Answers to your common questions
Yes, we are licensed REALTORS®. We are members of:
- Virginia Association of REALTORS®
- National Association of REALTORS®
- Greater Piedmont Association of REALTORS®
- Dulles Area Association of REALTORS®
- Northern Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers
- National Association of Residential Property Managers
We manage single family, townhomes, multifamily, commercial, you name it, we can do it. That said, all homes must meet our standards for being an ARMI property, including being up to code and having finishes and quality that our tenants expect. An ARMI representative will review these standards at your initial consultation and certain repairs and updates must be made as needed.
Once we have a contract to manage your property, we will create a file for your property and add it to our list of available properties. The property will be listed within 24 hours. A sign will also be placed in the yard if desired. The time of year and condition of the property will determine how long it takes your property to rent. The market will set the rate of rent. If the house is priced above the market, the home will sit until the market catches up to the price. Generally speaking home rent in less than 45 days, depending on the season.
Each time your home comes up for rent, we will perform a market analysis to determine how much homes similar to yours have been renting for recently. Once we determine a starting value, we add or subtract based on the time of year, competition from other available rental near yours, the condition of the property (older vs. newer carpet, age of appliances, floor plan, etc.), and other relevant market factors.
As a general rule, we believe it’s a good idea to price your rental property at or slightly below market value and get it rented quickly. Vacancy is your worst enemy and we work hard to prevent excess vacancy loss. Sometimes owners get hung up on trying to squeeze out a little extra rent, but we will council you against being too optimistic.
Additionally, we stay very tuned in to the local rental market which changes month-to-month.
Exposure and good photos are the name of the game. We market your home for rent as follows:
* Listed in the MLS with good quality photos and full descriptions.
* Listed on our website
* Other various affiliate websites including Trulia, Zillow.com, Hotpads.com, and others.
You can be involved to a limited degree. For example, you can specify that you to not want tenants with pets such as dogs or cats but we will need to have the final say on who is approved for the property based ONLY on Income, Credit, and Rental History. The more restrictive you are, the more limited the market of tenants and consequently the longer it could take to rent your property. You cannot discriminate against any protected class under the federal fair housing laws or local fair housing laws, such as saying you do not want children. There are seven federally identified protected classes. The federal protected classes are race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, and national origin. Because of this it is best that you stay out of the selection process or you may be found guilty of discrimination. This could not only cost you thousands of dollars but it could also cost us our license. We are professionals in leasing and have specific criteria that every applicant must pass in order to rent your property. Remember because we are also the managers of the property we are incentivized to select the best tenant, not just get it rented! We are your long-term partner!
We require at least one full month’s rent for security deposit. This amount is subject to increase based on the creditworthiness of the tenant. By law you are only able to collect 2 month’s rent as maximum security deposit.
Security deposits are heavily regulated in the state of Virginia according to State Code 55-248.15:1. As the Broker we must maintain a separate escrow account for all security deposits. If we are managing your property we must hold the deposit in escrow on your behalf.
According to a recent national survey nearly 70% of tenants come with a pet. Prohibiting pets severely limits the number of available tenant who could potentially rent your home. Pets are encouraged to be allowed on a case by case basis. The pet must be a good fit for the home however. In all cases we prohibit certain aggressive breeds of dogs such as Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers and other breeds excluded on typical homeowner’s insurance policies.
If you instruct us to market the home as a No Pets property, we are happy to do so, and will not allow pets at all. Or you can instruct us to allow cats only, or dogs only, etc. Please know that we accept additional pet deposits for all pets to further mitigate any potential risk to you.
No. We write into every lease, for every property we manage, a “no smoking” policy.
We require tenants to provide at least two years of good verifiable rental history (or proof of home ownership), good credit, and verifiable income at least 3 times the monthly rent. That’s it in a nutshell, but a lot more goes into the screening than just those three items.
We call the applicant’s current/previous landlords and ask about the applicant’s payment history, whether there were bounced checks, late payments, unauthorized roommates, pets, noise, damage, etc.
If the former landlord is a private home owner (instead of an apartment manager), we pull the County tax record to verify that the person listed as the landlord is in fact the owner of the former rental property.
We also run an MLS search on the tenant’s former addresses to see if there was any MLS sales or rental activity that contradicts the rental time frame listed on the application.
These two additional cross-checks alone have caught many bogus applicants in years past who might otherwise have slipped through a less rigorous screening process.
We fax an employment verification form to employers, and ask the applicant for a recent check stub. Income must be at least three times the monthly rent to qualify. In some cases we require W2s be submitted.
In all instances we are very thorough with our screening of tenants. Successful management begins with effective screening.
You can learn a lot about a person based off of their credit report. You will learn not only how good of a money manager they are but you can also identify trends at how they treat their creditors, which is essentially what you as the Landlord will become. We are experts at reading an evaluating a credit report and can judge which tenants will be a good fit for a particular home.
Yes. Our lease is adapted from the Virginia Association of Realtors lease and is based off of 20+ years of lessons learned in the property management business. It is reviewed annually by competent counsel and is proprietary to our company. In so many words, it’s the best lease in the business in terms of protection and enforceability!
The lease is the foundation for our relationship with the tenant and we enforce the lease very strictly. Items such as, pet policy, unauthorized occupants, vehicle limits, HOA Rules, lease term, and all other terms and conditions of the lease agreement. If we become aware of a lease violation, the tenant promptly receives a violation notice and is required to cure the violation to avoid further action.
We will inspect the property as follows:
- Move-in Inspection
- Interim Inspection (usually at the 6 month mark)
- Move Out Inspection
Inspections are a key component of effective property management. We need to inspect the home not only to see how well the tenant is caring for the home, but also to spot future maintenance problems before they happen. All inspections are performed in house by an ARMI employee. We do not contract this service out to vendors.
All non-emergency repair requests are reported to us in writing, as required in the lease agreement. We provide tenants a convenient way to submit repair requests through their online portal 24/7. We strive to respond to and complete most ordinary repair requests within 24-48 hours.
Before spending your money on a service call, we attempt to troubleshoot and solve the problem and over the phone. You would be surprised how many instances can be fixed by walking the tenant through the problem. Once it’s determined that a legitimate problem exists, and that a service call is needed, we send a vendor who we trust to take care of the problem.
There is nothing we haven’t seen before, busted pipes, no AC, no heat, storm damage, etc. and we know what to do in every situation. We maintain a 24/7 emergency line for the tenant to call us in the event of an emergency.
No. We won’t use American Home Shield or any other Warranty Company on any repair issues at your home under any circumstance.
Because doing so takes the repair and maintenance outside of our direct control. They simply are not compatible with the level of service we demand of our vendors, and they don’t make the cut to be a member of our vendor team. Warranty companies offer no accountability to the work they perform and often don’t fix the root cause of the problem. Additionally, they do not respond in a timely manner to urgent repairs. Often times it can take more than 48 hours to get a repair handled and this is simply not acceptable to our standards in the event of an emergency.
Nothing affects the successful relationship between Landlord and Tenant more than how we handle repairs. When repairs are needed, we will send our trusted vendors with whom established relationships and excellent communication exists, and they will provide the quality service we require in a professional and timely manner.
We will be happy to invite them to join our vendor list, but please know each of our vendors are vetted so that we know we are using trustworthy contractors who hold the proper licenses and carry the proper insurance. Quality of work and trust are the 2 most important factors in selecting the right contractor.
We will pay your recurring HOA dues, lawn service and any other bill or invoice generated as a result of repairs, utilities or other services to your property. We ask that you continue to pay your mortgage an insurance separately due to the important nature of these payments and the narrow window we have each month to get these paid.
Your monthly proceeds will be electronically deposited directly to your bank account each month by the 10th each month or the following business day if the 10th falls on a weekend or holiday. Property statements are emailed and posted to your portal in the same manner.
No, we do not ever markup maintenance or repair invoices. You pay exactly what the vendor charges. Unfortunately, this is not an industry wide standard and we are proud to say we don’t make money off of your repairs, it’s just not a good business practice.
No. We fundamentally disagree with the concept of a repair deductible and often times we have seen this policy have unintended negative consequences because the tenant will fail to report legitimate maintenance issues for fear of getting charged. We believe that a fair relationship between Landlord and Tenant is built on trust and accountability. If something breaks and it’s not their fault, they shouldn’t have to pay to fix it. If they do damage something through negligence or misuse, we will charge them for the repair. Conversely, if something breaks in the house because, well, things break, then it is only right that we fix it. We keep it simple and transparent.
We believe that you hire a property manager to manage the property for you, not to assist you in managing it yourself. We offer a turnkey style of property management service which is most appreciated by those property owners who prefer to let the experts handle it and know the value in experienced management. We don't pester you with small details, questions, information or "updates" about your property or tenants, except for those matters which will have a significant impact on your monthly cash flow. Instead, we simply take care of the things you have entrusted us to handle on your behalf. Its what you pay us for and we take great pride in doing it well!
For some property owners, our system is not a good match, and we understand that. We are very up front about the fact that we don’t want you to hire us if you expect to be involved in minor details or decisions related to the management and leasing of your property. We simply haven’t designed our systems and procedures to accommodate that level of involvement by owners.
That said, we know that you are the owner of the property and you will need to be informed of major decisions that affect your bottom line. Our general rule of thumb is this; if something has happened, or is about to happen, that will disrupt your ordinary monthly cash proceeds by a significant amount, we will keep you informed and give you the final decision making authority where applicable. We also always keep you informed of any tenant turnover, renewals, major repairs, or anything that will significantly affect cash flow. Also, any sort of long-term strategic decision such as, replacing soft goods (carpet, paint, etc.), we will always get your permission prior to proceeding.
For new owners, we do tend to accommodate an orientation period whereby we will in fact keep you a bit more informed than usual during the initial lease-up and make-ready maintenance process. We do want you to be comfortable working with us going forward, so the start-up process may involve more communication, if you so desire, than is outlined above. We know that we must earn your trust first and know that this take a little time!
We can start the process immediately. Contact us so we can find out more about you and your property and see if we would be a good match for your wants and expectations. Please contact us if you have other questions or wish to discuss us managing your property!