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Fort Worth Rental Property Management Helps You Comply with Landlord/Tenant Discrimination Laws

Our society is more aware than ever before of everyone around us and their civil rights. In 1968, the Fair Housing Act was established to protect all citizens from being discriminated against for reasons such as race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability, or familial status when trying to rent or buy housing. Fair housing rules are important to know when you are deciding whether or not to accept a tenant application. These rules have created more opportunities for more people, but have also required that everyone be more aware and careful in the way they speak and run their businesses. Don’t take the risk of rejecting someone only to find out that you’ve unknowingly discriminated against them. In order to steer clear of uncomfortable legal situations, educate yourself on landlord/tenant discrimination legislation in Fort Worth. Rental property management companies like Specialized Property Management are a great way to ensure that you aren’t making any costly mistakes and can handle marketing, tenant screening, and more to ensure that everything is done in the correct way. To get a head start, begin by reading the laws and special situations listed below and making sure that you are in compliance with those. 

Marketing

Marketing your rental home property will help attract good tenants, especially if you market in the right way. Be careful not to market to one specific group of people. When you say that your property is ideal for families, senior citizens and single people may feel like they can’t live there. It’s better for you and the community if you encourage all types of people in all stages of life to live in your rental property. This will help create diversity and the feeling that no one is getting left out. Diversity is encouraged and appreciated all over the city of Fort Worth. Property management services will help you market your rental property in a way that is inclusive, without attracting tenants that are irresponsible or unreliable. The following checklist from MetroTex can help you determine if you are in compliance with marketing regulations when posting an online ad. 

  1. Does the ad contain any misleading statements, or does it tend to create a misleading impression in any manner? It is prudent for someone who did not design the ad to scrutinize it for any potentially misleading statements. Keep in mind that the standard is not whether a statement is true, but whether the advertisement “tends to create a misleading impression.”
  2. Does the ad contain the name of the real estate firm or broker? It should. 
  3. Does the person causing the ad to be published have proper authority to publish or submit the advertisement? 
  4. Is the price quoted the price agreed upon by the owner? 
  5. Does the ad inadvertently imply a limitation or preference to a protected class that could potentially violate fair housing laws? 
  6. Is the specific information relayed in the advertisement accurate?

Tenant Selection

Using a Fort Worth rental property management company is very important when selecting tenants. Once you’ve got a good amount of interest in your property, you have the opportunity to begin the screening process. You have the right to ask tenants about their rental history in order to see how they will treat your property and how seriously they will take their tenant responsibilities. Talk to former and current landlords about if the tenant paid rent on time, gave proper notice, or violated any lease terms. Use a written or online application that collects the information you need such as names, contact information, social security numbers, current and past addresses, employment information, and landlord references. 

The entire screening process can be lengthy and time consuming. If you use Specialized Fort Worth Rental Property Management company, you will save so much time and worry by letting them handle the screening process and do so without risking discrimination. When you ask about tenant’s background, you have to be careful not to mention any questions that could be related to race or disabilities. Things you can ask about are financial history, sex offender charges, and criminal records. In order to gauge how reliable a tenant is, you are able to ask questions about past and current employment as well as check their credit score. You may also ask why they’re moving and how many people and pets will live in the residence. 

Service Animal Compliance

Speaking of pets, service animals must be allowed, whether your rental property allows pets or not. Since they are required in some medical situations, service animals cannot be denied under any circumstances, including breed or size. In addition, someone who needs a service animal cannot be rejected because that would also be considered discrimination. Be careful to not make any slips that would make you appear non-compliant. Saying that your rental property does not allow pets, and that there are no exceptions, could put you at risk for being non-compliant when the exception is that service animals are allowed. Specialized Fort Worth’s property management services are aware of all the special needs that go along with disabilities and service animals. They will be able to inform you of what to say and what not to say when meeting someone with a service animal. For example, your potential tenant must provide proof that they need a service animal, but don’t have to explain why. 

LGBT Compliance

The state of Texas doesn’t have any current ruling for LGBT housing issues. The more people talk about these issues, the sooner there will be changes in laws in order to protect the housing rights of people who identify as LGBT. In the meantime, property owners should be aware of how they are advertising their property, be honest about available units, ask questions that aren’t discriminatory on lease applications, and avoid tenant screenings for things other than what is allowed by state regulations. If you were to suggest that you had no vacancies when you actually did, it could be grounds for a real estate agent to lose their license and the denied tenants would have grounds to file a complaint with the real estate licensing board. No matter what your personal beliefs are, it’s important to think of your rental property as a business, separate from religious or emotional views. Like anything else, there are some exceptions to Fair Housing laws, but you would have to have years of experience and knowledge to be able to identify which exemptions applied to you. That’s why employing the help of Fort Worth property management services can help you avoid costly fines from unwittingly going against current or future regulations that have the potential to change all the time. 

Disability and Reasonable Accommodation

The definition of a disability is a mental or physical condition that substantially limits that person’s ability to participate in major life activities that are important to daily life. Disabilities are not always identifiable just by looking at someone. That’s why it’s important to be careful when first meeting potential tenants and putting them through the screening process. Be careful not to say or do anything that may be discriminating, regardless of whether they have an apparent disability or not. Conditions like heart disease, epilepsy, or even anxiety, may not be obvious when meeting someone, but may require special requirements or service animals. Fort Worth rental property management knows that reasonable accommodations for someone’s disability are required by law. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has laid out what it means to provide reasonable accommodations to these tenants. Some examples may include changes to parking policies, rent collection procedures, or the allowance of service animals. In order to not be discriminatory, it’s important to wait for a reasonable request to be made, rather than offering it and assuming that someone has a disability or the need for a special accommodation when they don’t. 

Fair Housing Laws

No one wants to be discriminated against, and no one wants to discriminate. Most non-compliance happens because property owners aren’t aware of all the laws and regulations that exist at the federal, state, and local levels. Violating the Fair Housing Act comes at a cost, whether in the form of hefty fines or losing one’s real estate license in Fort Worth. Property management services can be the difference of hundreds of dollars for you, if you allow them to be the authorities on what laws are out there and how you can avoid breaking them. Specialized Property Management is required to stay up to date on past, current, and changing Fair Housing laws, protecting you from making mistakes that could result in hefty penalties and fines. Partnering with a professional property management company like Specialized Property Management will give you access to correct legal counsel, providing you with peace of mind knowing that you are always complying with the laws and not discriminating against anyone. As the leader of Texas property management companies, Specialized Property Management keeps you compliant with all federal and local laws and regulations. Contact us today!

Tenant’s Guide to Moving Into Your Fort Worth Rental Home



Specialized Property Management is delighted to welcome you to your new rental home. We know that moving can be stressful, and we know that there are often a multitude of little details to pay attention to. It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed. We’ve put together some helpful information into this guide for moving into your property. We expect that these few items will help you move in smoothly and have a pleasant and successful stay with us.

If you have any questions while you’re reading this reference, please get in touch with one of our agents. We’d be happy to clear up any confusion or walk you through any process.

Completing Your Inventory and Condition Report

Before you move in, your leasing agent will provide you with a resident manual. This will contain all the information you need to enjoy and care for your new home.

With your resident manual, you’ll also get an inventory and condition form. This is an important way to document the move-in condition of the property. We don’t want to hold you accountable for damage that isn’t your fault, so please take the time to inspect your new home carefully and make a note of anything that isn’t in perfect condition. Use the form to go through the property and note any issues. We’ll ask you to provide photographs of anything that you’re documenting on the inventory and condition form. This protects you and your security deposit during the move-out process.

Please return this form to us within five days of moving into your home. We’ll keep this form in leasing department and use it when we conduct our move-out inspection. If you have noted anything that needs maintenance or repairs during this move-in process, please submit a separate maintenance request through your tenant portal. We will respond immediately and take care of any issues you may have found. We want you to have an excellent experience from the start.

Maintenance and the Responsibilities of Tenants and Owners

We want you to enjoy your new home. We’ll work with you to ensure the property is safe, habitable, and well-maintained. Sometimes, residents and even owners get confused about who is responsible for which functions of the home. Let’s take a moment to review resident and owner responsibilities.

As a tenant, you are responsible for keeping the property clean and tidy. We all know that small messes can quickly become large messes. Please be proactive in the way you care for your home. Leaving food, trash, and other debris out can attract pests and insects, and it can also degrade the property as well as your quality of life. Make an effort to keep your home in good shape.

Tenants are also responsible for setting up utilities in their names. Be sure to get those accounts started before you move in, because sometimes it can take a few days. If you’re switching your account from your previous home to your new one, make sure you time the transition correctly.

We also ask you to take care of the landscaping. You want to live in a property that looks neat and clean from the outside, so please watch for weeds, overgrown lawns, and debris in the yard or on the patio. As a tenant, you’ll also need to complete minor and seasonal maintenance. This might include changing light bulbs and air filters. When you turn on the heat or the air conditioning for the first time, a clean filter will ensure you save energy and keep the heating and cooling system running efficiently.

Tenants are also required to comply with all state and local laws as well as any HOA property codes, rules, and regulations. It’s easy to violate an HOA rule if you don’t know it exists, so make sure you familiarize yourself with bylaws and rules and regulations when you move into an HOA property. We can make sure you have all the necessary documents.

Owners have their own responsibilities, too. Property owners must ensure that your rental property is clean, safe, and ready for your occupancy. There are several things required by the Texas Property Code, and as your property managers, we make sure the owners of your property comply with all of these requirements. For example, owners must re-key all doors leading to the outside of your home before you move in. This ensures that no one else has a key to your home, and it’s for your safety and security. Owners must provide smoke detectors in the right places, and their exterior doors must have keyless deadbolts that can only be locked and unlocked from the inside, as well as peepholes. If you notice your property missing any of these things, please notify us immediately.

Owners must also provide residents with a copy of the HOA rules.

Paying Rent in Fort Worth

We make paying rent easy and convenient. It can be stressful if the first has come and gone and you realize that you’ve forgotten to pay rent. You don’t want to incur any late fees or be irresponsible in getting your rent to us on time. Luckily, we offer secure and convenient online rental payment options. Your leasing coordinator will provide you with a log in that takes you to your private resident portal. On this portal, you can pay rent each month via a checking account or your debit or credit card. You can also set up automatic reoccurring payments to ensure on-time payments and peace of mind.

If you prefer not to pay rent online, we have several other options that might work better for you. Mailing a check to our office is still an option, and you can also drop it off to us in-person. All of the rental collection policies can be found in your lease agreement, from how much is due to when it’s due and how it should be paid. Please refer to your lease or talk to one of our agents if you have any questions. We take timely rental payments very seriously at Specialized Property Management, and we’ve done everything we can to help you keep your account current.

Requesting Maintenance and Repairs

When maintenance or a repair is needed, simply log into your online portal or call our maintenance hotline to submit a ticket. When you submit a maintenance request online, it allows us to respond to your needs right away. It also helps us both by creating a documented log of what was done at the property and how things were handled. Please try to use your online portal for routine repairs and minor issues.

Emergencies should always be brought to our attention immediately. If you notice a water leak or a fire or a storm causes a tree to come crashing through the roof, don’t hesitate to call our emergency maintenance line. Someone is always available to take the call and immediately dispatch help.

Maintaining your home is a priority for us. We want to be responsive and accessible when it comes to maintenance issues, so don’t hesitate to report necessary repairs. Deferred maintenance only costs more and creates larger headaches for owners, tenants, and property managers. Let us know if something is broken or not functioning the way it should.

Moving Out of Your Rental Home

It’s hard to think about the move-out when you’ve just started moving in, but you should know early on that there are incentives to our best tenants. Specialized Property Management makes a point of rewarding tenants who have made on-time rent payments and maintained the property to our standards. If you have been a responsible, communicative tenant, and you have followed all the terms of your lease faithfully, we will be sad to lose you. But, we know that people move on, and we’ll offer you a printed payment history and letter of recommendation upon request. This can help you in your effort to purchase a home or in renting your next home. We’ll do everything we can to help our great tenants find a new place to live after they leave us.

Keep Your Resident Manual Close

As we mentioned, your leasing agent will give you a Specialized Property Management resident manual with more information on all of these items and more. This can be a very helpful and important resource while you’re living in one of the properties we manage. It can save you time when you have a question and you’re not sure who to call or what to do. Start with your manual, and you may find that you can answer your own question quickly and thoroughly. We have made an effort to be as detailed as possible so that you can enjoy living in your home with few intrusions. We ask that you please keep this manual handy for easy reference throughout your stay with us.

Thank you for choosing a property managed by Specialized Property Management. We hope you enjoy your new home, and we’re here to answer any questions or provide any support you need. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Specialized Property Management in Fort Worth for any property management or leasing needs.

Pest Control Questions Answered By Fort Worth Rental Property Management

Who is responsible for the pest control at your rental property: landlords or tenants? How do you take care of pests at a rental home? Are there habitability laws that affect landlords and their tenants? While this is not expert legal advice, hopefully, these questions and answers can provide some guidance on your landlord-tenant relationship.

Who is Responsible For Pest Control?

For the answer to this question take a look at your lease. Most of the time in Fort Worth rental property management, a lease will state landlords are responsible for reasonable pest control treatments. As a landlord, it is a good idea to take this matter into your own hands, because you never know if your tenant will pay for treatment on their own. If your tenant fails to do their part in keeping pests out, that could cause damage to your property.

Pests and Habitability

As a landlord, you may be required by law to keep your rental property in a habitable state. If your property has an insect or rodent infestation, it could be deemed uninhabitable, and you may be forced to make repairs, so the property does not violate health and safety standards. If you leave pest control in the hands of your tenant, there is a possibility they will let pests get out of hand to the point the property is uninhabitable. That is one reason good Fort Worth rental property management recommends landlords take responsibility for the pest control.

How To Manage Pest Control

Performing proactive maintenance is especially important when it comes to pest control. Hire a local pest control professional to spray around your rental home periodically, such as once in the spring and once in the fall. This will help keep most insects and rodents at bay. Be sure to let your tenants know when the pest control will be at their home, so they can keep pets indoors during the spray.

How Fort Worth Rental Property Management Can Help

Pest control should be something your Fort Worth property manager takes care of as part of their proactive maintenance schedule. Specialized Property Management Fort Worth takes an extra step with regular inspections, reports, and pictures uploaded to your online portal, so you know exactly what state your rental property is in. To learn more about all our services call Specialized Property Management Fort Worth today.

Positive Cash Flow and Fort Worth Rental Property Management

How can you stay afloat as a landlord when a big expense comes your way? If the AC goes out at your property, it could cost $5,000 to replace. If a tenant stops paying their rent, you will lose several months worth of rental income, plus the legal fees it takes to evict them. No one knows when an emergency will happen, but if you are prepared and have positive cash flow on your rental property, you can make it through any emergency that comes your way.

What is Positive Cash Flow?

Cash flow is simply what you bring in on your rental income minus any costs your property incurs. If your tenant pays $2000 each month in rent and you take out $1500 to pay your mortgage, taxes, maintenance, and any other associated costs, your positive cash flow is $500. When you have positive cash flow you are not only making a larger income; you can be better prepared for emergencies. Your Fort Worth rental property management team can help you figure out the exact numbers for your situation.

How Can You Increase Your Cash Flow?

There are a few key ways you can increase your cash flow.

    1. Tenant qualifications: highly qualified tenants are more likely to keep up with rent payments and take care of the home.
    2. Market rent rates: are you charging enough for rent? Look around your neighborhood to compare what other rentals cost and see if your rental is priced correctly.
    3. Proactive maintenance: large ticket maintenance items like new roofs or appliances will hurt your cash flow. Putting the time and effort into regularly maintaining these items will extend their lives and cost you much less in the long run.

How Fort Worth Rental Property Management Can Help Cash Flow

Many landlords think self-managing will save them money and increase their monthly cash flow. What they don’t take into account is are the complexities that come with property management. Specialized Property Management Fort Worth will help your cash flow by reducing vacancy days, setting the right rental price, scheduling maintenance and inspections, and avoiding costly regulatory fines. To learn more call Specialized Property Management Fort Worth today.

Fort Worth Rental Property Management: How to Pick Flooring

Picking new flooring for your rental home isn’t easy. You need something durable and easy to clean, but with a price point that won’t break your budget. And don’t forget it has to look great so tenants will be more likely to rent your home! Here are some tips from the rental property management Fort Worth trusts for picking new rental home flooring.

Flooring Options

    • Carpet – Carpet is inexpensive; however, you will find yourself replacing carpet more often than other flooring options. In addition, you will need to make sure it is regularly, professionally cleaned. Carpet is a good option for places like bedrooms, but avoid high traffic areas if possible.
    • Tile – Tile is a popular choice and recommended by many individuals in rental property management. Fort Worth landlords like tile because it is low maintenance and durable. Re-grouting and sealing are needed periodically, and if a tile breaks you will need to replace it. Otherwise, tile can last a very long time!
    • Vinyl – Vinyl is one of the least expensive flooring materials. It is easy to install and maintain, as well as being durable, which your Fort Worth rental property management knows is important. However, some tenants are turned off by the look of vinyl flooring. If the floor is damaged, you will need to replace the whole surface instead of just a portion (like tile).
    • Wood – Wood flooring is beautiful and a desirable upgrade for most tenants. However, it can expand and contract with the seasons, so professional installation is a must. Refinishing the floor will need to be done periodically, and it is not the most durable choice. It tends to be expensive and harder to maintain, but if it increases your home’s value significantly it can be a good choice!

For Rental Property Management Fort Worth Landlords Trust, Call Specialized!

The Fort Worth rental property management experts at Specialized Property Management can help you decide what flooring is right for your rental home, and your budget. We have the experienced professionals and proven processes it takes to get you a better return on your investment. Give Specialized a call today to learn more about all our services!

Furnace Maintenance Reminder From Your Fort Worth Rental Property Management

With winter weather on the horizon you need to make sure the furnace in your rental home is in good working order. A properly cared for furnace will not only make your rental home comfortable, it will reduce your heating bill and lower your risk of a house fire. According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association, the failure to clean your home’s heating unit is the top contributing factor for house fires. (Source). For the sake of your tenants and your investment, it is worth it to spend a small amount of time cleaning and maintaining your rental home’s furnace.

Furnace Cleaning Checklist

  • Clean or replace your furnace filters at least once a month during the winter. This will not only help your furnace run efficiently and extend its life, it will lower your heating bill.
  • When you transition from air conditioning to heat, be sure to reset the furnace dampers.
  • Oil the bearings around the furnace blower shaft and motor.
  • Check around the unit for any corrosion, worn parts, or fraying belts. If any parts need replacement alert your rental property management. Fort Worth rental home furnace parts should be replaced by professionals.
  • For maximum efficiency and airflow be sure all vents are uncovered and seal any leaky air ducts.

When to hire a professional

Most furnace maintenance requires simply checking and cleaning around the unit, but occasionally you will need to hire a professional. If your furnace is experiencing chronic issues don’t hesitate to call your Fort Worth rental property management for help finding the right person for the job. The professional experienced property managers at Specialized are here to help you any time of day or night. An efficient home can be achieved with regular inspections and maintenance. Call Specialized to hear about all our services!

Protect Your Investment By Hiring Experienced Fort Worth Rental Property Management

Some landlords get into the investment property business because they see friends or neighbors making money. Others start because they couldn’t sell their house when they needed to move. The fact is, whatever way you started, the point is to make money from your business. Paying too much for necessary items such as regular maintenance, or unnecessary luxuries can hurt your bottom line. Unfortunately many landlords put hiring professional rental property management Fort Worth experts in the “unnecessary luxuries” category and their investment is put in jeopardy because of it.

How Professional Property Management Can Help

Think about your professional qualifications. Do you have years of experience in property management? Do you understand the property management cycle and complexities of the business? Do you have the certificates and qualifications some states require of property managers? The professionals at Specialized have all of these qualifications, with references and raving reviews to back us up (not to mention nationwide clientele). We can help protect your investment from the common pitfalls and mistakes that many landlords make.

Where Should Your Money Go?

Managing rental property yourself will cost you time, and time is money. You will need take time away from another job to deal with emergency maintenance calls, needy tenants, or simply keeping up with all the law and codes so you aren’t stuck with a costly violation. When hiring rental property management, Fort Worth landlords need to factor in all the time that is saved by hiring experienced professionals.

Fort Worth rental property management will save you money by avoiding costly mistakes and getting you a better return on your investment. Specialized has been in the business for almost 30 years so you can trust our experienced professionals and proven processes. Call us today to put us to work for you!

How Poor Rental Property Selection Affects Your Profits

rental property management Fort Worth, Fort Worth rental property management

Not all rental homes are created equal. Some are much easier to rent out than others, but how do you choose the right one? Which home will have the shortest vacancy time and bring in a wide variety of eligible applicants? Your rental property management Fort Worth office will have the expertise you need to buy in that specific market, but in the meantime here are a few general ways to pick out the best rental property.

Fort Worth rental property management recommends…

  1. Location, location, location! Where is your property located? Are there good schools, easy access to public transportation, and excellent local amenities? Would YOU want to live there? Safety and amenities are big issues for potential renters.
  2. Municipal regulations make a difference! Managing a property in an area that has heavy regulations can create a significant burden and may not be worth the cost. Check the local regulations before you buy so you know what you are getting into.
  3. HOA rules and fees can be surprising! Don’t be caught off guard by HOA regulations. Some associations even require input on your tenant selection, which could create a delay in renting out your home. Know the rules before you commit to an investment property.
  4. Local rental markets vary! Look for a neighborhood with low vacancy rates, high rent prices, and appreciating home values. Your Specialized Fort Worth rental property management team can help you pull all these statistics.
  5. Buy an attractive home! Stay away from weird layouts, busy streets, and older or smaller homes. Long term, single-family rental homes are easier to rent out if they have 3 or more bedrooms, are over 1000 sq. ft., and have fenced-in yards. Maintenance will be easier and cheaper if the home is less than 15 years old.

Specialized’s Rental Property Management: Fort Worth Experts in Property Selection

When you are ready to purchase an investment property make sure you consult the experts in property selection. With almost 30 years of experience Specialized has what it takes to make your investment a success. Call us today to learn about all the services we offer!

Fall Maintenance Reminders for Tenants

Specialized, your Fort Worth rental property management team, would like to remind you of some simple fall maintenance tasks you are responsible for as a tenant. These maintenance tasks will help prepare your home for colder weather, as well as keep it in good condition.

TENANT MAINTENANCE RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Check For Safety Hazards
    To prevent accidents, you need to check your home for safety hazards. Loose hand railing or lifting carpet corners are good examples of what to look for. Check your outlets for potential electrical hazards. Make sure your fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order. Locate all gas and water shut-off switches and review your emergency procedures.
  • Replace or Clean Filters
    Replace or clean your air conditioning system filters. Vacuum all air vents and under appliances to be sure dust doesn’t accumulate. Be sure you change your furnace filter once a month during the winter months.
  • Doors And Windows
    Check that each door and window in your home opens easily and shuts tightly. Your home should be properly sealed in the winter months. Use a lubricant on the hinges, if necessary. If you see a safety issue with your doors or hinges, don’t hesitate to call your rental property management Fort Worth team.
  • Thoroughly Clean Your Home
    Complete cleaning tasks you may not do every day. This can include shampooing the carpets and rugs, cleaning sink drains, and running water through drains that don’t get much use. To clean your disposal run ice through it with a bit of baking soda, then run hot water down the drain. These aren’t everyday cleaning tasks, so they are easy to overlook.
  • Outside Your Home
    Tidy up outside your home and get rid of any debris. This will prepare your home for the cold weather to come. Store any outdoor items that should not be left outside in freezing temperatures.

FORT WORTH RENTAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT FOR TENANTS

Specialized is your expert Fort Worth rental property management team. We want you to know we are available for you at any time of the day or night. If you come across any issues with your home, don’t hesitate to let us know. As always, you can submit a maintenance ticket online. If you would like to know more about our services, give us a call today.