property management, real estate

You Decide:


Give me your input:  A tenant moves into a house with the refrigerator on the left supplied by the owner.  Stainless steel, ice maker and water in door, side by side, full size.  The refrigerator dies and needs to be replaced.  The owner provides the one on the right – black, no ice maker or water, top freezer and much smaller.

Debate: Does the tenant have an argument that they rented the house with the frig on the left and they deserve to have a similar replacement?  Does the owner have the right to supply any refrigerator that they want?

Comments please.

I have run into this twice this year and I’m curious to other’s opinions.

property management, real estate

Pay rent online

Landlord forcing tenants to pay rent online

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some people in Southeast Austin say their landlords are making it a lot harder to drop off the rent check. In fact, you cannot drop off anything at all. It is all supposed to be online, possibly putting some students and low income tenants living there in a difficult position.

Amanda Phillips has lived at The Ion at East End Apartments for a little more than a year. The best way for her to pay her rent is in person with cash or a personal check, and not online. “I can’t get Internet in my room right now so if I was to do this I’d have to go to the library or something and pay the extra money. If rent’s $400, I’m paying $425.”

Beginning Aug. 1, people living at The Ion at East End Apartments, The Edge at East End and the Zone at East End will have no choice but to pay their rent online using either a credit or debit card. The complexes are filled with mostly students and low income families, meaning not everyone has a credit card or checking account.

The new policy does not allow you to use a personal check, cashier’s check or money order; all very common ways residents pay their rent now.

“I’ll usually pay my rent through the office,” said Samantha Ruiz. “I’ll go to the office and just pay cash because it’s easier.”

Flyers telling tenants about the new rule were placed on peoples doors.

“It’s so limiting,” Ruiz says, “so many people won’t be happy.”

And because of it, Ruiz and Phillips say they may have to find a new place to live.

At the request of the local managers, KXAN reached out to Asset Campus Housing, based in Houston who told us they don’t know where the flyer came from. The company’s vice president says ACH owned properties accept all forms of payment except cash. The company is trying to determine the source of misinformation printed on the flyers.

The tenant’s council in Austin says more and more apartments require tenants to pay online, but you have rights. If this change happens to you and you are in the middle of a lease, the complex cannot force you to change unless you sign a new lease.

real estate

Phony Landlord Scams

Phony Landlord Scams Deposit Money From Two Victims

By: Mike McKnight – Email

The excitement of finding a new place to live turns to anger and tears for three renters. A craiglist ad brought a couple to a rental house in Council Bluffs where a man claiming to be the landlord showed them around.

"He said he owned this house," said Julia Blanchard, victim. "It was haunted and built back in 1972. And he grew up in it."

After leaving with their $900 deposit, the women realized his two receipts had different last names

The excitement of finding a new place to live turns to anger and tears for three renters. A craiglist ad brought a couple to a rental house in Council Bluffs where a man claiming to be the landlord showed them around.

“He said he owned this house,” said Julia Blanchard, victim. “It was haunted and built back in 1972. And he grew up in it.”

After leaving with their $900 deposit, the women realized his two receipts had different last names

“I said I knew right there we were scammed,” said Kim Ruckman, victim.

The man named Shawn with two last names gave two receipts to the couple claiming to be the landlord. But the actual landlord’s name is Mike Limmer.

The women claim to have a Facebook photo of the phony landlord and have since showed it to Limmer.

“I don’t know this fool and have never run across either one of these signatures before,” said Limmer.

Zach Ainsworth gave a man named Shawn a $300 deposit for the same rental house, but then said he couldn’t reach him any longer by phone.

“I’ve never heard of somebody stealing money from somebody by pretending to be a landlord,” said Ainsworth.

Out deposit money, the Ainsworths must move back to Colorado.

“I feel very deceived and sad I have to leave,” said Ainsworth.

Though giving $900 to a phony landlord, Julia and Kim may still have place to live thanks to the house owner.

“I could throw them out yes, but what do I gain?” said Limmer. “Nothing. So we’re going to work it out the best we can.”

“Very thankful, very blessed that he is letting us stay here,” said Julia.

The couple has a porch to sit on for awhile, but need their $900 back for future rent. They hope the phony landlord who fooled them will soon have a place to stay behind bars.

Council bluffs police are investigating. A detective tells WOWT 6 News he’s tracking down the true identity of the phony landlord.


Business, landlord, property management, real estate

Murder for $58?

Tenant accused of killing landlord over $58 utility bill

UPDATED 5:29 PM EDT Jul 15, 2014

Tenant charged with killing landlord over $58 utility bill

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —A Louisville tenant is behind bars after police said he shot and killed his landlord following an argument over a utility bill.

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Scott Tolle’s father and sister said he was a good stepfather, husband, brother, son and landlord to his tenants.

They said the incident is a cautionary tale for landlords in the area and that they also feel like victims in this case.

“Why over a little bit of money?” said Jill Armistead, the victim’s sister.

Police said Tolle, 49, was shot around 3:30 p.m. Monday after an argument with Anthony Jecker in an apartment on Fegenbush Lane.

The dispute was over an unpaid electric bill.

“At that time, some point later, the suspect came back with a handgun. They got into another argument and that’s the time he fired fatal shots,” said Louisville Metro police Lt. Todd Kessinger.

A bullet hit Tolle in the chest, killing him on the spot.

His father, James Tolle, arrived at the scene moments later.

“It was just like he was laying there asleep. So peaceful, and I was remembering him,” James Tolle said.

Tolle’s father said the back-and-forth between the two over the electric bill had been going on for weeks.

“The apartment building has one common electric bill and each leasee pays their part and he did not pay his part. His electric was shut off to his apartment,” Kessinger said.

“I always feared for his safety because some of the people that you rent to sometimes are, you know, you don’t what they are,” James Tolle said.

“It hurts me that somebody could be so cruel and not think of what they’ve done to someone. There’s more victims than just him. It leaves the family hurting,” Armistead said.

“I’m just hoping that, praying that God will get me through it,” James Tolle said.

Police said they were able to recover the gun used after Jecker attempted to hide it.

Neighbors said that the utility bill was $58.

Family members said Scott Tolle was also an employee at Frito Lay.

Jecker is scheduled to appear in court again later this month.

His bond was set at $25,000 during his arraignment on Tuesday.

He is charged with murder and tampering with evidence.

Read more:

Business, landlord, property management

Landlord shutting off power

Police respond to reports of landlord shutting off power

Posted: Jul 17, 2014 7:24 PM EDTUpdated: Jul 17, 2014 8:10 PM EDT

McMINNVILLE, TN (WSMV) –Police said they’re making constant stops to a McMinnville apartment complex to deal with a battle between a landlord and her renters. They said the landlord shut off power over late payments. The residents are ready to take her to court.

“There’s no air, and it’s hot out,” said Green Acres Apartments resident Shelby Mattos. “My food in the refrigerator, the freezer, everything’s spoiling.”

Mattos spent Thursday bagging up all the food in her refrigerator. The TV was out, computer off, clock frozen, and lights dark. Candles and lanterns sat in their place.

“I’ve got kids,” said Mattos. “You’ve got kids, you know, you can’t do this. I’m ten days late on my rent. Nobody got a letter on the door, a late notice or anything.”

“I have nothing now,” added resident Martha Watson. “There’s no lights. My son has asthma. I’m spreading my kids out so they have someplace to stay. I’m just confused. I don’t know what to do, and I have nowhere to go.”

Police said they know of six families at the complex with no power now, and they’ve told the landlord to turn it back on. After speaking with the district attorney, police said no criminal charges can be filed, but turning off the power opens up the landlord to a potential civil lawsuit from her residents. The residents said they’d hired an attorney to represent them all.

Repeated attempts to contact the landlord were not returned.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

apartment, Business, property management, real estate

Housing Affordability Crises

Fortune Magazine:

America’s housing affordability crisis is getting worse

Rental rates and home prices are going up in places that are already unaffordable to many Americans.

The pace of home price appreciation has begun to slow, according to data released Thursday from the online real estate marketplace Trulia.

Trulia uses asking prices and rents to estimate housing prices as they are right now, making it a better real-time gauge than other measures like the Case-Shiller Index, which is far more backwards looking. Trulia’s latest numbers have home prices increasing 8.1% year-over-year in June, a couple points lower than the most recent Case-Shiller data.

But even though home price appreciation has begun to slow, the U.S. is quickly moving from a point where it should be cheering home price appreciation to where it’s a sign that homes are getting too expensive. After all, home values have basically recovered to their pre-bubble levels.According to Standard & Poor’s Chief Economist Beth Ann Bovino, home prices have returned to their long-term average of 260% of average household income. This is far below the pre-bubble peak of 400%, but those prices were unsustainable.

Meanwhile, rental prices continued to rise by 5.5% over last year, with rent increasing faster than wages in each of the 25 largest metro areas. Here’s Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko:

“Rent increases outpaced wage increases in all of the 25 largest rental markets. Rents rose more than 10% year-over-year in Miami, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, and Denver. Among these five markets with the largest rent increases, all but Denver are among the nation’s least affordable rental markets. The median rent for a 2-bedroom unit costs more than 40% of the average local wage in these markets. The least affordable rental market is Miami, where a 2-bedroom typically rents for 62% of the average local wage. At the other extreme, a 2-bedroom rental costs just 24% of the average local wage in St. Louis.”

In other words, the affordability crisis is widespread and getting worse in places where rent is already unaffordable. Part of this dynamic has to do with the lag between the housing crisis and home builders ramping up supply where demand is strong. Take a look at this chart via Calculated Risk, which shows single-family and multi-family housing starts over time:


Builders have begun to construct more homes, especially the multi-family variety. This trend reflects builders’ belief that there will be less demand for single-family homes from the generation now entering the workforce, but even multi-family construction remains mired at levels not seen in 25 years.

This problem will likely become less severe over time, as consumers continue to work off debt from the financial crisis and builders and banks become more confident in building and financing homes. But the government could offer a helping hand, too. On the federal side, government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to take a hard look at forgiving some of the debt of underwater home buyers. And local governments should lessen restrictions on building so that home builders can construct homes where demand is greatest.

Business, property management

You only call with bad news

Letter from an owner, “I only hear from you when you have bad news.”  I hear this a lot.  Bad news is that the owner’s unit needs a repair or that something negative happened at the unit.  My job is to inform the owner and enter them into the discussion/solution or get their approval for the repair.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news Mr. Owner.  I didn’t cause your furnace to break or your roof to leak.  I didn’t tell you to buy this property.

Should I start sending out Happy Birthday cards?  Anniversary cards?  Joke of the day?  How about if I call and just say hello?  Oh, I didn’t really need anything, I just wanted to call you and say the weather here is wonderful.

I could put a clause in the contract, “I would like to be called or emailed each week with good news.” and charge $___ for the service.

I know this is just part of the job as a property manager.  We don’t get to make a lot of people happy.

Any suggestions?