Unlock the Tax Advantages of Owning a Residential Rental Property

Rental property owners in Fairfax County, Virginia have a unique opportunity to benefit from the tax advantages of owning residential rental properties. Tax laws are complex and ever-changing; however, there are still numerous benefits that can be realized through careful management of your investment portfolio. This blog post will provide an overview of some common tax deductions for residential rentals as well as strategies to maximize your own potential tax savings when investing in real estate in Fairfax County. Additionally, we’ll look at what investors with small portfolios should consider before taking advantage of these beneficial tax opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a professional property manager or simply trying to make sense out of the sometimes confusing world of taxes and investments, this post is sure to give you valuable insight into how best utilize any available tax advantages for rental properties!

Table of Contents:

Tax Benefits of Owning a Residential Rental Property

Owning a residential rental property can provide numerous tax benefits, making it an attractive investment for many. Tax deductions, capital gains exclusion, and depreciation are just some of the advantages that come with owning a rental property.

Tax Deductions: Mortgage interest payments on your rental property are generally deductible from your taxable income. Additionally, you may be able to deduct any insurance premiums paid on the property as well as any local or state taxes associated with it. These deductions can help reduce your overall tax burden significantly.

Capital Gains Exclusion: When you sell a residential rental property at a profit, you may be eligible for capital gains exclusion if certain criteria is met. This means that up to $250k in profits (or $500k if filing jointly) made from selling the home may not be subject to taxation when filing federal taxes. This can save investors thousands of dollars in taxes over time and make investing in real estate more profitable than other investments such as stocks or bonds.

Depreciation: Rental properties also offer the advantage of depreciation which allows owners to write off part of their purchase price each year against their taxable income until they have fully depreciated the value of their asset over time (typically 27 ½ years). This helps reduce an investor’s overall tax burden by allowing them to take deductions for expenses related to maintaining and improving their investment properties even though those costs were incurred before they began renting out the unit(s).

By understanding the various tax implications associated with owning a residential rental property, investors can maximize their returns while minimizing their liabilities at tax time each year, ultimately leading to greater financial success in the future.

Owning a residential rental property can provide numerous tax advantages, from deductions to capital gains exclusion. However, investors with smaller portfolios of rental properties may also benefit from lower income taxes and increased cash flow.

Tax Advantages for Investors with Small Portfolios of Residential Rental Properties

Investors with small portfolios of residential rental properties may benefit from lower income taxes, increased cash flow, and reduced risk of losses due to the tax advantages associated with owning rental properties. Understanding the various tax implications can help investors maximize their returns on their investments.

Lower Income Taxes: Rental property owners are eligible for deductions that reduce taxable income, such as mortgage interest payments and depreciation expenses. These deductions can significantly reduce an investor’s overall taxable income which in turn reduces the amount of taxes owed each year.

Increased Cash Flow: By taking advantage of these deductions, investors can increase their net operating income (NOI) by reducing expenses and increasing revenue through rent increases or other methods. This additional NOI provides more cash flow for investors to use towards future investments or other personal needs.

Investing in rental properties can offer investors tax advantages that help to increase their cash flow and reduce their risk of losses. By understanding the common tax deductions available for residential rental properties, investors can maximize their savings and reap even greater rewards from their investments.

Common Tax Deductions for Residential Rental Properties

Common Tax Deductions for Residential Rental Properties

Common Tax Deductions for Residential Rental Properties

When it comes to owning a rental property, one of the most important things to consider is how you can reduce your tax liability. Fortunately, there are several common tax deductions for residential rental properties that investors should be aware of.

Mortgage Interest Deduction: One of the most significant deductions available to landlords is the mortgage interest deduction. This allows them to deduct any interest paid on their mortgage from their taxable income each year. For example, if an investor has a $200,000 loan with an annual interest rate of 5%, they could potentially deduct up to $10,000 in mortgage interest payments from their taxes each year.

Property Taxes Deduction: Another common deduction for residential rental properties is property taxes deduction. Property taxes are typically based on the assessed value of a home and can vary significantly depending on where it’s located and other factors such as local laws or regulations. By taking advantage of this deduction, landlords can reduce their overall tax burden by offsetting some or all of these costs against their taxable income each year.

Lastly, insurance premiums are also deductible when it comes to residential rental properties. Landlords may be able to deduct certain types of insurance such as homeowners’ insurance or landlord-specific policies like tenant liability coverage from their taxable income each year, as well as any associated fees related to obtaining these policies in order to protect themselves and their investments further down the line

Overall, understanding which deductions are available for residential rental properties can help landlords save money on taxes while still maximizing returns on investment over time. Proper management practices and strategies that take into account both short-term and long-term goals alike should be implemented in order to ensure the best possible outcome.

Knowing the common tax deductions for residential rental properties can help property owners in Fairfax County, Virginia maximize their profits and save money on taxes. But there are also other tax implications to consider when owning a rental property, which will be discussed in the next heading.

Commonly Overlooked Tax Implications for Residential Rental Properties

Self-Employment Taxes on Rental Income: When you own a rental property, the income you receive from it is subject to self-employment taxes. This means that in addition to regular income taxes, you will also have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your rental income. It’s important for investors to understand this additional tax burden when considering whether or not they want to invest in a rental property.

Personal Use of the Property: If an investor uses their rental property for personal use more than 14 days per year or 10% of the total number of days rented out (whichever is greater), then they may be liable for additional taxes related to the personal use portion of their rental income. It’s important for investors to keep track of how often they are using their properties so as not incur any unexpected tax liabilities down the road.

Investors can deduct repair and maintenance costs associated with their rentals from their taxable incomes as long as those expenses were necessary and reasonable in nature. However, if these repairs increase the value or extend the life expectancy of a unit beyond its original state, then these costs cannot be deducted until after depreciation has been taken into account over time. Understanding which repairs qualify for deductions can help investors maximize their returns while minimizing potential tax liabilities down the line

Being aware of the tax implications associated with owning a rental property is essential for maximizing your returns and minimizing potential losses. By understanding these common pitfalls, you can better prepare yourself to take advantage of strategies that maximize your tax benefits from owning a residential rental property.

Strategies to Maximize Your Tax Benefits from Owning a Residential Rental Property

Common Tax Deductions for Residential Rental Properties

Common Tax Deductions for Residential Rental Properties

Utilizing professional services such as accountants or attorneys who specialize in real estate taxation can help investors take full advantage of all available tax benefits. Keeping accurate records and documentation is also essential for ensuring that all deductions are properly claimed on income taxes.

For example, mortgage interest payments are typically deductible from rental income when filing taxes, so having detailed records of these payments will ensure they are not overlooked when claiming deductions. Property taxes may also be deducted from rental income if they were paid during the taxable year; however, this deduction may be limited depending on local laws and regulations. Additionally, insurance premiums paid for coverage on the rental property can usually be deducted as well.

Investors should also be aware of any self-employment taxes due on their rental income since this type of taxation is often overlooked by those new to owning a residential rental property. If an investor has used their own residence for personal use at any point throughout the year (such as taking family vacations), then some portion of their expenses associated with running the business may no longer qualify for deductions come tax time. Finally, repair and maintenance costs must also be accounted for since these expenses can add up quickly over time and could potentially reduce an investor’s overall profits if not taken into consideration before filing taxes each year.

By following these strategies, investors can ensure they are taking full advantage of all available tax benefits when it comes to owning a residential rental property in Fairfax County Virginia or elsewhere around the Northern Virginia area where WJD Management provides its services.

FAQs in Relation to Tax Advantages for Rental Property

Are there tax advantages to owning rental property?

Yes, there are tax advantages to owning rental property. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows landlords to deduct certain expenses related to their rental properties, such as mortgage interest payments and repairs. Additionally, depreciation of the property may be taken as a deduction over time. These deductions can help reduce taxable income and potentially lower your overall tax burden. It is important to consult with a qualified accountant or financial advisor for more information on how taxes apply in your specific situation.

What is the most tax efficient way to own rental property?

Owning rental property can be a great way to generate income and build wealth, but it’s important to understand the tax implications of doing so. The most tax efficient way to own rental property is through an LLC or other legal entity that allows you to take advantage of pass-through taxation. This means that your business profits are passed directly onto your personal taxes, which can result in lower overall taxes due. Additionally, setting up separate bank accounts for each rental property can help keep track of expenses and deductions more easily at tax time. Lastly, staying informed on current federal and state laws regarding real estate investments will ensure you remain compliant with all regulations while minimizing your tax burden.

How much can you write off on taxes for rental property?

The amount of rental property tax deductions you can take depends on your individual situation. Generally, you can deduct expenses such as mortgage interest, repairs and maintenance, insurance premiums, taxes paid to the government, and other related costs. You may also be able to deduct depreciation for the portion of your home used for business purposes. It is important to consult with a qualified tax professional in order to determine exactly what deductions are available and how much you can write off on your taxes for rental property.

How can I avoid paying taxes on my rental property?

To avoid paying taxes on rental property, you should ensure that all income and expenses related to the property are accurately reported. You can also take advantage of deductions such as depreciation, mortgage interest payments, and repairs or improvements made to the property. Additionally, you may be able to deduct any losses incurred from renting out your property if it is not used for personal use more than 14 days a year or 10% of total rental days. Finally, make sure to consult with a tax professional who is familiar with local laws in Fairfax County Virginia before filing your taxes.

Conclusion

However, it is important to understand the tax implications of owning such an investment. With careful planning and understanding of the tax benefits available for rental properties, you can maximize your returns while minimizing your taxes. By taking advantage of deductions, credits, and other incentives offered by the government, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment in terms of both financial gain and tax advantages for rental property owners.

Are you looking for ways to maximize the tax advantages of your rental property in Northern Virginia? WJD Management has over 35 years of experience providing professional property management services that can help you make the most out of your investment. Contact us today and let our experts provide tailored solutions that will take advantage of all possible tax benefits!

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Pets in rental properties? As a landlord, do you know your rights?

As a landlord, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that more and more renters want to rent a property that will accept their pets. Though Virginia doesn’t require you to accept pets in your rental property (outside of service or emotional support animals, which we’ll get to later), it’s up to you to decide whether it makes sense to accommodate tenants who are also looking for a home for their pet.

Whether or not you’re facing this decision right now, you’ll most likely have to deal with it at some point or another. We think it’s smart to go ahead and understand some details so when the time arises, you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Should you accept pets in your rental properties? Let’s start with some basics on different types of pets and what the state of Virginia says on the matter.

Table of Contents:

Typical Household Pets in Rental Properties

what is a typical household pet in a rental

In most cases, tenants will want to find a place to live that is loving and accepting of their furry friend whom they consider to be a member of the family. Cats and dogs are the most common with the occasional other animal thrown in such as a bird or rabbit. The state of Virginia doesn’t require you to accept any type of pet, so whether you want pets in your rental property or not is totally up to you.

With a typical household pet, you can decide not only whether or not you’ll allow certain kinds of animals over others, but you can charge more in rent or deposits for allowing the pet to live in the home. With your typical household pet, anything is fair game for the landlord.

With a typical household pet, you can decide not only whether or not you’ll allow certain kinds of animals over others, but you can charge more in rent or deposits for allowing the pet to live in the home. With your typical household pet, anything is fair game for the landlord.

Official Service Pets in Rental Rroperties

What is an Official Service Animal?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and subsequent Virginia Laws, people with physical and mental disabilities can bring service animals to all public places. You have most likely seen service animals on planes, at restaurants, at hotels, and other public places where someone might require such an animal.

While service animals might look and act like any other pet, the biggest indicator of a service animal (almost always a dog) is that they have been formally trained to assist their owner with certain tasks and typically wear a vest or bandana of some sort labeling them as such. Here are a few tasks that service animals might assist with:

  • Assisting blind owners with navigation
  • Alerting deaf owners of surrounding people or sounds
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Retrieving certain items that the owners can’t get themselves
  • Providing any type of physical support to their owners

As a landlord, you are not allowed to discriminate against tenants based on their need for a service animal. According to the Fair Housing Act and Virginia law, tenants cannot be charged a higher rent or security deposit or face extra fees for having a service dog. However, if the dog causes damage in the home, the tenant is responsible for the cost of repairs.

More distinctions about Official Service Pets

  • An official service pet is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  • These tasks can include, but are not limited to, guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, or alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure.
  • Service animals are not considered pets, so landlords cannot charge a pet deposit or pet rent for them. Landlords also cannot require that service animals be spayed or neutered, or that they have any vaccinations which are not required for all dogs.

If you have a tenant who is requesting to have a service animal in your rental property, you should ask for documentation from a doctor or other medical professional that verifies that the tenant has a disability, and that the disability is known to be alleviated by the presence of a service animal. You should also ask for documentation from a training program that verifies that the animal has been trained to perform the tasks that the tenant needs it to perform.

You should also ask for documentation from a training program that verifies that the animal has been trained to perform the tasks that the tenant needs it to perform.

Key Takeaway: You cannot charge pet rent or a pet deposit for an official service animal and you can not decline a tenant just because they have a service animal.

 

Emotional Support Animals in Rentals

Emotional Support Animals in Rentals

There might seem to be some overlap between emotional support animals and service animals, but while service dogs are formally trained, emotional support animals are not. An emotional support animal comforts its owner by providing them therapeutic companionship. The most typical situations that require emotional support animals are when people suffer from mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.

In order for a person to have an official emotional support animal they must have an ESA certificate signed by a mental health professional who is licensed in the state of Virginia. Simply owning a pet and saying that it’s an emotional support animal does not make it official. Unlike service animals, which are almost always dogs, emotional support animals can be any animal that the owner chooses, as long as they have a legitimate ESA certificate. Landlords should pay close attention to this as there are a number of websites where these certificates may be obtained for a nominal fee. There have been instances of tenants who have purchased one of these illegitimate certificates in order to avoid having to pay a Pet Deposit, which may be a thousand dollars or more.

It’s important to know that tenants with emotional support animals are legally entitled to live in any state without paying a pet fee or being declined because of their ESA. As a landlord, you are required to allow the tenant to have the official emotional support animal of their choice (no matter what the animal may be), and they cannot be charged an extra fee or deposit for having such an animal.

So now that you know exactly what to expect with everyday pets, service dogs, and emotional support animals, you get to decide what is best for your property.Here are a few things to consider when interviewing potential tenants who own a pet which is not a Service Animal or an ESA.

By reaching a bigger share of the renter market, you’ll also have more options on finding the right tenant to live in your property. This is a really great option for most landlords.

So, it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether or not to allow ordinary pets in your rental property. If you do, you may be able to charge a higher rent and collect a larger security deposit to offset any damage the pet may cause.

There are however a few things that you should keep in mind.

  • You should include a pet addendum in your lease agreement. This will spell out the rules and regulations for having a pet in your rental property.
  • Emotional support animals are not considered to be pets under the law, and they are exempt from pet rent fees and pet security deposits.
  • Official service animals are also exempt from pet rent fees and pet security deposits, andthey are allowed to live in “no pet” rental units.

If you have any questions about whether or not to allow pets in your rental property, or about the laws surrounding emotional support animals and official service pets, you should consult with an experienced landlord-tenant attorney.

Key Takeaway: Both emotional support animals and official service animals are exempt from pet rent fees, pet security deposits and they are allowed to live in “no pet” rental units.

Acceptance of Pets in Rental Properties in Virginia. Guidelines for Landlords with Regard to Pets

It can be a tough decision, as there are pros and cons to both allowing and not allowing pets.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what is best for your rental property. If you do decide to allow pets in your rental property, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, you should collect a larger security deposit. This will help to cover any additional wear and tear that a pet may cause on the property.

Second, you should require that all pets be current on their vaccinations and that they have a valid license. Finally, you should have a pet policy in place that outlines the rules and regulations regarding pets in the rental property.

If you have any questions about whether or not to allow pets in your rental property, or if you need help creating a pet policy, please contact us. We would be happy to help you make the best decision for your rental property.

Key Takeaway: Pets in rental properties are becoming more and more common, but it is up to the landlord to decide if they want to allow them. If you do allow pets, be sure to have a pet policy in place.

If you’re a landlord in Northern Virginia, it’s important to understand the laws and regulations regarding pets in rental properties. There’s a lot to know about pets when it comes to managing rental properties, so it’s always a good idea to do your research and ask for professional advice if you find yourself in a tricky situation. So whether you’re deciding if you should allow pets or dealing with a current tenant pet situation, give us a call. We’re more than happy to help!

If you are ready to rent your home, don’t hesitate 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.

 

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.

Depreciation

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.

Wear and Tear vs. Damage – What Every Landlord Needs to Know

When it comes to maintaining a home, property owners who want to rent their homes to tenants face a different set of challenges. How do you keep the property in good shape if someone else is living in it, and who is responsible if something happens to the property? In this article, we will discuss the differences between wear and tear vs. damage and cover the most important things that every landlord needs to know when assessing these issues.

 

Hole in the wall caused by tenant damage.

Hole in the wall caused by tenant damage.

Let’s begin by clarifying a few things and accurately defining what constitutes normal wear and tear vs. actual property damage. Although they may seem similar to a layperson, we can differentiate between them by how they occur and by who should foot the bill.

 

You can’t expect your property to be in pristine condition forever.

You can’t expect your property to be in pristine condition forever.

What is wear and tear?

Normal wear and tear can be looked at as the small changes which are going to occur to a property no matter what. Of course, wear and tear can be accelerated if someone is living in the residence. And it can happen even in vacant homes due to natural decay.

A good example of natural decay would be the fading or discoloration of wooden surfaces after prolonged exposure to sunlight. Paint will also fade and crack over time. As you can see with these examples, neither are the result of anything tenants may have done so it would be inappropriate to blame them for the wear. On the other hand, reasonable wear and tear can easily become unreasonable wear and tear if there are a large number of residents in the home. This is especially true in homes with hardwood floors where the tenants have a greater than 60 pound pet. However, you can always expect reasonable wear and tear no matter how careful your tenants may be.

Wooden surfaces will deteriorate over time, but not using a coaster will make it happen faster.

To summarize, normal wear and tear can occur without any negligence or misuse on the part of the tenant.

Addressing normal wear and tear will always be the responsibility of the homeowner and under normal circumstances, tenants cannot be charged the cost of remediation. Accelerated or unreasonable wear and tear however may have been the result of tenant irresponsible usage or neglect and the cost to repair should be borne by the tenant. Keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the tenant to report maintenance issues before they escalate and become something that can be considered damage to the property.

 

Wooden surfaces will deteriorate over time, but not using a coaster will make it happen faster.

Wooden surfaces will deteriorate over time, but not using a coaster will make it happen faster.

To summarize, normal wear and tear can occur without any negligence or misuse on the part of the tenant.

Repairing normal wear and tear is the responsibility of the landlord. Under normal circumstances, they cannot charge the tenants for those repairs, nor can they deduct them from the tenant’s security deposit. However, if wear and tear occurred in an unusually fast period, it may have come from irresponsible use or neglect. It is the responsibility of the tenant to report wear and tear before the effects escalate and grow into something that can be considered damage to the property.

What is damage?

Here we have every other change to the property that shouldn’t naturally occur. If we look at our above examples, their opposites would be wooden floors scratched or warped from water damage and tenants making scuffs, scratches or gouges on the walls.

Anything preventable which depreciates the property can also fall under the purview of damage. If left unattended and neglected long enough however, even something that could be categorized as normal wear and tear can eventually be considered damage. A good example of this would be water intrusion in the bathroom caused by a preventable but unreported leak. If left untreated, it could cause stains as well as the buildup of mold and mildew which would definitely be considered damage.

 

Although the tenants didn’t cause the hail damage, they should report it.

Although the tenants didn’t cause the hail damage, they should report it.

Damage is property deterioration which has resulted from neglect, misuse, accident, or negligence. If you are still struggling with the difference between normal wear and tear and damage, we have a handy outline in our Tenant Handbook which features multiple side-by-side examples.

What to do when wear and tear or damage occur?

As we’ve outlined above, repairs for property damage can typically be charged to tenants or deducted from their security deposit. We do understand that not every owner wants to confront their tenants about damage they have caused which is why we’ve highly recommended hiring a property manager to do this for you.

However, as a landlord, you should understand that taking care of the effects of ordinary wear and tear is your responsibility. To handle the cost of these repairs, you should plan your budget in advance. Be sure to take into account the average lifespan of the property’s fixtures, systems and appliances so that you have a good idea of when they’ll need replacing.

 

Sometimes, it feels like your whole property is upside down from the damage it has suffered.

Sometimes, it feels like your whole property is upside down from the damage it has suffered.

How to avoid damage to your property

Although tenants must be held responsible for any damage they have caused, below are some useful suggestions which should help you minimize harm to your most valuable asset.

1. Have a home inspection.

Traditionally home inspections are performed for both move-ins and move-outs. This will let both you and your tenant examine the property and determine if the current state matches the initial condition.

2. Use a checklist.

While performing the inspection, it’s best if you use a checklist so that you don’t forget to go over every part of the property.

3. Support tenants in maintaining the property.

Incentivize your tenants and give them benefits if they keep the property in good condition. Good tenants are something to hang onto.

4. Encourage tenants to report any maintenance issues.

Foster good communication so that problems can be dealt with before they escalate and cause actual damage.

5. Walkthrough inspections.

You don’t need to surprise your tenants. It’s okay to let your tenants know in advance and schedule your visits.

6. Avoid deferred maintenance.

Come to terms with the fact that nothing will last forever and don’t wait until the last minute to fix or replace something that is broken or damaged. Be present when the tenants move in and when they are moving out.

Although some tenants may do the moving themselves, the majority will use a moving company. Regardless of how careful tenants or professional movers might be, they may cause the occasional scratch, scuff, dent or other damage while moving in or out. It’s important for you to be there to document this.

7. Encourage tenants to use care when moving in/out

By hiring a professional moving company, tenants can avoid unnecessary damage during the move. Keep your property safe by leaving the heavy lifting to the pros.

The bottom line

We hope that you can now tell the difference between wear and tear vs. damage since every landlord needs to be able to differentiate between the two. It is very important to stay calm and to know what to do when damage does take place. Talk to your tenants about their responsibilities and help them understand what they can do to prevent damage from occurring. This will save you both a lot of time and stress.

If you are ready to rent your home, feel free to take advantage of our exclusive FREE Rental Market Analysis. Also, check out other relevant reads like How to Keep Tenants From Damaging Your Home. Finally, don’t forget to connect with us on social media! Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Pinterest for tips, ideas and updates.

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.

Your Guide to 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.

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 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.

Liability

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.

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.

Flat-Rate Property Management in Northern Virginia: The Pros and Cons

Wondering about Flat-Rate Property Management in Northern Virginia? Most owners have wondered at one point or another whether flat-rate property management in Northern Virginia is worth it, and we are here to tell you, like anything else, there are pros & cons.

So you’re going to be out of town for the next few years, and you’ve decided that instead of selling your Northern Virginia home, you’d like to put it on the market for rent. You’ve already decided that professional property management is a strategic cost in which you’re willing to invest (for reasons including peace-of-mind, tenant screening, marketing, maintenance, etc.); and you’re on the lookout for a property management firm.

Read more

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.