Michele - Monday, November 15, 2021
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...
Michele - Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Due to recent events throughout the world, we’ve received several calls from agents representing refugee families and seeking an available home for rent. As we present these requests to our landlords for consideration, we wanted to share the previous experience we had when one of our landlords accepted a refugee family as a tenant.
In November 2103, we were contacted by Catholic Charities to see if any of our landlords would consider accepting a refugee family from Afghanistan who was on their way to the United States. Catholic Charities offered to provide the security deposit and the first two months’ rent. Catholic Charities would also assist the adults with finding employment and would pay several additional months’ rent if the tenants had not yet secured steady income.
One of our landlords had a one-bedroom condo available and agreed to take the refugee family on as renters. Mr. and Mrs. Meherzad came to our office the morning after they landed in Virginia. We reviewed the lease together for almost 2 hours. They were new to our country and new to our laws. They wanted to be sure they fully understood the contract before signing. Mr Meherzad was a financial analyst and found employment very quickly. After the first 2 months ...
Michele - Monday, July 19, 2021
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.
- Notice of M...
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 property every 4 years and replace carpet e...
Michele - Thursday, August 18, 2016
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, the tenants agreed. However, once the tena...
Michele - Thursday, April 16, 2015
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, the tenants are assessed a return chec...
Michele - Thursday, April 9, 2015
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.
Michele - Thursday, April 2, 2015
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 majority of our landlords are also affilia...
Michele - Thursday, March 26, 2015
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 knowledge of the lease terms, landlord tenant ...
Michele - Thursday, March 12, 2015
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 their own washer and dryer will often be ...