In Alexandria, Virginia, property management companies are required to adhere to the laws outlined by the state. Below are four of the most important rules to keep in mind as you shop for a suitable property management company.
In the state of Virginia, property managers must have a real estate broker’s license in order to rent/offer for rent, or lease/offer for lease any real estate or improvement thereof. Salespersons are not required to hold a license, and may work under a broker. Regular, salaried employees of property owners are also exempt from the licensing requirement as long at their involvement is limited to showing units, accepting security deposits, rent, and applications, and providing factual information about the lease.
The Security Deposit
Landlords and property management companies are allowed to require a maximum security deposit equal to or less than 2 month’s rent. There is no mandate for a property management service to hold the security deposit in a separate account or apply interest of any kind to the deposit. They must, however return the security within 45 days of the termination of the lease, and keep their records for two years
Fees, the Lease, & Rent
In addition to the security deposit, applicants may be required to pay a non-refundable application fee for screening purposes as well as a holding deposit. If, after paying the deposit, an applicant fails to rent the property, the landlord must return the deposit, less expenses and damages within 20 days. Cash, cashier’s check, postal money order, and certified check payments must be refunded within 10 days if the landlord rejects the application.
Tenants may prepay rent, but the money immediately goes to an escrow account in a federally insured depository in Virginia by the end of the fifth business day following receipt until the prepaid rent becomes due. Returned checks can incur a $50 fee in addition to collection costs and attorney’s fees. In the event that a landlord fails to provide essential services such as water and heat, tenants, with notice, of course may place rent monies into escrow until matters are resolved.
Notices and Entry
Both property managers and landlords are required to maintain clear communication with tenants via timely notices. At least 3 months prior to the end of a yearly lease, and 30 days prior to a month to month lease tenants should be notified. They are also entitled to timely notifications regarding lease termination for nonpayment or lease violation, and entry into the property.
While there are many other rules to think about when considering property management, these are a few of the most critical areas on which tenants should focus question early on. If there are clear rule violations prior to renting, it may be a good idea to continue your search elsewhere.