Did you sign a lease for your apartment, condo, or house? While you may have the best of intentions for staying put for the full term, there are times when you may need or want to move before the lease expires. For example, a sudden job transfer, a change in marital status, or a family [...]

TX Leasing Laws | How to Break a Lease in Texas and What Happens

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Austin

Did you sign a lease for your apartment, condo, or house? While you may have the best of intentions for staying put for the full term, there are times when you may need or want to move before the lease expires. For example, a sudden job transfer, a change in marital status, or a family emergency could force you to change your living arrangements. Of, if you have a disagreement with hostile neighbors or become the victim of neighborhood crime, you may just want to leave the whole situation behind. Before you call the movers, here's what you need to know about breaking a lease in Texas.

What Happens When You Break the Lease

A lease is a legally enforceable contract between a tenant and a property owner. The parties agree to certain conditions that apply for a specified time. Most commonly this means that you, as the tenant, pay rent at an agreed rate each month for the privilege of occupying the property. Your landlord agrees to maintain the property as suitable housing for you to enjoy.In Texas, most residential leases last 12 months. If you decide to terminate early without just cause, you must still hold up your end for the remaining term. For example, move six months before the lease ends, and your landlord could collect the remaining six months you owe even though you no longer occupy the location.However, the contract doesn't necessarily mean you're always stuck paying the rent. Texas law also requires landlords to make every effort to fill the vacancy as soon as possible. Once the unit becomes occupied again, previous tenants do not pay any remaining balance. Landlords must make every effort to fill the vacancy, but they are not required to rent to the first applicant. If it is difficult to find a qualified tenant, you could end up stuck with the bill.

How to Get Out of a Lease in Texas Legally

In addition to waiting for the scheduled expiration, there are four instances when you may legally break the agreement early without consequences:
  • Illegal Harassment from the Landlord – For example, if the owner shuts off utilities or changes the locks.
  • Unsafe Living Conditions – An unresolved problem with the building poses a health hazard.
  • Victim of Domestic Abuse – Show evidence of a court-mandated restraining order to immediately break a lease.
  • Active Military Service – Your lease ends 30 days after you notify your landlord in writing of your military assignment.
You might also break a lease if the landlord violates the terms of the agreement. This strategy is risky and may have other consequences. You must argue your case in court which costs time and money. Even if you win, other potential landlords may be reluctant to rent to you in the future.The easiest way to end a lease is to let the contract expire at the agreed upon time. Most lease agreements have provisions for what happens when a lease expires. Sometimes the agreement renews automatically, but the parties typically take the opportunity to renegotiate the arrangement. At the end of a lease, you can move out, renegotiate the lease terms, or fall back on a month-to-month rental plan. Your landlord may also decide not to renew the lease or notify you of an increase in the rent as a condition resigning the lease.

Typical Apartment Lease Breaking Fees and Penalties

If you break your lease, you may be expected to pay the following:
  • Future rents through the end of the least term
  • Any back rent you may owe
  • Marketing expenses to find a new tenant
  • Cost of qualifying new tenants
Breaking a lease may get expensive, but the State of Texas does not allow landlords to impose a specific penalty. Your only liability is the landlord's expenses. If the landlord rents the unit again, you may not have to pay much at all in rent, but you are still required to pay all unexpected costs associated with the transition. Texas law allows landlords to charge tenants for costs related to filling a vacancy left when a tenant terminates a lease without just cause. These expenses cover marketing and qualifying new tenants. Total fees vary depending on the situation, and most lease contracts have clauses designed to clarify such details.As a rule, the Texas Apartment Association typically recommends landlords charge 85% of a month's rent to cover early lease termination expenses. In extreme circumstances, a landlord may sue a former delinquent tenant for past rent. Most of these cases are heard in small claims court with the maximum claim of $10,000.Most experts agree that proactively resolving a situation with your landlord is ideal when possible. If you want or need to break your lease early, first contact your landlord and discuss the situation. Recruit their help to keep your costs to a minimum. Landlords are often eager to avoid problems and may encourage you to help recruit a new tenant. In ideal circumstances, you can gracefully exit the lease without incurring unnecessary costs at all. If you need help understanding a lease contract, meet with a qualified attorney. Seek professional guidance before attempting to settle a suit or make an appearance in court.  

7 Moving Tips for Relocating to an Apartment in Austin TX

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Austin

Home to more than 2 million people, Austin is one of the country's fastest-growing metropolitan areas. Of course, there's a good reason for this trend. Austin has a thriving economy, low cost of living, and plenty of entertainment. It was even ranked as the second-safest city in the United States by the FBI. If you're planning to move to an apartment in Austin, consider the following tips for a stress-free and seamless relocation.

1. Check the Apartment's Moving Rules

Before setting a specific moving date, check with the apartment's front office to inquire about any moving rules. For instance, some buildings may mandate tenants to finish moving within two or three hours, or they may require tenants to use a secondary elevator.

2. Read the Lease Agreement

You should also read the lease agreement for your new apartment, paying close attention to clauses for decorating, painting, and renovations. The landlord may allow you to hang small photos and other decorative accessories on the wall, but you might get hit with a fine for painting. The only way you'll know what's allowed and what's not is by reading the lease agreement. Now’s also the time to figure out turning on or transferring your Austin utilities.

3. Rent a Hand Truck

If there's one tool you don't want to forget on your moving day, it's a hand truck. Also known a dolly, it's an invaluable tool for moving boxes, appliances, and furniture. If you don't own a hand truck, contact your moving company to see if they offer rentals.

4. Label Boxes

Don't forget to label your boxes before moving; otherwise, they'll probably end up in the wrong rooms. A simple solution is to color coordinate your boxes according to the room. You can place a red sticker on boxes for the living room, for example, and a blue label on boxes for the kitchen.Apartment Therapy offers some helpful tips on how to label moving boxes. In addition to color coordinating, it also recommends labeling boxes according to priority, such as low, medium or high priority. This trick helps you know what to unpack first.

5. Save Hardware

When you're busy disassembling furniture and taking down wall decorations, you may forget to take the hardware. Without the nuts and bolts, however, you won't be able to put these items back together. So, after dissembling a piece, place the hardware in a sealed bag and attach the furniture so it won’t get lost.

6. Take Pictures

It's a good idea to take photos of your new apartment immediately before moving in. If the landlord claims you caused damage, a picture can show your innocence. Just remember to store these photos in a safe location.

7. Get Measurements

Finally, get measurements of your new apartment before moving. If a dresser or other piece of furniture is too wide to fit through the door, you may have to take the door off its hinges. It’s also a good idea to plan out where everything will go before the move. Check out our blog post on the best room design apps to help you with furniture placement and floorplans.Moving doesn't have to cause severe stress and anxiety. Following these tips will help you move into your new Austin apartment without pulling your hair out. For more hands-on help, call our Austin TX apartment movers. Our team is ready to assist with your relocation and make your apartment move easy! 

A Guide to Setting Up Utilities in Newport News, VA

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Newport News Utilities

Planning move to lovely Newport News, Virginia? The area you've chosen to call home is steeped in history, rich in natural beauty, and full of things to do. Before you can settle in and enjoy your new hometown, you'll need to take care of the basics, like setting up utilities for your new home. Here's a guide to make your transition go more smoothly:

Electricity – Dominion Virginia Power

Since 1909, Dominion Virginia Power (previously Virginia Railway and Power Company) has supplied electricity to homes and businesses across Virginia. Today, as the leading electric service provider in Virginia, Dominion Virginia Power delivers power to more than 2.5 million customers in North Carolina and Virginia via 63,600 miles of electrical lines.To start or transfer your service with Dominion Virginia Power, call 866-366-4357, or click here to manage your service. Don’t forget to switch off electricity at your current residence on the day after your move, and be sure electric service at your new home is turned on in advance of moving day.

Water - Newport News Waterworks

Newport News Waterworks supplies water to more than 400,000 people in the Hampton Roads area. If your new home connects to the public water system, you can activate service by calling the Waterworks Department at 757-926-1000.If your new property relies on a private well, be sure to have the water tested before moving in. Ask the current residents or the home inspector whether the water is potable, or if you'll need to purchase drinking water while living there.

Gas Service – Virginia Natural Gas

Since 1850, Virginia Natural Gas has provided reliable gas service to residential and commercial customers across the state. Now a part of the Southern Company Gas family, Virginia Natural Gas provides service to almost 300,000 customers in the Old Dominion state, including many households in Newport News.To start or transfer your gas service, complete a service request form here or call 866-229-3578 to speak with a representative. If your new home is already equipped with a natural gas meter, all you will need to do is create a new account. Virginia Natural Gas can also assist with converting your home to natural gas or adding a new appliance to an existing gas line. Compared to other utilities, gas service can take additional time to set up and activate. So, be sure that you contact Virginia Natural Gas well in advance of your move. You'll want everything set up and ready to roll by the time the colder weather rolls around.

Trash Pickup and Recycling – City of Newport News

Solid waste pick-up is a category that is often overlooked by new homeowners and renters, especially if you've always relied on the local transfer station to dispose of your household trash. The City of Newport News offers weekly household trash and recycling pick-up, as well as biweekly bulk and brush debris collection services. To see the pick-up days for your street, check out the city’s pick-up schedule. Newport News includes a solid waste fee with your monthly water bill based on the number and type of garbage containers assigned to your address. To contact the Solid Waste Department, call 757-933-2311.

Cable and Internet Providers

For cable and internet service, there are several options available, depending on your needs. For cable, internet, or landline phone service, try Cox Communications (757-222-1111). Cox offers a 30-day satisfaction or money-back guarantee and bundled service packages to make managing your services easier.Another option is FIOS by Verizon (855-836-6071). FIOS offers some great package deals, so you won't have the hassle of juggling several monthly bills.Finally, for a satellite-dish option, DirecTV (866-229-3578) offers service in Newport News as well. Their monthly payment plan is affordable, but be aware that satellite dishes are prone to malfunctions during inclement weather.

Additional Information

If you need additional information, or you'd just like a virtual tour of your future stomping grounds, visit the Newport News official webpage. Being well-prepared for the big move will ensure a stress-free — and perhaps even enjoyable — transition. Again, don't forget to cancel your current utility services before leaving your old home; you don't want to be stuck with double payments.To schedule Newport News moving services, call us today. Apple Moving offers local and long distance moving to and from the Hampton Roads area. Request a free moving estimate here

Best Newport News Neighborhoods for Families

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Newport News

Just east of the James River at the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula, sits the city of Newport News, VA. With a population of just over 180,000, Newport News is the 5th largest municipality in Virginia and the 4th largest in the greater Hampton Roads metro area. Many Newport News residents work in shipbuilding and shipping, industries that have long thrived here given the city’s coastal geography. Other popular industries include military, as Newport News is home to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, plus aerospace, tourism, and manufacturing. Excellent job prospects, a booming local economy, and a lower than average cost of living make this an attractive place for families to settle down. If you’re considering a move to Newport News, check out some of the best neighborhoods for families:

Hilton Village

Named one of America’s Great Neighborhoods by the American Planning Association, the picturesque community of Hilton Village was originally built to house workers from Newport News Shipbuilding during World War I. Urban planner Henry Hubbard designed the neighborhood as an English-style village, with fourteen home patterns dominated by Colonial Revival and Jacobethan architectural styles. Many of the original 473 houses completed shortly after the war ended still stand along the area’s quiet, tree-lined streets. Though each house cost just over $3,000 to build a century ago, these charming 3- and 4- bedroom homes now fetch between $150K - $300K. In addition to well-maintained historical homes, neighborhood residents enjoy walking to the shops and restaurants along Warwick Boulevard, home of the Hilton Village Shopping District. Nearby Hilton Elementary, a Blue Ribbon School, has an excellent academic reputation and boasts a communication arts magnet program that attracts many families. For young families, this quaint village offers the perfect place to call home.

Kiln Creek

With "A Great Place To Be" as its motto, this village of over 2,000 homes spread across 31 neighborhoods offers something for every family. Even though home prices have risen over the past few years, it's still easy to find a place to live between $150K-$330K. In 2015, the Southern Virginia chapter of the Community Associations Institute recognized the Kiln Creek Home Owners Association as the best overall community association of the year, and you'll find the beauty of the village is worthy of this distinction. Kiln Creek has an accredited elementary school with a caring, supportive faculty and staff. Residents enjoy spending time hitting the links at the Kiln Creek Golf Club, but the real gem of the neighborhood is the local bowling alley, which provides family-friendly fun year-round.

Hidenwood

Hidenwood was originally developed as a charming residential neighborhood in the 1950s by the Hiden family, who saw an opportunity on the land known in colonial times as "Nutmeg Quarter." The area’s name honors Philip Wallace Hiden, who was a mayor of Newport News, and his wife Martha, who founded the city library's "Virginiana" Collection. Today, homes here remain true to the Hidenwood heritage, with details like quaint shutters and brick exteriors. Many homes in Hidenwood are new construction, and it's not uncommon for them to fetch prices upwards of $400K, although most are under $350K. Hidenwood Elementary School is a draw for many families; the school's library has an extensive collection of picture books that focus on history and science. Churches in Hidenwood often act as a community center, and scores of residents turn out to make birdfeeders or attend a nondenominational art camp with their kids. One thing's for sure, Hidenwood offers the variety and scenery many young families seek.

Port Warwick

Port Warwick is one of the newest neighborhoods in Newport News and combines the look and feel of a historical old town center with fresh, modern construction. Over 1,500 people love living in Port Warwick. Homes are competitively priced; most are between $160K-$280K. Neighborhood planners named the streets after authors: Herman Melville Avenue and Nat Turner Boulevard, just to name a few. The heart of Port Warwick, Styron Square, takes its name from author William Styron. Hair salons, chic restaurants, and upscale residences all surround the square, making this neighborhood a destination. This pedestrian-friendly area is a big draw for many of the young families that settle here looking for stroller paths and time with their kids.

North End

The small, single-family homes in North End are just one of the reasons why families flock to this lovely Newport News neighborhood. This residential area grew alongside the local shipbuilding industry to house workers employed at Newport News Shipbuilding. For those who are history buffs, North End has great examples of the Victorian and Bungalow architectural styles. Homes are typically listed between $120K-$230K, making it easy to find a first home or new place at a reasonable price.

Newport News Movers

Newport News is a great place to call home. If you are planning an upcoming move to or from the area, we’d love to assist. Whether you’re moving here as part of a military relocation or just looking for a new neighborhood, the team at Apple Moving Newport News is here to make your move easier. We are a full-service mover with decades of experience in the moving industry. In addition to local residential and commercial moving services, we also handle specialty moves, long distance moves, military relocations, and offer affordable storage solutions. Whatever your moving and storage needs, we’re here to make your time of transition go smoothly!