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krentals

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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 

I am still fairly new to the LL business; we currently have outsourced our VA SFH rental to a professional PM company; however, they don't appear to be representing my best interests & even less competent in detailed record-keeping ( I have asked for copies of all inspections, etc & he has only produced one 2-page document from check-in & cannot produce any written correspondence between PM and Tenant for a 2-year tenancy.)

My question, my tenants have been totally neglectful of our property (house & yard); their kids and dogs have done some significant damage; and never maintained yard to neighborhood standards; PM never issued any violations; we've been out of area, which is why we outsourced LL duties.

The PM is telling me that in Virginia (VA), Owner cannot deduct for damages based on estimates alone; must be actual costs incurred and receipts provided.  Additionally, some of the more minor damages I am competent enough to repair/replace myself; however, PM is stating we can only deduct for the costs of the materials, not Owner labor incurred to repair/replace damage.

I have looked in Code of VA 55-248.15:1 Security Deposits and found no such stipulation.  If we obtain estimates on damages from third party, do the repair work ourselves and deduct only the estimated amount from the SD (essentially I would be getting paid to do the labor, not a third party that may/may not be able to get done ASAP), is that not reasonable, fair & equitable (& legal) under VA statutes?  Plese advise ASAP as my tenants are due to move out by End of June.

Thanks for any advice.

OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,809
Reply with quote  #2 
I don't know if I can be of help or not, as I am not familiar with your state's laws.  However, I wil help with anything I can.

Your PM does not sound very good.  I could understand not having every piece of correspondence logged, but not being able to find ANY correspondence in 2 yrs yells me he isn't doing his job.  Doesn't he have all of these on his computer?  In my computer, each tenant gets a folder within a desktop folder entitled "current tenants".  If you open each tenant's folder, you will find a copy of each letter I sent him or her over their tenancy.  Now there may be some simple forms missing, such as a reminder of late rent.  But these are logged into a form inside their actual (paper) file stating that the rent was late, when it was paid, and how much they paid (including late fees).  Your PM should have at least as much since I have a tendency to be occasionally disorganized (if he's good, he should have more). 

I do sometimes get behind on my yearly inspections.  This happens when you get busy - you just forget it is time to do one.  I have one tenant who is MONTHS behind on his inspection.  I have send him several notices.  But since he works a strange shift and since he is a great tenant (never complains, ALWAYS pays on time), I haven't pushed it too much.  Still, I can produce the move-in inspection from each of the new tenants and a yearly inspection (if only a written page of what I noticed) on each of the rest.

The wear and tear on a place varies with the number of people in the household, the number of pets, and the length of time they have been in the unit.  For a family with several children and a couple dogs, you will have significant wear and tear over a 2 yr. period.  Kids produce more wear and tear than adults.  They are more careless of the equipment and structure of the place, they run in and out much more often, they track more dirt in, and they definitely produce more wear on a yard.  Animals are the same way.  Since I have no way of knowing what damage they have done, nor what your lease states that they are responsible for in the way of yard maintenance, I don't know how to address this.  If they have done something that specifically violates your lease (for instance-failing to mow the grass weekly) then they should have been issued a notice to perform or quit (or some other notice giving them a specific number of days to address the violation).

I don't know about the estimated work on your itemized accounting of the deposit.  I have never heard that there were places you couldn't do that.  I can certainly do it in Ohio.  I merely put down what needs to be done and why, along with the estimated costs from a contractor (or myself), and mark the item "estimated".  I send this to them within the timeframe.  When the actual work is completed, I amend the statement and send them the final statement.  The courts have no problem with this because some work just cannot be completed within my state's 30 day requirement.  Either the work may be too complicated (contractor too busy, too many other units ahead of this one, too large of a job to finish in 30 days) or it may be work that it cannot be done during a particular season (can't pour concrete in winter, etc.).  I have never had a problem with this.  If you contact a local chapter of REIA (Real Estate Investors Association), those local landlords can tell you if this allowed in VA.  I looked for you, it looks like the VA site is http://www.vreia.com/  .  I have found the OH members to be very helpful.  (You may even find a better PM through them.) 

Some states allow the landlord to charge for his labor, other states only allow you to charge for materials and someone else's labor.  In Ohio, I can charge a reasonable hourly rate for my labor.  REIA members could answer this too and tell you if VA allows it.  A more popular LL forum may be able to answer this too.  Try thelpa.com or mrlandlord.com.  Both have search engines that allow you to check previous posts to see if someone has already answered this question for another LL.  If not, post the question there and list your state.  A landlord from VA will be sure to respond with local custom.

The other good thing in your favor is VA's timeline.  VA allows you 45 days to complete repairs and return the itemized statement to your former tenants from the day they vacate and return the keys to you (or your agent).  This is more generous than most states (it is only 30 days here).  So you have an extra 15 days to complete those repairs.  You just have to return that accounting within those 45 days.  And don't forget to include the interest on that deposit.  I see that VA requires you to pay interest on any deposit held over 13 months.  I hope you had 2 months (rent level) of deposit from these tenants.  Always take larger deposits when pets are involved, or increase the rent an extra amount per month for each pet.  This gives you some leeway to help pay for those extra damages frequently caused by pets.

My advice is to check the website above for vreia and call and ask about charging for the landlord's labor and for estimated costs.  They may even have a local chapter in or near the city where your property is located.  If you cannot get an answer from them, try the 2 LL forums I mentioned above.  I'd call REIA first though, since this national organization's advice may be more trusted than anonymous internet advice.  Good luck.
krentals

Registered:
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #3 

Thanks so much for all of the advice; I will definitely be contacting those other resources you mentioned.

krentals

Registered:
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #4 

Thanks so much for all of the advice; I will definitely be contacting those other resources you mentioned.

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