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.

The Realty of Listing Rentals During the Winter Months

Michele - Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Property Management Blog

In June of this year, there were 226 properties put on the market for rent in Woodbridge. These properties averaged 36 days on the market to procure a tenant. These results represent the busy, high-demand, summer market.


Due to the cold weather, holiday seasons, and standard spring/summer schedules for Military and family moves, the rental market during the winter months takes on a completely different dynamic. In December 2014, only 129 properties were put on the market for rent in Woodbridge. These properties averaged 64 days on the market to procure a tenant with an average rent almost $75 less than the summertime rates.


Given the realities of the winter market, we suggest that landlords who do have to or choose to put their properties on the market in the winter months plan to price their properties competitively at the lower end of the suggested market price range. We also suggest considering an 18-month lease to move the lease end date into the more favorable spring/summer months to position the home in a better time frame for eventual sale or re-renting.


While our company’s average days on the market a...

Clarity on Long Range Plans is an Important Factor for Successful Management of your Rental Property

Michele - Thursday, November 19, 2015
Property Management Blog

Landlords….In order for us to best advise you on target lease terms and lease renewal options, it is important that we understand your long range plans for the property. The majority of our landlords intend to sell their homes in 3-4 years once the market value increases enough to meet their financial goals for the sale. Some of our landlords intend to keep their properties as long-term investments for 15+ years. Still others hope to sell their home as soon as the current lease has expired.


While many tenants start with a one or two year lease, our average lease/tenancy lasts 4-5 years with tenants renewing their lease several times after the initial lease term. Tenants usually assume that the home they are renting will continue to be available “indefinitely” and are often caught off guard when a landlord opts not to renew the lease so that the property can be put on the market for sale. It is helpful for us to know the landlords’ intentions regarding how long they plan to keep the property as a rental so that we can properly set expectations with the tenants.


At the beginning of each year, we’ll query our landlords to...

Talking to Tenants – Leave that to us!!

Michele - Sunday, September 27, 2015
Property Management Blog

Earlier this year, one of our landlords who lives locally stopped by his rental property, knocked on the door, introduced himself and let the tenant know that he wanted to sell the home at some point in the future, so he offered to be flexible if the tenant had any interest in terminating the lease early. (Sorry M.R. you know this post is about you!). Coincidentally, the tenant had been thinking about buying a home, so a week later, he ratified a contract to purchase a new home and let the landlord know that he’d be moving out within a month. Certainly, that isn’t what the landlord meant when he said he’d be flexible; he assumed the tenant would provide a 60 to 90 day notice, and would likely do so in the springtime. He did not anticipate that the tenant would take immediate action and expect to be let out of the lease within the month. Fortunately, the owner was able to further negotiate and we prepared a lease termination agreement that worked out well for him, but the communication initiated by the landlord set off a very unexpected series of events that needed swift reaction.


We find that conversations between landlords often lead to miscommunications or discuss...

The Grass is Always Greener when the Owner is Caring for it!!!

Michele - Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Property Management Blog

The standard lease verbiage requires the tenants to cut, water and maintain the lawn. The standard lease further requires tenants to trim the shrubbery. We’ve also added additional verbiage to our leases to require the tenants to keep the mulch beds free of weeds (as this has been a consistent problem with many tenants).


Tenants are not required to replenish mulch, or to perform long-term lawn maintenance such as fertilization, aeration or over-seeding. Tenants are required to keep lawns weed-free, but only to the extent to which they began with a weed-free lawn.


We suggest that owners who have spent significant time and/or money to ensure their lawns are well manicured continue to pay for annual maintenance that includes fertilization, weed treatments, aeration and seeding. While a tenant can be charged for landscaping services due to lack of lawn care, the costs/risks associated with the time it takes to regenerate a great lawn exceed what the tenant can be charged.


We also suggest that owners plan to replenish mulch on an annual basis. The commitment that an owner makes to the exterior of the home impacts ...

Showing The Property When Tenants Are In Place

Michele - Thursday, June 18, 2015
Property Management Blog

Our experience indicates that the optimal time to begin marketing a property is 45 days before the target availability date. So, when an existing tenant is nearing the end of their lease, we typically schedule to put the home on the market for re-rental 45 days before the lease end-date. The lease has specific provisions that allow for us to put a lock box and sign on the home, and allow for Real Estate Agents to enter the home using a lock box during that time period.


However, the lease does not require tenants to make their beds, wash their dishes, or pick their clothes up off the floor. Most of the time, tenants in our managed properties do keep the homes in a condition that is suitable for showing the home to perspective tenants. 80-90% of our managed properties are maintained in a condition that allows for them to be listed with existing tenants in place resulting in procurement of the next tenant with less than 14 days of vacancy between tenants.


In approximately 15% of the homes that we manage, we will need to delay the marketing of the property until after the existing tenants have moved out. In these cases, where tenants are not maintaining...

Understanding EPA Requirements for Repairs in Older Homes

Michele - Thursday, June 11, 2015
Property Management Blog

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.


http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-02/documents/lead_in_your_home_brochure_land_b_w_508_easy_print_0.pdf


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...

When the Courts Need to Get Involved…..

Michele - Thursday, June 4, 2015
Property Management Blog

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...

Annual Maintenance of Your Asset

Michele - Thursday, May 28, 2015
Property Management Blog

If you were still living in the home that has now become a rental property, you would likely be power washing and sealing the deck every 2 years, trimming the trees that begin brushing against the house, sealing the driveway before the cracks get too deep, and painting any peeling trim before the wood begins to rot.

These annual maintenance tasks are just as important on your rental property as they are on your primary residence. Deferring these maintenance items just pushes the cost into the future at a much higher price.

The better the house is maintained, the quicker it will rent and the better positioned it will be for eventual sale. Some of these maintenance items will need to be addressed if they become HOA violations, but landlords should be proactive about maintaining their properties, not just because the HOA requires them to do so, but also because it helps protect the long term value of their asset.

When preparing an annual budget for your rental property, we suggest factoring in expected costs of exterior maintenance over the next 3-5 years.

HOA Coordination

Michele - Monday, May 25, 2015
Property Management Blog

Most of our managed properties are located within communities that are governed by a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) or Condo Association. The lease will require that the tenants comply with all HOA regulations. In order to do so, the owner must provide a copy of the HOA regulations that pertain to parking, trash pick up, use of grills, exterior maintenance, etc.


Some HOAs also require that a landlord notify them when transitioning a home into a rental property and provide the association with a copy of the lease. Owners will need to check with their HOAs to find out if what specific requirements are in place for rental properties.


Owners should also let us know what additional coordination will be needed between our office and the HOA such as ensuring tenants have parking passes, visitor hang tags, pool passes, club house passes, gate entry cards, etc.


Owners must also provide the HOA with their forwarding address to ensure that they are notified promptly of any HOA violations. Many owners choose to have violation notices sent directly to our office so that we can take immediate action when notified.

Read More...

VRLTA versus Common Law Leases

Michele - Thursday, May 14, 2015
Property Management Blog

In Virginia, if a landlord owns only one rental property, the owner may choose to lease that property subject to Common Law or subject to the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA). While the landlord does have that choice, at RPM Direct, it is our policy to prepare all leases subject to the VRLTA.


There are many differences between the two options, both of which do provide fair protection to both parties. The primary reasons that we’ve decided to use the VRLTA lease exclusively are related to the late payment of rent and the eviction process:


Under Common Law, when a 5-Day Pay or Quit Notice is posted on the tenant’s door, if the tenant decides to “Quit” or leave the property rather than to pay the past due rent, the lease is automatically terminated and no further rent is due from the tenant to the owner. Under VRTLA, when a 5-Day Notice of Material Non-Compliance is posted, even if the tenant leaves the property, he or she is still financially responsible for payment of rent through the remainder of the lease term, subject to the owner’s duty to attempt to find a replacement tenant.


Under C...


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