FAQ

The page has been setup to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive.  Some are targeted towards existing tenants, some towards prospective tenants, some for real estate agents, and some for investors.

Between the owner, partners, and property mangers, we’ll do our best to keep updating this page with new questions we feel we’re often asked.

Have your own that you don’t see here? Ask away and we’ll do our best to answer.


18 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. Help, I was given a 3 day notice! What should I do?

    Pay your rent. That was easy. Next question. 🙂

    But let’s say a tenant gets a 3 day notice and can’t pay. What happens? Well, we can’t give LEGAL advice so please read below as just general information. The eviction process is complex. It’s reasonable to assume that we might know it better than you. So rather than take advantage of that fact, we try to do our best to explain the process.

    In most cases, rent is due on the 1st, late on the 2nd, with a 3 day grace period before late fees accrue (normally $25 + $10/day). If a tenant is going to be late with rent, it’s best to let us know in advance. We’ll typically add a note to a tenants page with then information they’ve supplied us about when they can pay. That way, when it comes time to take the next step in an eviction process, if there is an accepted plan in place we can hold off proceeding as long as the committed payment terms are kept. Note that you may still be responsible for late fees, and not all proposed payment plans can be agreed to, but we do our best to be flexible. Especially for tenants who have otherwise been paying on-time. Worst case is we have to proceed with the steps below, but you’ll be able to stop it by paying*

    But what if a tenant didn’t notify us, or are simply unable to pay? On the 3rd of the month, we’ll typically see who hasn’t paid and try to reach out to them to see what’s going on before late fees kick in on the 4th. Failing an agreed payment plan, a 3 day notice is typically issued on the 4th. The 3 day notice simply states that you need to pay your rent in 3 days, or vacate the property. If you pay your rent+late fees in those three days, no futher action is taken. The other option which isn’t the best for anyone, is that the tenant simply vacate within those three days. That avoids an eviction, but note a tenant who vacates is still required to pay any previous balance any lost rent due to leaving with a broken lease.

    If after 3 days you’re still in the property, haven’t paid, and haven’t come up with an agreed plan, then eviction is filed. Typically at the JP court on Preston, downtown. At that point, a tenant can still able to pay to stop the process* but the clock is ticking. When we file, the eviction paperwork is taken by the JP court and given to the constables office. They then serve notice to the tenant. They’ll try to serve it in person 3 times. If after 3 times they can’t reach the tenant, they’ll ask the judge for alternate service which allows them to post notice on the tenants door. The timing of this process ranges anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. It’s normally 3-4 days till a tenant is served after we file.

    After service, the court date is set for 1 week in advance. If payment is made anytime before court, we can dismiss*. Note that once an eviction filed, a fee of $125 will be added to a tenants ledger to pay for court costs. If payment isn’t made before the court date, it’s likely that the judge will rule for the property owner and at that point, give the property owner a legal judgement against the tenant for rent due + court costs. The judge will also give the tenant ~ 7 days to vacate.

    Continuing the process at worst cast, let’s say the tenant STILL doesn’t leave after the time given by the judge. At that point the property owner can file a Writ of possession. At that point, it may STILL not be too late for the tenant*, however once a Writ is filed, a $150 charge is added to the tenants ledger. When the WRIT is filed, the constable will come back out and post a notice on your door that you have ~24 hours to vacate. The timeline varies, I’ve seen it happen in 1 day, I’ve seen it take a week. Once that notice is sent, they can come back as soon as 24 hours. When they do, that’s bad news. A moving truck comes with them and the items are removed, and placed into storage.

    In summary, there are lots of different tracts that can be taken with non payment of rent. But if no payment/plan is made, and a tenant hasn’t left, it’s normally like this:

    1st: Rent due
    2nd: Rent late
    3rd: Contact made with tenant for update.
    4th: Late fee, 3 day notice.
    7th: Eviction filed.
    10th: Notice of eviction served by the constable. (Est of 3 days to serve. This can vary)
    17th: Court date (one week after service)
    24th: “Writ date”. Date judge gives for tenant to leave, and owner to file for possession.
    27th: Constable serves WRIT (est of 2 days after filing. This can vary)
    29th: Constable shows up with moving van, tenant belongs taken to storage.

    What’s up with all the *’s? For chronic late payers, those we’ve had to file on, those who are late right away, those we feel will continue to fall behind, we may elect to continue with the evictio process even if you can pay. This is very rare, and we’ll always explain when this is the case and why.

  2. Why was I asked to apply in advance?

    There are a few reasons we sometimes require tenants apply in advance.

    1) Our units are almost never empty. So when we’re listing a unit, it’s for an upcoming unit that’s typically occupied at the moment by someone that’s leaving soon. In order to respect their enjoyment of the property, we try to limit the number of people that view to those that are pretty serious about the place. The good news is, when it’s time for you to move on from one of our units, we’ll do our best to limit the number of people who we show your unit to before you leave.

    2) Quite honestly, we receive a lot of replies from our postings. Showing units takes money and time on our part as schedules have to be set, other tasks put on hold, etc. to show a unit. While we understand some people don’t want to apply before viewing the unit in person, on the flip side, some owners and managers don’t want to show to someone that hasn’t applied. We try to supply as much information about our properties as possible to help make the decision as to if the property is a fit an easy one. You can drive by, and in most cases even walk the property. We supply pictures, answer questions, etc. Note that once an application is on file, it works for any of our properties. So if you apply and are not happy with the first unit you see, we have many more. We’re one of the largest owners of vintage Montrose properties so if one isn’t a fit, maybe another is.

    We do have some exceptions to this rule… Such as when a unit is actually empty. In that case, if you haven’t applied we’ll normally just ask that you call us when AT the property and we’ll come and meet you (we’re always close).

  3. What apartments do you have available?

    Harder question to answer than you’d think. Do you mean “available available”? As in open, empty, ready to go? Likely nothing. We always have something “coming up” but not much ready now. Things tend to go pretty quick. Our tenant page typically shows what we have, or what we have coming up but that changes all the time. If you’d like to apply for any upcoming units, you can do so and in the application let us know what you’re looking for. We’ll typically reach out to those that applied when we have something that’s a fit before we’ll post on craigslist or HAR.
    Update: We’ve recently added a “Rentals” page that attempts to list any known upcoming units. Check it out

  4. Finding an apartment in Montrose is difficult. Any tips?

    Ah Montrose. Where getting a place is a total pain. You see something available and its taken before you can check it out. Places are over priced for what you get. Where is the hot water pressure? What’s up with the air conditioning? Pictures are always better than what you see… And that’s just what WE run into when trying to BUY a place.

    What we’re saying is — we feel your pain.

    There are a few tips I can offer that may run counter intuitive to what most people think of when looking to rent. Keep in mind that these tips are more for the older vintage properties. Larger properties or newer “Class A” properties have a different set of rules.

    1) Look far in advance: Makes sense, but doesn’t work here. The reason being is most of the older places don’t list units until they are just about ready to be available. Every now and then they’ll pop up 30 days before available but it’s not normally much longer than that. Advance research is a good idea to find out where you want to be, and what the price ranges are, but the chances of finding something for a 2+ month out move in date is small.

    pro tip: Many complexes, mainly those a bit larger, have several units that are all similar. A property might be full, or a unit you like might not be able to be held till your move in date, however if all units are the same, it might be worth the risk of securing an upcoming unit ‘sight unseen’ (since you know what they look like). There is risk here as the unit that you get that should be “the same” may not be, but it’s an option. We offer this on our properties where the units are the same, and we do our best to make sure ever element of each unit is the same to allow that option.

    2) Sleep on it: Makes sense, but doesn’t work here. Our typical availability period for a listed apartment is just under 2 days (we took the time to figure this out. It came to 41 hours on average). This isn’t because our places are awesome, or our agents are super stars, its just a high demand area. We tell people that plan to come by that if they see something before coming to see ours that they like, to take it. Because if they wait till they see ours, and then like the other more, it could be taken. On the same token, we have people that will come by ours, then say “we have a few more places to view”, then call us the next day wanting to take our place. We have to tell them it’s been taken.

    Pro tip: this isn’t to say jump on the first thing you see. But rather try to see properties in groups, and if you find one you DO like, take it. Once you’ve settled on something, waiting will only cause it to (likely get taken from you.

    3) Don’t bother to apply till you find a place. This makes sense, but doesn’t work here. We address applying in advance elsewhere in this FAQ. The reason we suggest this (for places other than ours as well) is it lets the owners know you’re qualified, serious, and ready to make a decision. In some cases (like ours) owners won’t charge unless you’re approved. This also has the benefit of allowing you to snatch up a place that you like on the spot vs. filling out an app later on, only to find the property was taken.

    4) It’s a small world afterall. Keep in mind that, as big as Houston is, some of our neighborhoods are quite small. Most of the property owners know eachother. I’d be lying if I said they never talk shop and trade horror stories. While tenants love to share slumlord horror stories, us good property owners have tenant horror stories of our own. While getting stood up by a prospective tenant doesn’t rank high on our troubles list, it is annoying (and one of the reasons a lot of people require an application in advance). So if you make an appointment to view, please show up. If you do setup an appotiment, make sure it’s for a property that fits your requiremnts based on the lsiting (i.e., if the listing says “Carpet flooring and window units” then don’t bother to view if you require hardwood floors and central air). We listed a 1 bedroom and a nice couple really wanted to see it on Saturday morning. So our of our property managers went to show them. They liked it, but stated that they wanted a 2 bedroom (our listing clearly states its a 1 bedroom. If we insisted they apply first, our guess is they would have made sure it was more likely to be a fit.

    As hard as it is to find a good place to rent, the last thing you want to do is tick off some owner who’s going to tell all his buddies about the person who stood them up at a few showings. It won’t help find a place if the next unit you want to view is owned by one of those other people.

    Pro tip: If I can end on one more counterintuitive point: If you don’t like the place, just tell the person. The worst thing you could say is “I love it, I can’t wait to get home and apply and put in a deposit!” if you don’t really like it. We’re big boys and girls. If our place isn’t a fit, that’s fine. Just let us know. If you let us know what you don’t like about a place (vs. saying you like it when you really don’t), we can often direct you to someone we know that has something that IS a fit for you. We showed a unit to a couple recently who loved it, but they REALLY wanted a washer/dery in the unit. Since they let us know that, I was able to point them to a friend that I knew had a unit coming up. Everyone wins.

    Have any more tips on how to find that perfect property? Feel free to share.

  5. How much is the deposit?
    The deposit on almost all our properties is equal to one months rent. Some other properties might charge more or less but we’ve found this is a good number for us. The reason we don’t charge less is we don’t do a lot of the credit and income verification that a lot of other properties do. If you’ve applied elsewhere you’ve noticed that they’ve wanted to call several of your previous landlords. Or they won’t rent to first time renters. Or they want rent to be no more than x% of your income. At Fat Property we feel you’re an adult and you can make your own decision as to how much of your income you want to put towards rent. We also don’t care about what your credit score is as we don’t feel that has anything to do with you as a renter, and the deposit is there to help take care of any credit risk. So by making sure we charge at least one months rent as a deposit, we can skip having to waste a bunch of everyone’s time to make sure someone is financially ‘qualified’. And while we hope people complete their lease term and pay their rent on time, if something happens and you can’t pay rent or need to move on, we have the deposit to mitigate our damages which saves us the need to have to chase someone down for a broken lease or missing rent.

    1. Yes, but there might be a higher deposit requirement. In the grand scheme of things, broken lease are not that bad. When someone breaks a lease, we normally just keep the deposit and call it a day. Evictions are a bit worse. In that case, it means someone not only didn’t pay, but they wouldn’t leave and the owner had to go to court to have them forcefully removed.

  6. Is there a “typical” percentage or amount the rent is going to go up if I sign a “cheap rent” lease for one of your recently purchased properties that is in the middle of renovations? I realize property demand is going to fuel rent increases, but if you’re offering $500 rent on a great 2 bedroom and then it fills up, what’s the chance my rent’s going to double once the place is fixed up and all my fellow hipsters move in?

    On a side note, are your leases typically 6 or 12 month?

    1. Great question(s)

      Leases are normally 12 months, but we’re fine with anything 6-12 month. Less than that we’ll still consider but for a bit higher (normally $25-$50/month more). Regarding rent as a “pioneer” in a building we just bought and are working on. I can’t give you any firm answer, but I can tell you what’s typical. When we bought 1901 Richmond, we were leasing units out at whatever we could get just to fill them up fast. I think we were doing $550 all bills paid. By the time those first leases expired (a year later), the property was “pretty” and new tenants were paying $700+. Since there are advantages to keeping the same tenants in when their lease comes up, we’ll normally raise the rent up a bit, but still under market. So I think those $550/month people went to $600/month when the building was finished. An increase to be sure, but still under market rent.

      We appreciate those renters who go into our properties right after we buy them, as we know they’re often pretty bad and they’re trusting that we’re going to make it better. So we try to reward that by keeping the rent under market during their stay.

  7. What is your policy on subletting? Say I want to sign a 12-month lease starting in January, but I get a job that will take me out of town for two months during the summer and find someone willing to rent my apartment during that time. Would that be acceptable and could I still return to finish out the lease?

    1. Per the lease, we would still need to approve the person and there would be 1/2 month charge. But in reality, so long as the person who ‘takes over’ is a good tenant and pays on-time, that fee is almost never charged. Just know that you’re untimely responsible for whatever the person subletting does.