Understanding Cash on Cash Return in Real Estate Investing

So what is Cash on Cash Return in real estate investing? Ever watched a movie where the protagonist, against all odds, turns a derelict building into an income-generating real estate goldmine? It’s inspiring but let me tell you, it takes more than guts and paint to make that happen. What they don’t show is the savvy investor behind the scenes running numbers.

One key figure stands out in this number-crunching marathon – Cash on Cash Return. Imagine it as your compass guiding you through potential investment pitfalls towards lucrative deals. This post promises to turn you into that savvy investor by helping you understand cash on cash return in real estate.

We’ll uncover its importance for investors, reveal how operating expenses impact returns and even compare it with other real estate metrics like cap rate. So are ready to crack open this treasure trove of knowledge?

Table of Contents:

Understanding Cash on Cash Return in Real Estate

If you’re a real estate investor, or just dipping your toes into the investment property waters, you’ve probably heard about cash on cash return. But what is it? And why does it matter?

In simple terms, cash on cash (CoC) return is a metric that measures how much net income an investment generates relative to the amount of money invested. This calculation gives investors insight into their actual earnings from investments and helps them compare different opportunities.

The formula for calculating CoC return involves dividing annual pre-tax cash flow by total invested money.

The Role of Cash on Cash Return in Real Estate Investing

But let’s not get too caught up with math here. The crux of this concept lies in its practical application – making informed decisions about where to put your hard-earned dollars when considering real estate deals.

A good CoC figure indicates high potential returns; hence many seasoned estate investors rely heavily upon this number before investing. It can also be useful when comparing different properties or evaluating the impact of using various financing methods such as loans or paying outright.

COC: A Reliable Compass for Investors?

This isn’t to say that CoC should be viewed as some magic bullet solution though.

Evaluating whether a certain percentage is ‘good’ depends largely upon factors like market conditions, location and rental strategy – so there’s still plenty more homework to do even after getting these figures straight.

To help with all that analysis though we’ve got resources aplenty available online – check out how to estimate rental income for a start.

Understanding Cash on Cash Return in Real Estate Investing

How to Calculate Cash on Cash Return

The calculation of CoC return in real estate is a key factor that helps investors evaluate the potential success of their investment property. Figuring it out isn’t too difficult, though some basic comprehension and math aptitude are necessary.

Manual Calculations for CoC Return

To calculate cash on cash return manually, you start by determining your annual pre-tax cash flow. This includes all income generated from the property minus any operating expenses incurred throughout the year.

You then divide this number by the total amount invested in purchasing and renovating the property. The result will give you your raw CoC return figure which can be converted into a percentage form for easier comparison with other investments.

  • Total Investment: Purchase price + Renovation costs + Closing fees etc.
  • Annual Pre-Tax Cash Flow: Annual Rental Income – Operating Expenses
  • Cash On Cash Return Formula: (Annual Pre-Tax Cash Flow / Total Investment) * 100%

This process may seem complex at first glance but fear not. There are resources available online like this guide on how to do an investment property analysis, that help break down these steps further making it more digestible even if you’re just starting out in real estate investing.

A Practical Example For Clarity

Say you’ve bought an investment property worth $200,000 including closing costs, renovation expenses et cetera. Now suppose after deducting all yearly operating expenses from rental income, your annual pre-tax cash flow comes around $10,000. Applying our formula we get ($10,000/$2000)*100% which gives a CoC return of 5%. This indicates that you’re earning 5% on your cash investment each year before tax.

Remember, every real estate deal is unique and various factors can influence the final CoC figure. But understanding how to calculate it manually provides you with an invaluable tool in your real estate investor toolkit.

Understanding Cash on Cash Return in Real Estate Investing

Importance of Operating Income and Expenses in CoC Return

Understanding the dynamics between operating income and expenses is a crucial part of making sense of your Cash on Cash (CoC) returns. It’s like being an artist, where you need to balance colors perfectly for that stunning painting. Similarly, as real estate investors, we must find the right equilibrium.

The Role of Rental Income

Rental income plays a pivotal role in determining operating income. Think about it like this: rental income is essentially your paycheck from investing in real estate properties – it’s what keeps the wheels turning. A strong stream of rental revenue increases your operating profit margin while boosting net operating income (NOI).

This flow directly affects CoC return since NOI is used when calculating this key metric. In simple terms, more money coming into your pocket means better cash returns.

Impact of Mortgage Payments

Mortgage payments are typically one chunky slice out of our pie chart labeled ‘operating expenses’. Just like how spending too much at a candy store can eat up all your allowance, high mortgage payments could diminish our precious NOI.

Understanding NOI/Cap Rate & How to Calculate Them, helps us get why keeping these costs under control becomes paramount for achieving positive CoC returns.

In essence, balancing these two factors – optimizing rental incomes while controlling mortgage expenditures – enables us to achieve higher net operating incomes which directly impacts our overall investment success via improved cash-on-cash return figures.

Evaluating the Cash on Cash Return for Real Estate Investments

Examining the potential yield of a rental property is essential when investing. A popular way of evaluating this is through the cash on cash (CoC) return.

The CoC calculation takes into account not just good cash flow but also various factors such as financing method, real estate market conditions, property type, and location. By factoring these elements into your analysis, you’ll have a more accurate picture of what returns to expect from an estate investment.

A good rule of thumb, backed by 35 years’ experience managing properties at WJD Management, suggests that higher CoC returns generally come with increased risk. Conversely, lower returns often indicate less risk. So don’t be seduced solely by high percentages; remember to consider your own tolerance for uncertainty too.

Understanding What Makes a Good CoC Return

To better grasp what constitutes a ‘good’ or desirable CoC return in real estate investments, let’s break down some variables:

  • Financing Method: If you’re buying with all-cash versus taking out mortgage loans can significantly impact the rate.
  • Market Conditions: The state of the local and national economy can affect both home prices and rental rates which influence your eventual return.
  • Rental Strategy: Your decision whether to rent long-term or short-term will alter income projections dramatically so plan wisely.

In summary: When evaluating potential investments, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer about ideal numbers because every investor has unique goals and risk tolerance. But understanding the variables that impact CoC return will give you a leg up in making savvy investment decisions.

Comparing Cash on Cash Return with Other Real Estate Metrics

The world of real estate investing is awash with numerous metrics. Two commonly used ones are cap rate and ROI (Return on Investment). How does cash-on-cash return measure up to cap rate and ROI?

The Role of ROI in Real Estate Investing

ROI measures an investment’s overall profitability, accounting for all costs and returns over time. It’s a handy tool but doesn’t always reflect the investor’s actual cash flow situation.

Cash-on-cash return, however, gives you a clear picture of your yearly income relative to your initial investment outlay. This metric helps investors like us at WJD Management make informed decisions about potential rental properties.

To put it simply, imagine two investments: one has high long-term gains but slow short-term earnings (high ROI), while another offers lower total profits but immediate positive cash flow (high CoC).

If you need quick returns to reinvest or cover operating expenses – say hello to CoC. On the other hand, if building wealth over decades is more your style – then keep an eye on that ROI.

The Interplay Between Cap Rate and CoC Return

Moving onto our next contestant – cap rate. Unlike both ROI and CoC return which account for financing costs such as mortgage payments, cap rates consider only property price and net operating income. They’re great when comparing similar properties within same markets without factoring financial structuring.

“Think of it this way: If RoI is a marathon runner pacing itself for the long haul; Cap Rate is sprinter racing flat-out from start to finish.”

Curious about how to calculate cap rates? Check out this comprehensive guide on the best Cap Rate Calculator in 2023.

So there you have it. CoC return, ROI and cap rate – three key metrics each playing their part in real estate investment analysis.

Understanding Cash on Cash Return in Real Estate Investing

Maximizing Cash on Cash Return in Real Estate Investments

A labyrinth of numbers, metrics, and terms that can bewilder even the savviest investor. One such term? Cash on cash return (CoC). But don’t fret. With a few strategic moves, you can master this beast and use it to find top-performing rental properties.

A high CoC indicates that your property is giving back more than what you’ve put into it – the dream scenario for any investor. So how do we maximize this elusive figure?

Finding The Best Rental Markets

The first step towards higher returns starts with choosing the best rental markets. Remember, location matters as much as the property itself when aiming for great real estate deals.

You might be thinking “I know all this already.” Well, here’s something new: Did you know smaller cities often have better CoCs compared to their larger counterparts? Yes. Size doesn’t always matter.

Selecting Top-Performing Rental Properties

Once you’ve zeroed in on your market(s), let’s get down to business – selecting those prime properties which promise high returns. This requires careful analysis of potential investments.

Rental income should cover not just mortgage payments but also contribute positively towards operating expenses like maintenance costs or unexpected repairs. No one said juggling was easy.

If analyzing isn’t exactly your forte then tools like Mashvisor’s Investment Property Analysis can come to your rescue. Remember, in the real estate jungle, being prepared is half the battle won.

The ultimate goal here? A positive net operating income which leads to a higher CoC return. Now that’s what we call winning.

FAQs in Relation to Understanding Cash on Cash Return in Real Estate

What is considered a good cash-on-cash return in real estate?

A solid cash-on-cash return typically ranges from 8% to 12%. But, your market and investment strategy can nudge that number.

How do you interpret cash-on-cash return?

Cash-on-cash return measures the profitability of an investment. Higher returns hint at more profitable investments, but remember to weigh risk too.

Why is cash-on-cash return important in real estate?

COC returns give investors insight into their annual pre-tax income relative to invested money, helping make informed decisions on property deals.

What is 15% cash-on-cash return?

A 15% COC Return means you’re earning back 15% of your initial investment annually before taxes. That’s seen as excellent performance for most markets.


By now, you’re no stranger to understanding cash on cash return in real estate. It’s the compass that leads savvy investors like yourself to profitable deals.

You’ve discovered its importance, learned how to calculate it step by step and realized how operating income and expenses factor into your returns.

Not just that but you’ve also grasped how this metric helps identify top-performing rental properties and compares with others like cap rate. Remember though, CoC return isn’t a one-size-fits-all number; market conditions, property type, location all influence what’s considered good.

Your financing options matter too – choosing the right loan can boost those returns even more! Keep these key takeaways at hand as they’ll be vital for your future investment decisions.

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.

Can I deduct Utilities for Rental Properties?

Landlords, rejoice. Vacant single-family rental properties can claim certain utility-related tax deductions, such as electricity or gas needed to maintain the property during vacancy periods. You can still deduct utility costs during vacancy periods as long as the property was actively marketed for rent and you keep accurate records. Remember, as a landlord, you can minimize your taxable income by capitalizing on the various tax deductions that are accessible to you.

Make sure to provide evidence of availability for rent, such as online listings or advertisements, and consult with a real estate tax professional to maximize your benefits.

Remember, not all utility expenses are deductible in every situation, so be sure to understand the restrictions based on factors like personal use or landlord residency.

For even more ways to minimize taxable income from rental properties, consider claiming depreciation on assets or taking advantage of special tax credits offered by local governments or energy companies.

How to Report Utility Expenses on Form 1040

Reporting rental property income and expenses on Form 1040 is a must-do when filing taxes, and keeping track of utility deductions can save you big bucks.

  1. Gather relevant documents: Collect receipts, invoices, and other documentation for utilities paid by you as the landlord.
  2. Determine deductible utility costs: Calculate the total amount spent on utilities for each rental property during the tax year.
  3. Complete Schedule E (Supplemental Income and Loss): Fill out this form with details about your rental properties’ incomes/expenses before transferring totals to Form 1040.
    Schedule E – Supplemental Income and Loss PDF Link

As a landlord, don’t miss out on valuable tax benefits by overlooking rental utility deductions. 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.

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.

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.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Pinterest for tips, ideas and updates.

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.