While less than 2% of our tenants have had challenges paying rent during the COVID pandemic, for those tenants and their corresponding landlords, the negative financial impact is significant. Fortunately, the Virginia Rent Relief Program (RPR) still has funds available to assist tenants with past due rent balances.
Tenants could receive up to 15 months of rental assistance if they experienced a financial hardship (directly or indirectly) due to COVID-19. Applications can be submitted online, with tenants supplying proof of income, along with a copy of their lease and ledger. Note that the rental relief funds are paid directly to the landlord or property manager, not to the tenant.
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is administering the program which is funded through Virginia’s allocation of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. DHCD’s website provides detailed information on the application process which is simple and straight forward.
Our entire staff met (via Zoom) with our attorney, David McKennett, to come up to speed on the latest status of the Eviction Moratoriums. This is one of the most important topics for Property Managers to keep on top of since it is constantly changing, requires strict adherence to legal processes, and can significantly impact landlord’s cash flow.
Here’s an overview of the current Eviction Moratoriums, laws, and restrictions at the Federal, State, and County levels….
HHS/CDC TEMPORARY HALT IN RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS TO PREVENT THE FURTHER SPREAD OF COVID-19 – This Federal Level “moratorium” remains in place through March 31, 2021 and stops the eviction process If a tenant provides a written declaration that they have been financially impacted by COVID.
VIRGINIA LAWS THAT IMPACT DOCUMENATION AND TIMELINES FOR EVICTION – Rather than issuing a 5-Day Notice when tenants are late with rent payments, landlords and property managers must now issue a 14-Day Notice. This notice must also include notification of tenant rights and information regarding the “Virginia Rent and Mortgage Re...
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...
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 ...
While landlords and property managers have always been required to test smoke alarms, a new Virginia Landlord Tenant Law now requires that tenants be provided with an annual written certification that smoke alarms are correctly installed and functioning properly.
In order to fully comply with this new requirement, we have hired Stop Loss LLC to conduct the annual certifications. Stop Loss inspectors are all off-duty fire fighters who have a vested interest in ensuring our managed properties are compliant with state laws and are free of safety risks. In addition to testing all smoke alarms, inspectors will walk through the home and identify any other fire safety risks.
Inspectors will ensure that smoke alarms must be located in each bedroom and on each level of the home. Smoke detectors must also be less than 10 years old. Inspectors will replace any defective alarms and install any missing smoke alarms. For homes that have natural gas utilities, one Carbon Monoxide alarm will also be installed.
Owners are charged for these certifications. Tenants will be held financially responsible if they have removed or disabled any smoke alarms. These certifications will...
Last week, a landlord who decided not to renew her lease so that she could sell the home, came into our office and said “There are scuffs on many walls in the home, please turn over the previous tenant’s entire security deposit to address those damages.”
As a licensed Real Estate brokerage, and per the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, we must prepare a SODA – Statement of Deposit Account - and provide a detailed accounting of the security deposit charges to the tenants within 45 days of their lease end date. Tenants are allowed to leave normal wear and tear, which does include some scuffs. If tenants cause damage above normal wear and tear, such as stains, major scuffing, dents, gauges, scratches or excessive dirt/grime then their security deposit will be charged.
When a security deposit is charged, some charges may be done on a depreciated basis per guidance from local judges. For instance, carpet damage is charged based on a 6-year depreciation period and painting is charged based on a 4-year depreciation period. This is dictated by guidance from local judges that landlords should expect to paint a rental pro...
Across our 350+ managed properties, 98% of the time the rent is paid on-time, the tenants fulfill their lease term, the property is maintained in good condition, and the landlords are happy with the performance of their investment property.
For the other 2% of our managed properties, there is a workload increase for our staff and a financial and/or emotional strain on the landlords. Our tenant selection criteria, along with our management practices, nearly always results in a smooth landlord experience. However, because “life happens”, I do want to share some of the less positive experiences so that new landlords have a realistic expectation of the risks associated with transitioning their homes into rental properties.
This month, we received an email from one of our tenants informing us that he had vacated the property halfway through the lease term. “Mr Smith” had lost his job, so he packed up his family and moved back to Ohio to live with relatives. With no notice, “Mr Smith” left the keys on the counter, left a refrigerator full of food, left several truckloads of personal property, and left the landlords with...
As part of our tenant screening process, we have always run a criminal background check on each applicant. We have provided our landlords with information regarding felony convictions within the past 7 years and any pending court dates that may have an impact on an applicant’s financial situation.
A recent Supreme Court ruling has upheld the determination that making housing decisions based on arrest and conviction records has a disparate impact on members of a protected class and therefore can not be used broadly as a reason for denying a rental application. Moving forward, property managers and rental listing agents must have clear policies and how and why data retrieved from a criminal history search will be used when screening tenants.
To comply with the new HUD guidelines, our company will provide landlords with the following information as part of the tenant screening process:
Felony convictions in the past five years
Drug distribution convictions in the past ten years
Pattern of multiple drug possession convictions in the past five years
Currently, 13% of the homes currently on the market for rent in Prince William County were built before 1978. For such properties, it is important for landlords to understand the EPA regulations which govern how repairs must be made in a tenant occupied property that may contain lead based paint.
If your home was built before 1978, a lead based paint disclosure and information pamphlet will be provided to your tenants at the time of lease signing.
While we are managing a property built before 1978, and a repair is needed that will disrupt drywall (more than 6 SQFT inside or 20 SQFT outside), we will need to use an EPA certified vendor to perform the required repair. That vendor will seal off the area while work is being completed and ensure that all dust is properly removed. The additional preparation, containment, and clean up involved will impact the c...
With strict qualification criteria in place, we seldom need to proceed with tenant evictions (typically no more than 1 tenant per year with 250+ managed properties). While we have an excellent attorney on retainer and a swift process to proceed with eviction if necessary, we do want landlords to understand that late or non-payment of rent is always a possible risk with a rental property.
In Prince William County, the eviction process typically takes 6-8 weeks to complete. If we have not received rent by noon on the 5th of the month, we’ll give a courtesy call to the tenant to get a status on the rent payment. If rent is not received by 9AM on the 6th of the month, we will assess late fees and have the Sheriff post a 5 Day Notice of Material Non-Compliance to begin the legal process.
If the tenants have still not made a full rent payment 5 days after the notice has been posted, we will file an Unlawful Detainer with the General District Court and schedule an eviction hearing (typically about 3 weeks later).
At the time of the eviction hearing, if all of the paperwork is in order, the judge will grant immediate...
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