then don’t hesitate to contact our experienced Austin property management team!
Owning a rental property has always offered great benefits to the owner. Almost all of their expenses can be deducted come tax season due to owning properties being treated similar to owning a business.
Tax season is approaching and many of you may be preparing close out your fiscal year with as many helpful deductions as possible. Here are a few tax deductions to keep in mind for your Austin, Texas rental home in 2018.
You Can Write Off Interest
Most property owners already know that they are able to write off the interest they pay on their mortgage for their investment property. This is typically the largest write-off of the year for any owner, however, there are several other types of interest one can write off for their property. Be sure to write off any interest paid on credit cards, lines for credit, and any other loan used to acquire, maintain, or improve your Austin rental.
Don’t Forget About Depreciation
In a city like Austin, you might not expect to be able to write of depreciation for your property. After all, hasn’t most of Austin real estate experienced huge appreciation the past several years? According to the IRS, a building’s “useful life” is 27.5 years. Every year at tax time this allows you to write off 1/27th of that property. However, in order to do so you must separate the value of the property from the value of the land. An appraisal can give you this information and you can also check your tax assessor’s database.
You’ve Been All Over the Place
Any and all travel associated with your Austin rental property can be written off at tax time. Travelling to Home Depot to get new appliances for the home? Be sure to track your mileage and expenses associated with that trip. It is even possible to write of the travel spent looking for properties here in Austin, Texas.
Your Employees & Contractors
Every time you pay someone to perform services related to your Austin rental home, you can deduct their wages/fees/expenses as a business expense for you. Be sure to keep your receipts and all records of such. Maybe the neighbor kid mows the lawn for you every Thursday so be sure to write off that $40!
Marketing Your Property
Your Austin rental property won’t do to well if there is no one renting it from you. Marketing runs any business and yours is no different. Maybe you paid for this brilliant website to feature your property, you’ve purchased signs to market your listing, or any other type of outreach for your rental home. Just keep in mind that any expense that occurs when doing so can be written off at tax time. Be sure to keep track of any and all ads you pay for.
Want to learn all of the new tax laws and how they impact your Austin rental property? You can read the full article here. If you struggle with tracking expenses and keeping everything organizes for tax season is may be time to hire an Austin property manager. As an Austin property management company, Stone Oak also assists landlords with protesting their property taxes every year. If you’re a landlord in Greater Austin and would like more information, please contact us.
If you own rental properties in Austin, Texas, or any other major rental city, there is a good chance you outsource your day-to-day management for your property(s). A property management company will offer resources for your property that you, as the owner, just can’t provide. They have systems in place to lease your property quickly and then insure tenant satisfaction throughout the duration of their lease. Your property management company is a third party dedicated to relieving you from the stress of owning rental properties.
When the headaches begin returning to you, you’ve got problems. The instant you even begin to have to worry about your property you’re on the track to run into some problems. With nothing short of a plethora of management companies to choose from, spending time working with a property manager who isn’t getting the job done can be a costly mistake. Here are 5 reasons you may fire your current property manager for greener pastures.
Your Property Manager is Unresponsive
Imagine you own a business and are tasked with hiring a team of employees to properly run your business. You would most definitely target employees you felt you could trust and would be responsive to you as their boss. The same goes for hiring a property management company. Never forget, any property management company you choose to manage your rental properties works for you, not the other way around. Like any employee, your property manager you hire should be completely responsive to you as the owner of those properties. Having a hard time getting a hold of your property manager? Time to start shopping around for a new manager!
Failing to Adapt with the Industry
It’s 2018 and technology has taken us a lot farther then we could ever expect. We order rides with the click of a button, cars drive themselves, and your property manager has a lot more tech available to them then their used to be. Take a moment and think about what your property manager is offering both you and your tenants. Can your tenants pay rent online? Are they? Can you login in and check owner statements every month? Does the company provide property tax protests come tax time?
How do they connect with tenants and lease your properties? Do they actively market your properties or spray and pray with the MLS? A great property management company, like Stone Oak Management, has an in-house marketing team that is a Google Partner and hold certifications with the latest digital marketing suites and practices. Is your property manager adapting with the industry or are they stagnate?
They Keep Renting to Bad Tenants
There are a bunch of factors that play into whether your rental property is successful or not. All of the different parties play their part in receiving that rental check every month. The most important part in all of this is the tenants. When your property has great tenants it’s hard for things to be better. The money shows up on time every month and all parties are happy. If your tenants are bad apples then things are different. You or your manager could be left running down your rental payments, disputing damages to the property, etc. It’s your property manager’s job to get your property leased, but not just to anyone. If you’re property manager seems to place only bad tenants it’s time to fire them. Consider asking potential managers what percentage of their tenants they’ve had to evict. This answer should be low and if it’s high the alarm bells should be going off.
Your Tenants are Dissatisfied
Earlier we stated that your tenants were a huge factor that played into the success of your property. Sure, we want to avoid the bad ones, but just getting great tenants doesn’t guarantee a smooth rental property. Renters are needy, and as the party responsible for your monetary gain, it’s wise to keep them happy. If your property manager isn’t focused on your tenants satisfaction as much as they are focused on yours then the priorities of your property management company are wrong. Tenants are the lifeblood of your property and keeping them happy and content makes for a better time. If the company you’ve chosen to manage your rental home is slow on maintenance and repairs and keeping your tenant happy then finding a new property manager is advisable.
Nickel & Diming
No one likes, so why do companies do it? We get it, some people are really great at finding ways to monetize things. However, being greedy is unattractive, especially when it means charging money that should rightfully go to the landlord. For example, a big national property management company, who shall remain unnamed, seem to offer a great ‘flat-rate’ that can’t be beat. However, they probably aren’t telling you they are charging your tenants a percentage of their monthly rent on top of their normal payment for ‘convenience’. Shouldn’t the owner of the property be receiving that cash? What about charging for every little thing they do? Some managers charge outrageous fees for things such as inspecting the property. Something that should come with the service you’d think. Want to work with an honest property manager? The companies who are setup to take a percentage of your rent usually have a better idea of how their business works and what it takes to run them smoothly. Don’t be fooled by the low monthly fee, they are up-charging elsewhere.
Thinking of making the switch in managers? Start with Google and Yelp. Look at all the companies and what they have to offer. Being #1 in the search results for these companies doesn’t mean they are the best option. Be sure to do your due diligence and vet all potential management companies. Don’t partner with the biggest, partner with the best!