Considering hiring a professional property manager? If you own a rental property and are thinking about hiring a professional property manager in Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, Spotsylvania and surrounding areas, you may be wondering what a property manager does? While there are many benefits to hiring a professional property manager, the most important considerations are usually the lease agreement, tenant screening, and maintenance. Now, if you live close to your rental property, have good availability, and plan to ensure it is properly maintained, you may be fine to manage your property on your own. Where things tend to get sticky for owners is a lack of knowledge on writing the lease agreement with an addendum, uncertainty about how to create a tenant screening matrix, and how best to handle maintenance and emergencies. Below I have outlined a few considerations to assist you in making an informed decision about your property.
Every landlord wants great tenants but finding qualified tenants can actually be quite difficult. If you make a mistake you could end up paying for it big time between time, money, and even legal troubles. The main thing you have to consider is what would happen if you had to evict a tenant? How much money would you lose? How would you get them out of your property? Will they destroy your property if you do evict them? How will you recover your losses? When determining how you will screen tenants (debt, income, credit, references, etc.) you must also establish a set of criteria that you use to screen every potential tenant so you do not violate any Fair Housing laws. Additionally, when listing your home for rent the same principle applies: be very careful that your listing/advertisement does not violate any of the multiple state and federal Fair Housing requirements.
Getting Your Lease in Order
Once you have qualified a tenant, it will be up to you to write a lease that is both legally compliant and enforceable in court. Many landlords choose to use a standard Virginia Lease Agreement and add their own addendum with items particular to their property. However, you should familiarize yourself with Virginia Common Law and the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act before writing your lease agreement. From there you need to make certain that the lease contains all of the necessary requirements for your property and is legally enforceable. You will also need to collect a security deposit that will need to be placed in a separate and untouched escrow account because mismanagement of security deposit funds can be grounds for legal trouble.
Handling Maintenance & Repairs
When it comes to caring for your property, there is seasonal maintenance to consider but you also have to think about how you will handle situations when something breaks, leaks, bursts, or simply reaches the end of its useful life. You will need to perform seasonal maintenance on your property to keep it in good working order and preserve the value. Additionally, you will also need a process for handling common issues that come up—and give tenants a process they can follow when there is a problem, especially if it is an emergency. Whatever the problem, you are going to be responsible for ensuring it is fixed, and if the tenant is at fault (and refuses to pay) you have to thoroughly document the cost with a valid contractor’s invoice because do-it-yourself invoices are not usually honored by the courts.
The lease agreement, tenant screening, and maintenance are critical factors in property management, however there are a number of other considerations as well such as determining rental market value, rent collection, the move-in and move-out process, document management, taxes, and much more.
At VHS Property Management we pride ourselves on being real with our owners and educating clients with all the facts. We offer a full range of property management services tailored to you as an investor, homeowner, or landlord. We have an extensive portfolio of single family homes, townhouses and condos in and around Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, and Spotsylvania counties. If you have questions do not hesitate to contact us today. You can also request a free rental market analysis of your property to get a better idea of how well you are positioned in the market.
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