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Residential

OWNER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

At Gordon James Realty, we know finding the right property management firm to entrust with your investments is a critical process that’s bound to provoke questions. We’ve compiled the answers to the ones our prospective clients most often pose to help make your search a bit easier and give you a feel for the comprehensive services we offer. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us by e-mail or phone at 202-800-2610.

Residential

Yes, at Gordon James Realty all of our property managers are licensed in the District of Columbia, and our Northern Virginia property managers hold real estate licenses. As licensed agents and property managers, we must understand and follow all applicable laws and be well versed in the practical aspects of managing properties, including marketing, lease enforcement and maintenance.

But we don’t stop with the requirements. We are also members of the National Association of Residential Property Managers and the Property Management Association, so we adhere to an even stricter code of ethics and consistently improve our knowledge with continuing education. When you hire Gordon James, you can rest assured that your interests are represented with qualified, experienced professionals.
We manage properties for many types of clients, from seasoned property investors who own dozens of properties or mixed use commercial properties to individual homeowners moving away for a finite period of time. We work for property owners living all over the world as members of the military or foreign service and for local clients who simply want to shed the time-consuming work of managing their rentals.

Our property management clients own single-family homes, multi-family homes and condominium units in the DC metro area, including the district, Arlington, and parts of Alexandria. All of our clients are looking for help with the burden of managing a property on their own and they look to Gordon James as their trusted advisor throughout the partnership. If you’re unsure if professional property management is right for you, this graphic and article can help you decide.
As Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland’s premier property management company, we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality professional service to both clients and residents. Our approach always focuses on the client first. Our continued commitment to the evolution of our business and the knowledge of our team allows us to be thought leaders in the property management industry. To that end, we always employ cutting-edge industry technology, while relying on proven systems and effective marketing techniques to maintain low vacancy rates in our portfolio. We work in partnership with owners to help maximize rental income and provide residents with high quality housing.

We want our clients to sleep well, knowing that we’re providing all needed services. We handle maintenance and emergency repairs, enforce collection of rents and serve the proper notices upon failure to pay. We understand federal laws, as well as those in each jurisdiction we serve, ensuring your investment is protected. We also want clients to get the highest possible return on their investments. We leverage our knowledge of the local market and extensive network of contacts to manage our properties more effectively and at reduced costs. Our systematic approach to managing rental properties puts us at the forefront of the property management industry.

The staff at Gordon James Realty are experts in the industry.  One of the major benefits of quality property management is having someone you trust to take care of all the details. With over 30 years of combined real estate experience, and our continued investment in technology and better systems, our customer satisfaction is one of the highest in the industry.

  • We handle all aspects of managing your rental property. We advertise the property, screen prospective residents, negotiate leases, collect rent, schedule maintenance, maintain accurate records, and resolve resident complaints.
  • We know the local market and have an extensive network of contacts. That allows us to manage your investment property more effectively and at reduced costs. You save because our preferred contractors have lower rates and earn more because our properties typically command higher rent, which often adds up to greater profits than managing the property yourself.
  • Gordon James Realty uses the most up-to-date advertising techniques and best practice approach when coordinating and conducting viewings, exposing your properties to a wider market of renters or buyers and increasing conversion rate which reduces vacancies.
  • We enforce collection of rents and serve the proper notices upon failure to pay. We follow all federal, state, and local laws, making sure you and your investment avoid legal problems.
  • We handle maintenance and emergency repairs with our 24/7 emergency response team, so you can sleep at night.
  • The seasoned team at Gordon James Realty constantly monitors changing trends and legal issues in the real estate market to best represent and protect our clients’ interests.
  • Gordon James Realty does not force you into a one-year contract, which is the practice of many of our competitors. We earn our clients’ loyalty through our high-quality service, rather than locking them into long-term contracts.
  • We use a cloud-based software system that allows owners to see what’s going on with their properties 24/7.
Hiring a property management company to manage your rental property may cost more in the short term than managing it yourself. But our experience and ability to find qualified tenants, maximize rental income and care for your property pays dividends in the long run.

Our careful tenant screening helps to prevent costly problems and ensure that your property will continue to earn rent. If resident issues do occur, we catch them early, helping to avoid future property damage and increasing the likelihood of successful cost reimbursement before lease termination. We also understand that addressing maintenance issues early prevents more serious and costly property damage. And that helps to keep your long-term costs lower and improve your rental’s property value.
Yes, we provide a monthly report of rent and other income received, and maintenance, repairs, and other expenses incurred. Management reports may be viewed 24 hours a day from any computer or mobile device by logging in to our secure online client portal. Through the portal, owners can also see real-time information about their properties, access important property and tax documents and communicate with the management team. Owners may also call whenever they have a question or concern about the property.
Our first priority is managing properties. But we do have licensed agents experienced with investment property in the DC metro area who will be happy to help you sell or buy rental properties in Northern Virginia or Washington DC. But unlike many of our competitors, we don’t require that you use our agents. If you have an established relationship with another Realtor, we can assist you by working with them to make it a smooth transition.
As your partner, we have your best interest in mind. Before signing up with our company, we map out what it is like working with a property manager and what the relationship will look like. This helps to set expectations for you, as the owner, and for our company, so both sides ensure it will be a good fit.

In addition, we also give owners 24-hour access to information about their property through our online portal, so you can check on it at any time. And we’re always here to discuss your property and any questions or concerns you have.
As a full-service rental management company, we gladly help manage the financial aspects of your investment property, including paying associated bills, such as insurance, homeowners association dues and utilities. We know this service can be especially helpful for property owners living overseas. We can pay all bills except property taxes.
No! Your tenants’ leases will remain in force when you switch to a new management company. And our clients have been pleasantly surprised by how seamless the transition process to Gordon James is. Once you decide to work with our company, you only have to copy us on an e-mail notifying your current management company. We take over from there. If you have a current tenant, we will have the security deposit transferred and will coordinate picking up any keys and documents related to the property. If your tenant is on a month-to-month term, we can help you negotiate an increase or renewal, if you’d like. We look forward to counting you among our satisfied customers!
Gordon James Realty believes in a simple, straightforward fee structure, so you know exactly what to expect. We do not have hidden fees or startup costs. We provide value to our clients, and we think you’ll find our rates are competitive in the D.C. metro area.

Our two basic property management fees are:

  • Management Fee. Our fee to manage your property is based on a percentage of the gross monthly rent collected, which covers our comprehensive services, including collecting rents, lease enforcement, handling repair requests, performing inspections and keeping records. We only collect the management fee when rent is collected. You do not pay a fee when your property is vacant.
  • Leasing or placement fee. To place a qualified tenant in your property, we a percentage, based on one month’s rent. We do not charge any additional fees for a lease longer than one year.
No. We only charge a management fee when rent is collected. No fee is payable when your rental property is vacant. We offer a simple fee structure, and we do not have hidden fees.
No. There are no upfront costs to hire Gordon James Realty. We only get paid a fee when tenants pay rent on your property. Our fee schedule is simple, and there are no hidden costs.

To manage your property, we charge 8.5 percent of the monthly rent, which is collected only when rent is collected on your property. That fee covers our full suite of management services. For our comprehensive leasing services, we charge 90 percent of one month’s rent. We believe our services are a great value for our clients and you’ll find our fees stack up well against the local competition.
Yes, we offer reduced fees for owners of multiple properties. Discounted pricing starts at 4 properties and fees decrease as the number of properties increases.
In the management agreement, we work with owners to set a dollar amount which we cannot exceed without owner approval, except in cases of emergencies. The maintenance limit is set at a minimum of $450 and will determine how often owners will be contacted regarding maintenance issues. Regardless of the cost of the repair, detailed information will be included in the online portal.

We also help keep maintenance and repair costs low by using our in-house maintenance division and network of reliable, cost-effective contractors to handle issues that may arise with the property. We help property owners save money long-term by ensuring high quality work at fair prices.
An owner may use their own contractor, and we are happy to work with the your choice of service provider to coordinate work on your property. But we know finding reputable contractors can sometimes be challenging, especially from out of town. When an owner doesn’t have a plumber, electrician or other contractor, we can draw on our network of reliable, qualified contractors to perform needed maintenance work and rental home repairs. Because of our connections and  the volume of work we oversee, we often obtain lower rates the same high quality work, saving you money.
Tenants have access an online portal where they can submit routine maintenance requests and pay rent. Our Property Administrators then follow up on all tenant maintenance requests, ensuring that needed repairs are made to preserve your property value and keep residents satisfied with their tenancy. We respond to all non-emergency maintenance requests within 24 hours. We respond immediately when tenants contact us about emergencies that may result in damage to the property.
Unlike most management companies, we do not require our clients to provide reserve funds. We try to keep the accounting simple for our owners by paying for expenses related to properties from the rental income. After tenants pay their rent we subtract expenses incurred during the prior month and disburse remaining funds to owners. If the expense is incurred after the disbursement is sent to the owner, the outstanding balance will be deducted from the rent collected in the following month. Of course, we always abide by the maintenance spending ceiling you determined, obtaining your approval in advance for any non-emergency costs that may exceed that amount.
Gordon James Realty is very thorough and diligent when vetting prospective residents, because we know comprehensive tenant screening is the best protection against problems. As we work for you, we look for the same qualifications as you would – tenants with income and employment to afford the property, good credit and a track record as a respectful, responsible renter. To that end, our professionally trained staff processes all applications, and our technology and expertise allow us to check records and references that individual property owners often cannot.

We obtain a credit report, criminal background report, check employment verification, rental history, and eviction history on every prospective adult resident. Once we gather key information, we compile it in our system, contact you with the list of qualified tenants and help you make a final decision on your new tenants. Placing qualified residents in your property is one of our most important responsibilities as your property management company.
When a resident signs a lease for your property, they are required to electronically pay one month’s rent to cover the security deposit. The security deposit will be held by Gordon James Realty in an interest-bearing escrow account. Tenants must also pay their first month’s rent before taking possession of the property.
The tenant cannot legally break their lease unless there is a specific provision added to the lease. There are times when it makes sense to allow a tenant to break their lease if they cover the cost of finding a new tenant. But this rarely happens and the owner is required to approve.

If tenants  break their lease, they must pay rent until the property is leased to a new tenant or until their lease expires. In addition, they may pay advertising costs, real estate commissions and other costs directly related to efforts to lease the property.
Most clients request that their contact details are withheld from tenants. We will only give your contact details to your tenants if you ask us to do so. However, we do not recommend that landlords share their information. As your management company, we consider it our duty to look after the premises and respond to tenant inquiries, and we will inform you of issues as necessary. Tenant relations are part of the services we provide.
As your management company, we are proactive to prevent loss of rental income. Instead of waiting to see if tenants give notice, we always contact tenants at least 60 days prior to the lease expiration to confirm whether they will renew their lease. If they wish to renew, we perform a new market analysis to determine the appropriate rent. When the analysis favors an increase, we negotiate the renewal with the tenants and have them sign the new lease.

If tenants are moving out, we will check with you before we begin marketing your property. We begin our comprehensive search for new tenants 30 to 45 days in advance of the lease termination date, minimizing vacancies so you continue to earn rental income.
Gordon James Realty performs a move-out inspection of the property, usually within a day after the resident moves out. During the inspection, we compare the condition of the property to its documented condition when the tenant moved in, recording it with digital pictures and/or video.  We are experienced at determining the difference between “normal wear and tear” and damages that can legally be charged to the former resident. We follow all legal requirements for documenting deductions from security deposits and returning the remaining portion to the tenant.

Gordon James can also make recommendations to preserve the value of the property and decrease the vacancy time. We can arrange for one of our reliable contractors to complete any needed work to return the home to optimal, ready-to-rent condition quickly and cost-effectively.
Gordon James Realty recommends that all of our property owners to consult directly with their insurance agent to be certain they are carrying adequate insurance for their property needs. Homeowners often need to switch from their current insurance policy to a landlord insurance policy, which typically offers greater liability coverage and extended protection in case of damage to income property and the resulting loss of rental income. Our leases require that tenants obtain renter’s insurance for their personal belongings.
The leasing fee is covered by the property owner. This fee covers all advertising fees under our lease-up or placement service, so there are no added fees to advertise your vacancy. We create a professional advertising campaign, taking pictures of your property with a high-definition  LR camera and wide-angle lens. We post the advertisements on more than 13 different websites, ensuring we show your home in the best light and attract the largest possible pool of qualified tenants.

To capitalize on the interest our advertising generates, we respond rapidly to all inquiries, schedule and conduct showings with pre-qualified tenants and issue applications. Our leasing service also includes performing thorough credit and background checks for all applicants, verifying employment references and contacting prior landlords, drawing up the lease for tenants and conducting a move-in inspection on the lease start date.
When showing rental property, we do not give keys or lockbox combinations to prospective tenants. Your property will only be shown to pre-qualified tenants accompanied by one of our professional leasing agents who has in-depth knowledge about your rental home. Our agents take their responsibility to market and care for your property seriously. We also respond quickly to interested tenants to minimize the length of the vacancy.
You do not need to move out first. If an owner is still living in the property, we are happy to coordinate showing times that are most convenient for the owner. We do encourage owners to be sure the property is clean and clutter-free prior to showings for prospective tenants.

As part of our marketing services for your rental, we help ensure the property is in optimal condition and priced well. That improves the chances the home will lease quickly, minimizing any disruption or hassle involved in showing it.
How long it takes to rent a property depends on multiple factors, including the size, location, overall condition, asking price compared to similar properties in the neighborhood, and the time of year.  While it is impossible to predict exactly how long it will take, we do everything possible to quickly find well-qualified renters.

Gordon James Realty provides owners with a rental analysis and uses it to help owners arrive at a competitive rental price. We may also recommend small repairs that will improve the property’s appeal. Our residential leasing services include comprehensive, professional advertising campaigns that market properties on more than a dozen websites, ensuring they get maximum exposure. So, though we recommend property owners allow four to six weeks to lease their property for the first time, the process usually takes far less time.
Owners may choose to market their property furnished, however, in our experience there is a much larger market for unfurnished rentals in the D.C. metro area. While furnished properties may command higher rents, people who have or buy their own furnishings usually plan to stay longer term. In addition, it is important to consider that furnishings may get worn by even the most careful tenants.
As part of our standard leasing service, we will provide an in-depth market analysis to aid in setting rental rates for your property. We will recommend a rental price based on current market conditions, previous properties that rented in the area, our current portfolio of properties, the amenities of the property, and its as-is condition. Additionally, we are able to recommend repairs and improvements that would increase your return and manage contractors to perform the work. Effectively marketing your property hinges on competitive pricing and having the property in the best possible condition.
We recommend that rental property owners leave the utilities in their name at least 5 days after the new lease begins to allow a period of time for the tenant to transfer the utilities until they can be transferred to the new tenant. If you cancel, there is a risk of damage during cold weather (i.e. plumbing, appliances, sump pumps, appliances) and it is difficult to show a property without heat, air conditioning or electricity. It is also far easier to transfer utilities than it is to have utilities turned on as a “new” service under the tenants name.

After a management agreement is signed, Gordon James Realty sends owners a questionnaire to determine what utilities the owner is responsible for and what utilities the tenant will be responsible for. We then outline the tenant’s responsibilities in the lease and ensure they are met.
Gordon James Realty defers to the owner of the property for their preference when setting a pet policy. Most of our owners do accept pets. However, we understand if an owner prefers not to allow pets, and will enforce a no-pet policy when desired.

About 75 percent of renters nationwide own pets, so allowing pets can increase the pool of potential tenants and may decrease turnover. To ensure a tenant’s pets are well behaved and cared for, we ask prior landlords. We charge a $250 pet deposit to help defray any pet-related expenses and outline additional requirements in the lease, including having the carpets and property professionally cleaned when vacating. Tenants living in condos with pet rules must abide by all restrictions, according to their lease.
Our partnership begins with discussing your property and management needs and executing a property management agreement. If your property is  in the District of Columbia, the property must be registered with the DCRA, and we will provide detailed information to get you started with this process. In addition, we will need:
  • Completed new client questionnaire, which we send after the contract is signed
  • Keys to the property, including mailbox keys, if applicable
Gordon James Realty advises owners to start listing their property 30 to 45 days in advance of their target lease-up date. With our well-researched pricing recommendations and cutting-edge marketing, including posting your property on more than a dozen websites, we help our client’s rentals stand out and rent quickly.  Responsible tenants often begin looking for their new home at least 30 days out, so this preferred time frame allows owners to capitalize on the best, largest pool of potential residents.