Owner Frequently Asked Questions
Are fees charged when the unit is not rented?
D.M. Rothwell, Inc. does not collect management fees from a property owner until the property is leased. There is also no fee due in times that the unit may remain vacant between tenants. Simply put: If you don’t get rent, we don’t get paid.
Can I enter the property after we turn possession over to the tenant?
Yes. With 24-hour notice, we can notify the tenant and conduct a walkthrough at the owner’s request. We do discourage “pestering” or “bothering” tenants on a regular basis, unless there are issues that need to be inspected or addressed. When you lease out a property, the owner is subject to laws that govern what can and can’t be done with the property and tenant.
Can you help me find and keep good tenants?
We strive to provide you with the caliber of residents that you want in your rental home. We can accomplish this by a complete credit report on each of our adult applicants, a complete verification of their rental history from past landlords, a verification of their employment, an eviction search, personal references etc. Taking the time to perform these verifications and checks is what helps us find good tenants. Finding a tenant is easy, finding a quality tenant requires effort and sometimes, multiple applications.
Can you help me avoid bad tenants?
"Bad" tenants will typically target owner-managed rentals because they can't pass the application process with property managers. They know that when a property is for rent by owner, the rent is likely to be less and there will be less scrutiny of their situation. Because bad tenants can't be evicted without notice and an eviction takes time and costs you money, we will verify references and do whatever possible to avoid potential bad tenants and associated eviction problems. No management company can guarantee a tenants behavior but we strive to make any and all decisions well-informed decisions.
Can you help me if I already have a resident?
Yes! We are happy to enforce your current lease as long as it is legal and does not add undue liability to our office. Once the current lease concludes, we will sign your current resident onto one of our Virginia Association of Realtors lease. This lease is updated yearly by a team of attorneys and is firmly based on the VRLTA (Virginia Landlord Tenant Act) providing the most legal protection for owners, management and residents. In cases where the resident is behind on their rent payments, we can take the necessary steps to either get them to pay or evict them if we cannot obtain payment. Many residents will suddenly find a way to pay the rent or move as soon as they hear that a management company has been secured to follow through with collection of what they owe.
Do I have to allow pets in my property?
No, as the owner of the property it is your decision whether to allow pets or not. Some owners will unequivocally not allow any pet, others want cats and not dogs, or dogs within a certain weight limit, etc. We are happy to work within your preferences. We do not typically allow dogs of a dominant or aggressive breed for insurance reasons. If you decide to allow pets, we recommend an additional $350 pet deposit, and any pets must meet our pet criteria. You will need to contact your insurance company. The resident(s) will sign a pet addendum as well outlining rules and regulations of housing a pet on the premises. In some cases, allowing pets can increase the number of potential interested tenants, but can also increase the overall possibility of damages from the pet(s). There are also laws requiring service animals or companion animals be allowed at any property. These animals cannot be denied and current Fair Housing Law does not allow deposits to be collected or breed restrictions to be applied. Please consider carefully if you want to allow pets in your property but be aware that service or companion animals cannot be denied for any reason. We will be happy to discuss options with you anytime!
Does D.M. Rothwell, Inc. handle evictions?
Yes, we can send the proper legal notices, represent you during the first court return date, and file all paperwork on your behalf. All filing fees or attorney fees (if needed) are the responsibility are charged to the residents account but will be invoiced to the property owner if deducted from deposits. We can represent owners’ in court unless it becomes necessary to use the services of an attorney; in which case we have attorney's we can refer you to at additional cost or you may choose your own attorney.
Does D.M. Rothwell, Inc. have an emergency answering service for resident or building emergencies?
Yes. Residents can call 24-hours a day, 365-days a year in case of any emergency and will promptly receive a call back and visit if necessary from a service repair person. We do not use an answering service but respond directly to all emergency calls.
How long will it take to rent my vacant property?
We make every effort to rent any property in the shortest possible amount of time. How long this can take is unique to every property but the average is 30-90 days. Factors including, times of year, styles of rentals, or specific locations may have a direct bearing on the demand to lease your property. We are happy to discuss all of these factors with you before listing with our company, and promise to give you straight answers, even when it may not be what an owner wants to hear. We want to be straightforward and honest with you as a homeowner so that you can have realistic expectations of the rental process.
How often and how will property visits be conducted?
We perform periodic property visits at which time we check to see that the tenants are taking good care of the premises and that they are not violating any terms of their lease. We also take these opportunities to go over any general maintenance the property may require. We frequently drive by for exterior inspections but also complete interior inspections.
A condition report is completed by the resident(s) when they move in. This is known as the "move-in inspection report", where the condition of your property is detailed on a move-in inspection form. We perform at least two visual walkthroughs during a twelve month term, when we also change furnace filters and check smoke detectors (as required by law). We also conduct other inspections when we determine that an inspection is warranted.
We perform another inspection, known as the "move-out inspection", when the tenants move out of your property. The move out inspection is done to ensure that the residents returned the home back to the condition (excluding normal wear and tear) they leased it in. Pictures are taken if necessary. If there are any damages found, beyond normal wear, we will have the damage repaired and that expense will be deducted from the tenant's security deposit. Once all repairs have been made, you will refund any remaining deposit in accordance with the VRLTA and other Virginia law.
How will I receive the rental income from the property?
We deposit all the rent collected upon receipt in our office. Checks are made payable to you, the owner, and deposited into your account. We do not deduct any fees or costs! We then invoice you around the 25th of the month for our management fee and any maintenance costs.
If I am renting my property, what type of insurance do I need?
You need insurance for a tenant-occupied property. This is not the same as homeowner’s insurance for an owner-occupied property, so you will need to be sure to have it switched over or be sure to purchase the correct type. It is best to discuss the transition of any property to a rental with your preferred insurance agent. We do require that all renters procure renters insurance prior to move in and provide a declaration of coverage. This is no guarantee, but it is a part of their lease contract.
Is D.M. Rothwell, Inc. insured?
Yes! Insurance information is provided upon request.
Can I use my own contractors?
Yes, we are happy to work with any insured contractors you have previous relationships with, except in emergency situations. If an issue in a unit needs immediate attention and we are unable to reach your contractor, we will use one of ours to ensure the issue is taken care of in a timely manner. We are also licensed contractors with a well- established local network of highly skilled and cost effective contractors. Many have worked with us for years and respond quickly to service calls. We will pass through all contractor bills without markup or administration fees directly to you, and would be happy to discuss typical costs for specific items. We offer this as a service on rental properties as well as many of our owner’s private homes.
What happens if my tenant is abusing the property?
If it is noted on the property visit that your tenant is not keeping the property to the required standard, then a lease violation is issued, stating the items that need to be resolved. If this is not done within the stipulated time frame, the law requires 21 days, we will contact you to discuss the next course of action and your options, including sending a termination notice requiring the tenants to vacate the premises. There are also times remedies can be taken and billed to the resident. Yard maintenance is an example of this. It is important to note this does not release the resident from their lease obligation.
What services do you provide?
We maintain the property and provide you with the greatest return on your investment including, but not limited to:
Meeting with you before listing your property to discuss rental rates, location, rental market, personal preferences, recommendations, and to answer any questions.
Advertisement of your property on our company website, Zillow, Trulia, Charlottesville Association of Realtors MLS, Greater Augusta County MLS, other third party rental sites, and our inter-office rental list.
Locating and screening prospective tenants
Signing all leasing documents and associated paperwork with tenants and keeping them on file
Collecting and disbursing rents on your behalf
Directly depositing rents to owner account(s)
Move in and move out inspections on each property.
Coordination of cleaning, repairs and regular maintenance as needed
Routine inspections to the interior and exterior of the property.
Maintain owner and tenant compliance with the most current Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant law.
And MOST IMPORTANTLY, management of your rental property as if it were personally owned by D.M. Rothwell, Inc
What type of properties do you manage?
We specialize in RESIDENTIAL single family homes, apartments, condos, townhomes and duplexes.
Why should I hire D.M. Rothwell, Inc. to manage my rental property?
If you lack the time, expertise, or patience needed for day-to-day management of your real estate investments, D.M. Rothwell, Inc can help maximize your properties potential:
Using Our Experience: We have been serving the Charlottesville, Albemarle, Augusta, Greene and surrounding counties for over 30 years, and have combined more than 50 years of experience in professional property management.
With Quality Advertising: By marketing your rental property to minimize vacancies and maximize income. We know the local rental market, what comparable properties are renting for, and what potential renters are willing to pay for each unique rental property. We have the marketing know-how to reach potential renters through a variety of methods and have the experience and resources to help eliminate potential bad tenant experiences.
With Consistent Hard Work on Our Owner’s Behalf: Fill vacancies with screened and approved possible tenants - We handle and coordinate routine repairs as well as emergency repairs, water problems, etc.
By Managing Your Financial Responsibilities as an Owner: Track income and expenses to determine profitability.
By Managing your Risk and Liability: Negotiate rental agreements; Collect rent and track tenant deposits; Comply with federal, state and local laws (VRLTA, Fair Housing, etc); and respond to tenant requests and deal with any tenant issue that may arise.
Why shouldn't I manage my property myself?
Lots of owners choose to manage their property themselves and many are very successful. However, the time involved in collecting rents, arranging repairs, and leasing units, can be enough that your time may be more valuable to you spent doing something else. Other important considerations are the legal and liability aspects of property management. In the litigious society that we live in, a property owner cannot afford to handle a tenant in an incorrect manner. We are well versed in state and local landlord-tenant law, and are aware of the constantly changing Federal and State mandates governing them.
Who holds the security deposit(s)?
Each owner will hold all security deposits and any funds related with the property. The VRLTA does not require you set up an escrow account unless you own more than 3 rental units.
Who pays other fees associated with my rental unit? (i.e. taxes, mortgage payments, HOA/POA Fees, etc)
Owners will continue to pay all taxes, HOA fees, mortgage payments etc related to the property. This is why we deposit funds directly into the owners account at the beginning of each month. We believe you deserve control over YOUR money!
Will the tenant have my contact information?
No, you are protected from any tenant calls and/or e-mails. We will manage all tenant communications and ensure they follow all the rules of their lease. We will also keep records of these calls, complaints, or issues that arise in timeline form with attachments as necessary. If we need to contact you for any reason on behalf of the tenant, we are happy to do so to insulate you from dealing directly with tenant issues. We will not release any information about you to anyone without your approval. However, please be aware that anyone can access county tax records. If your address is on the tax rolls, you may be contacted by a tenant! If this happens, we strongly suggest you not negotiate any situation with the tenant. Ask your resident to call our office and then notify us immediately.