During most of the pandemic, there was a Federal Eviction Moratorium in place that prevented landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent. This moratorium was put in place to reduce the possibility of forced homelessness and the health risks associated with that under a State of Emergency. The Federal Eviction Moratorium has been lifted and the pandemic is no longer treated as a State of Emergency. However, during the pandemic, the Virginia Legislature put several new laws in place that impact how long it takes to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent.
Prior to the pandemic, if tenants were late paying rent, landlords or property managers were required to issue a 5-Day Notice of Material Noncompliance (Late Notice) to start the eviction process. New laws now require the use of a 14-Day Notice which pushes out the timeline for filing an eviction request with the court. The notice must inform tenants of the Rent Relief Program, through which they may be able to seek financial assistance for their rent payments.
A new law (which will remain in effect through June 30, 2022) requires a landlord or property manager to apply for Rent Relief on behalf of the tenant if the tenant has not already don...
We realize that nearly all landlords rely on the incoming rent to pay the mortgage on their rental property. Because any delay with rental payments can cause stress and have a financial impact on the landlord, we take rent collection very seriously. We have put the following process in place to ensure that tenants know how important on-time payments are:
Onboarding information - When tenants move into one of our managed properties, we verbally review our policy on rent collection and provide a written statement regarding the importance of on-time payments. We also require tenants to pay via our online portal.
Reminder emails - Rent is due on the first of each month with a grace period through the fifth of each month. If we have not received rent by the afternoon of the fifth, we send out a polite reminder notice encouraging the tenant to make a prompt payment in order to avoid a late fee.
Late fees – If the tenant has still not paid rent by the sixth at 9AM, we assess a 10% late fee (or another amount as dictated in the lease). The tenant receives an email advising that a late fee has been added to their ledger.
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.
Over past three months, all the tenants in our managed properties...
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 Relief Program”. Furthermore, ...
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 significant penalties (fines and jail) for...
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 landlord does not take action in 14 days...
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 not only meet state requirements, but w...
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 property every 4 years and replace carpet e...
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 an empty house. While the lease require...
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
Recent arrests awaiting trial which could result in a sentence that would im...
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