Arlington County Rental Laws: Property Management Guide

Table of Contents

Landlord and tenant laws in Arlington County can be fairly complex; the laws depend on the number of rental properties you own, and get more complex the more you own. 

If you have three or more homes that you rent out to tenants, you’re required to follow the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

If you are renting out only one or two homes, you simply need to comply with the terms of your lease.

At Nomadic Real Estate, we help all of our owners comply with the landlord and tenant laws, regardless of how many rental properties you own. A few of those laws need a little more attention and knowledge to make sure you’re truly in compliance.

Security Deposits and Rent

There isn’t any rent control in Virginia or in Arlington County. Landlords are permitted to charge whatever they want and whatever the market will bear. 

Rental increases can be in any amount, but may not be made during the course of the lease; you have to wait until the lease renewal. 

paying rent

However, security deposits have legal limits. In Arlington County, you can’t charge more than the equivalent of two months’ rent. Most landlords charge an amount that equals one month. 

Two months can be prohibitive for many good tenants, and you don’t want to give them a reason not to choose your property when they’re looking for a rental home. 

You’ll need to return the security deposit within 45 days of the tenants moving out. To avoid disputes, make sure you document the condition of the home before the tenant moves in, and then use the same checklist and take the same photos after a tenant has moved out. 

This will help you document any damage that has been done and may justify the use of all or part of your tenant’s security deposit. 

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Providing a Habitable Home

As a landlord, you’re legally required to provide a home that’s safe and habitable for tenants. If your tenant complains about a lack of heat in the winter or loses water, you need to respond and fix the issue right away. 

kitchen

If you don’t, you’re violating the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code. The tenants are not legally permitted to withhold rent, but they can report you to the Code Enforcement Office. 

Once that happens, your property will undergo an inspection and potentially a fine if you are found to be in violation of the code. 

Respecting Privacy and Quiet Enjoyment 

Arlington County landlords are required to provide 24 hours of notice before entering a property. Think about it – how would you like it if the repairman just showed up and expected you to let them in? Your tenants don’t like it any more than you would!

privacy

If you want to make repairs or conduct an inspection, you need to schedule these things at least a full day ahead of time.  

Fair Housing Laws and Requirements 

Arlington County fair housing laws start with the federal Fair Housing Act. You can’t discriminate during the advertising, screening, or leasing process based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Familial Status
  • Disability 
  • Sex

Keep in mind that some of these issues may not seem like discrimination, but can be. For example, emotional support animals, or ESA’s, are protected under the Fair Housing Act. If a tenant has an ESA and can provide documentation, they must be allowed to stay in the building regardless of pet policies.

In Arlington County, there’s an additional protected class based on Virginia’s fair Housing laws: the elderly. You can’t discriminate against a person who is 55 years or older. 

It’s easy to make a mistake if you don’t know the legal landscape in Arlington County or statewide. If you’d like some help or have any questions, please contact us at Nomadic Real Estate

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Enhanced Reporting

Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
  • It will also show a portfolio summary with occupancy percentage, vacancy loss, and more!

Unit Comparison Report:

  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

  • The Income Statement Detail – Monthly Report serves as a month-over-month record of portfolio performance. You’ll see itemized income and expense categories and can track monthly. This report will update with fresh data every time you view it. 

Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.