Saturday, May 26, 2012

Prime Downtown Lot Sold to Developer

A prime downtown lot, the last large city-owned lot in downtown, was at last sold to a developer after a 16-hour long City Council meeting Thursday that stretched into the wee hours of Friday, The reports

Trammell Crow, the developer, will turn the former site of the Green Water Treatment Plant into a high-rise project with shops, eateries, offices and housing.  The project is expected to cost $500 million and Trammell Crow will pay the city $24.4 million over several years to purchase the lot.

The project is expected to break ground in early 2013, will encompass two towers of at least 30 stories tall and will contain 826 apartments, a 17-story hotel, a 28-story office tower and over 80,000 square feet of retail space.  The project ran into a lot of objections from activists who wanted Trammell Crow to save several large trees on the site, pay workers a "living wage" and make sure enough affordable housing was available on site.

In the end, Trammell Crow agreed to allow safety monitors at least twice a month during construction, to aim to hire at least a fifth of its workforce from local training programs and pay them at least $16 an hour, and to work with Austin's arborist to try and build around some of the big trees.  In addition, they agreed to rent at least 10 percent of the rental housing at amounts affordable to those earning less than 80 percent of Austin's median family income and will keep those rents low for 40 years at its own expense.  The project is expected to bring in $112 million in property taxes to the city over the next 30 years.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Eviction Process

The Eviction Process is complex, but the Austin Tenants' Council has an excellent detailed description of the process.  Here is a brief overview of the process that begins if the tenant does not move out after the landlord delivers a written Notice to Vacate to the tenant.

The landlord will file an eviction suit at the local Justice of the Peace court, after which the court clerk will give the eviction citation to the constable.  The constable is required to attempt to deliver the citation to the tenant twice at their home.  If the constable is unable to hand deliver the citation to the tenant, they may place it under the door or attach it to the front door and mail a copy. 

The Citation will include instructions and the date of when the eviction trial is to be held.  If you fail to show up for the trial, the landlord gets a default judgment against the tenant.  The court is required to send the tenant a written notice within two days of the entry of the judgment.

If you do go to court, both you and your landlord will be given the opportunity to present your cases.  The judge will make a decision and if they side with the landlord, the tenant has five days to vacate the apartment or appeal the decision.  If the judge decides in favor of the tenant, the landlord also has five days to file an appeal.  When you file an appeal, you have to pay an appeal bond or file a Pauper's Affidavit if you do not have the funds for an appeal bond.  The appeal process is very complicated, so if that is something you are interested in, the Austin Tenants' Council recommends you contact an attorney.

If a tenant doesn't leave the apartment or appeal, the landlord has to ask the judge for a Writ of Possession, a court order telling the constable or sheriff that the landlord is now in possession of the rental unit.  The landlord can now, under the supervision of the constable or sheriff, remove the tenant, occupants and all belongings from the unit.

Eviction is something no future landlord wants to see on your rental history, so you should do your best to avoid it at all costs.  But if you do have an eviction on your record, Apartment Specialists can work with you to try and find a new eviction friendly apartment where landlords are more likely to overlook an eviction.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Watering Restrictions Possible

New Watering Restrictions are being mulled over by Austin Utility Water Managers.  Although Austin has seem some good rain recently, long-term drought is still being forecast by all the computer models.  After last year's water usage almost hit a record low, despite it being the hottest and driest year Austin's ever seen, city officials are looking to cement lawn watering restrictions for a repeat performance, The reports.

The first of the big changes proposed are one that would allow users of drip irrigation systems to water as often as they'd like.  Drip irrigation is the most effective way to water, because it creates much less runoff or water evaporating.  Small hoses with holes are placed along or below the ground, allowing water to seep directly into the dirt.  These systems cost more than sprinklers, but are much more effective at keeping trees from dying because they apply water directly to roots.  

The second major change is that the utility wants to make lawn watering restrictions permanent, regardless of the water levels in the lakes supplying Austin's water.  Under those, watering would never be allowed more often than twice a week.  They're also proposing to set Stage 1 restrictions, where watering is allowed twice a week, to kick in when lakes Travis and Buchanan are at 1.4 million acre-feet and Stage 2 restrictions, with once a week watering, to begin at 900,000 acre-feet.  

The Utility also proposes to decriminalize water violations and have any fines added to a violator's monthly water bill, instead of being sent to Municipal Court.  Even with a drip system, users could still be fined if they water the pavement or create standing pools of water.

Looking for Austin Apartments for Rent so you never have to worry about watering restrictions, no matter what they are?  Austin Apartment Specialists can help!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Renting Basics

Renting Basics are a must to know before you go to look for an apartment.  Whether you are renting for the first time, getting back into the rental market after an absence, or moving to a new area, brushing up on how to rent an apartment from the Texas Apartment Association is important before you get out there and start visiting properties.

The first step is to set a budget.  Make sure that you factor in costs like utilities and rental insurance that aren't included in your rent and make sure your rent isn't more than a third of your gross income.  Next, request a free credit report and clear up any mistakes or problems before you start filling out applications.

If you are a minor, a student, or don't make enough to qualify to pay the rent, you may be asked to get a co-signer, who is usually a parent, relative or employer who will be responsible for the rent if you cannot pay it.  This person is usually not someone who lives with you.

Make a list of what your priorities are for your new home and use it to narrow down your choices.  As you visit apartments, look over the property and analyze how well it is maintained.  Also, talk to existing residents and ask if they have been happy with the property, how maintenance requests or problems are handled, and if they would recommend living there to others. 

Finally, visit the properties you are considering at night to see if they are well lit and compare their security measures to other properties in the neighborhood.  You also should ask the management how emergencies are handled and how residents are told about any crime or safety problems.