Viewing posts categorised under: Austin

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! 

7 Most Common Issues Found in Home Inspections

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Austin

The process of buying a new home can be both exciting and scary. While the initial stages of browsing through real estate listings, touring a house, and dreaming about your future can be fun, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re investing in a worthy piece of property. To ensure you aren't buying into a ‘money pit’ of problems, it’s essential to have a thorough home inspection performed as a part of the home buying process. Before signing on the dotted line or moving into your new home, here are some common issues found in inspections that might need to be addressed:

1. Bad Wiring

From dated knob-and-tube wiring to inadequate fuse boxes to open junction boxes, inspectors can uncover all sorts of wiring problems during a home inspection. While some don’t pose a serious threat, others could greatly increase the risk of an electrical fire. Because dealing with electrical issues can be dangerous, and even deadly, it’s best to hire a professional electrician who knows what they are doing! As Malco Electric points out, this is especially true in a high-tech city like Austin where new smart home technology must be fused into existing wiring. Protect your family and home from the dangers of electric problems by calling in a licensed expert.
Wiring like this could pose some serious safety concerns! Make sure the electricity in your new home is up to code before moving in.

Wiring like this could pose some serious safety concerns! Make sure the electricity in your new home is up to code before moving in.

2. Faulty Gutters

Although repairing a gutter isn’t typically an expensive fix, working gutters are essential to maintaining the value of your home. According to CenTex Gutters, a clogged, bent, or broken gutter can cause significant damage to your foundation, walls, ceiling, and landscaping. A properly installed and functioning gutter system can last for up to two decades and will protect your home from rain damage.

3. Damp Basements

Basements tend to be a hotspot for home inspection comments. Given their underground location, basements are especially prone to water, mold, and mildew. Thanks to the Texas’ limestone bedrock and high water table, most homes in Texas don’t have basements, so it’s unlikely that this will be an issue you have to contend with.

4. Roof Issues

Another expensive issue to consider is your home’s roof. Shingles tend to curl, blow away, or become brittle over time, which could expose your home to damage during a heavy rain or snow storm (unlikely in Austin, TX!). If the roof is looking a little worse for wear, it may be time to replace or rebuild missing shingles to protect the integrity of your home. When selecting a roofing contractor, Austin’s Kidd Roofing suggests requesting proof of insurance, licensing information (if applicable), and references from existing customers. Repairing a roof is an expensive investment in your home, so you want to make sure it’s done properly by trained professionals.

5. Defective HVAC System 

During Texas’ scorching summer months, it’s pretty near impossible to survive without a properly functioning HVAC system. An HVAC inspection is not only crucial to identify any necessary repairs to the existing system, but could also save your life by detecting a faulty heat exchanger. Small holes in the heat exchanger can allow carbon monoxide to escape into your home. This odorless and colorless gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning or even death. In addition to HVAC inspections and routine maintenance, the HVAC experts at Strand Brothers recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector to ensure your family’s safety.

6. Troublesome Plumbing

Home inspectors consider plumbing to be of primary concern because of the myriad issues it can cause when it goes awry. Inadequate water pressure, leaks that cause mold or drywall damage, slow or clogged drains, and broken toilets are just a few of the things your inspector will look for during his review. While some repairs may be simple enough for a DIY fix, others may necessitate calling in the pros. As Wilson Plumbing points out, trying to correct a complicated issue yourself could result in a bigger headache (and more money to fix it!) down the road.
Hiring someone with the right tools and knowledge to get the job done could prevent major plumbing headaches down the road.

Hiring someone with the right tools and knowledge to get the job done could prevent major plumbing headaches down the road.

7. Foundational Flaws

One of the biggest deal breakers that an inspector can find is a flawed foundation. Serious cracks or sinking are huge issues that may not be visible at first glance. The discovery of small cracks in the walls, sagging floors, and doors and windows that stick could all indicate foundational flaws. According to Dawson Foundation Repair, Central Texas has a high degree of soil instability, which means that foundation issues are fairly common. Solutions may be as simple as filling cracks with caulking or as expensive as putting new supports in the foundational structure, depending on the severity of the damage.As you go through the home inspection process, make sure that you take time to speak with the inspector about each of these common issues. While it is likely that at least something minor will crop up on your home’s inspection report, not all repairs are necessarily deal breakers. By enlisting the help local home repair experts, you can better assess the extent of needed repairs and determine if this particular house is the right one for you.  

What to Know About Austin Real Estate

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Austin

We are proud to say that our hometown of Austin, TX, was just named the best place to live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Apple Moving Austin has long known that Austin is a special place – from the tacos to the mild weather to the live music, there is a lot to love about living here. In recent years, it seems the world has taken notice of our beloved city, which explains why Austin suddenly seems so crowded. People who have lived here for a while can remember a time when Austin still seemed like a sleepy hippy town. Today it’s a cultural mecca with a strong economy and a booming population. If you’ve been on the market for a new house in Austin, you might be disappointed to find just how much housing prices have increased in recent years. Whether you’re moving here for the first time or looking for a new neighborhood, here are some things to know about Austin real estate:

Population Growth Is Booming

Over 150 people are moving to Austin every day, making this the fastest growing city in the U.S. That growth means a lot more people competing for real estate in the metro area. If you are discouraged by the lack of affordable homes in Austin proper, you might want to look at outlying areas like Round Rock, Kyle, Buda, and Cedar Park.

Local Real Estate Prices Are Increasing

Per Zillow, the median home price in Austin has increased from $196,000 to $318,000 over the last ten years. While the change has been rather astounding to watch, the median list price of $375,000 is still relatively low compared to prices in other major metro areas like L.A., New York, or San Francisco. Though you can’t expect to buy a place in Central Austin on the cheap, overall the cost of living in the Austin area is low, which means most people can afford to live somewhere in the greater metro area.

No Income Tax, But Property Taxes Are on the Rise

One of the many perks of living in the Lone Star State is the fact that we don’t have to pay individual state income tax. However, to offset this tax break, the state relies heavily on property taxes. Based on taxes as a percentage of home value, the state of Texas has the 6th highest property taxes in the country. This should be a consideration if you are debating between buying and renting.

More Renters than Homeowners

Around 47% of the Austin population rents while approximately 45% of residents own a home. Since just slightly more people rent than buy in Austin, experts say this indicates that the dream of home ownership is not out of reach for most of Austin’s citizens. Additionally, homeowners in Austin only spend about 13 percent of their income on mortgage payments, while nationwide, the average income spent on mortgage payments is about 4 percent higher. So if you’re a renter looking to make the leap to home ownership, Austin could be a great place to do it.

What Realtors are Expecting for 2017

While real estate appreciation is expected to slow down over the next five years it is still predicted to outpace the national average. The job sector is booming in Austin and will continue to do so this year, fueling increases in population and home values. As more skilled workers and young people flood into the city there will be increased demand for rental properties. This, in turn, will create more demand for housing, raising home values even higher.Relocating to Austin may be the best move you ever make. The city’s growing population, relatively affordable real estate, and booming job market make it one of the best places to invest in real estate. See for yourself why Austin is the greatest place to live in America.