System - Monday, October 1, 2018
Over the past ten years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of landlords about how the decision to proceed with a home warranty is a budget decision which should be made based on the age of their appliances, the size of their maintenance reserve fund, and their perspective on repairing versus replacing appliances. I’ve also written several blogs on the pros and cons of home warranties. Lately, in our experience, the cons have been outweighing the pros.
Last weekend, we had a dryer delivered to one of our managed properties. This delivery occurred only after our staff member asked the landlord for permission to handle the situation outside of the warranty because the warranty company had been working on first repairing and then replacing the dryer with 3 service calls followed by 3 missed delivery appointments over 2 MONTHS! This tenant is not happy and we’ll need to regain her confidence before we engage her in a conversation about lease renewal.
Please see the excellent blog written by one of our colleagues in FL:
Michele - Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Landlords: According to Angie’s List you should seek 3 estimates before proceeding with a home repair. Lowe’s Contractor referral site refers 3 contractors for homeowners seeking estimates. Many homeowners have heard that they need to get 3 quotes for any major work to be done on their home.
But why is this necessary? Usually, a homeowner is not familiar with local contractors, nor is he or she familiar with average pricing for painting, drywall, carpentry or other types of home repairs. If that’s the case, a home owner needs to get several data points (quotes) in order to triangulate the data and make a comfortable decision on the best course of action.
But… When you hire a professional property manager to manage your home, you have hired someone who does know local contractors, who is familiar with average pricing for most repairs, and who has already triangulated the data!
With over 400 homes under management, we address nearly 1000 work requests per year. We know what it costs to install a garbage disposal, replace a gas hot water heater, paint a wall, replace a sliding glass door, and upgrade an HVAC system. We’ve ...
Michele - Monday, September 17, 2018
Nothing is more stressful to a tenant than to have their car towed on the day after they move into their new home! It is so important for landlords to provide us with the parking regulations for their community and to ensure that we receive any updates to the parking regulations over time.
Each community has unique requirements regarding vehicle registration, decals, hang tags, visitor spots, and general parking rules. Tow truck companies make money only when they tow, so tow truck drivers cruise through neighborhoods every night looking for improperly parked cars. Frequently, the cars towed belong to new residents who are not up to speed on parking regulations. All new landlords should provide us with a copy of the written parking guidelines, along with all needed parking passes or registration forms.
Over time, communities may update their parking guidelines. It is critical that landlords either request that all HOA/Condo Association bylaw updates be mailed to our company, or to forward such updates to us immediately upon receipt. Several years ago, the Powell’s Run Village Condo Association implemented a new policy that required occupants to have decals on vehicles parked in their driveways. Last ...
Michele - Monday, September 10, 2018
Fortunately, we seldom find our landlords worrying about whether or not they will need to hire an attorney.
Current Virginia Landlord Tenant Law allows property managers with a valid management agreement to file a summons and appear in court on behalf of a landlord, in order to evict a tenant through an uncontested unlawful detainer process and to seek a judgment for property damages that exceed a security deposit.
There are some scenarios where a property manager would not be able to represent a landlord in court, as doing so would constitute the property manager attempting to practice law.
Bankruptcy – if a tenant who is not current on rental payments files for bankruptcy, before an eviction can occur, an attorney will need to petition the bankruptcy court in order to have the lease removed from the bankruptcy proceedings. This is generally a straightforward process, but it does require the use of an attorney and does add approximately one month to the timeline needed to complete an eviction.
Tenant Assertion – Under the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, if the landlord is not properly maintaining the home under the terms of the lease, the...
Michele - Monday, September 3, 2018
In the past, when we included a rental rate increase at renewal, tenants would often contest the increase asking why the owner would want to increase the rent given that they are “great tenants” who pay the rent on-time and keep the house is good condition. Of course a landlord would want to increase the rent at renewal time to offset the likely increases in HOA fees, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes.
To overcome the objection of a rental increase, 5 years ago, we began documenting a required 3% increase at renewal into the original lease. We chose a 3% increase because the average annual rent in Prince William County has historically risen 3-5% per year. Keeping the increase on the lower side of that range allows an acknowledgment/appreciation of the tenant’s good standing. Documenting the increase in the original lease allows the tenant to be prepared for the increase and eliminates most objections.
One scenario to be aware of is that some neighborhoods may experience flat or decreased rental rates due to over supply or competition from new communities. In this scenario, the resulting rent at the end of a long-term tenant’s occupancy may actually be higher than mark...
Michele - Sunday, July 22, 2018
As a property management company, we offer two separate services:
- Tenant Procurement (referred to as Listing the Property) and
- Management of the property once a tenant is in place.
Most landlords take advantage of both of the services that we offer.
Sometimes, a landlord may already have a perspective tenant identified from their social network or may wish to minimize their tenant procurement costs by finding a tenant using their own online resources. We are happy to work with a landlord in these scenarios as long as the landlord is still in the property and can coordinate showings, answer perspective tenant questions, and negotiate terms of the lease.
If the landlord decides not to procure their own tenant, we welcome the opportunity to list the property. This entails providing a market analysis, determining a list price, photographing the property, installing a sign and lockbox, coordinating showings, providing weekly updates, processing applications, and negotiating the lease. This service requires a licensed Realtor who is compensated through the listing fee based on a percentage of the rental rate. In our busines...
Michele - Friday, May 18, 2018
When I first speak with new landlords, they often share that they are worried about getting a call from tenants in the middle of the night about a toilet overflowing. Actually, we rarely have emergency toilet issues, but we do often have emergency calls from tenants with no AC. This typically happens on the first hot day of the year when tenants are turning the AC on for the first time in the spring, or in late July and early August when the AC systems are pushed to their maximum capacity due to extreme temperatures.
Industry standards do not consider the lack of AC to be an emergency unless the temperatures are in the 90s or tenants have health related concerns. Because we are committed to providing excellent service, we ask our HVAC contractors for same-day service whenever possible if temperatures are above 85 degrees.
However, we’ve experienced that tenants consistently DEMAND that any lack of air conditioning be treated as an emergency! Tenants also frequently demand to be put up in a hotel if the AC is not working. We attempt to handle this situation in a way that keeps the tenants from losing their cool without a significant financial i...
Michele - Sunday, April 8, 2018
Because many of our landlords rely on incoming rent to pay their monthly mortgage, we feel it is important for them to be involved in the application vetting process.When we screen perspective tenants, we run a credit and criminal background search, verify employment/income, and obtain rental or mortgage history. A qualified applicant will have:
- Monthly income greater than 3 times the monthly rent
- Paid all rent on-time for the past two years
- Paid all other credit accounts on-time for the past two years
- A credit score greater than 650
- No criminal/felony history for the past 5 years
For each processed application, we will provide the landlord with a high level overview of the verified information obtained during the vetting process. We will also provide the landlord with a recommendation using a Red/Green/Yellow paradigm.
Green applications are those that meet all of our qualifying criteria. We recommend the landlord proceed with accepting the applications subject to the details of any pets or tenant requests.
Michele - Saturday, March 3, 2018
IN A PERFECT WORLD, you don’t need a property manager. In a perfect world, the tenant pays rent on-time (or early), doesn’t want to break the lease, takes good care of the home, and doesn’t have unauthorized pets or occupants in the home. …. In a perfect world, appliances don’t break down, HVAC systems don’t stop heating and cooling, basements don’t get flooded, sewage systems don’t back up, roofs don’t leak, faucets don’t leak, and trees don’t get blown down.
But of course, it isn’t a perfect world. For instance, yesterday, was not a perfect day!
Our area suffered a major windstorm with wind speeds up to 60-70 MPH. Several of our tenants reported trees blown down blocking roads or landing on roofs and fences. In severe weather circumstances, many major tree companies are contracted to work for VDOT or the power companies to prioritize restoring power and removing trees and debris from roadways. Fortunately, we have an excellent working relationship with a local tree company that allowed us to have the fallen trees removed within hours of tenant reports.
At least 20 of our tenants have already repo...
Michele - Sunday, July 23, 2017
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...