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...
On December 23rd, our listing agent received a call from a prospective tenant requesting to view one of our managed properties that had painting in progress. The property was scheduled to go on the market in the next few days. The prospective tenant asked to view the property that day, even though it was not yet ready-to-rent. Our agent scheduled an appointment that afternoon.
The prospective tenant loved the house, was willing to accept the home without the painting being completed, and was requesting an immediate move-in date. He explained that he was moving from Maryland to Woodbridge to care for a sick family member. He wanted to occupy the home within 2 days since his family members would be able to assist with the move over the holiday. The applicant stated that he had excellent credit and substantial income. He completed an online application within 30 minutes of viewing the property. He also offered to paint the home himself so that he could move immediately rather than waiting for the scheduled work to be completed.
Most self-managing landlords would be excited about this scenario and the option of having the home rented before the new yea...
All of our employees have read and EMBRACED this phenomenal book and the perspectives that it promotes. Our employees are committed to the following habits:
THE FIRST HABIT: Amazing People Show Up Ready to Amaze – Our staff is ready to provide excellent service to our landlords, tenants, and applicants every day! We show up on time (or early), we love our jobs, and we know that our level of responsiveness has a huge impact on our landlords’ bottom line and on our tenants’ sense of “home”.
THE SECOND HABIT: Amazing People are Proactive – We focus on anticipating future needs and risks. Therefore, during the fall and winter months, our staff is working on ways to improve all of our processes…upgrading our software, automating manual processes, hiring new vendors, finding ways to do everything better so we can be ready to roll for the spring rental demand!
THE THIRD HABIT: Amazing People Want Feedback (The good, the bad and the ugly!) – Our maintenance system requests feedback for every completed work order. We love your...
Our property management agreement includes a provision for our staff to authorize any maintenance costs up to $250 on behalf of the owner. This provision is critical to our ability to provide effective management of your property.
If your tenant reports a leaking pipe, a sparking outlet, a gas leak in the oven, or a lack of heat in December, we will need to promptly dispatch an appropriate vendor. Such licensed or specialized vendors charge between $75-$125 for a service call or diagnostic fee. Upon diagnosis and proposal of a repair, the vendor is owed the service call fee. If the overall proposed repair cost is under $250, it does not make financial or logistical sense for us hold off approving these minor repairs when doing so could result in a second service call fee and an increase in the cost of the repair.
The vendors that we dispatch on a regular basis (Popes Heating and Air, J.E. Black Electric, ASAP Appliances, Repair 99, JC Plumbing, Red & Blue Plumbing Services, Workhouse Plumbing, C&P Plumbing) have been working with us for years, providing us with excellent service and competitive rates. They have handled THOUSANDS of maintenance calls for us. We t...
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