Your Guide to Northern Virginia Property Management

Are you looking for an easy Property Management guide to help you understand what questions you should be asking a prospective Professional Property Manager? Well first, let’s review some of the reasons why you may be considering this in the first place. Perhaps you’re a homeowner who is moving out of state, but you plan to return to your current home at some point in the future. Maybe you’ve been called overseas for a tour of duty and want to ensure your home is well taken care of while you are gone. Or possibly you’re planning to upgrade and purchase a new property but keep your current one as an investment. Or you might be an investor who simply needs help managing your portfolio.

In a nutshell, property management in Northern Virginia is a specialized area, and for those wishing to maximize the yield from their rental property, it’s essential to understand what a manager can do. WJD Management has been providing top-notch property management services in Northern Virginia since 1985 – so if you’re looking for reliable information about your real estate investment, we can help.

Whatever your reason may be for possibly engaging a Professional Property Manager, this is clearly an important decision and there is a lot to think about! Property managers can be a terrific asset or a real detriment if you don’t choose one wisely. Use our quick hit list to help you consider everything you need to do to make an informed decision about hiring a Professional Property Manager. You can also check out our other detailed guides such as “Why Hire a Property Manager” and “How to Find the Best Property Manager for You.

What is Property Management?

Property management is the process of overseeing and managing a real estate investment. Maintaining a real estate investment requires tending to every detail, from locating occupants and obtaining rent payments to repairing damages and ensuring conformity with local regulations. A property manager is responsible for maintaining the day-to-day operations of an investment property.

Hiring a professional property manager can provide numerous benefits for both landlords and tenants alike. For landlords, employing a professional property manager can free up their time by taking away the need to be constantly present in order to effectively manage their investments. Tenants benefit from having someone who understands how leasing works and how to professionally handle any issues that might arise with the rental unit or landlord, which could help avoid costly disputes down the line. Below is a quick overview of what property managers do.

What does a Property Manager do?

  • Locates qualified tenants.
  • Negotiates leases.
  • Resolves tenant complaints.
  • Handles tenant violations.
  • Maintains the property.
  • Ensures that the property and the lease both comply with the law.
  • Manages expenses and collects rent.
  • Does the required IRS income reporting.
  • Performs regular property inspections.
  • Does everything you will have to do if you try to manage the home yourself!

When to Hire a Property Manager

  • You own multiple properties and are unable to manager all of them yourself.
  • You live far away from your rental property.
  • You don’t have any experience managing a rental property.
  • You can afford the monthly management fee (typically 8%).
  • You don’t have enough time to manage the property by yourself.
  • You are willing to delegate this task to a professional.

How to Find the Right Property Manager

  • Ask friends and colleagues for referrals.
  • Research property managers online.
  • Check licenses and certifications.
  • Look for experience and stability of staff.
  • Ask lots of questions!

Top 10 Questions to Ask a Property Manager

  1. How much experience do you have managing properties?
  2. How quickly can you rent my property?
  3. How do you establish rental prices?
  4. How will you market/advertise my property?
  5. How do you screen tenants?
  6. What are your leasing and management fees?
  7. How often do you do property inspections?
  8. How do you handle tenant delinquency? Late payments?
  9. What are my landlord responsibilities?
  10. Can I cancel my contract with you if I’m unsatisfied?

What to Look for in a Property Management Contract 

Services and Fees

You must understand what services the property manager has agreed to perform and how much they will charge for these services.

Your Responsibilities as Property Owner

The contract should clearly define what your obligations are as a landlord.

Equal Opportunity Housing

The contract should state that the Property Manager follows both the federal, state and local fair housing laws.


Pay close attention to what limits have been placed on the property manager’s liability.

Termination Clause

Make sure the management agreement has a clear termination or cancellation clause.

What to know about Property Management in Northern Virginia

Navigating the complex and ever-changing Northern Virginia real estate market requires an understanding of current trends to be successful. Let’s examine the Fair Housing Laws applicable to Fairfax County real estate transactions in order to ensure adherence.

Fair Housing Laws in Virginia

Fair Housing regulations in Virginia are put in place to shield people from bias due to ethnicity, hue, faith, ancestry, gender identity/expression, impairment or family status. These laws apply to all types of housing transactions including rental properties and the sale of real estate.

Overview of Fair Housing Laws in Virginia:

The Commonwealth of Virginia has adopted several fair housing laws that prohibit discrimination in any type of housing transaction. The most comprehensive law is the Virginia Fair Housing Law (VFHL), which applies to both public and private housing providers throughout the state. VFHL prohibits discrimination in housing transactions based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or familial status and requires landlords to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled persons if requested. It also requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for disabled persons if requested by a tenant. The legislation also safeguards occupants from being ousted without a justifiable reason or appropriate legal procedure, as well as forbids proprietors from asking for higher rents on the basis of these safeguarded categories.

Fair housing laws in Virginia are essential for protecting the rights of tenants and landlords, as well as promoting fair practices. It is imperative to have a complete comprehension of the fair housing laws in Virginia prior to participating in any property management dealings within the state.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA)

The VRLTA is a broad set of regulations that define the relationship between landlords and tenants in Virginia. The VRLTA sets out the rights, responsibilities, and remedies for both parties in residential rental agreements.

The VRLTA is a comprehensive system of regulations that dictate the relationship between landlords and tenants in Virginia. This act outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parties involved in residential rental agreements as well as remedies for violations. It covers topics such as security deposits, rent increases, repairs and maintenance obligations, eviction procedures, late fees and more.

Both landlords and tenants are beholden to the rights enshrined in the VRLTA. Landlords must provide habitations equipped with all necessary services such as heat/air conditioning, running water, hot water, electricity and sanitation facilities – while also adhering to any applicable local building codes or ordinances concerning health safety standards. On their part, tenants have a duty to pay rent on time without prompting; obey all terms of the lease agreement (e.g., occupancy limits) ; keep their unit tidy and secure at all times – once again conforming to any relevant local building codes or ordinances related with health safety norms.

The VRLTA is a crucial statute to be cognizant of in relation to managing real estate in Northern Virginia, detailing the prerogatives and obligations of both proprietors and lessees. To ensure success with a rental property, one should conduct a thorough rental market analysis before investing in real estate.

Rental Market Analysis

Rental Market Analysis is a technique employed by real estate investors and property managers to establish the most profitable rental fees for their holdings. It involves gathering data on comparable properties in the area, analyzing that data, and using it to set realistic rental rates that will maximize profits while still attracting tenants.

Once this initial research has been completed, it is important to analyze all relevant economic indicators, including unemployment levels and consumer spending trends which could affect demand for rentals within your particular region or market segment. After collecting and assessing all necessary data points, it is time to set realistic rent prices based upon supply and demand dynamics; this will enable you to generate maximum returns without driving away potential tenants due to overly high costs.

If you are ready to rent your home, feel free to take advantage of our exclusive FREE Rental Market Analysis. Finally, don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Pinterest for tips, ideas and updates.

Utilities in a Vacant Rental? Keep ‘em On!

“Should I cut off the utilities in my vacant rental property?”

My answer? No way.

It’s one of the first questions my homeowner clients ask me—and my emphatic answer often surprises them. After all, none of us is eager to have higher bills—and my maintenance staff and I pride ourselves on looking for ways to conserve energy and lower costs for clients.

Yet, at the same time, I know it’s the best advice. Don’t turn off the utilities in a vacant rental. It’s a shortsighted solution—and one that can be enormously wasteful of time, money, labor, and fuel in the long run. On the other hand, keeping everything running as though the house were occupied isn’t the best answer either.

Keep your future tenants in mind.

The most successful landlords know how to think beyond short-term costs to put themselves in a tenant’s shoes. Remember that when prospective tenants walk through the door, the very first thing they do is to imagine themselves living in the home. It’s only natural to want to turn lights on, run faucets, and generally feel comfortable just being in the house.

Especially if you’re looking for tenants in the coldest part of the year, your best bet is to welcome a prospective renter into a setting that feels cozy—or at the very least, doesn’t require donning a hat and mittens. Spending a little extra money on creating that welcoming setting is ultimately the most cost-effective way for a landlord to prevent extended vacancies. And good communication between leasing agent and property manager will guarantee that the house can be checked and made ready a couple of hours before the showing—and then restored to an energy-saving mode afterward.

Which brings me to my next point.

Yes, you need all utilities on (not just electricity).

Sure, the temptation is great to leave only the electricity on; but 30 years of experience as a property manager has taught me that all utilities should remain in service for every vacant rental home. Keeping water running is just as critical as keeping the lights on. And for those property owners who fear possible water emergencies causing disaster in their vacant home, I remind them of this: Preventing most water emergencies (and burst pipes in winter) is as simple as turning the water off at the main valve. I recommend taping commode covers shut—and, as I mentioned above, turning water on temporarily for tenant showings.

Keep the AC running in summer—and winterize in fall.

Another big temptation for landlords looking to control utility costs is to set the thermostat around 80 degrees during the hottest part of the summer—and then around 60 degrees in the winter. While those settings will lower the utility bills for your rental, they will also guarantee the house is pretty uncomfortable for anyone who walks in during a heat wave or a cold snap. If it’s the summer season, the air conditioning should be set no higher than 75 degrees. If it’s the winter season, the heat should be set no lower than 65 degrees.

Having said this, I’ll add that vacant homes should definitely be winterized prior to the cold season. Draining hose bibs where residual water lies—as well as ensuring water is turned off at the main valve—is really all that’s needed to prevent pipes from bursting in a deep freeze.

If you are ready to rent your home, feel free to take advantage of our exclusive FREE Rental Market Analysis. Finally, don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Pinterest for tips, ideas and updates.

How to Find the Best Property Management Company in Northern Virginia

Are you looking for the best property management company in Northern Virginia?

If you’ve landed on this page then chances are, yes, you are looking for the best property management company in Northern Virginia. Well, let us give you some candid information and advice about the property management industry. Assuming you are a homeowner or real estate investor who is looking for the best property management company in Northern Virginia, there are a number of overall factors to consider when hiring a property management firm, many of which are addressed in our other informational articles. However, there are three immediate factors to consider – online reviews, if the property management company also sells real estate and the organizational structure of the property management firm.

First you have to know how to approach online reviews.

How to Choose a Property Manager in Northern Virginia

When selecting a property manager in Northern Virginia, it is essential to assess their qualifications and experience with local real estate laws and regulations as well as prior management of properties in the region. The credentials and background of the property manager is critical; they must possess expertise in local real estate laws and regulations, as well as have a history managing properties in the vicinity. It’s also important to look at the services offered by each potential property management company; these may include tenant screening, rent collection, maintenance scheduling, and more. Finally, you should review their cost structure—including setup fees and monthly management fees—to ensure that it fits your budget.

Qualifications and Experience:

When selecting a property manager for your Northern Virginia rental home or commercial building, you want someone with extensive knowledge of local real estate laws and regulations who has managed similar properties in the past. Ensure that the property manager you choose is licensed by the state Real Estate Board (REB) to guarantee they meet all legal requirements in your area. Inquire as to their background in managing properties like yours as this will give you an idea of how familiar they are with similar properties.

Services Offered:

Property managers typically offer different levels of service depending on what clients need most from them. Generally speaking, most companies provide basic tenant screening services along with rent collection assistance as well as routine maintenance scheduling/coordination if necessary. Some firms even offer additional services such as eviction protection plans or online portals where tenants can submit requests directly to landlords or view information about their lease agreements quickly and easily without having to contact anyone directly themselves

Prices can differ depending on the company’s specialism and what they are offering. Generally speaking, expect setup fees ranging from $500 to $1,000 plus ongoing monthly management fees between 5% and 10%. Be sure to compare prices before committing long term with any one provider.

Choosing a property manager in Northern Virginia is an important decision, and it’s essential to select one who has the necessary qualifications and experience.

The Property Management Agreement

A legally-binding arrangement between a landlord and a property manager, the property management agreement stipulates each party’s duties – including rent collection, tenant selection, upkeep/repair work and eviction. It outlines the responsibilities of each party, including duties such as rent collection, tenant screening, maintenance, repairs and evictions. The terms of this agreement are essential for protecting both parties’ interests and ensuring that all obligations are fulfilled.

In the agreement, details regarding services provided by the property manager such as rent collection, maintenance management and renovations/improvements supervision will be outlined. Other important aspects may include how much will be paid to the manager for their services (typically around 8-10%), who will pay for legal fees in case of an eviction or other dispute resolution situations and what type of insurance coverage is required.

A property management agreement also outlines the explicit expectations between both parties regarding lease agreements with tenants, managing late payments, giving notice when entering a tenant’s rental unit, dealing with security deposits, ensuring all necessary inspections are conducted before move-in day, handling complaints from tenants expeditiously, responding to emergencies like plumbing issues or power outages in a timely manner, and adhering to local laws related to renting residential units in Fairfax County Virginia.

The Property Management Agreement serves as a comprehensive agreement delineating the roles and duties of both parties, thus providing clarity on their respective obligations.

How to research different Property Management Companies in Northern Virginia

These days, online reviews have become an invaluable resource because they provide a way for potential customers to learn about a company from past and existing customers. However, online reviews do pose a problem in that users can also post negative, fraudulent or even fake reviews which of course do not paint an accurate portrait of businesses. Additionally, even if a business owner responds to reviews of this nature, it does not result in a change of the overall star rating. This problem plagues the entire property management industry and is created by both prospective tenants as well as former tenants.

But why? Why do prospective tenants and former tenants take to social platforms, often enlisting friends and family, and post negative, fraudulent, fake or misinformed reviews? The answer is simple: Their rental application was declined for any number of reasons – excessive debt, bad landlord reference, low credit score, etc. Or they disregarded their end-lease requirements and either did something they should not have done or failed to do something they should have done and forfeit some of their security deposit as a result.  Even though the property management company acted as per the direction of homeowner to decline a rental application or forfeit a security deposit, these individuals blamed the property management firm, i.e., they shot the messenger.

Tenant Screening

You see, one of the most challenging aspects of property management is tenant screening. This is one of the many reasons why smart homeowners choose to mitigate that risk and have their property professionally managed by a licensed and credible management company who is a member of NARPM and NOVA NARPM. We actually culled through reviews of property management companies from all across the country and found that most major and credible companies have similar one-star reviews from both prospective and former tenants. If you do enough research, you’ll notice the same thing. The language, length, and tone of these reviews becomes very familiar. You’ll see a lot of words in all caps, long rants which rarely include any tenant accountability.

WJD Management has a tried and true method of qualifying prospective tenants which you can read about here. The information we obtain is presented to the homeowner and the homeowner makes the decision to accept or decline the application. There are a wide variety of circumstances which can result in a declined application but regardless, some prospective tenants take it personally, become angry and vindictive and head for the nearest social media platform to tell the world about how unfair we were to them. In truth, we were just looking out for the homeowner’s best interests.

In our experience, when a former tenant leaves a negative review about us it’s nearly always because they did not receive a full refund of their security deposit. In these instances, their actions or lack thereof resulted an expense for the homeowner which was reimbursed from their security deposit. Although these funds were paid to the homeowner, the reviews all infer that “the property management company stole our money.” And here again, we were only looking out for the homeowner’s best interests. So, you can see how these situations can be challenging, and how it’s also a good indicator of why you should hire a professional property management company to manage your rental property. When doing research, you’ll really need to read these negative reviews with a grain of salt, especially if you see a lot of positive reviews otherwise. Further, a few negative reviews may actually be a good thing because they indicate that the property management company was generally looking out for their homeowners.

Okay, so you’ve read lots of reviews about different local property management companies and there seem to be quite a number of similarities. Now what? Well, first and foremost you’ll need to determine if the property management firm has a vested interest in real estate sales.

Does the property management firm have a vested interest in real estate sales?

If the property management firm you interview has a real estate sales arm, you must contemplate some issues that may not be obvious during your search for the best property management company in Northern Virginia. You’ll need to find out if they will require you to use one of their real estate agents if you decide to sell your property. You may also have to consider what happens if a tenant would like to purchase your property. Will you owe the property management company a commission in that instance?

The most important question by far however is whether the real expertise of this property management firm is in management or in sales. The answer to this question is an accurate indicator of not only the quality of the service you will receive but also of the choices that may or not be available to you later as a seller.

It may seem like we’re telling you this to convince you that WJD Management is the best property management in Northern Virginia, but the truth is we are the only property management company that specializes exclusively in residential property management. We are the only licensed real estate brokerage in our area that does not have a real estate sales arm. What that means is that property management is all we do–we do not accept homes into our managed inventory with the hope of generating a future sale. When we need to find a tenant for one of our homes, the property is listed by our own Principal Broker. We do not farm the listing out to as real estate agent – who may be completely unfamiliar with your home – as many of the property managers with the larger “branded” companies in our area do. Moreover, because we do not engage in real estate sales, 100 percent of our company’s resources are dedicated to managing the homes in our inventory. It is no secret that the other property management firms in our area typically invest minimal resources for their property managers because they believe the real money is in selling real estate as opposed to managing it. And yet ironically, when sales slump, these firms look to their property management activity to keep their doors open.

What does the organizational structure of the property management firm look like?

One final consideration is the actual structure of the property management company. Does it employ the traditional “portfolio” arrangement or the newer “departmental” arrangement as WJD Management does? Although sound arguments can be made for both styles, we feel the portfolio style has some limitations which are overcome with our departmental structure. With a portfolio property management company, the homeowner is assigned a “property manager”. This individual may also be assigned to as many as 200 other homeowners. The property manager is mostly responsible for maintenance. This means that he or she is probably not involved in the marketing activity when a tenant must be found and must rely on others to answer such questions as “Why hasn’t my home been rented yet?!” In addition, this means that he or she may have to rely on someone else to address legal issues when a tenant states “I don’t care what you say, my lawyer says I have grounds for breaking my lease!” This also means that he or she probably cannot answer specific accounting questions such as “Why was I charged a double management fee this month?!” The list goes on.

Our departmental structure includes experts within each of the five modules that the best residential property management companies should consist of. These modules are marketing, leasing, maintenance, inspections and accounting, and in the best-case scenario, they are all “under one roof”. WJD Management has a Principal Broker with over 30 years’ experience in determining rental values and listing area homes for rent. We have Leasing Managers who thoroughly vet all prospective tenants before we hand them the keys to your home and who are intimately familiar with each of the many covenants of our lease. We have Maintenance Managers with many years of experience who work with licensed, bonded and insured contractors as opposed to “handymen”. We have Property Inspectors who faithfully take an in-depth look at your home every six months. And we have a Comptroller with an MBA who is also a certified tax consultant. Tying it all together is our exclusive, proprietary software which shares the information from each module with every member of the WJD team. So no matter what your question or concern may be, it can be addressed by practically any staff member or if necessary, immediately referred to the appropriate modular expert.

At WJD, we understand that as a homeowner or investor, naturally, you are looking for the best property management company in Northern Virginia. We hope that our candid advice and 30+ years of experience helps you to make a better and more informed decision about who you hire to manage your rental property. Additionally, if you are in the military, a foreign-service official, or a government employee, you may find this information particularly valuable because you may be overseas and unable to devote the time needed to thoroughly research Northern Virginia property management firms. Also, be sure to read our reviews – there you’ll find a longstanding list of happy homeowners and tenants as well as a few folks who apply to our above explanation of online review problems in the property management industry.

Property management companies are essential for those who own or lease real estate in Northern Virginia. They provide the expertise and experience to ensure that all legal requirements, tenant rights, and property maintenance needs are met while protecting the owner’s interests. Property managers have access to a wide range of resources including specialized software programs, industry knowledge, and an understanding of local regulations. With their help, owners can maximize their returns on investment by minimizing costs associated with vacancy cycles and other potential risks involved in owning rental properties.

Finding the right property management company in Northern Virginia is an important decision. To ensure you make the right decision, it is important to be aware of what factors to consider, how to select a suitable provider and the costs associated with property management in Northern Virginia. By exploring the services available from different firms, you can discover a dependable provider that will meet your and your tenants’ requirements. Property management companies in Northern Virginia are experienced professionals that can help maximize rental income while minimizing expenses so don’t hesitate to reach out today.

Let WJD Management provide you with the expertise and experience necessary to manage your Northern Virginia property. Our 35+ years of knowledge in residential leasing services will ensure that all your needs are met.

If you are ready to rent your home, feel free to take advantage of our exclusive FREE Rental Market Analysis. Finally, don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Pinterest for tips, ideas and updates.

Tips for Retaining Good Tenants: A Property Manager’s Guide

Are you looking for tips to help retain good tenants in Northern Virginia? Property management is an important job, but it’s also one that can be difficult. With fair housing rules and the need to keep up with ever-changing technology, staying on top of your tenant retention strategy can seem daunting. But don’t worry! WJD Management has been providing property management services in Northern Virginia since 1985 and we have some great tips for retaining good tenants so you don’t miss out on any potential rental opportunities. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how understanding tenant retention strategies helps qualify prospective tenants; creating attractive rental properties; building positive relationships with current residents; and utilizing technology to streamline management tasks.

Table of Contents:

Understanding Tenant Retention

What is Tenant Retention?

Tenant retention is the process of keeping tenants in a rental property for an extended period of time. It involves creating a positive relationship between the landlord and tenant, setting competitive rental rates, and maintaining high standards for the property. By doing this, landlords can reduce turnover costs associated with finding new tenants and increase their income from consistent rent payments.

Benefits of Tenant Retention:

Retaining good tenants has many benefits to both landlords and tenants alike. For landlords, it reduces vacancy periods which saves them money on advertising costs as well as maintenance fees that come with preparing a unit for new occupants. Additionally, having reliable long-term renters helps build trust among other potential customers who may be interested in renting from you in the future. For tenants, staying longer at one location provides stability and security since they don’t have to worry about searching for another place or dealing with unexpected changes such as rent increases or sudden move-out notices from their landlord.

Challenges of Tenant Retention:

Despite its advantages, tenant retention comes with some challenges. To succeed in retaining quality renters over time, you must set competitive rental rates that are profitable enough to cover expenses such as taxes and insurance premiums; maintain high standards by regularly inspecting units; provide prompt repairs when needed; respond quickly to complaints; build relationships with current residents so they feel valued; and understand fair housing laws to ensure no discrimination occurs during tenant selection processes. All these factors must be taken into consideration for your business to thrive.

Understanding tenant retention is an important part of successful property management in Northern Virginia. To ensure a smooth tenancy, it’s essential to understand the benefits and challenges associated with retaining good tenants.

Key Takeaway: Retaining good tenants is beneficial for both landlords and tenants as it reduces vacancy periods, builds trust among potential customers, provides stability and security to the tenant, and helps maximize profits. To do this successfully, landlords must set competitive rental rates that are profitable enough to cover expenses; maintain high standards by regularly inspecting units; provide prompt repairs when needed; respond quickly to complaints; build relationships with current residents so they feel valued; and understand fair housing laws.

Qualifying Prospective Tenants

Property managers must have a screening process in place to ensure they are meeting all fair housing laws and regulations when qualifying prospective tenants. Establishing criteria for qualification is the first step in this process, which should include verifying income, credit history, rental history, and other factors that may affect a tenant’s ability to pay rent on time.

When it comes to income verification, property managers should look at an applicant’s current employment status as well as their salary or wages. This can be done by requesting copies of recent pay stubs or bank statements showing direct deposits from employers.

Credit history is another important factor that property managers need to consider when qualifying tenants. A good credit score indicates that the applicant has been responsible with their finances in the past and will likely continue to do so in the future. Property managers can obtain a copy of an applicant’s credit report from one of the major consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion).

Rental history is also key when determining whether an applicant would make a reliable tenant. Property owners should ask for references from previous landlords who can provide insight into how well the individual paid rent on time and took care of their unit while living there. Additionally, if applicable, property owners may want to check public records for evictions filed against potential tenants within the last seven years – this information could help them decide whether or not they want to accept someone as a renter based on their past behavior towards landlords/property management companies.

Property owners must adhere to fair housing laws and regulations when considering applicants for tenancy. These laws protect individuals from discrimination based on race/ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, familial status (elderly persons), national origin and other characteristics outlined by federal law enforcement agencies such as the U.S Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Understanding these rules and abiding by them during each stage of tenant selection processes including advertising vacancies is essential in order to avoid legal issues related to discriminatory practices against protected classes under fair housing statutes nationwide.

It is important to properly qualify prospective tenants in order to ensure a successful and positive tenant-landlord relationship. Next, we will discuss the importance of providing an excellent living experience for your tenants.

Key Takeaway: Property managers should use a screening process to ensure they are meeting all fair housing laws and regulations when qualifying prospective tenants. This process should include verifying income, credit history, rental history, and other factors that may affect a tenant’s ability to pay rent on time. Additionally, property owners must adhere to fair housing laws and regulations when considering applicants for tenancy in order to avoid legal issues related to discriminatory practices against protected classes under fair housing statutes nationwide.

Creating an Attractive Rental Property

Creating an attractive rental property is essential for any property manager looking to retain quality tenants. Setting competitive rental rates, maintaining the property to high standards, and enhancing it with amenities can help attract and keep good tenants.

Setting Competitive Rental Rates: It’s important for a property manager to stay informed of market trends in order to set competitive rental rates that will appeal to potential tenants. Doing research on comparable properties in the area can provide insight into what rate would be most attractive while still being profitable.

Maintaining the Property To High Standards: A well-maintained property speaks volumes about how much a landlord cares about their investment and prospective tenants are likely to take notice. Regularly inspecting the premises, making necessary repairs promptly, and keeping common areas clean are all key elements of successful maintenance practices that will make a positive impression on potential renters.

Enhancing The Property With Amenities: Enhancing the rental unit or building with amenities such as updated appliances or landscaping can go a long way towards creating an inviting atmosphere for prospective tenants. Adding features like outdoor seating areas or bike racks may also be beneficial depending on location and tenant demographic preferences.

By taking these steps when managing a rental property, landlords can create an environment that appeals to quality renters who are more likely to stay longer-term, which benefits both parties involved in the leasing agreement. This is beneficial for all involved as it creates stability and security for both the landlord and tenant.

Creating an attractive rental property is essential to retaining good tenants. To do this, landlords should set competitive rental rates, maintain the property to high standards and enhance it with amenities. Next, we will discuss tenant screening and how it can help you find reliable tenants.

Building Positive Relationships With Tenants

Establishing clear communication channels between landlords and tenants is key to building positive relationships that will encourage long-term leases. Property managers should make sure they are easily accessible by phone, email, or text message so that tenants can quickly reach out with any questions or concerns. Additionally, property managers should strive to respond promptly to all tenant inquiries in order to show respect for their time and effort.

Responding quickly to maintenance requests is also important for keeping good tenants happy and satisfied with their living situation. Property managers should have a system in place for handling maintenance requests as soon as possible, whether it’s through an online portal or a dedicated phone line. This will ensure that any issues are addressed swiftly and efficiently without delay.

Finally, offering incentives for long-term leases can be an effective way of retaining good tenants who might otherwise move on after their lease expires. These incentives could include discounted rent rates or free amenities such as parking passes or access to community facilities like pools and gyms. By providing these additional benefits, property managers demonstrate appreciation for loyal tenants while encouraging them to stay longer at the same rental property.

By investing time and effort into building positive relationships with tenants, property managers can ensure their tenants remain happy and satisfied. This in turn will help foster loyalty and long-term leases which will benefit both the tenant and the property manager. Next, let’s look at how to respond quickly to maintenance requests.

Utilizing Technology to Streamline Management Tasks

Technology can be a powerful tool for property managers looking to streamline their management tasks. Automating rent collection and payments is one of the most efficient ways to manage finances, as it eliminates manual data entry and reduces the amount of time spent on administrative tasks. By implementing an online payment system, landlords can easily collect rent from tenants without having to worry about late payments or lost checks. Additionally, this type of system also allows tenants to view their rental history and make payments directly from their bank accounts or credit cards.

Implementing an online maintenance request system is another way that technology can help simplify the process of managing properties. This type of system allows tenants to submit requests quickly and easily through a web-based portal, which makes it easier for landlords to track maintenance issues in real-time. In addition, these systems often include features such as automated notifications when new requests are received or when repairs have been completed so that both parties are kept up-to-date with any changes in status.

Finally, leveraging digital marketing strategies is essential for property managers who want to reach more potential tenants quickly and efficiently. Tactics such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns, social media outreach programs, email campaigns, and content creation are all effective ways for landlords to get their message out there and attract qualified leads who may be interested in renting out their properties.

By utilizing technology to streamline management tasks, landlords can increase their efficiency and reduce the time spent on administrative duties. Next, we’ll explore how to leverage digital marketing strategies to attract quality tenants.

FAQs in Relation to “Tips for Retaining Good Tenants”

How can I improve my tenant retention?

Retaining tenants is essential for a successful property management business. To improve tenant retention, focus on providing excellent customer service and communication. Make sure to respond quickly to tenant inquiries and address any issues promptly. Additionally, create an attractive rental package that includes competitive rates, amenities, and incentives such as discounts or loyalty rewards programs. Finally, build strong relationships with your tenants by getting to know them personally and offering support when needed. By taking these steps you can ensure that your tenants remain satisfied with their living experience in your properties.

How do you attract good tenants?

At WJD Management, we take tenant selection seriously. We thoroughly screen all potential tenants to ensure they meet our high standards for financial stability and reliability. We also conduct background checks and credit checks to make sure the tenant is trustworthy and responsible. Additionally, we provide detailed information about the property in order to attract quality tenants who are looking for a long-term rental solution. Finally, we offer competitive rates that reflect the value of our services while still providing an attractive option for prospective tenants. With these steps, we are confident that we can attract good tenants.

Do landlords appreciate good tenants?

Yes, landlords absolutely appreciate good tenants. Good tenants are reliable and responsible when it comes to paying rent on time, taking care of the property, and respecting their neighbors. Landlords also appreciate good communication from their tenants; this helps to ensure that any issues or concerns can be addressed quickly and efficiently. Good tenants make life easier for landlords by reducing stress and ensuring a positive rental experience for everyone involved.

How do you attract long term renters?

At WJD Management, we understand that long-term renters are the key to a successful property management business. We strive to create an environment where tenants feel secure and comfortable in their homes. To do this, we focus on providing quality customer service by responding quickly to tenant inquiries and addressing any issues promptly. Additionally, we ensure our rental properties are well maintained and up-to-date with modern amenities so tenants have a pleasant living experience. Finally, we provide competitive rates for our rentals so that tenants can find value in staying with us for the long term. With these practices in place, WJD Management is committed to attracting and retaining quality long-term renters in Fairfax County Virginia.


Overall, tips for retaining good tenants involve understanding tenant retention, qualifying prospective tenants, creating an attractive rental property, building positive relationships with tenants and utilizing technology to streamline management tasks. Property managers in Northern Virginia must also stay up-to-date on fair housing rules when it comes to single family home rentals. By following these steps and taking the time to understand their tenant’s needs and preferences, property managers can ensure that they are able to retain great tenants for years to come.

Are you a property manager in Northern Virginia looking for tips to retain good tenants? Look no further than WJD Management! With over 35 years of experience, our team is the go-to source when it comes to providing professional and reliable solutions. We have extensive knowledge on how to keep your properties occupied with quality tenants that will stay long term. Contact us today and learn more about our services – we’ll help make sure your business runs smoothly!

If you are ready to rent your home, feel free to take advantage of our exclusive FREE Rental Market Analysis. Finally, don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Pinterest for tips, ideas and updates.

Alexandria Property Management 101

Looking for a lesson in Alexandria Property Management 101? If you own property in Alexandria, our special Alexandria Property Management 101 was written just for you!

Our Alexandria Virginia Property Management 101 post is essential for any owner looking to rent out their properties in the area. With Alexandria being a highly sought-after rental market, it’s important to be well informed about what potential tenants expect and how best to prepare your property for renting out. In this blog post, we’ll discuss key topics such as understanding the Alexandria Virginia rental market, preparing your property for renters, finding suitable tenants, establishing lease terms and conditions and managing your property after move-in day. So if you’re an owner considering taking advantage of the booming real estate market in Alexandria Virginia then read on!

A Primer for Relocating Alexandria Homeowners

Alexandria is always a sought-after location for rental properties —though it’s a sprawling area that encompasses both inside-the-Beltway territory and commuter neighborhoods further afield. For most Alexandria properties–whether condos, townhouses, or single family homes–it’s not hard to attract metro-area tenants. But the majority of homeowners I talk with want to know what they should do — besides relying on location alone to attract top tenants.

Read more

Tax Advantages for Rental Property Owners

Looking for some tax advantages for Rental Property Owners? Owning an investment property or rental property in Northern Virginia is a wise investment – and there are tax deductions that you can use to your advantage as a rental property owner.

Consider this: Your investment property is an income-generating business. Typically, ROI comes through the rental income you get from your tenants.

But there might be costs you incur on an ongoing basis to make that rental income. Whether paying property taxes, doing repairs, or hiring a property manager, these expenses help you rent your property out to good tenants–but they add up!

Many of your expenses and costs ARE tax deductions. These costs can be deducted against your rental property income and should be on your radar to make the rental property an even more worthwhile investment.

Rental Property Tax Deductions

There is a multitude of tax deductions. Every property is different, and there are various costs associated with the upkeep of your rental property. These are the most common deductions you should have on your radar as a rental property owner.

Mortgage Interest

Your mortgage payment includes two parts – one part goes towards paying down your loan, and the other is the interest you pay on borrowing the money. The interest that you pay on your mortgage can be deducted against your tax bill every year.

Any fees that you paid to get your mortgage, like origination fees, are not deductible when you paid them. But you might be able to deduct them over the term of the loan.

Property Tax

Property taxes are an ongoing cost of owning a rental property. The amount of property tax you pay will differ based on the location of your property in Northern Virginia, and the value of your property.

You can deduct the amount you pay in property taxes on your tax return against your rental property income.


Over time, you might consider improving your property – repairing a roof, adding a new room, or a patio – which might be a large sum of money. But they may help you rent out the property at a better rent.

These are capital improvements, and they often increase the value of your property.

While you cannot deduct the total amount in your taxes in the year you paid them, you can deduct them over time. Every year, you may be able to deduct a small portion – called depreciation – to reduce your tax burden.

Some capital improvement items are:

  • Replacing the roof
  • A new furnace
  • Changing the flooring
  • Repairs

As a property owner, you will incur many ongoing expenses with your property. It could be refreshing the paint job, fixing lightbulbs, patching holes in your walls. These constant repairs are often needed to maintain your property so you can rent it out to good tenants.

You can take a tax deduction for the full cost of the repairs in the same year as you paid for them.

Some typical repairs include:

  • Getting the furnace cleaned or repaired
  • Painting the rooms
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Advertising and Professional Services

As the owner of an investment property, you may not have the time to wear all the hats in your rental property business.

You might enlist a property manager to help run the ongoing operations of your property smoothly. Maybe you want to get professional help to market your property to get better rent.

Or you might choose to get help in other administrative areas of your business – such as tax or legal.

These costs can be deducted against your rental income to reduce the taxes you owe on your rental income business.

Some common professional services are:

Every investment property is different. The expenses you incur may depend on where your property is located or how the rental property is structured. Some other expenses that many property owners have are:

  1. Insurance – to avoid any risk or liability related to your
  2. Utilities – if you pay the utilities – not your tenants – you can deduct an additional cost.
  3. Supplies – maybe you DIY some easy repairs. The cost of the supplies can be deducted as an expense.
  4. Keeping tabs on the different expenses in your business and knowing the tax rules can help you make the best return from your rental property business.

Tips for Property Tax Advantages

Keep good records

When filing your taxes, it is essential to keep good records to help prepare your tax returns and to support the items you want to deduct on your tax returns.

Supporting items such as receipts, invoices, and agreements can help you or your accountant prepare accurate tax returns. They can also give you a better idea of how your property is doing financially and whether there are areas for improvement.

Repairs and improvements

Both repairs and improvements can be expensive. It is vital to keep on top of them to ensure that your rental property is smoothly and in good shape.

There is a distinction between repairs and improvements for tax purposes, and when you can take advantage of these deductions for tax purposes.

It is vital as a rental property owner to know the differences or ask a professional so that you can best take advantage of the tax rules without being penalized.

Loss Rules for Passive investor vs. Professional

Depending on the state of your property, the location of your rental property, or general economic times, there may be months that your property remains vacant. At the same time, you might continue to incur expenses like utilities or property taxes.

The IRS places no limits if you are considered a real estate professional, but if you are a passive investor, there are limits for how much of the loss can be deducted.

It is essential to know whether you are a passive or professional investor in the eyes of the IRS. A tax professional may be able to help avoid tax penalties.

Rental Property Tax Advantages

A rental property can be a source of additional income. If you can fully take advantage of the tax rules in place, it can also offer tax deductions. Knowing the tax deductions and rules can help you generate income from your rental property for years to come.

If you are ready to rent your home, feel free to take advantage of our exclusive FREE Rental Market Analysis. Finally, don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Pinterest for tips, ideas and updates.

Tenant Guide: HVAC Maintenance for Your Rental Home

What You Need to Know About HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)

Here is your tenant guide to HVAC Maintenance. You may have heard the term “HVAC” at one time or another in reference to heating and cooling systems. Simply put, the term “HVAC” stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The HVAC system is comprised of an inside unit, an outside unit and a system of interior ductwork. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about HVAC maintenance for your rental home, and how an HVAC system can affect your living comfort.

Do Rental Homes Require HVAC Systems?

When it comes to an HVAC system versus other types of heating and cooling units, you will find a big difference. First, landlords are not required to provide an actual HVAC system however, heating in a rental home is required in every state. This includes hot running water along with a separate heat source for the home. Air conditioning is another matter though because not all states require an air conditioning unit for a rental home. Please note that every home in our managed inventory does in fact have some manner of air conditioning, typically an HVAC system or in a few cases, window units.

heating, ventilation and air conditioning filter replacement

The Importance of HVAC Maintenance

Why is it important to maintain an HVAC system? Well, if an HVAC unit is not properly maintained, it can affect its overall performance. Whether it’s in the middle of winter or during those hot summer days, the job of an HVAC system is to keep you nice and comfortable in your rental home. HVAC maintenance for your rental home is important!

If the HVAC system is not properly maintained, it can struggle to keep your home at the desired temperature. The unit will run longer than it should and can even increase your monthly utility bills. It could also require repairs which may have been avoided with correct maintenance, and these often-costly repairs could actually be charged to the tenant. Let’s go over some common maintenance issues you may encounter.

Tenant Guide: HVAC Maintenance for Your Rental Home

Tenant Guide: HVAC Maintenance for Your Rental Home

Tenant Guide: HVAC Maintenance for Your Rental Home

As a tenant, two things that you should be on the lookout for in your home are fluctuating temperatures and decreased airflow. If the system struggles to keep your home at the selected temperature and never turns off, it could be a sign of mechanical failure. This is especially true with heat pumps although they typically have longer operating cycles than gas-fired units. If your home has a programmable thermostat, a simple programming issue may be the cause. In this case, the tenant should check the thermostat’s manual to confirm that everything is correct with the daily settings. On the other hand, if you notice reduced air flow from your vents, you probably have a clogged furnace filter.

Leave It to the Professionals

When it comes to HVAC maintenance and repairs, it is always best to leave it to the professionals. Even though a problem may seem easy to fix, you could void the warranty if you try to fix it yourself. You should always leave complicated HVAC issues to a qualified HVAC technician. Should you try to repair it yourself, you will most likely incur the repair cost if you damage the unit in the process. However, it is imperative that you change the filter(s) on your HVAC system (even window A/C units have filters!) regularly, at a minimum of every three months. Failure to do so can cause the system to fail and the cost to repair would again most likely be yours.

When to Contact Your Property Manager

It’s important to promptly submit a maintenance request when you believe that something is wrong with your HVAC system. Once you’ve done so, WJD Management will assign a technician to come to your home and address the problem. For example, if the system is set to air conditioning but it’s not cooling your home, this can be the sign of a refrigerant leak, which should also be investigated only by an HVAC professional.

What Can You Do as the Tenant?

Tenant Guide: Everything HVAC

Tenant Guide: Everything HVAC

Although there are many things you shouldn’t fix on your own, you can do a few things that will help maintain the HVAC system. One of the most important aspects of maintaining an HVAC unit is changing or cleaning the air filter on a regular basis. The manufacturers usually recommend that you change your air filter(s) once a month or at least every three months. Most often there is only one filter which is located inside or next to the furnace. Larger homes may also have filters where the return air vents are located. Regardless, your Property Condition Report will identify where they all are located.

If you fail to properly clean or change the air filter(s) regularly, this can fall under tenant neglect. Changing the batteries in the thermostat is another simple yet important step you can take as the tenant.

Wear and Tear Vs. Neglect

The differences between reasonable wear and tear versus neglect can be subtle. It’s important that both the tenant and landlord know these differences. The goal here is to keep both parties on the same page to avoid any disagreements. Here are some examples of wear and tear compared to neglect:

Wear and Tear

  • Fan belts
  • Motors and bearings
  • Evaporator coils
  • Refrigerant leaks


  • Failure to clean or change air filter(s)
  • Failure to replace thermostat batteries
  • Failure to keep weeds and debris away from the outside unit
  • Failure to keep the condensate drain free of debris

How to Keep the HVAC Running Efficiently

As a tenant, it is important to keep the HVAC system running smoothly. By doing this, you’ll be able to control your utility bills and remain comfortable all year long. The following steps can help keep your HVAC system running at an optimized level:

  • Programming the thermostat (where applicable)
  • Replacing the air filters regularly
  • Clearing debris from around the outside unit
  • Keeping the condensate drain open

These are the most important steps you can take to maximize the efficiency of your HVAC system. Remember, maintenance is the key to always keeping your home comfortable during the year. Hopefully, this article has clarified your role as a tenant regarding the HVAC system in your home. If you have any questions, you can always contact us. Just be sure to review this article first.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Rent Through a Property Management Company

If you are looking for a single-family residence, a townhome or a condo rental but are unsure of difference between renting from a professional property management company versus renting directly from a homeowner or renting from a Realtor who is not working with a property management company, look no further as we explain the differences!

Why you should not rent directly from a homeowner

If the homeowner lives locally, he or she may decide to visit unannounced and/or peer into your windows. If he or she is not local, you may have difficulty reaching the owner whenever you need to get something fixed or in the event of an emergency.

If the homeowner does not use a property manager or a real estate professional when finding a tenant, he or she is evidently unwilling to incur that cost, so the home is most likely infested with DIY fixes and/or those done by questionable contractors. And you will probably be nickel and dimed to death with repair deductibles.

In addition to these issues, the owner most likely used a lease found on the internet which may not afford you adequate protection. Worst of all, your security deposit probably ended up in his or her personal checking account.

Why you should not rent from a Realtor who is not working with a professional property manager.

If you are considering using a Realtor to help you find a rental home, the individual may be the consummate professional who can find the ideal residence for you. However, if the Realtor is not working with a professional property manager, as soon as the ink is dry on your lease you’re going to be on your own and probably subjected to the  issues mentioned in the previous section. The Realtor in this case only had a contractual relationship with the homeowner for as long as it took to find a tenant. Once the lease was signed, the relationship concluded and the Realtor no longer had the authority to come to your defense should you experience and of those issues.

Why you should not rent from a professional property management company that also sells real estate.

While nearly all local professional property management companies provide a similar suite of services, believe it or not, not all property management firms are created equal! The primary difference among these firms in our area has to do with whether or not they offer real estate sales services. Typically, real estate firms focus mainly on real estate sales. The real estate industry is mostly commission-based and listing homes for sale has the potential of generating a large volume of revenue. The firms which offer professional property management as well unfortunately do this primarily as a way to create income when the sales market becomes depressed. And because property management is basically a means to an end in that regard, these firms generally allocate minimal resources for it. The property management wing of these firms is often understaffed so the property managers are constantly racing around putting out fires and trying to keep up. And their inventory of managed homes suffers accordingly as do the tenants living in these homes. Because of the vast difference between sales revenues and property management revenues, the focus of firms that offer both services will always be on sales. This is especially true for the firms which manage fewer than 100 homes. Faced with addressing a leaking dishwasher or a million dollar sale falling apart, you know what their priority is going to be.

What sets WJD Management apart from all the other professional property management companies in our area.

Of course, you can imagine we’re telling you all this to convince you that WJD Management is the best residential property management company in Northern Virginia to rent from. But the truth is, we are the only licensed real estate brokerage in our area that does not have a real estate sales arm. This means that our focus is 100% on managing the rental homes in our inventory, as our many five-star tenant reviews can attest to!

What tenants love about WJD Management 

  • Online Maintenance Request Process
  • Convenient Online Rental Payment System
  • Long-Term Renters Welcome
  • Pet-Friendly homes
  • 24/7 Emergency Service
  • Security Deposit Held in an FDIC Insured Escrow Account
  • Only Class A General Contractors Used, No “Handymen”
  • Telephone Calls Answered By A Live Staff Member

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Tenants: 18 Ways to Get Your Security Deposit Back

Tenants, are you looking for 18 ways to get your security deposit back? When everything is ready and a tenant can get 100 percent of that deposit back, it’s a big win for everyone. We want to see every tenant get their full security deposit back–and it’s important to note that WJD has no financial incentive to withhold any part of tenants’ deposit money.

For us, it’s a matter of making sure the homeowner is protected against surprise out-of-pocket maintenance expenses, repairs, or cleaning costs, and it helps guard against delays in getting the property back on the rental market.

To help make sure things go smoothly, and to help you get your deposit back, here’s our ultimate advice guide for getting every cent of your deposit back.

Please note that these are only suggestions. The process of returning a deposit is individual to each tenant, and following all of the below steps will not necessarily result in a full refund.

Immediately After You Move In

1. Review Your Property Condition Report (PCR), sign it, and return it to the WJD office within 10 days of move-in. The report states that your home is in the same condition we want it to be in at the end of your lease and will be used as a point of reference when you move out. Be sure to make detailed remarks on the form should you note any problems with the home, such as malfunctioning appliances, carpet stains, paint blemishes, etc., so that you are not charged for these issues when your security deposit is refunded.

Pro Tip: Always keep a copy of your Property Condition Report on file.

Throughout Your Tenancy:

Do yourself a favor by making sure your required maintenance is up to date. That way, when you move out, you won’t be facing a massive list of “to-do’s” that have resulted from a year of neglect. See below for suggested maintenance tips. You can also check out our  maintenance guide here, which can be found in your Tenant Handbook as well.

2. Ensure all maintenance is requested online. If something breaks, you must immediately submit a Maintenance Request from our website as we cannot take this information over the phone. Be as detailed as possible about the problem so that we can determine who to send to fix it. Do not try to fix it yourself!

3. Keep up to date on your fireplace cleaning and inspection. This must be done even if you never use the fireplace. Also remember that you are responsible for cleaning the ashes that result from burning wood, as the fire inspection company does not usually do this.

Tips to Get Your Deposit Back

4. Make sure to keep your gutters clean throughout the year. The cost of a gutter cleaning usually ranges between $50 and $200 depending on the size of your home and the amount of guttering it has. Be sure to use one of our recommended gutter cleaners for best results!

Pro Tip: At the beginning of your lease, immediately add a calendar reminder to get your gutters cleaned periodically. Try to schedule a final gutter clean about a two weeks before you move out, just to make sure they’re clear and you’ve left yourself plenty of time.

5. Replace light bulbs. We recommend getting LED lights at the beginning of your lease. LEDs have plummeted in price recently (three of them cost about $10), so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth by reducing electric bills. Also they should still be going strong at lease’s end!

6. Regularly replace furnace filters. If you change filters monthly as recommended you’ll reduce your heating bills, make the home more comfortable during the cold weather, and avoid add-on charges for replacement at move-out.

Pro tip: Write down sizes, or take pictures of your filters so you can easily reference them (sizes are included in the PCR). Also, you might want to consider buying in bulk through Amazon.

7. Keep your HVAC system clean and well-maintained. Check to see that all supply and return air vents are clean and unobstructed and make sure the condensation drain is not clogged or obstructed. If the property has a radiant heat system, make sure there are no leaking valves or radiators.

8. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Battery-operated models will begin making an intermittent chirping sound when the battery runs low, and you can easily replace the battery. Hard-wired models will do the same but have no bettery–so when one of these units goes bad you must submit a maintenance request to have it replaced. In either case, test the units periodically to make sure they are in working order.

When You Move Out:

By following the steps below, you’ll make our job easier, which makes everything go much more smoothly.

9. Schedule carpet cleaning. If you have a pet, be sure to order a tick and flea treatment. Our lease requires this at move-out, even if you have no carpets in your home. Be sure to use an approved vendor to clean your carpets. Should you use an outside vendor and their work is determined to be sub-standard, we will have to have your carpets cleaned again by one of our approved vendors, at your expense. Avoid paying for this service twice!

10. Clean! And clean thoroughly. thoroughly.​Remember that when you move out, the property should be left in the same condition as it was when you moved in. This is why it is imperative that you return your PCR right after you move in noting any discrepancies, otherwise you might be charged for pre­existing problems! Common cleaning items that are missed include:

  • Under the refrigerator
  • On top of the refrigerator
  • Inside the oven, oven drawer and underneath the oven
  • Under stove burners
  • Sides of toilets
  • Range hood and exhaust fan filters (Note that you can put them in the dishwasher to make things much easier!)
  • Crumbs in cabinets/drawers
  • Washer and dryer lint.

Pro Tip: Remember to clean the gutters one last time and have the fireplaces cleaned and inspected. Make sure to provide a copy of your receipt for each service.

11. If you hire a cleaning service, make sure you ask for “detail cleaning.” To make sure your money is well spent (and to get all of your security deposit back), be sure to use a recommended WJD vendor. Also, remember to ask for detail cleaning and not surface cleaning.

12. Double-check to make sure you’ve replaced all light-bulbs and furnace filters one last time. Even if you forget to replace just one light bulb that was working when you moved in, we will have to send a contractor to replace it. So, even though the actual light bulb may just cost a couple of dollars, your cost is going to be a minimum $75 trip charge plus the cost of the bulb. The same holds true for furnace filters.

13. Take out the trash. It’s such a simple step, and it would be silly to forget and cause a minimum service fee

14. Perform all necessary lawn care. This is going to differ for each tenant, so check your lease for specifics of what to include (i.e. mowing, pruning, weeding, raking, etc.) Again, if you want to hire someone to take care of this for you, please use one of our recommended vendors for best results.

Tips to Get Your Deposit Back

15. Make the final inspection an easy process by preparing beforehand. Once inspection begins, tenants are not allowed to clean, add finishing touches, etc. Leave all keys, fobs, placards, remotes, and receipts on your kitchen counter; and have the property ready for inspection when the inspectors arrive. It will make everything go much more smoothly.

16. Stagger the work being done, beginning two weeks out from your move-out date. This will keep you from becoming overwhelmed, and will allow you to do one last cleaning spree before inspection. By getting everything done beforehand, we can come and do our job and help you check out quickly and smoothly.

17. Schedule services before the day of check-out. If you’re hiring professional cleaners, don’t have them come the same day as your check-out inspection. Remember that carpets should be dried from carpet cleaning prior to inspection. Essentially, you want to ensure the home is in the exact same condition it was when you moved in. This is most easily accomplished by getting the big stuff out of the way in advance.

Pro Tip: To keep track of everything, we suggest you print off our Move-Out Checklist and post it on your refrigerator or counter. This checklist can also be found in your Tenant Handbook.

18. Ask questions. Ask questions. Ask questions. Communicate ahead of time if there are any issues you have questions about. For example, if you aren’t sure how to clean a fixture or appliance that you’re responsible for or if you are having difficulty accessing light fixtures in high-ceilinged homes, let us know! We can probably recommend just the right tool or cleaning tips.


Moving out is a time-consuming process, but there’s no need for it to be expensive as well. By following the above guidelines, you will dramatically reduce the possibility of having to lose some of your security deposit. And by making it easier for us to do our job, you’ll probably speed up the refund process. Thank you, and we hope you find these tips helpful.

What to Know About Renting to College Students

Do you own a rental property located in the vicinity of a college campus like George Mason or Marymount? If you do, then you are in the prime market for student renters. Student housing is considered a massive, multibillion-dollar real estate sector. Much of the smart money out there knows it and is hungry to occupy this space. Still, there can be plenty of room for individual investors interested in making a mint on this side of education. But what makes this niche so attractive? What are the real ups and downs? Below we discuss what there is to know about renting to college students.

What to Know About Renting to College Students

Pros of renting to college students

Demand for housing is high (and stable)

As long as the university keeps accepting students, the market for your unit will be stable. For starters, most schools do not offer four years of housing. Also, due to high home prices and strict lending policies, homeownership is out of reach for many Americans. So, not only will thousands of college students be on the hunt for a place to live, but also professors and staff during their tenure. For you, this means reduced vacancies and competitive rates.

You don’t even have to work that hard on promoting your listings. The costs of advertising can be extremely low or even free if you advertise where students are looking. You can try Craigslist, Zillow, and Trulia or post for free on student websites. Just be sure to mention the most in-demand amenities in your property adds and offer competitive rental rates.

Higher rents

There are two reasons why this is so. The first one we’ve already mentioned – high demand means you can get away with charging more (just not too much more). Secondly, college students are looking for affordability. For this reason, many choose to live with roommates and split the rent. Having multiple tenants in your rental who are paying rental on one lease means you can up the price a bit but still keep it affordable.

Two roommates eating pizza

Having multiple tenants in your rental unit means you can probably up the price a bit.

A stable third-party payment

The thing about leasing your property to college students is that they’re probably not the ones paying the rent. Typically, either a parent figure or financial aid covers the cost of housing and living expenses. With a more responsible party involved, you will likely receive your rent on time and in full each month.

Students aren’t generally looking for anything fancy

Say you do opt for this tenant base – what this means is that you will likely end up with a lot of low-maintenance renters. You don’t need to be as concerned about attracting new renters with premium updates such as stainless-steel appliances or kitchen backsplashes. What you need to know about renting to college students is that they’re typically perfectly happy with less as long as it is clean and in decent condition. This, in turn, can help you save a lot of time and money.

There are certain amenities they look for in a property, though

Still, there are several things you will need to take care of to make sure your listings match the students’ expectations.

  • Proximity to campus. Students spend most of their time on campus, working, studying, or going to their extracurricular activities. In light of this, it is only natural that they’d prefer to be as close to their campus as possible.
  • A washer and dryer. Having to go to a laundromat can be a serious hassle for a college student. Given they’re so busy juggling their schoolwork and jobs, spending hours waiting to wash and dry their clothes is probably the last thing they want. If there’s something you must know about renting to college students is that they for sure will appreciate an on-site washer and drier.
  • Safety. Both students and their parents, who are most likely footing the cost of rent, want to be sure where they’re living is safe. Adding security features to your property may be your best bet to get a parent to approve of your rental. These may include a deadbolt lock, an alarm system, external security cameras, ample exterior lighting, etc.
  • Wi-Fi. High-speed internet may be one of the most sought-after amenities for college students. Not only do they use Wi-Fi to get their schoolwork done, but also for all kinds of entertainment and cutting down on data usage on their cell phone bills (which we all know can get pricey!) So, if you’re looking to gain an edge over the competition in your area, providing quality internet service is a perfect way to do that. You could also consider offering free Wi-Fi services as a bonus amenity or wrapping it up in the rent price.
A college student writing in her notebook

High-speed internet is one of the most in-demand amenities.

Cons of renting to college students

No rental, credit, or employment history

Likely, your tenants haven’t had the chance yet to build their credit history. It is also possible that they have no experience with renting or paying a debt. This can pose a problem for you as a landlord since screening such a candidate may be a lot more challenging. You are highly unlikely to find the information you need to decide if they would be good renters, cause few or no problems, pay rent on time, etc. However, calling all of their references might help you get some clue about their character. Moreover, you can check if the student in question has previously been expelled from student housing since it’s similar to an eviction. Finally, requiring a cosigner is the best solution for many landlords out there whose tenants have insufficient credit histories.

Students can get loud

With stories about wild parties and students trashing their house, you might feel hesitant to rent your property to students. And you are right, to some extent. Although the majority of students aren’t partying every weekend, they sure are notorious for being noisy. For this reason, be sure to include a Quiet Hours policy in your lease agreement. This way, your tenants would know that there are certain times when they’re free to have their fun and other times when they should be more respectful to others. While you’re at it, consider enforcing a guest policy or any other rules that may seem obvious but still necessary for this group.

Students studying together.

Include a Quiet Hours’ policy in your lease agreement.

They’re inexperienced in maintaining properties

Another thing to understand about college student letting is that your tenants are likely first-time renters. They may have neither the experience nor the maturity to handle basic property upkeep or maintenance issues. Moreover, occasional parties and a high number of guests accelerate normal wear and tear. Finally, you shouldn’t exclude the possibility of returning to the rental at the conclusion of the lease only to find more significant damage. The solution?

Security deposit. Protect yourself against any damages by charging the maximum amount you legally can.

Cosigner. Having a cosigner is bound to discourage negligence since a parent will be on the hook to pay for all repairs.

Walk-throughs. It’s important that everyone is on the same page about the condition of the rental. Also, by conducting routine inspections every few months, you will make sure the unit remains in good condition. Only, make sure to note this in your lease and give your tenants 24 hours’ notice in advance.

Furnished or unfurnished? Many landlords opt for unfurnished student housing for this reason. If you have the same worries, going for an unfurnished unit may be the answer. There are even instances in which the tenant wants to bring his/her own furniture. In this case, having a unit at your disposal is always a good idea. This way, you can have the furniture out of the way (and safe and sound in a storage unit) for this tenant, yet within reach when the time comes to welcome the next one.

Frequent turnover

Yearly turnover is not uncommon with college renters. They may enroll in a four-year degree program. This, however, doesn’t guarantee that their housing plans will remain the same year to year. They also may not be open to signing a lease for longer than a year. Another result of frequent turnover is that you will have to not only make repairs but also find new tenants annually. Otherwise, you run a risk of prolonged vacancy if your unit is vacant the time semester begins. In such an event, it will be pretty challenging to fill your unit until the next semester starts.

Another thing you should know about renting to college students is that they typically sign short-term leases. Since these leases usually run the length of the school year, you might need to find different renters for a summer term. Offering perks for repeat tenants or referrals can be the solution. Have your tenants sign leases for the entire year, even if they do not intend on living in the unit for all the summer months. Another solution is to offer year long-leases with the summer months on discount.

If you would like to learn more about WJD Management, please review our comprehensive Management Program guide. If you are ready to rent your home, feel free to take advantage of our exclusive FREE Rental Market Analysis. Finally, don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Pinterest for tips, ideas and updates.