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.

What Should a Landlord Do Before, During and After a Major Snowstorm?

Michele - Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Property Management Blog

Well, 2022 decided to start with a huge snowstorm impacting our area with power outages, significant accumulation of snow, and 50+ miles of 95-South shut down for almost 24 hours! Landlords and property managers should have an action plan in place to prepare for such a storm.

Before the Storm:

  1. Contact tenants to remind them of how to get in contact in case of an emergency.  Ask tenants to winterize hose bibs if they have not already.  Remind tenants that they will need to shovel the steps, walkways, and driveways.  Let them know whether VDOT or the HOA is responsible for clearing the streets.
  2. Touch base with vendors that could be needed to clear snow, remove downed trees, or address roof leaks.  Vendors will be in high demand, so it is important to check in advance to see how you can best coordinate if needed.
  3. For vacant properties, turn off water main and drain lines so that pipes will not freeze if there is a power outage.

After the storm:

  1. For occupied properties, check in with tenants to ask them to look for any damage on the exterior of the property.
  2. For vacant properties, stop by as soon as possible to check for damages inside and outside of the property.
  3. For va...
How Often Should Landlords Inspect Their Properties?

Michele - Monday, August 16, 2021
Property Management Blog

One of the most important processes that any landlord or property manager should put in place is a firm and clear inspection schedule.  Most property managers inspect properties at least twice per year.  Self-managing landlords should also conduct periodic interior and exterior inspections throughout the year to document the condition of the property and identify any routine or preventative maintenance that is needed.  Most leases allow a landlord or inspector to enter the property for the purposes of inspecting after giving the tenant reasonable notice.  

At RPM Direct, we conduct two interior inspections of each property each year.  These inspections will occur after the third month and after the ninth month of an annual lease term.  In addition, each year, we contract with StopLoss to conduct a state required smoke alarm certification.  StopLoss is staffed by off-duty firefighters who will also provide a full fire/safety inspection of the home.

Third Month Inspections – An interior and exterior inspection will be conducted three months after tenants move in.  Our inspectors will take approximately 20-30 photos.  Photo...

13 Most Important Things You Need to Know if You Plan to Self- Manage Your Own Investment Property

Michele - Monday, September 14, 2020
Property Management Blog

Nationwide, nearly two-thirds of all rental properties are self-managed by their landlords.  This statistic holds true locally in Prince William County as well.  Each year, in December, as many of these landlords start thinking about their New Year’s resolutions, we begin to get calls from landlords looking for professional management services.  Most of the time, this decision is because the DIY landlord just jumped into management with little research or training ahead of time.  

Based on my conversations with these DIY landlords who now realize that property management is more than just asking the tenant to make a direct deposit into their checking account each month, we’ve developed a list of the 13 most important things that a DIY landlord should know before getting started.

  1. The eviction process – If tenants are late with rent payments, Landlords should know what notices are needed and how they must be served, what documentation is needed, and what circumstances will require an attorney.   Now with the impacts of COVID, landlords should also be familiar with how the CARES Act and recent eviction moratoriums impact what restrictions may be in place.   The best strategy will...
Can I Kick the Tenants out to Sell the House? Or can I Sell the House with the Tenants in Place?

System - Thursday, November 1, 2018
Property Management Blog

As many of our landlords are not professional investors, when market conditions are more favorable, or when something happens in their life that makes owning a rental property difficult, landlords sometimes ask us if they can terminate the lease in order to sell the property.

The lease is a contract between 2 parties (tenant and landlord). Each party depends on the other to fulfill their end of the contract. There are only 2 provisions in the lease that allow for early termination without penalty:

  1. A tenant who receives Military Orders has the right to terminate the lease without penalty.
  2. A landlord who lives outside of the area at the start of the lease may also terminate the lease if he/she is transferred back to the area and intends to move back into the home.

Except for these two reasons, the lease cannot be terminated cleanly. If it is important for a landlord to explore the selling the home, we can offer the tenant the option to move out early, or incentivize them to do so. This year, two of our landlords asked tenants to move out early and tenants took immediate action. Two other landlords asked tenants to move out early and those tenants were not open to moving due to financial or school related constraints.

You Don’t Need Us!!

Michele - Saturday, March 3, 2018
Property Management Blog

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 reported shingles, siding, and shutters bein...

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 determine if any have plans to sell the...

$$$$ Prepare for HVAC Costs $$$$$

Michele - Thursday, April 30, 2015
Property Management Blog

Repair or replacement costs of an HVAC system are major contributors to the maintenance budget of a landlord. With recent requirements on the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) imposed the the Department of Energy (Click Here for More Details) coupled with the conversion from R-22 to R-410A refrigerant dictated by the EPA (Click Here for More Details) costs to repair or replace an HVAC system are likely to catch landlords by surprise. In most cases, installation of a new system will cost over $5K. Any major repairs will also be costly as the may require a conversion kit/process or the capture/recovery of refrigerant.

We suggest that landlords be aware of the age of their HVAC system and its the projected life span. With the rising costs of system repairs and replacement refrigerant, we suggest landlords put an annual HVAC contract for spring and fall cleaning/check in place to prolong the life of their systems.

If an air conditioning unit stops functioning during the peak summer temperatures, tenants will be requesting (actually expecting/demanding) prompt action. It is ...

Planning for Plumbing Problems

Michele - Thursday, March 19, 2015
Property Management Blog

Landlords sometimes “freak out” when a plumber provides a quote of $135 to replace a wax ring under a toilet or $300 to replace a kitchen faucet. Owners who have been doing their own handyman work know that they can purchase a wax ring for under $10 and a kitchen faucet for under $100 at Lowes or Home Depot.

Plumbing prices are driven by the hourly rates charged by licensed and insured plumbers and the warranty that they provide for their work. Plumbers are also responsible for any damage caused by failure of their work. Their insurance rates are high and reflected in their hourly and minimum rates.

Our liability policy requires that we contract only licensed and insured plumbers to make plumbing repairs in managed properties. Since we realize that plumbing repair costs often exceed owners’ expectations, we survey local pricing for common plumbing repairs each year to ensure that our preferred plumbers are charging at or below local averages. We select plumbers who are responsive, provide quality service, and offer competitive prices.

Owners often also ask whether any plumbing repair costs can be charged to tenants. Whenever we have a vendor make a repair, we ask for their professional opinion as to whether abuse or negle...

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 to own a home. So, if a tenant needs an...