Tenant Guide: HVAC Maintenance for Your Rental Home

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

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

Do Rental Homes Require HVAC Systems?

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

heating, ventilation and air conditioning filter replacement

The Importance of HVAC Maintenance

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

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

Tenant Guide: HVAC Maintenance for Your Rental Home

Tenant Guide: HVAC Maintenance for Your Rental Home

Tenant Guide: HVAC Maintenance for Your Rental Home

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

Leave It to the Professionals

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

When to Contact Your Property Manager

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

What Can You Do as the Tenant?

Tenant Guide: Everything HVAC

Tenant Guide: Everything HVAC

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

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

Wear and Tear Vs. Neglect

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

Wear and Tear

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


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

How to Keep the HVAC Running Efficiently

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

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

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

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Benefits of Renting a Residential Property

You constantly hear of the advantage of owning a home; it is after all the “American Dream” for many to progress to the point in their lives where they are financially stable enough to plant down roots and own their own home, but what about the advantages of renting a home instead of a traditional rental like an apartment? Both renting and owning a home have their advantages and disadvantages, and your circumstances should always be considered before choosing for you and your family. Although renting a home does not often seem as advantageous as owning a home, it does have some perks; let’s discuss those perks further. 

Renting, In General, Is Less Expensive To Get Started

Renting is less expensive than owning, to begin with. Although the initial security deposit and first month’s rent seem intimidating, it is far less costly than putting 20% down on a home. You also have to consider the fact that you will not be paying for other homeowner costs, such as property taxes, repairs, or possibly homeowner association dues. In addition to the start-up costs, you need to consider the ongoing monthly bills. Often as a renter, some utilities are included, such as water, or sewer, when as a homeowner, all of those financial responsibilities land on you. Insurance is also a factor to consider. According to Investopedia, the average cost of renters insurance is $179 per year, while the average cost of homeowners insurance is over $1,279. 

Minimal Risk with Maximum Flexibility

Buying a property is an investment, and no investment comes without risk. There are many risk factors to consider when you own a home, such as decreasing property values, which can significantly affect you if you want to sell your home in the future. An unstable housing market affects owners more than it does the renters of those homes. Another risk factor to consider would be repairs made to the property. How many times in your past rental experience has something in your apartment or condo needed to be fixed or replaced? Did you ever consider the overall cost of such repairs or replacements? Minor issues can start to add up, creating a large hole in your budget as a new homeowner.

Another thing to consider is if you genuinely love the community a home is in when you buy it. Renting is likened to a test run; you can try out the neighborhood, see if the area is conducive to your lifestyle for a year or more, and if it’s not, you move on to the next community you think will fit. When you are a homeowner, you have no such luxury. You purchased a home in a neighborhood that could very well end up not working for you, and you have to stay there for a few years, often more, before you can make another move. 

Why Renting a Home is Better than Renting an Apartment or Condo 

Renting a home has all of the benefits of homeownership without the headache and pressure of unforeseeable events. Additionally, when renting a home, you are afforded more privacy and amenities than when renting an apartment or condo. Often you will have more space with a larger floor plan, more stability in a living situation if you choose to stay, more storage space, more parking, and in some cases, an outdoor space to make your own with more lenient pet policies! 

Is Renting a Home Right For You? 

Owning a home can be beneficial over the long run due to the overall stability and equity gained in the property. The same can be said for renting apartments; they are often less expensive with more utilities included. However, renting a home is an excellent middle ground between apartment life and homeownership. It helps you transition from renting to owning in a smooth and hassle-free freeway. When considering renting a home, consider your lifestyle, financial situation, and five-year plan as you embark on this next phase of your life. 

Why Choose WJD for Your Next Home Rental? 

Why should you choose WJD Management to assist with your search for a residential home for rent? WJD sets itself apart from its competitors by offering a low $60 application fee per applicant and the security deposit of the house of your choice to apply for tenancy. If your tenancy application is denied, the security deposit will be refunded immediately. Don’t just take it from us! Here is what some of our past clients have said after working with us to find their new home!

“I have been with WJD for four years & two different rentals. They have an easy monthly/adjustable auto-debit system online. The maintenance program is prompt, knowledgeable & efficient in its work to resolve all types of matters day or night. Always accommodating between our work, school & pet schedules. Agents are friendly, fair & accommodating. No issues, I would really highly recommend them!” – Heather D.

“Before WJD, I always thought that renting with a Management company was a complete nightmare (getting forgotten in the bulk). WJD has done things so easily and stress free (lease, payment, maintenance, communication). We were planning on just renting one year, but we decided to make it more.” – Alexandria V.

“I have now been a WJDM tenant for five years. It has been a pleasure to work with the team. I truly have not had a single bad experience during those 5 years. When it comes to submitting a work order, WJDM is always prompt to respond and make sure we have what we need. Any rare issues involving payments being processed late are met with politeness and understanding. I’ve been very fortunate to work with WJDM and I always recommend them to my friends and coworkers. Thanks for your great customer service and friendliness.” Andrew C.

To begin finding your perfect residential home connect with WJD Management on our website www.wjdpm.com where you will be able to create your login account, make payments, request maintenance, and process your rental application. We make moving in and out simple by providing checklists and on-call support seven days a week with tenant support staff. Please review our comprehensive management program guide if you would like to learn more about WJD Management.

If you would like to learn more about Renting with WJD Management, please visit our Tenant Page and view our Rental Homes. Check out other relevant reads like 5 Questions Every New Renter Should Ask Don’t forget to connect with us on social media! 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.

5 Questions Every New Renter Should Ask

So you are not ready yet to buy a home and have decided to rent a place, here are 5 questions every new renter should ask.

(Editor’s note: For answers to these typical new renter questions, we turned to local expert and career Realtor, Harry Yazbek, Broker and Branch Vice President for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Vienna.)

Number 1 – Do I Have to Have a Realtor®?

The short answer is no, but why wouldn’t you want one? A Realtor® can become your best friend and help negotiate terms and conditions you may not even think about. The way it usually works is you sign an Agency agreement with a Realtor® and you become their client. By law and Article one of the Realtor® Code of Ethics, they must represent your best interest and protect your rights. They will negotiate with the landlord or property manager and assist with lease review and other paperwork required.

Key point: Although a Renter’s Agent is generally compensated by the landlord and not the renter, they owe the renter all the loyalty.

Number 2 – What if My Credit History Isn’t Perfect?

Your credit history is, increasingly, a key factor in all areas of your life as a consumer and as a candidate for housing. Some may protest this trend but we must accept reality in that our credit “worthiness” is a major consideration to future employers, credit cards, auto loans, licensing bureaus such as real estate and mortgage loan officers–and, of course, landlords.
There is no set credit score for renters, most landlords select their tenants based on many variables, and credit is just one of them. For example, let’s say someone had great credit then lost his/her job in a layoff. After the job loss, many payments were missed and credit suffered a great deal but a new job was secured a few months later and credit payments have been perfect ever since. To some land lords, this scenario is not as risky as someone who has consistently had bad credit over the years. The two applicants may potentially have the same score but the one who was laid off will likely present a smaller risk to the landlord

Key point: If two candidates are equal in all but their credit ratings, most landlords will take the applicant with the better credit.

Number 3 – How Much is The Rent?

Rent is usually established by current market conditions, comparable rents in the neighborhood, property condition, amenities and term of lease. Generally speaking, the longer the lease term you offer, the more likely you may be able to bargain for a reduced monthly rent. Of course this ties up the property on both ends and if market conditions change, one party will usually get the short end of the stick.

Although rent amount is technically negotiable, one needs to keep in mind what type of market we have at the moment. When homeowners were losing their properties due to foreclosure during the financial meltdown, the rental market was very hot, in favor of landlords. Basic supply and demand kicked in, the majority of those former homeowners entered the rental market and demand exceeded supply, hence rents went up drastically.

Key point: Know the market and negotiate terms accordingly.

Number 4 – Who Pays for Normal Wear and Tear and Damage?

Answer is very simple, read your lease and negotiate it. Generally speaking, normal wear and tear is not the tenant’s responsibility but the cost to repair tenant damage is and will be deducted from the security deposit. When you first move into the property, conduct a “walk-thru” inspection where you can detail and take photos of any existing damage to the place, same as you would with a rental car.

Key point: Careful inspections–with photos–mean you will not have any existing damage to a property counted against your deposit.

Number 5 – What happens if I break the lease?

A lot of bad things can happen if you break the lease, depending on how nice you were to your landlord and how pragmatic he or she happens to be. First thing the landlord can do is keep the deposit and sue for the remaining balance of the lease. Or, the landlord can find another renter to take over and sue for the amount of time the property was vacant during the transition. This will most likely have a negative impact on the renter’s credit history. I would recommend you seek counsel before attempting to break a lease. In many cases landlords are very understanding, and a transition can be done amicably (but with the cost of process being paid for by the tenant). This will probably include rental payments while the home is vacant, utility costs and yard maintenance during that period of time, as well as any Realtor® leasing fees incurred by the homeowner.

Key point: Communicate with your landlord if you must break your lease–and be prepared to bear the costs of vacancy.

To learn more answers to common new tenant questions visit our Tenant FAQ page.