Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the screening process for new tenants?
2. Do you pay my mortgage and HOA?
3. What happens in case of an emergency?
4. Should I allow pets or smokers?
5. Should I allow smokers?
6. Can you assist me in the sale of my property?
7. How do I handle utilities at my home? Do I pay, or does the tenant pay?
8. What if I want to rent my property furnished?
9. What should I leave at the property?
10. Can I see a copy of my listing?
11. What do I need to do before I leave my home in care of McGrath Real Estate?
12. Then What?

1. What is the screening process for new tenants?

We conduct a thorough process when screening each applicant. This is one of the most important parts in the management process, ensuring you will have a good tenant who takes care of your home and pays rent on time. Every individual over the age of 18 will be required to fill out an application and must become party to the Lease (Each tenant is “Equally and Severally responsible under the terms of the Lease”).

The screening process includes:

  • Pull Credit Report — We analyze the report and classify it as excellent, good, fair or poor. We look for evictions, collections, public records, bankruptcy or any late payments, accounts closed by grantor, accounts written off as P&L, etc. We also compare high balances with credit limits. How much of their available credit are they using? If it is 90%, they may have a weak credit score despite not having negative accounts. If it is 10% they may have a good credit score even with small number of accounts. We look at the reports both objectively and subjectively underwriting your prospective tenants ability to pay rent.
  • Employment Verification — We verify employment, wages or salary.
  • Income Qualification — We apply a rent-to-income ratio to qualify your tenants and ensure they are capable of paying the amount rent being charged for your property.
  • Landlord Verification — We contact the prospective tenants current and, previous landlord to verify payment history Did they have late payments/bounced checks? Did they take care of the property and give proper notice they were vacating? Would they rent to them again?

We are required to present all applications to you, good or bad. Once we have compiled all this information you get an email, phone call, or both with the details, and we guide you through your decision to accept or deny.

2. Do you pay my mortgage and HOA?

No. We recommend you set-up automatic payment to these entities and pay them directly. Through electronic banking, homeowners have greater control of paying these expenses with less effort. In most circumstances, we don’t pay our client’s HOA payments because homeowners associations are increasingly reluctant to receive payments from third parties. Some associations are not prepared to recognize or accept payments from anyone other than the owner. Some claim this is because of increased financial privacy laws enacted post-9/11 (Patriot Act).
More associations are taking payments online, simplifying and safeguarding the homeowner’s financial transaction. The Associations that do not take online payments are often smaller self-managed associations with no professional staff processing the checks. With the seemingly complete power of home owners and condominium associations “power to be inflexible”, it has too often become more trouble than it is worth for us to pay on your behalf.
Funds that you have on deposit with our company are placed into an escrow account. They remain your funds in our custody. Many rules effect escrow accounts including the limitation of using someone else’s funds for your benefit. This is the situation that could happen if we had the responsibility to pay your mortgage on your behalf. If we did not have your funds available would be unlawful for us to pay it. This would require us to keep large reserves of your funds here and thus it is a more practical solution for you to continue to pay your mortgage, particularly with the availability of online payments or ACH transfer.

3. What happens in case of an emergency?

Emergencies do happen. Your tenant will have an expedited notification process in case of any emergency. They may contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is always someone “on call” and available to talk to them to assess the situation and determine whether a true emergency exists and how it should be handled in a manner that best protects your interests and your property.

4. Should I allow pets?

Pets and smokers are not protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, so you can discriminate against both, but we recommend the following:

  • About 70% of the inquiries we receive from prospective tenants have pets. This percentage has gone up significantly over time to where it is today. By automatically not allowing pets, you are reducing your pool of otherwise qualified tenants by 70% Consider allowing —pets on a “case-by-case basis”. This way you still control the decision and it can be made in context to the rest of the application. Considering pets “case-by-case” allows you more flexibility in selecting the best tenant and lease terms while maximizing the market exposure of your property.
  • In the event you choose to allow a prospect with a pet to rent your property, our policy is to collect an addition security deposit in the amount of $500 for the first pet and $250 for an additional. This additional deposit provides you additional security regardless of the cause of any breach of the lease terms by the tenant. As an example, these funds would apply to damages (or loss of rent) regardless of whether such damage had anything to do with the pet itself.

5. Should I allow Smokers?

All McGrath Real Estate leases specify that the residence will be maintained as a non-smoking residence. Tenants are not allowed to smoke inside the house.

6. Can you assist me in the sale of my property?

Absolutely! Our lease gives you the right you the right to put your property on the market for sale ninety (90) days prior to its expiration. Few agent have the necessary experience to effectively market property while it is tenant occupied. The interests of the tenant and yours as the owner are very different. We have a great deal of experience in this area. We not only can help you if you choose to sell but we are likely your best choice in this situation. Our sales team is ready to assist you in anyway.
Our strong background in property management also gives us better insights helping you to purchase properties that will give you the best chance for success as a rental property and starts the investment process with a fluid transition from purchase to lease. While we always recommend a long-term real estate strategy when the time does come, we would be happy to help you sell your property, support a 1031 exchange, assist you in the purchase of another real estate investment, or help you buy the home of your dreams!

7. How do I handle utilities at my home? Do I pay, or does the tenant pay?

When choosing McGrath Real Estate Services, Inc. as your property manager your first thing to do regarding utilities is to have the bills sent to us. To do this you contact the utility companies and have them send the bill with the following information:

“YOUR NAME”
c/o McGrath Real Estate Services, Inc.
761-C Monroe St. #100
Herndon, VA 20170

The tenant will be responsible for all utilities that are not included in the HOA/COA fee. The tenant is supposed to make arrangements to have utilities in their name as of their possession date. However, there are situations where this is not possible (such as a tenant moving in on a Sunday). When and if this happens, the tenant will have the utilities switched into their name and a final bill for your account will be sent to us. We examine the bill and determine what charges the tenant is responsible for and bill them for that amount.

8. What if I want to rent my property furnished?

We do not manage furnished properties. Leaving behind personal property can create liability issues that otherwise would not exist for landlords. It can become an expensive nuisance if the prospective tenant wants some but not all of the furniture. Furnished rentals promote short-term leasing and represent a very small percentage of the market pool of tenants. It is also hard to compete with the national hotel chains that have recognized the need for short term furnished rentals and have met that need in part with amenities you are not likely to be capable of matching. It is also nearly impossible to manage or inspect for damage on furniture, or to make sure nothing is missing at tenant check-out.

9. What Should I Leave Behind?

The only things you should leave behind for your new tenants are: Extra filters for the furnace and air returns (if applicable) Home Owners Association documents and appliance manuals (kitchen drawer)

  • Keys and garage door remotes should be left with your property manager
  • A clean house in good repair with all appliances working and a property manager to call if they are in need. “Presentation sets expectation” is a phrase we use often with our landlord clients. The effort to make an excellent presentation of your property sets the expectation with the tenant of how we would like to see it returned.
  • Sometimes, a small “Welcome” gift basket is also a nice touch! You may include a personal note including things like favorite neighborhood restaurants or events that you have found worthwhile in the community. However, be careful not to leave your new contact information in the house or anywhere for your tenant to find it. It may seem like a good or friendly idea, but many Landlords have made this mistake and regretted this later. You will wish you had not if you get dragged into a security deposit dispute! If you are interested in further discussion on the pitfalls of direct communication with your tenants — consult your property manager.

10. Can I see a copy of my listing?

Of course! You will be able to see a copy of your Multiple Listing Service property description listing featured on our website. You may also request a copy of your listing from our marketing department. We are open to your suggestions on editing the listing to market the best features of your home.

11. What do I need to do before I leave my home in care of McGrath Real Estate?

Refer to the Current Client Resources found on our website. Pay particular attention to the section about preparing the home so it is in top condition. This will set the expectations for prospective tenants and attract more applicants, allowing you more discretion when selecting tenants. You will also need to have the utilities placed “In care of McGrath Real Estate Services.”

12. Then What?

Then it is time to sit back and “enjoy the ride” knowing that we will be with you and guide you every step of the way! We look forward to meeting you at a time of your convenience and to better understand your personal objectives as well as those related to your property. Thank you for your interest in our management services!