We’ve written several blogs regarding deductions from a tenant’s security deposit at the end of the lease term. Landlords also often ask about charging tenants for maintenance needed during the term of the lease that seem to have been caused by tenant actions.
Sometimes it’s easy to determine when the tenant should be charged for a service call or repair. For example:
If the toilet is clogged and the plumber pulls out Legos or a toy soldier, the tenant will be charged for the service call. The tenant will also be charged for any damages a related overflow caused to the ceiling below.
If a disposal is not working and the plumber finds aquarium rocks or broken glass inside the unit, the tenant will be charged for the repair or replacement of the disposal.
If a tenant backs into a garage door, that tenant will be charged for the repair to the door.
For other damages, it may not be as easy to determine whether the tenant is at fault and should be charged. If a bathroom floor tile is broken, is it due to the tenant dropping something on the tile or because the surface below is not stable enough? If there is a sewage back up is it d...
When I speak to new landlords, they have usually decided to have their property professionally managed because they don’t want to get a call in the middle of the night about a clogged toilet or because they don’t want to worry about tenants trashing their home.
In the past 12 years managing approximately 400 properties, we’ve only had a handful of late-night toilet issues and only two properties that I considered “trashed” by the tenants.
Here are some of the things that our Maintenance Coordinators have actually been working on recently:
A family of skunks borrowing under the front steps of a property
A gas leak behind the wall of a condo which caused the gas to be turned off for the entire block of condos
Dead birds in a chimney
All of the smoke detectors in a single-family home going off in unison at 3AM due to an electrical issue rather than to any smoke being present
A garage door that opens on its own several time per day
Bats in an attic of a townhome due to an entry point in a neighbor’s siding
Participation in a neighborhood project to install and tie together French drains through th...
I’m sure you’ve heard that the CDC has “extended” the Eviction Moratorium through the end of the year. We met with our attorney last week to get his interpretation on what actions we can and cannot take on behalf of our landlords
We’ve been advised that we CAN move forward with issuing Non-Compliance Notices for non-payment of rent and file Unlawful Detainers (for evictions). BUT, if tenants provide us (or the landlord) with a completed CDC Declaration Form, then all action must be halted until the end of the year. On the Declaration Form, the tenant must affirm that he or she makes less than $99K per year (double that for a couple), has been impacted financially due to loss of income or high medical bills, has tried to work on a payment plan, and has tried to access other sources of funds. Attempting to continue with an eviction after a tenant has provided the Declaration Form will result in si...
Nationwide, nearly two-thirds of all rental properties are self-managed by their landlords. This statistic holds true locally in Prince William County as well. Each year, in December, as many of these landlords start thinking about their New Year’s resolutions, we begin to get calls from landlords looking for professional management services. Most of the time, this decision is because the DIY landlord just jumped into management with little research or training ahead of time.
Based on my conversations with these DIY landlords who now realize that property management is more than just asking the tenant to make a direct deposit into their checking account each month, we’ve developed a list of the 13 most important things that a DIY landlord should know before getting started.
The eviction process – If tenants are late with rent payments, Landlords should know what notices are needed and how they must be served, what documentation is needed, and what circumstances will require an attorney. Now with the impacts of COVID, landlords should also be familiar with how the CARES Act and recent eviction moratoriums impact what restrictions may be...
To our fellow agents who are showing our listed properties and presenting applications for our managed properties – We appreciate those agents who are working with renters and addressing that important segment of the housing market.
Please remember that we are representing the landlords and that a rental application is a request (offer) from a perspective tenant to rent a home. All applications are screened for credit profile, criminal history, rental or mortgage history, and income verification. If an applicant meets our screening criteria, we will make a recommendation to the landlord regarding acceptance. Note that the owner has the final decision as to whether an application is accepted.
Due to our agency relationship with the landlord, you’ll find that our application process shares many of the same dynamics as the sales offer process.
We present all offers to the landlord
We continue presenting all offers to the landlord until a lease is signed (unless the landlord instructs us otherwise)
A tenant may be fully qualified to rent one of our managed properties, but a landlord may accept another application tha...
Currently, under the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act, if a landlord does not make a critical repair within 30 days, the tenants can file a Tenant Assertion and pay their rent to the court until the landlord completes the needed repair.
Effective July 1st, tenants will have another option if landlords do not make needed repairs that impact health, safety or habitability within 14 days. At that point, tenants can make repairs themselves and deduct the costs from their rent.
This new law, referred to as Tenant Remedy by Repair, was originated based on input from the Poverty Law Center. It is meant to protect tenants from slumlord practices. Tenants will be allowed to make repairs and deduct the cost from their rent IF AND ONLY IF the repairs impact healthy, safety, or habitability and the landlord does not take action in 14 days.
Our current maintenance process includes a goal to have routine repairs completed in 7 days. Emergency maintenance is handled the same day whenever possible (sometimes within the same hour!). Except for major insurance claims and home warranty claims, we are typically a...
When Jill Malloy of Long & Foster Real Estate taught a Fair Housing Zoom Class last week, she opened by saying “Where people are allowed to live influences everything else in their lives.” Her statement stuck with me all day.
With today’s national crisis around race relations, it is more important than ever for our industry to ensure that Fair Housing Laws are not only adhered to, but also understood and fully embraced.
One of the first services that we provide to our new landlords is to vet perspective tenants and to do so in compliance with Fair Housing Laws. This year, Virginia expanded the number of protected classes in our state to fully encompass four additional classes – Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Status as a Veteran, and Source of Income. We are committed to ensuring that our application process does not discriminate against these or any of the existing protected classes. We are committed to INCLUSION and will educate our landlords whenever needed on this critical requirement.
Each year, the General Assemble passes several bills that directly impact landlords through an update of the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA). This year, an unusually high number of new laws will become effective July 1st. Here is a quick summary that landlords should be aware of. Please contact our office (Michele at 703-590-8109) if you have any specific questions about how your lease or rental property may be impacted.
Late fees capped – late fees are now capped at 10% of the monthly rent or 10% of the total balance due, whichever is less. This law was pushed forward on an emergency basis and has already taken effect.
Landlords can accept damage insurance instead of a security deposit – this has been a popular option in other states. Our staff will fully research available policies, coverages, and limitations so that we can advise our landlord clients.
Tenant Remedy by Repair – This bill was originated by the Poverty Law Center to protect tenants from slumlord practices. Tenants will be allowed to make repairs and deduct the cost from their rent IF AND ONLY IF the repairs impact healthy, safety, or habitability and the ...
The COVID-19 Crisis has had a direct and significant impact on real estate investors in the following ways:
Late fees cannot be charged,
Evictions can not occur for at least 4 months,
Some tenants are not able to move-out at the end of their leases,
Some tenants are refusing to allow entry for required maintenance,
Homes can not be shown to prospective tenants or buyers when occupied by tenants,
A new VA law further protects furloughed Government workers from being evicted for an additional 60 days, and
Another VA law (unrelated to COVID-19) will be effective July 1st that will allow tenants to make their own repairs and charge landlords under some scenarios.
Fortunately, less than 2% of the tenants in our managed portfolio are late with their rent payments. However, many of our managed properties are being listed for rent over the next few months and the challenges with showing occupied properties do impact those landlords. We are completely committed to maintaining our landlords’ best interests and have implemented several new policies/procedures to do just that.
As we juggle many changes and much uncertainty, our company is stable, our staff is healthy, and we continue to strive to provide excellent management services. We know that landlords are concerned with how the global pandemic may affect their tenants, their homes, and their cash flow. We are receiving lots of calls with questions from our property owners and from the residents of those properties. We are also getting calls from people who are self-managing who have no idea how to handle this situation or where to even start. We know that landlords will be relying on us more now than ever. Despite our physical office being closed, there is no reason to expect this change to affect the level of service that we strive to provide.
We are fully staffed. We are completely up-to-date with the daily changes driven by national and local regulations. Our property management staff members are working from...
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