Most Austin Property Managers, in fact all that I know, require tenant repair requests to be submitted in writing. This is required by Texas Property Code as well as the commonly used TAR (Texas Association of Realtors) and TAA (Texas Apartment Association) lease forms. It’s good practice for tenants to follow, even if the landlord or property manager doesn’t strictly enforce it. As a tenant, you want all of your important communication regarding your lease to be documented in case the worst case scenario ever comes about and you end up in court over a dispute.
At Crossland Property Management, we provide an online repair request form for the convenience of our tenants. 99% of our repair requests originate here, albeit sometimes after I direct a tenant there from a phone call or email. Occassionally tenants fuss about this. “Why can’t you just take the info over the phone?” is a common gripe. “Because we already agreed in the lease agreement that repair requests are submitted in writing or online” is my response. “And we make that super easy for you by providing an online form”.
The operational efficiencies of having all repair requests originate online through a repair request form are phenomenal.
1) The online request form is interactive.
This is very important. All property managers should be programming your online repair requests with this functionality. It’s simple to do even for non-programmers if you’re using the right web tools. Sorry, but none of the “out of the box” pre-fab websites that many property managers use provide for this, which is another good reason to develop, host and manage your own website with WordPress, then you can use a simple Forms Plugin.
For example, on my repair request form, once the checkbox under “Problem” is checked “Air Conditioner” or “Furnace”, an informational blurb automatically appears above the Submit button. It reads:
“Many of our service calls for A/C and/or furnace result in “user error” as the cause, especially when seasons change from hot/cold and thermostats are not properly set. Please double-check your thermostat and also make sure you have clean filters properly installed. If you feel confident that the thermostat and filter(s) are in order, proceed with your request so we can get out to have a look.”
Likewise, if the tenant checks “Electrical” as the problem, the following blurb automatically appears:
I continue to be amazed at the number of agents who cannot grasp a simple concept when it comes to repair negotiations and who respond to reasonable, normal requests as if the sky is falling. My concept of reasonable is, in a nutshell, what would an ordinary buyer and seller consider reasonable, and what is fair to both parties?
In Texas, buyers have two bites at the apple when negotiating the terms and conditions of a residential real estate purchase. The initial negotiation is focused mainly on price and closing date. But your home isn’t necessarily sold just because it goes under contract. It has to survive the inspection and “Option Period” before we consider it a “hard” contract. That involves, in most cases, a second negotiation resulting from inspection items.
The second, final negotiation is completed during the Option Period after the buyer has had an inspection of the home performed. The buyer may then seek remedy or compensation for latent defects or repairs that were unknown and/or undisclosed at the time the initial contract was finalized. The buyer, through a final proposed amendment, essential tells the seller “if you agree to these additional terms and conditions, which are a direct result of the inspection or other discovery, we will waive our Termination Option and proceed to closing”.
Sellers in Texas have no contractual obligation to make any repairs whatsoever, period. All homes are sold “as-is”. However, a seller can refuse to work with a buyer on repair issues at risk of the buyer terminating the deal and seeking another home in better condition, or with a better price/condition relationship.
Sellers and their agents often fail to consider the fact that, if they let the current buyer walk away, the next reasonable buyer will probably ask for the same or similar repair remedies. In other words, those tree damaged roof shingles, leaking A/C coil, rusted out A/C drain pan, plumbing leaks and other items are not going to disappear upon the next buyer’s inspection. Furthermore, the next buyer may be even tougher in their requests than the current buyer.
So unless the buyer is completely unreasonable, ridiculous and over the top in the requests being made (as can indeed often be the case), it’s almost always going to be in a seller’s best interest to work with the buyer and make the deal happen – but to a limit.
This would be a lot easier if all buyers, sellers and agents had a common viewpoint or opinion of what constitutes “reasonable” repair requests. I have my own concept of what reasonable is, and I advise buyers and sellers according to this approach. But we often run into agents and buyers or sellers who have different ideas about what constitutes “reasonable” requests. When that happens, the final repair negotiations can become difficult, normally because of emotions, and sometimes deals fall apart because our buyer walks away from the unreasonable seller, or our reasonable seller tells the unreasonable buyer to take a hike. This isn’t a good outcome for either side, but neither is an outcome that is not win/win, and which has one party succumbing to the unreasonable demands of the other.
So what do I consider reasonable? Let go over it and see if you agree.
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