Woodbridge Property Management Blog

Local Property Management News

New Landlords - we request that you read through all of our blog entries as some of the older posts contain the most important information that we’d like to share.

Tenant’s Security Deposits – Wear/Tear, Depreciation, and Legal Disputes

Michele - Sunday, July 23, 2017
Property Management Blog

 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...

One Landlord’s Treasure is Another Tenant’s Trash…..

Michele - Thursday, August 18, 2016
Property Management Blog

Landlords – If you own a large home with a basement rec room that has been converted into a poolroom, in most cases your incoming tenant will be excited about you leaving the pool table. Given the cost and hassle associated with moving a pool table, leaving it in the home is generally the best option for both landlord and tenant. Other than the pool table, landlords should plan to remove ALL of their personal property from the home when they convert their home into a rental property.

As landlords are packing up, they sometimes wonder if they can leave their bar stools, or large couch, thinking that the tenants may appreciate some furniture that fits perfectly in the house. Or landlords may wish to keep several large boxes or trunks in a storage area. In our experience, tenants want to walk into a completely empty house so that they can begin putting their own belongings in place. Tenants are concerned that they will be held responsible for the owner’s belongings and are really not comfortable with any such arrangement.

This month, we had three new landlords who asked tenants if they could leave a few things behind. In all three cases, th...

Late Rent Realities

Michele - Thursday, April 16, 2015
Property Management Blog

Due to consistent administration of rental qualification criteria, we are presenting qualified applicants to our owners and have not initiated eviction proceedings against a tenant in over a year.

We do occasionally experience late payments by tenants. With 250 properties currently under management, we average 3-4 tenants per month who pay rent after the 5th. Typically these tenants will have informed us in advance that they will be paying a portion of their rent late, and typically full payment is received by the 15th. If we have not received rent from a tenant by the 6th of the month, a late fee will be assessed and the tenants will be sent a legal notice demanding payment within 5 days to avoid initiation of the eviction process. Late fees collected will be forwarded to the owner. Any exceptions or additional grace periods must be approved in advance by the owner.

We also experience approximately 3 returned checks per month. We initiate rental funds transfers to the owners on the 7th of the month. Sometimes, a tenant's rent check is returned for non-sufficient funds after we have already transferred the rent payment to the owner. In this case...

Month-to-Month Leases - Good or Bad?

Michele - Thursday, April 9, 2015
Property Management Blog

Many local Realtors prepare leases so that after the initial lease term, the lease converts automatically to a month-to-month lease at the same rental rate. We typically advise owners against month-to-month leases and suggest annual leases with specific lease end dates.

If a lease does not have a specific end date, neither the landlord nor the tenant can appropriately plan in advance for an optimal course of action when a 60-day notice is given. Additionally, the rental market slows down significantly during the winter months, so allowing a tenant to provide a termination notice during the slow time of the year is not in the landlord’s best interest.

To further construct leases to take advantage of the spring/summer markets, if an owner is moving out during the winter months, we will suggest starting with an 18 month initial lease in order to get the property onto a spring/summer lease schedule.

Military on the Move!

Michele - Thursday, April 2, 2015
Property Management Blog

Almost every time that I sit across from a new landlord and ask about their goals for transitioning their home into a rental property, they mention that the perfect scenario would be for a Military family to rent their home for 3 years. Landlords expect that Military families would make perfect tenants based on the housing allowances provided and the level of financial accountability that is expected/demanded of a service member.We do market our listings on the Military targeted web sites and about half of our tenants are Military, so many of our owners do end up signing long term leases with active duty Military families.

It is important that landlords are also aware of the protective clause that is included in our lease. All Virginia leases include a Military Clause as required by the Service Members Civil Relief Act which allows Military tenants to break their lease without penalty with a 30-60 day notice if they receive orders to transfer to a new duty station or retire or leave the service. This week we received early termination requests from 3 different tenants who received orders and will be terminating their leases early after less than one year in the property. Since the ma...

Don’t Duke it Out with the Tenants!!

Michele - Thursday, March 26, 2015
Property Management Blog

Most landlords who are considering using a property manager are looking for someone to handle the “middle of the night emergency calls”. In reality, handling of those calls are very rare and are not the primary benefit of having a property manager. While a burst water pipe, a failed sump pump or a main drain back up will need immediate action, the more common challenges for landlords are enforcement/administration of the lease and handling of tenant requests.

We do have several plumbers on call to handle late night emergencies. But with 245+ properties, we typically have no more than 2-3 emergencies per year. What we do handle on a regular basis are tenant requests for early move out, HOA violations, repairs that are needed which may be due to tenant abuse or neglect, tenants requesting repairs that owners do not feel necessary, and tenants not clearly understanding their responsibilities under the lease.

I feel that the primary benefit of hiring a property manager is having a professional handle the enforcement of lease terms in a manner that maintains good rapport with the tenant while protecting the owner’s interests. Our knowle...

Few Tenants Travel with Their Washers and Dryers!

Michele - Thursday, March 12, 2015
Property Management Blog

In some parts of the country, rental properties are provided without washers and dryers, as tenants are expected to provide those units. However, in our area, 80+ percent of the rental properties available have a washer and dryer installed. So in this area, the average rental price assumes that a washer and dryer are present.

There are some perspective tenants, typically Military service members who have previously lived in Government Quarters, who will have their own washers and dryers. However, we suggest that landlords who do not have washers and dryers installed should be open to purchasing them if requested by an interested tenant. Rarely are tenants who do not already have a washer and dryer open to purchasing one.  Limiting prospective tenants only to those who have their own washer dryer could significantly impact the number of days it will take to get a property rented.

Local retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes typically have washer and dryer sets on sale for approximately $1000. While this may appear to be an expensive purchase, the cost of having a property on the market for an additional 2-4 weeks in order to find a tenant with t...

Growing Trend in "Roommate" Rentals

Michele - Sunday, November 25, 2012
Property Management Blog

Over the past few months, we've seen a significant increase in applications from unrelated adults who are seeking to move-in together as roommates.  In a recent presentation to the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), Dr. Stephen Fuller, an economist with George Mason University shared that he expected the "roommate trend" to continue and increase for the following reasons:

  1. Young professionals have seen their parents struggle with the financial challenges of home ownership and are not inclined to purchase a home.  They will be more likely to be renters than owners for the next several years.
  2. These same young professionals want to save money (especially in their 401Ks) and like to have discretionary funds for recreation and eating out.  They will prefer to keep their housing expenses at a minimum by sharing expenses with a friend.
  3. Adults in Generation Y are getting married and starting a family much later, so during their twenties, they are focused on lifestyle.  They want to live in a nice neighborhood that is close to work and close to their friends.  Pooling funds to rent a home with...
Focusing on Tenant Retention

Michele - Sunday, February 19, 2012
Property Management Blog

In a perfect world, a landlord wishes to find a tenant to move into their rental property as soon as it is available, pay rent on-time, keep the property well maintained, and continue renting until the landlord decides to sell the property or move back in. 

In a previous post, I discussed our goals for balancing between maximizing cashflow and minimizing vacancy as part of our Listing Process. Here, I’d like to focus on retaining a good tenant for as long as possible. 

To be honest, most people don’t like to move. Moving costs money, is hard work, and can be disruptive to family plans and routines. So once a tenant is in place, they usually stay in place, unless they have a compelling reason to move. 

Some compelling reasons we can’t control are: the need for more space as a family grows, the need to be closer to work as commuting becomes stressful, or the desire...