Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQ is written for both property owners and prospective tenants. At Linnemann Realty, our goal is to ensure both parties feel comfortable with their decision to work with our team. This FAQ is to help you understand the process and will likely create additional questions from you. Please feel free to call our offices and we will be happy to address your concerns. More than anything, our goal is to exceed your expectations and we look forward to working with you.
Who does Linnemann Realty represent?
This is a very important question anytime you have dealings in the real estate industry. At Linnemann Realty we represent the owners of property, whom we refer to as clients. This means, as a prospective tenant, you are not represented in the transaction with Linnemann Realty.
While this sounds like daunting "legal speak", please don't worry. First, this is the same arrangement you'll find at any professional property management office. Second, as our tenant, or whom we refer to as a customer, we still have an obligation as set forth in the rules of the Texas Real Estate Commission to deal with you fairly, honestly, and with full disclosure.
While we represent the interests of our clients, our customers enjoy our amazing and responsive service and will always be treated with respect. After all, without our customers we wouldn't have much of a business, would we?
How do you screen your tenants?
One of the most important and basic functions of property management is the proper screening of potential tenants. Our application process is a well-documented review of the following:
Credit History: We pull a full credit report on every prospective tenant, co-tenant, and any other individual that is a party to the lease. While we don't require perfect credit (these are challenging times and bad things happen to good people), we do screen for major credit issues, delinquencies to property managers, judgements, charge-offs, collections accounts, and the like.
Background Checks: Our powerful management software also runs a background check on every applicant seeking to rent one of our homes. This allows us to further screen all potential renters for issues that might not be reflected on paper or on a credit report.
Rental Verification: We require all potential tenants to have a positive rental history as documented by written rental verifications, signed by their previous landlord. We won't approve any applicant without the proper rental verifications for a period of no less than two years prior to the application date.
Work and Income Breakdown: An applicant must provide paystubs for all those on the application claiming to have income. The income must meet minimum criteria to qualify for the respective monthly rental payment. Any undocumented income is not used in an applicant's income review.
If a tenant does not qualify, no matter how badly we might want to fill a unit, we will not lower our standards for the sake of occupancy. Be sure to ask any property manager about their qualifications for potential renters because nothing, NOTHING, can hurt your finances more than a bad tenant.
How do I pay my rent?
Like more forward-thinking companies, we are making every effort to do all of our business electronically. This is especially important when it comes to paying your rent. Our website offers an online payment portal that is FREE to use and extremely convenient. You can pay your rent from your phone and even set up a recurring charge to your account so it automatically pays on time every month. This is our primary method for rent collections.
We don't take cash and would prefer not to collect rents in person at all. In fact, when you sign your application and lease we will make it clear to you that we intend to do business electronically. If you wish to pay in person we will assess an additional $20 processing fee for physical, in-person payments.
Be prepared to use your phone or home computer to pay your rent to Linnemann Realty. It's free, it's easy, and it's the best way for us to work together for the years that you'll be with us.
Please note: rents are due on the first and late any time after the 3rd. Late fees and the due dates are strictly enforced, and the fees for paying late (or bouncing a check) are very prohibitive. Be sure to make an effort to pay your rent on time. Just another reason to use the auto-pay option via the website.
Application fees and security deposits must be paid in certified funds (cashier's check, money order). No cash or personal checks are allowed for these type of transactions. While we do accept credit cards, we assess a 3% convenience fee to do so.
How will my property be marketed?
Your rental property is just like your own small business, and if that business isn't marketed properly then it just won't produce income. At Linnemann Realty, we pride ourselves on maintaining a solid advertising budget every month. We don't just spend: we calculate, we plan, and we manage our marketing programs to maximize our advertising dollar and get the best results possible. That being said, the promotion of this company (and your property) goes well beyond buying ad space. We're actively involved in our community, committing both our time and our treasure to insuring that the needs of this growing community and its residents are met on every level.
Advertising for your available property can easily be seen on our website or through over twenty different online rental property website, to include Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and others. To further promote your rental property we pay special attention to the photography, making sure to use professional-level equipment to capture the best quality images.
We also heavily promote ourselves on social media, being continuously present to thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You will also find us in various printed publications whether it be real estate magazines, the local paper, or the playbill you'll get when you see a performance at our local thatre.
Michael Linnemann (as of August 2018) is currently a Director for the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce and also sits on the Board of Directors for 14-Forward, the most comprehensive economic development initative in the history of the Central Texas area. He is also the current Chair for the Board of the Vive Les Arts Societe' Community Theatre of Killeen. Much of the exposure, the branding, and the visibility for the company itself comes from the time and effort given back to the community.
When your real property investment is in our care we make sure that it's readily available to anyone seeking to rent a home in Central Texas, and we couple it with a brand and reputation that is second to none.
As a property owner, how do I get paid?
Electronically. In conjunction with our state-of-the-art software we produce monthly statements that are sent via e-mail and all funds are transferred to our clients directly from our bank to yours. With this we minimize delays and maximize accuracy. With 24-hour access to your account in real time, you'll already know exactly how much money you'll be getting before the funds even arrive. Rents are collected in the first 3-5 days of the month (depending on the weekend), statements are processed and bills are paid during the first week, then we begin transmitting funds between the 8th and 9th (again, depending on the weekend).
What do you charge for your services?
Every property manager has their own way of doing business, and their own way of charging for their services. Because of this it can be difficult to "price shop" your property management company, although we would never recommend such a strategy. Although our prices are competitive, we always strongly suggest you choose your property manager based on your own needs and comfort level. And of course you'll want to compare pricing, so in light of that our fees are listed below:
Our base management fee is 10% of the gross monthly rent we collect each month. If we collect no rent, we don't get paid.
We also charge $65 for our semi-annual occupied walk-through inspections. These are produced on computerized reports with color pictures and include however many follow-up visits it may require to bring the tenant into full compliance with our standards.
We keep any fees charged to tenants, which include (but are not limited to) late fees, application fees, bounced check fees, and reletting fees.
We're assuming all clients will be fine with doing business electronically, which comes with no additional fees. Should you require a physical, printed check then we will charge fees for that service.
All work orders are processed without any fees unless you have a home warranty. We charge a processing fee of $50 for any work orders placed against a home warranty. When making the decisions to place your home into property management please discuss this matter with a Linnemann representative and please consider dropping your warranty as they are no longer worth the expense.
What we don't charge:
Leasing fees: many managers charge a fee every time they execute or renew a lease, called a Leasing Fee. This can range from $100 on the low side to a half month's rent on the high side. Leasing fees are charged and paid to Realtors to encourage them to show the rentals to prospective tenants. This helps maintain occupancy in some areas. Note: our substantial marketing platform does this for us and we don't require the services of outside agents showing our rentals, and our occupancy rates are always at levels above industry averages.
Vacancy fees: other management companies charge a base fee during times of vacancy. We charge you nothing while your home is vacant.
Advertising fees: despite having one of the best management marketing plans in Central Texas, we do it at no additional charge.
Why shouldn't I manage my home myself?
One of the biggest mistakes we see in property management is when an owner attempts to manage the property themselves. It is like attempting to represent yourself in court, repairing your own cellular phone, or diagnosing your own illness. Unless you are already a real estate professional, then navigating the murky waters of property management is just as risky and daunting a task as any of the others I've listed. Here are some specific reasons that self-managing your property can be devastating:
There are predatory shoppers in the rental real estate market. They specifically seek out self-managed properties or weak managers because they know the right questions won't be asked. Then, once they're in the home and you've moved away your nightmare begins. They stop paying. They stop communicating. They damage your home. And the worst part is there's very little you can do from a distance, without great expense. There are professional predatory tenants out there who can and will stay for several months for free in your home, possibly driving you into foreclosure or worse. This is the primary reason that you need a seasoned representative who is only minutes away from your property, can first properly qualify your prospective tenants and, if needed, respond to issues that arise with rapid and decisive action.
Any number of maintenance and/or repair issues can and do arise with your home at any time. We offer an after-hours emergency line wherein tenants can call if and when there's a legitimate emergency. Aside from those situations, we have a tightly-regulated system of receiving work orders (in writing), reviewing them, and if needed, assigning the right professional contractor to effect the repairs. If you're not already established with the right repair people, situations like this can be time consuming and costly. Your time and frustration with repairs and maintenance alone is worth the investment in a property manager. Further, once the work is complete, you have little or no viable way of confirming that the work was done properly. We confirm that all repairs have been completed per the work order prior to paying our contractors. This insures quality work, happy tenants, and the careful and respectful consideration of your finances.
Advertising your home for rent is a costly process. Our firm handles all of your marketing and advertising and, given that we work with hundreds of properties just like yours, we are able to do so very cost-effectively. If you manage your own property, purchasing ads and waiting for phone calls can be draining in more ways than one.
As a professional real estate firm, we are up to date on the latest laws and regulations concerning leased property in Texas. We also have working relationships with the local courts and other government agencies that get involved if things get rough. Our established network allows us to quickly handle some of the more stressful issues that arise in property management. It's not for the meek or the uninformed. Allow us to handle these situations for you, save you hundreds if not thousands, and let you get on with your own more pressing matters.
What happens when a tenant doesn't pay?
Despite our strict application process, we do run into situations where a tenant pays late or doesn't pay at all. It's the nature of the business and, unfortunately, it does happen. Every situation is different, so first we try to assess the exact nature of the issue. If things can be resolved quickly and without major distress, we will make every effort to follow that path. If we can find the "win/win" then we will.
If that's not the case, then we take an aggressive posture and act deliberately. Evictions go out on the 5th of every month and are not mailed, but posted on the front door. They have 72 hours by law to satisfy their delinquency or we file in court. If that still does not get the tenant's attention then the eviction goes to trial. Simply, our documentation is outstanding so we do not lose in court. Once the eviction is granted they have another 72 hours to vacate. If that doesn't happen then we file for a Writ Of Possession and the Constable will arrive, armed, and escort them and their belongings to the curb.
This will all take place within the same month. We do not delay nor do we waiver when it becomes obvious that a tenant is trying to avoid their payment responsibility. It's not a process that will take months, only about 3-4 weeks. It doesn't usually go this far, but it has and we effectively handle things quickly and decisively.
After we've given them the boot, that same tenant will now have a judgment on their credit report, permanently damaging their ability to both borrow and find a decent place to live. While not trying to sound unkind, we don't take it lightly when someone tries to pull the wool over our eyes.
How are repairs handled?
The management agreement gives us the authority to spend up to $300 per individual repair prior to needing to consult the property owner. This allows us to do our jobs without interruption and provide proper service to our residents. That being said, you will be informed right away when a work order has been issued so you are kept in the loop about all on-goings with your property.
Should the repair needed exceeds the repair limitation of $300 then we will contact you first for approval. This is where things can get difficult because, despite having veto power over a larger repair issue, you need to make the repair anyway. If someone rents a home with a dishwasher then it's expected that the dishwasher will work and, if it breaks, that it will be repaired. You can say "no" to larger repairs but your resident will also have a solid, lawful reason to terminate their lease.
Once the repair is complete, the invoice will be paid out of our operating account and posted to your property account on our software system. You'll be able to see it in your account online as soon as it's posted. The funds for the repair will then be deducted from your next proceeds. If the amount exceeds the pending income, we will usually ask for payment in advance in order to keep your account in a positive status.
Emergency repairs are handled differently. Standard repairs are only ordered from work orders submitted in writing by the tenant, whether at the office or online. They follow the procedure as detailed above. Emergency repairs don't require a work order and can be fairly common. Anything involving water penetration into the house (plumbing issues, leaky roof, improper drainage), AC in the summer, and heat in the winter are all considered emergencies. We will make every effort to contact the owner but it is very important to remember that 1) even if we can't make direct contact with the owner we will move forward with the needed repair and, 2) even if as an owner you don't want to perform the repair we are legally obligated to do so. Any of the above situations can be critical to the health of the occupant and must be dealt with quickly. Not only do the laws of the State Of Texas allow us to proceed with these repairs, they command us to. Please keep this in mind if there's ever an unexpected circumstance with your property. We will do everything we can to uphold your best interest, but sometimes that involves making the required investment in a needed repair.
On that note, we do have an after-hours emergency line that affords tenants the ability to call in emergencies in the evenings and on weekends. While we can't always mobilize a repair crew outside of business hours, in many instances we can and will. Again, it has to be a legitimate emergency in order to rate this level of expediency. On the flipside, if we mobilize a crew and send the crew to a house because the tenant has reported an emergency outage only to find that it was a tripped breaker, we will bill that work order back to the tenant.
We try to carefully evaluate every repair work order that comes through our office. We don't repair cosmetic issues during a tenancy. Moreover, even if it's a functional repair, we will evaluate whether or not it was caused by tenant neglect and/or misuse. If that's the case, then the tenant will be required to pay for the repair, not the property owner.
What we want both parties to recognize is that your needs will be addressed timely and fairly.
What types of property do you manage?
Linnemann Realty is a manager of single family residences and duplexes. We have a few 4-unit buildings in our inventory, but only a few and we're not taking any new apartment buildings under our care. Should you have an investment that's 4 units or more then we'll be happy to refer you to some of our friendly competitors who handle that type of property.