Helping Sellers, Buyers, & Landlords in VA, MD, DC 



Rental Plan of Action

Every day your property is not rented, you are losing valuable income potential!

Partner with a professional to protect your investment. Put my experience to work to market your property, attract the most qualified tenant and execute a lease that reflects the best possible terms for you. Can you afford not to use my services?


Marketing Services

  • Price your property competitively to attract the widest pool of renters
  • Encourage agents to show your property by offering tenant agency commission of 25% of one month’s rent
  • ​Advice on recommended maintenance needs before placing your property on the market.
  • Place a professional sign (case by case) in your yard and a lock-box on your front door for additional exposure
  • Complete marketing of your property on multiple listing services and TENS of thousands of websites.
  • Follow-up with all the agents who show your property. Find out how your property compares to others their clients are considering and if they will be submitting an application.

 

Tenant Qualification and Document Preparation Services

  • Evaluate tenant applications
  • Run credit checks
  • Verify employment and previous rental history
  • Negotiate lease terms
  • Prepare and execute Deed of Lease
  • Collect and deliver your security deposit and other initial checks

 

Your Investment

  • First Month’s Rent

Kirill GorbounovCell: (571) 276-0986
Email Kirill

Elena GorbounovaCell: (703) 625-7888
Email Elena


General Information for Landlords


Benefits of Becoming a Landlord:

Becoming a single-family home landlord is not always a planned event. Circumstances may arise when you have the opportunity to buy one or more houses to rent out, or hold onto existing properties that you may have considered selling. There are many great things about being a landlord. Owning rental property offers these financial and lifestyle benefits:
•Appreciation and wealth building - If you hold onto your property long enough, it will almost certainly appreciate in value. It’s a great way to increase your net worth.
•Income - A well-managed investment property, with tenants who pay the rent on time and monthly expenses that are less than the rent, can bring you a steady stream of income.
•Lower-risk investment - Unlike more volatile investments, historic returns on real estate are fairly steady. While stock values can fall or even disintegrate entirely, land and property won’t disappear on you.
•Investment diversification - Owning property also diversifies your investment portfolio, a cardinal rule of investing. As you approach retirement, it’s good to start shifting into lower-risk investments, to ensure that the cash you need doesn’t disappear when you’re relying on it.
•Diversification of income - If your primary source of income is suddenly at risk, owning one or more investment properties provides the opportunity to diversify your income stream.
•Leverage - Unlike other investments, a little bit of cash may buy a lot of real estate. Leveraging your investment allows you to trade up to more properties.
•Short-term tax advantages - While the rental income from your property is taxable, you can also deduct most of the expenses related to owning and maintaining the property. Another major tax-advantage is the ability to “depreciate” your property over time.
•Long-term tax advantages - As the value of your property increases, the IRS won’t expect you to pay taxes on that increase until you sell. (Your state and local property taxes may be another matter, rising steadily to catch up with the property’s value.)

Being a landlord and owning multiple rental properties can give you a major sense of accomplishment. It shows that you are willing to take risks, learning new skills, and positively affect people’s lives. These will all be extremely useful as you expand your home rental portfolio.

 

Nine Tax Deductions for Landlords:

Rental real estate provides more tax benefits than almost any other investment. Below is a list of rental income deductions available for you to consider when preparing your taxes:

  1. Interest – Interest is often a landlord’s single biggest deductible expense. Common examples of interest that landlords can deduct include mortgage interest payments on loans used to acquire or improve rental property and interest on credit cards for goods or services used in a rental activity.
  2. Depreciation – The actual cost of a house, apartment building, or other rental property is not fully deductible in the year in which you pay for it. Instead, landlords get back the cost of real estate through depreciation. This involves deducting a portion of the cost of the property over several years.
  3. Repairs – The cost of repairs to rental property (provided the repairs are ordinary, necessary, and reasonable in amount) are fully deductible in the year in which they are incurred.
  4. Local and Long Distance Travel – Landlords are entitled to a tax deduction whenever they drive anywhere for their rental activity. You can also deduct certain vehicle expenses. If you travel overnight for your rental activity, you can deduct your airfare, hotel bills, meals, and other expenses.
  5. Home Office – Provided they meet certain minimal requirements, landlords may deduct their home office expenses from their taxable income. This deduction applies not only to space devoted to office work, but also to a workshop or any other home workspace you use for your rental business.
  6. Employees and Independent Contractors – Whenever you hire anyone to perform services for your rental activity, you can deduct their wages as a rental business expense. This applies if the worker is an employee (for example, a resident manager) or an independent contractor (for example, a repair person).
  7. Casualty and Theft Losses – If your rental property is damaged or destroyed from a sudden event like a fire or flood, you may be able to obtain a tax deduction for all or part of your loss. These types of losses are called casualty losses. How much you may deduct depends on how much of your property was destroyed and whether the loss was covered by insurance.
  8. Insurance – You can deduct the premiums you pay for almost any insurance for your rental activity. This includes fire, theft, and flood insurance for rental property, as well as landlord liability insurance.
  9. Legal and Professional Services – You can deduct fees that you pay to attorneys, accountants, property management companies, real estate investment advisors, and other professionals. You can deduct these fees as operating expenses as long as the fees are paid for work related to your rental activity.

The IRS does scrutinize work related deductions. It’s critical that you check the allowed deductions with a tax professional, and keep the proper records and documentation to back up all of your claims.

 

Hiring Contractors:

Any minor buy-to-rent remodeling project can suddenly become a large one, and although some can be completed by experienced do-it-yourselfers, it’s important to ask yourself several questions before taking on a remodel project:

1. Is it really worth my time to do it myself? Many home buyers attempt a remodeling in order to save money, only to find it wasn’t worth it in the long run. It may be much more cost effective to hire a pro to do what they do best.

2. Can I handle the project? Spend time on forums and speak to people who have completed the remodeling project that you are considering. Having a true picture of what a job really entails can prevent you from getting in too deep from the start.

3. How will this affect my other commitments? DIY projects tend to take on a life of their own. Professionals can speed up the process considerably, making everyone happier and the process more efficient.

4. Am I sure what the budget will be? It’s a common practice to budget about 20 percent more time and up to 50 percent more money than anticipated. Running short of money or time will frustrate everyone, and can doom a remodel from the start.

5. Do I have a grand plan for all of my rental house projects? Come up with a master plan for all of your properties before knocking down that first wall. A plan will keep you on task whenever you consider diverging from it.

In the end, by doing this kind of research you will be in a much better position to determine the best approach for your investments remodeling projects. What method do you use to select your contractors? 


Under VRLTA = Rent 2+ Properties


 Adapted from: Friedlander, Virginia Practice - Landlord-Tenant Handbook pp4-13 (2009-2010 Edition)

ITEM

COMMON LAW

VRLTA

Warranty of habitability & duty if repair duty of repair. Deposit

There is now imposed on residential landlords a statutory warranty of habitability, compliance with building codes, as well as other duties which are the same of those imposed in VRLTA with the exception that the landlord and tenant may waive non-building code requirements in writing.
§ 55-225.3
Before July 1, 2001, the tenant took the property as is, with no such warranty or burden. The landlord now has statutory duties similar to those under VRLTA including requirements for mold disclosure and remediation. §§ 55-225.1 thru 55-225.10 & 8.01226.12.

Landlord warrants the property to be fit and habitable as well as other obligations to comply with the building codes, provide running water and hot water, etc. The landlord can only shift some of these duties to tenant. § 55-248.13

Deposit

There are no statutory requirements in reference to security deposits. No interest is required and there are no specific requirements as to inspection of the property.

Both refundable and non-refundable are now OK. Interest must be paid on deposits held more than 13 months.
Pre-paid rent is now allowed if landlord puts it into an escrow account.
45 days are allowed for return of deposit with 15-day possible extension. The court is to return the deposit, over and above unpaid rent, if the landlord fails to comply with the time requirements under this section.
§ 55-248.15:1

Rent Escrow

There is no rent escrow permitted under the common law.

Rent escrow permitted under specified conditions.
§§ 55-248.27 et seq.

Retaliatory Eviction

Landlord may evict tenant regardless of his reason if based on default, or 30-day notice to quit a month to month tenancy.

Tenant may defend an eviction or prosecute an affirmative action for the landlord’s retaliatory conduct as defined in the Act. § 55-248.39

Self-Help

Self-help in all residential situations is now prohibited. Self-help IS still available in nonresidential situations.
§ 55-225.1

No self-help is permitted for either the landlord or the tenant. § 55-248.36

Attorney's Fees

No attorney's fees can be awarded unless they are provided for in a written lease or by a statute.

Reasonable attorney's fees are awarded to either the landlord or tenant unless the action complained of is shown to have been reasonable under the circumstances. §§ 55-248.21 and 55-248.31.

Access

A landlord has no right of access to the property except where provided in a written lease.

Reasonable access to leased property is permitted the landlord with safeguards against abuse of access for the protection of the tenant. § 55-248.18

Waste

A landlord can recover double damages for willful waste. §§ 55-212 to 55-214

A landlord may recover actual damages plus his attorney's fees. § 55-248.16

Constructive Eviction

A tenant must vacate the property before he can recover diminished rent. If he stays he only recovers his cost to repair. There IS no rent abatement if the tenant stays. THERE IS NO RENT ESCROW AT COMMON LAW.

A tenant may offset rent, claim reduction, use rent escrow (with conditions) plus recover actual damages, and attorney's fees. He does not have to leave the property to escrow his rent with the court. § 55-248.27

Notice to Cure Breach

No notice to cure is required unless called for III the lease or a breach is for nonpayment of rent, in which case a 5-day notice to cure may be mandated by § 55-225. A reasonable notice to landlord of breach is required by Restatement

A 5-day notice to pay or quit for nonpayment of rent is required. A reasonable notice to repair (without terminating lease) IS necessary. A 21-day notice to cure or terminate In 30 days is required to terminate for a breach other than a recurrent one or certain criminal! willful conduct. §§ 55-248.21, 55-248.31

Waiver

Accepting rent knowing of a default, especially rent into the future, is a waiver under the common law. The reservation letter may establish no intent to waive and thus be effective. There is no statutory provision on waiver in the common law. It IS recommended that the VRLTA provision on waiver be incorporated, in some form, into a common law lease.

Accepting rent from a defaulting tenant is not a waiver if the landlord gives a written notice to the tenant, within 5 business days of receipt of the rent, that the acceptance of rent is made with reservation of the landlord's rights. Landlord may Include the reservation of rights in the written notice to cure. § 55-248.34:1

Redemption

A tenant still may redeem possession under § 55-243 if he tenders all rent due, costs and attorney fees to landlord on before first return. This right is available to tenant only once every 12 months. It occurs automatically upon payment of the required amount. § 55-243

A tenant still may redeem possession under § 55-243 if he tenders all rent due, costs and attorney fees to landlord on before first return. This right is available to tenant only once every 12 months and is automatic upon payment. § 55-248.34:1

Prohibited Terms

OK to waive remedies; OK to exculpate landlord; OK to exact specific attorney's fees; OK to indemnify landlord; OK to confess judgment against tenant.

A lease may not: waive any remedies; exculpate landlord; indemnify landlord; confess judgment; call for other than "reasonable" attorney's fees. § 55-248.9

Assignment

The assignment of a lease by a landlord will not release him from liability on the lease.

A landlord's assignment of lease will relieve him of liability to the tenant. § 55-248.14

Abandonment

Physical possession is not necessary so long as rent is paid. If abandoned without rent being paid, the landlord must post a 10-day notice to cure; landlord's retaking is a surrender. No rent accrues after surrender unless a contrary provision is written into the lease OR Landlord retakes to re-let premises. § 55-224

A lease may provide for deemed abandonment if the unit is left vacant without notice for more than 7 days if appropriate language is written in the lease. A landlord may accrue rents after abandonment up to the re-let of the unit. If abandonment status is unclear, then the code permits a 7-day notice to determine abandoned status. §§ 55-248.33, 55-248.38:1

Mandatory
Disclosures

There are none

Landlord must disclose the present of visible evidence of mold to the tenant on the move-in inspection, giving the tenant the opportunity to terminate or accept. § 55-248.11:2 Landlord must disclose the agency, new owners, certain conversion information. § 55-248.12 Disclose presence within a "noise zone or accident potential zone" where located near a military air installation. § 55-248.12:1

Delivery of Possession 10

Delivery of possession is not mandatory at common law if lease gives tenant a right to possession.

If a landlord willfully fails to deliver possession, then tenant's rent abates and tenant may terminate lease on a 5 day notice or regain possession through court action. §55-248.22

Military

Mere change of duty station of a military tenant will not entitle the tenant to terminate lease unless governed by the Service members Civil Relief Act. Provided however, if the rental IS exempt from VRLTA because of the number of single family homes or condominiums that the landlord owns, then § 55248.21:1 applies and permits the military tenant to terminate a lease on 30 days' notice upon a permanent change of duty station of more than 35 miles or a TDY of more than 35 miles and 3 months. § 55-248.21.1

A military tenant may terminate the lease on 30 days' notice upon a permanent change of duty station of more than 35 miles or a TDY of more than 35 miles and 3 months. § 55-248.21:1

Rules &
Regulations

Nothing is specified in the common law about rules and regulations. Traditional contract law bars unilateral modification of a written lease unless the terms of the lease otherwise provide.

Rules and regulations are automatically deemed a part of the lease, including certain later unilateral modifications. § 55-248.17 (See also definition of "rental agreement.")

Effect of Unsigned Lease

Traditional contract formation rules apply where one of the parties fails to sign or deliver the signed lease. Any such tenancy would be month-to-month, if the rent IS paid monthly, unless the court finds acceptance of the lease has occurred by conduct.

If a landlord fails to sign but accepts rent from tenant who does sign, the lease has same "effect" as if signed for up to one year. Same "effect" is given if a landlord signs but tenant does not and tenant takes possession and pays rent. § 55-248.8

Pre-trial rent
protective order

The pre-trial rent escrow is limited by its terms to actions for possession under VRLTA and is not applicable to rent cases exempt from VRLTA.

A pre-trial rent escrow protective order applies when requested by the landlord in the situation where the tenant is sued for non payment of rent and the tenant seeks a continuance or a trial date. This code section is limited to VRLTA situations and requires the escrow of past, present and future rent unless the court finds that the tenant is asserting a good faith defense. The landlord may obtain early judgment for rent and possession if the tenant fails to pay the court ordered rent escrow. § 55-248.25:1

Landlord may bar
a tenant's guest or
invitee from
landlord's property

The law governing trespass and public nuisance at the state and local levels may apply to non-VRLTA situations. §§ 48-1 et seq.; §§ 15.2-900 et seq.

Under VRLTA, a landlord may bar a tenant's guest or invitee from the premises on written notice if the person's conduct violates the rental agreement or the law. The tenant may challenge the landlord's action by filing for court action to vacate the bar notice. § 55-248.31:01

Confidential Information Landlord

No corresponding code section exists for common law situations

Under VRLTA, disclosures by land-lord without writ-ten consent of tenant are listed. § 55-248.9:1

Accelerated rent

Accelerated rent at common law is permitted as liquidated damages pro-vided it is not deemed a penalty.

Under VRLTA, actual damage only. No accelerated rent is permitted. § 55-248.35

Injunctive relief

Injunctive relief governed by common law.

Under VRLTA, any person aggrieved may seek injunction relief as well as damages in circuit court. § 55-248.40

 

Breaking lease penalty:

The NVAR lease provides that unpaid rent for the entire remaining lease term shall become immediately due and payable. The landlord shall also be entitled to possession of the premises, any unpaid rent, additional rent, and administrative charges, any damages sustained, court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees, and all other remedies provided by law or equity.

Diplomat Immunity:

When a foreign diplomat walks into your office seeking to rent a house or apartment from you, several thoughts might cross your mind: What do I do if this person defaults on the lease? Will I ever be able to get them out of the property? Do I have to rent to them? What should I do? When faced with this situation, you have three options available: 1) enter into a lease with the individual, 2) enter into a lease with the embassy or diplomatic mission directly, or 3) do not rent to the individual. Each option has different benefits and drawbacks, and you should carefully weigh all factors discussed below before making a decision.

Key Concepts Defined

Many of the terms that are used regarding diplomats are not fully understood by the public. Below are a few key issues to know when dealing with representatives of foreign governments:

Immunity – Most people think that immunity refers to a pardon or release from responsibility for one’s actions. It actually means that the U.S. court system may not hear any case against a person who has diplomatic immunity. This means that a person with immunity cannot be sued in a court of law unless the person’s country of origin waives immunity.

Waiver of Immunity – The individual who has immunity does not have the authority to waive it. Only the foreign government that is sponsoring the individual in the U.S. may waive the immunity, and this is a rare occurrence.

People with Immunity – Ambassadors are traditionally the representatives of one government to another and are entitled to immunity.

Consuls are people who help individuals of a particular country while they are traveling or are living abroad, and they are also entitled to immunity. For example, if you lose your passport while traveling in a foreign country, you would speak to someone at the consulate for assistance, rather than someone with the ambassador’s office.

Personnel at international organizations, such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank, are also frequently given some level of immunity.

Inviolability – This concept generally forbids U.S. authorities from entering the residences, automobiles or other property of a protected person. This means that even if a landlord was able to appear before a judge in court and get an eviction order, there is no police officer or individual in the United States who would be allowed to enter the property to remove the person.

Option 1: Lease between a Landlord and an Individual Diplomat

One important thing to understand before leasing to a diplomat is that there are different levels of immunity granted to the employees of a diplomatic mission. The U.S. Department of State issues identification cards to foreign officials who have been granted immunity. If a potential tenant presents you with a U.S. Department of State Identification Card that has a blue border, the individual is a diplomatic officer or immediate family member and has been granted full diplomatic immunity. This means that if you have not received a waiver of immunity from that individual’s government, any lease entered into cannot be enforced in the event of default.

If the individual has a U.S. Department of State Identification Card with a green border, the person is on the administrative, technical or service staff of the embassy, or the immediate family of one of these individuals. Again, if you do not receive a waiver of immunity from the individual’s government, any lease that is entered into cannot be enforced in the event of default.

The third type of U.S. Department of State Identification Card has a red border. Individuals carrying these cards work for a consulate and generally have immunity only for official acts, but the language on the back of the card should describe the specific immunity granted to the individual.

Generally, it is unlikely that any country will waive diplomatic immunity for an individual, especially in the case where the person has violated the terms of a lease. Because of the Geneva Convention, U.S. courts are not allowed to hear cases against people who have been granted diplomatic immunity, which means that you will not be able to enforce the lease.

While the U.S. Department of State may request that a country waive immunity for an individual, or request that a country recall an individual, this is not something that you should count on in the event that a diplomat stops paying rent and will not move out.

While there are potential risks associated with renting to someone with diplomatic immunity, many landlords have had extremely positive experiences. These individuals were selected to represent their respective countries in the United States, with all the responsibility that comes with such a position. In many instances it is the foreign government that pays the rent, not the individual, which can often mean fewer concerns about timely lease payments.

Option 2: Lease between the Landlord and the Foreign Government

One way to take advantage of all of the benefits of renting to a diplomat without having to worry about a tenant you cannot evict is to designate the embassy as the tenant. By renting the property to the embassy or consulate directly, and not the individual who is going to reside there, a different set of laws applies.

It may still be difficult to get a court ordered eviction, or any back rent owed to the landlord if the lease is directly with the embassy, but you will at least be able to have your day in court. Unlike individuals with diplomatic immunity, embassies that enter into lease agreements with landlords can be sued for non-payment of rent if the individual living in the home won’t move out.

Option 3: Not Renting to the Individual or Embassy

If the potential risks outweigh the benefits of renting to an individual with diplomatic immunity, and the embassy is not willing to enter into the lease on behalf of the individual, you may decide that this is not a good match. If this is the case, you need to be aware of potential discrimination claims against you.

In Virginia, it is not against the law to refuse to rent to individuals based on their profession, but it is illegal to refuse to rent because of their country of origin.

What this means is that you may adopt a policy of not renting to any diplomats, but if you decide not to rent to a specific individual based on the country that person represents, you may be breaking the law. The best practice is for landlords, leasing agents and property managers to consider what policy they believe is best for them, and make sure to apply it consistently in order to avoid any potential allegations of discrimination.