Landlords’ Responsibilities in Washington, D.C. (The Must Knows)

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Across the country, landlord-tenant disputes have reached a crescendo after the end of the pandemic. In LA, for example, the LAPD had to respond to 279 such issues in only one month. While this is not Washington DC, you should be asking how you can ensure that you avoid such things with your properties.

By entering into a residential real estate agreement, you sign up for several responsibilities. On top of that, your tenant will expect you to uphold them. Thus, make sure that you understand them all.

Below, we list some of the more common landlord’s responsibilities that you should be aware of. In going through them, you should understand what you need to do to keep your tenants happy based on their legal expectations. So, do not hesitate to learn what they are today.

Informing the Tenant of Visits

When becoming a landlord, the thing that some people forget is that they forgo access to the home that they rent out. They can no longer enter and leave whenever they wish and must provide a reasonable warning beforehand.

Usually, this warning is 24 hours but may be different depending on local bylaws or other rules. Though, access is usually always allowed in an emergency or in the case of danger to the property or life.

You may have any number of reasons to want to access a property. This may include:

  • A spot inspection of the property
  • To perform regular maintenance
  • Welfare concerns
  • Suspicious activity

Despite the plethora of possible reasons for visiting, you still need to do so at a reasonable hour. During working hours of the day, or at times you expect a tenant to be in, are all reasonable.

On top of this, a tenant can follow you during an inspection and has rights if they believe that you have acted unreasonably during the visit.

As with all these responsibilities, we recommend that you read up on the Washington DC laws. They will explain the intricacies more than this article.

Warn the Tenant Before Increasing Rent

Washington eviction laws are very clear. You must give any tenant at least a 30-day warning of any increase in their rent. If the tenant cannot pay, you must then follow the standard eviction practices.

The one thing you are not allowed to do is increase rent without giving a reasonable warning.

There are also laws related to how much you can increase the rent of a location. You can generally increase it by the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) plus two percent. Although this cannot be more than ten percent in total, to prevent runaway increases in housing costs.

Resolve Regular Property Maintenance

Regular property maintenance may be a request that comes from you or a tenant. There should be plenty of time on both sides to resolve this.

If a tenant warns you of regular maintenance that needs to occur, you should pay attention to it. You should then resolve the issue in a reasonable period. 

The best way to do this is to communicate an expected timetable at all times. This will give your tenant sensible expectations about how long it will take you to do something. You can then allow them to make preparations if things take longer than they expect.

You should also be aware of when you should check all items in the home to abide by local health and safety laws. For example, if fire alarms need batteries or extinguishers need replacing, or a boiler needs servicing.

Safe and Habitable Living Conditions

A home needs to remain safe and habitable. This could mean any number of things, but examples that you should pay attention to include:

  • The smell of gas
  • Water pouring through a room
  • The home is too hot or too cold
  • The collapse of a section of the roof
  • Pest infestation

Any number of these could be significant enough to mean that the tenants cannot live in the home safely. If this occurs and you do not offer the tenants a reasonable resolution, you may find yourself in legal trouble.

A common reasonable resolution is to put the renters up in a hotel until such a time that you can resolve the issue. Of course, you will want to do this as soon as possible to prevent paying too much for any such hotel.

Be Contactable

You, or any property manager that you use, should be available at all times. This allows any issues that tenants have to resolve fast and without issue. 

It is common to put a contact number on any contract that you and the tenant sign. This allows you to have a verifiable method of having passed on such information.

Follow the Law

You must, of course, follow and laws for property in Washington. Make sure that you either know the law yourself, you have a lawyer available to you, or that you use a property manager. Such people can help you with calling out any issues that you might not have seen before.

Handle and Return Security Deposits Swiftly

The lease contract details you have for any specific tenant should specify how you hold onto any security deposit. It should also communicate how fast you intend to pay back the deposit.

Laws in Washington DC specify that you must return this deposit, along with a list of deductions, up to 45 days after the end of a tenancy. Should you not do this, you may find yourself in trouble.

Experts on Residential Real Estate Responsibilities

Now that you understand residential real estate responsibilities, things should be much easier on you. If this still feels like too much, though, you might want someone else to handle these things so that you can get on with the rest of your life. That is where Nomadic Real Estate can help you with your Washington DC properties.

Talk to us about your needs and the state of your properties. Our experts should be able to tell you what we can provide and how we can work together moving forward. So, give us a call, what are you waiting for?

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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:

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

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

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:

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:

Income Statement by Month Report
  • 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:

Owner Portal Documents
  • 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:

Owner Portal Property Statement

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

Month over Month 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":

Commincation Dashboard Screenshot
  • 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:

Owner Portal New Message Screenshot

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

Portal Conversation Response Screenshot
  • 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:

Owner Portal Comment

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Portal Conversation Snapshot

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:

Owner Ledger Dates
  • 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:

Ledger Property 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:

Owner Ledger Description Column
  • 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:

Owner Ledger Amount Column
  • 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:

Owner Ledger Account Balance Column
  • 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:

PW Portal Filters

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

PW Owner Dashboard View

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Owner Portal Ledger View

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

Owner Portal Document Library

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

Portal Reports View

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

Owner Portal Bills View

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

Portal Bill Details

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

Owner Portal Communication Tools

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. 

Net Distribution

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.