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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Hiring a property management company can save you time and money, especially if you own multiple properties, live far from your rental property or have a busy schedule. Companies can also monitor your property and protect you from problems that can impact its value and your revenue.

But finding the right company requires a careful assessment of your needs, budget and goals as a landlord.

There are several factors to consider before choosing a property management company:

  • What are your needs and do the company’s services match them?

A property management company should be able to handle the entire rental process for your property — from advertising and marketing the unit to tenant screening and collecting rent once a tenant has been found.

Once a tenant has been placed, key tasks property managers handle include: preparing leases and enforcing the lease terms, inspecting the property regularly, and overseeing all repairs, landscaping and other maintenance.

A property management company should also have a sophisticated system to track rent collection, notify you of any property issues, document all financial transactions and provide you with regular reports of income and expenses. Because the company should handle all communication with the tenants, great customer service and the ability to maintain positive relationships with tenants are critical.

If you own a D.C. rental property but do not live in D.C., you are legally required to provide the city with the name and address of a resident agent based in D.C. Since the resident agent can be an individual or a business, you can use the services of a D.C. property management company, which can receive any communication on your behalf.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

If you own rental property or are thinking about making a rental investment, chances are you understand the financial implications. You did your due diligence, analyzed your income and expenses and maybe even schooled yourself on the fundamentals of D.C. landlord and tenant law. However, there is another unavoidable, yet commonly underestimated cost to account for–and that’s your time.

Consider how much of a time commitment being a landlord takes. Do you have enough time? And if so, do you want to spend it chasing down delinquent rent checks or vetting plumbers on Angie’s List?

Here are some common time traps and a self-assessment for evaluating your own bandwidth for coping with them:

Time Traps

  • Tenant Churn – The D.C. metro area is a transient place. It has several universities, a healthy job market and a large military population. People are constantly moving in and out and leaving a slew of vacancies in their wake. For a property owner, this means hours of time spent preparing and marketing the property, fielding phone calls and emails, showing the place to prospects and finally screening and selecting new tenants.
  • Maintenance Issues – Landlords have to be on call 24 hours a day, every day. When maintenance issues arise, especially when they are related to utilities, infestations or safety, expect to drop everything and begin resolving the problem immediately. This can entail searching for reliable service providers, coordinating with tenants to arrange a time to fix the problem and follow-up inspections.
  • Worst Case Scenarios – It is no fun to think about, but one of the hardest parts about being a landlord is playing enforcer to tenants who refuse to abide by the terms of your lease. Tenant disagreements, missed rent payments and abuse of property may all be grounds for eviction, but the eviction process can quickly turn into a protracted legal process full of inconvenient, expensive court appearances.

Self-Assessment

Do you have the time to be a landlord? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How far are you from your property? If you live farther than 50 miles from your property, you should consider hiring a property management firm. Even if don’t live quite as far, traffic jams and public transport delays inside the beltway are notoriously commonplace. Think about where you live and work in relation to your property in terms of minutes, not miles. A time-consuming, stressful commute could make fulfilling your landlord duties unrealistic.
  • How many properties do you own? Multiple properties mean multiple responsibilities. Maintenance requests, tenant issues and even the seemingly simple task of collecting and depositing rent checks can quickly turn into a high-wire balancing act when you have to worry about more than one unit. Additionally, you don’t want to be so overwhelmed managing high-priority issues that you skimp on performing regular upkeep tasks. Property updates and minor repairs are important and prevent your properties from losing value.
  • How busy is your family and professional life? It is no secret that managing a property takes time. Factor in a full-time job and family obligations, and you could discover that your duties as a landlord are throwing off your work-life balance. Examine your time constraints and decide if managing a property by yourself could negatively affect your ability to be a good family member, employee, landlord or all three.

Owning property can be a financially rewarding experience. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of your personal life, tenants, property or sanity. If you don’t think you can handle the demands by yourself, look into getting some professional property management help.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Spring has finally arrived. With the warming temperatures comes the perfect time to complete a few simple property maintenance tasks critical to preserving the value of your home and rental properties.

Regular maintenance is a relatively low-cost way to avoid problems that could damage your home later and rack up big repair bills.

For rental property owners, preventive maintenance has the added bonus of decreasing the likelihood of emergency repair calls. No landlord wants a call about flooding or an air conditioner that fails when temperatures soar and repair companies are swamped.

Now is the time to consult with your property management company or find professional contractors to have the following five maintenance services completed:

1. Inspect and Service HVAC systems — Sweltering, humid days are on the way. Make sure your air conditioner is up for the job. Have a service person give any HVAC units a checkup to ensure they are in good working order. Typical spring maintenance will include checking electrical connections and controls, cleaning evaporator and condenser coils, cleaning and adjusting the blower, and inspecting and clearing the condensate drain, according to Energy Star.

2. Inspect and Flush the Water Heater — Maintaining your water heater can help prolong its life and improve its efficiency. The National Association of Realtors’ Houselogic site recommends draining it to clear sediment, testing the temperature-pressure release valve and inspecting the anode rod, which prevents tank corrosion. Tanks that are more than 10 years old or are leaking should be replaced to avoid unit failure and flooding.

3. Clean the Gutters — Clogged gutters are the leading cause of window leaks in single-family homes. April showers are upon us, so now is the time to prevent all that water from ending up in your home. Make sure to clean out any gunk, leaves, branches, etc. that have built up over the winter. Check for leaks and ensure downspouts are clear, firmly attached and placed to direct water away from the foundation. Add flexible extenders, widely available at hardware stores, if necessary. Read More

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Last week, rental home search site Zumper named D.C. the fourth most expensive city in the country for renters, and predictably, Georgetown and Foggy Bottom ranked as the priciest neighborhoods in the city.

But, these aren’t the neighborhoods where we’ve been seeing the most interest from tenants.

While the traditionally favored neighborhoods remain popular and among the city’s most expensive, prices in these neighborhoods have remained relatively flat. And we’re finding we get the most tenant interest in neighborhoods that had limited demand just 10 years ago.

These hip neighborhoods, including H Street, NoMa and the U Street corridor, satisfy renters’ desire for new construction or newly renovated properties in edgier, artsy neighborhoods with easy Metro access. That’s especially true of younger professionals, who make up a significant percentage of the DC rental market.

Just a few years ago, many of these neighborhoods had an abundance of developable property available for new or renovated residences and retail. The result is that these new residential units have started leasing as a wave of new restaurants, shops and nightlife options open, contributing to an exciting, bustling vibe.

Though D.C. rents have declined slightly in the past year as inventory has increased, costs remain high. Affordability likely remains a factor that is pushing renters to neighborhoods where they can have the lifestyle they desire for a little bit less cash.

Rents in these increasingly amenity-rich neighborhoods aren’t cheap anymore, but they’re still somewhat cheaper than the old favorites. So renters often can find a newer place in a location with a lot going on, at a relative discount.

Using the Zumper report as a guide, renting the median one-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood it called “H-Street-NoMa,” among the city’s hottest neighborhoods, is still 20 percent cheaper than Georgetown’s median-priced one bedroom and 9 percent cheaper than Dupont’s.

In the Southwest Waterfront, an area poised for continued renaissance with the construction of the extensive Wharf mixed-use project, the median-priced one-bedroom apartment costs 27 percent less than the median one-bedroom in Georgetown and 18 percent less than Dupont Circle.

And, many of the hipper neighborhoods’ new and renovated buildings are stocked with stainless appliances, wood floors, stone countertops and other high-end finishes that tenants love. The buildings have also been designed with current trends in mind and luxuries that sell, including concierge service, billiard rooms, rooftop pools, state-of-the-art electronics and on-site dog parks.

According to Alexandria-based Delta Associates, which researches the local housing market, buildings with these types of amenities and a great location are most likely to remain full, even as more and more units become available. In the next few years, the firm expects neighborhoods such as H Street to have lower vacancy rates and greater rent growth than the region as a whole.

Of course, as prices in these hot neighborhoods continue to rise, young, hip tenants may start looking for less expensive options, just like buyers have. And that may create a new crop of up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Interested in what the market is like region-wide? You can find more information about what parts of the metro area fare best among renters, along with projections about vacancy rates and rental prices, in this article about the health of the D.C. metro apartment market.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Moving is hectic for everyone. Mix young children into things? Total chaos. Forget packing up all of the toys and clothes. You also have to factor in school enrollment and switching to after school activities close to home – dance, sports, Boy or Girl Scouts. Not to mention that most of these activities have seasonal deadlines.

Hopefully, we can help calm some of that chaos with a few tips for moving with young children.

Contact the new school at least a month before your move date — Make sure all paperwork for your child, such as immunization forms, have been completed and provided to the school.  You should also arrange a school tour, which would give both you and your children a chance to meet their new teacher and check out the new playground.

Change your address before you move — You know that you have to change your address with the post office. It’s best to do it approximately a week before you move so that no important paperwork gets lost in the mail. It usually takes a few days for things to cross over. Make sure to contact credit card companies, magazines, cell phone companies and others directly.

Book your move early — Hiring a moving company will make your move quicker and more efficient. Booking a moving truck a few weeks out will ensure that you’ll receive the size that you need. And don’t wait until the last minute if you’re packing up those boxes on your own.

Buy the local newspaper — This is an easy way to get accustomed to your new town. You’ll be able to scan the calendar and pick out some fun activities that will get your kids excited for the move. This is also an easy way for them to meet new children.

Pack up your child’s favorite belongings in one box. Let them help — What you deem “important” will most likely not be the same things that your children deem important. So let them help you pack a special box. Decorate it and have them label it. Keep this box with you for your child to open as soon as you move in. This will help to create a familiar place for your child in the new home. You could even sneak a small gift in there, as a surprise when you get into your new house.

Let your kids plan a “Last Day in Town”— Hit up all of their favorites — restaurant, park, ice cream shop. Then, go over the new newspaper you purchased and plan a “First Day in Town.”

Unpack your child’s room first — Moving is exhausting for everyone. Unpack your child’s room first. This will give them a sense of normalcy and will keep them busy while you finish setting up the rest of the house.

Generating excitement about the move may be challenging in the midst of all the tasks involved. Try to focus on the positives the change will bring, whether it is a bigger bedroom, new parks to explore or a neighborhood filled with other kids. You’ll help your kids see the move as an adventure.

If you’re planning to move but still searching for your next place, check out this guide that can help you decide whether to buy or rent your home.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Despite frigid temperatures, spring isn’t far off. And that means now is the time to prepare for the spring rental market — including by doing projects that will pump up your property’s curb appeal.

You may be tackling indoor projects now, but don’t neglect to plan for the outside. When it comes to making your rental attractive to tenants, curb appeal is critical.

You can’t measure curb appeal like you can square footage. But it contributes significantly to a tenant’s first impression of your home. Along with location, size and amenities, it can be a strong selling factor. On the other hand, peeling paint, crooked and faded For Rent signs and overgrown plants can keep potential renters from even coming inside.

Start by inspecting the building.

Walk around and look at the home critically, with the eyes of a tenant.

You may need a fresh coat of paint on the shutters or some new trim. If you can see broken or bent blinds in the windows, replace them. Inspect and clean your front door, and polish the doorknob, the knocker and any other hardware.

Give the exterior a good power-washing if the siding or brick has dust and dirt caked onto it. Check under eaves and drains for nests, pests and debris. Clean out the gutters to eliminate wet and rotting leaves.

Spend some time on your landscaping.

Trim the bushes, weed flowerbeds and ensure the grass is mowed regularly. Put down some fresh mulch around your shrubs. Make sure your trees look healthy and that any leaves from last fall are raked up.

Around the front door, add some hanging flowers or a couple of planters filled with bright, vibrant colors. Small details are inexpensive and can make your property look extra welcoming.

Take a look at the walkways and driveways.

There should be nothing that blocks a person or a car from approaching the house. If you are leasing your property in this wintery weather, be sure to clear away snow and ice completely as needed.

Inspect your lighting.

A house that glows warmly begs to be rented. Make sure all exterior lights are clean and have working bulbs. For evening showings, make sure exterior lights are on, along with interior lights that can be seen from the front.

Paying attention to curb appeal will help you attract a larger pool of potential applicants. When it looks good on the outside, people will want to see more. For ideas for improving the interior of your property, this article offers tips to get your rental property rent-ready.

When you ultimately decide on a tenant and the deposit has been paid and the lease signed, you’ll be handing over the keys to an attractive, well maintained home. That will show the tenant you have high standards, and that you expect the place to consistently look as it does on move-in day.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

A community dog. Resort-style pools. Bocce courts. New and renovated buildings in D.C. are offering many interesting high-end amenities to entice residents.

While many perks contribute to a luxury vibe, which features sway District renters when they’re deciding where to live?

Based on our experience and the results of several surveys, these five amenities are often what really convince renters to sign a lease.

1. Outdoor Space — D.C. residents want a place to fire up the grill, hang out by a fire pit or just soak up some sun. While renters nationwide rank communal or private outdoor space high on their lists, residents in urban areas like the District don’t want to live without them.

Outdoor amenities topped a 2014 survey by the apartment search firm Urban Igloo — 61 percent of people polled said it was their highest priority. That mirrors our experience. As we show homes, a deck, patio or rooftop space tends to be more of a draw than even a pool or a gym.

2. Fitness facilities — A gym and on-site fitness amenities came in a close second in the Urban Igloo survey. Renters love having the option of working out at home, especially in health-conscious D.C. And if it means they don’t have to pay extra for a gym membership, it becomes a money-saving perk.

3. High-Speed Internet Access and Good Cell Phone Reception — Nobody wants a home where they can’t receive phone calls. And that’s especially true of millennials, who often don’t have landlines. Renters often check to see how many bars they have during a home search.

Tenants expect internet access that allows them to work from home, stream movies or shop online. Multifamily buildings are also offering shared workspaces with free wireless, in a nod to people who work from home. In a national survey by the National Multifamily Housing Council, high-speed internet access tied with outdoor space for renters’ top priorities.

4. In-Unit Laundry — Saving quarters and spending Saturdays at the laundromat is no fun. Many tenants are willing to pay extra for the convenience of their own washer and dryer, or at least an available hook-up.

5. Updated Kitchens and Baths — Stainless appliances, stone countertops and newer fixtures are always in demand, especially in Class A apartments and high-end rental homes.

While developers can start from scratch when building amenities into rentals, most investment property owners have to work with what they have. That may mean considering some renovations. Or, it may be just figuring out the best way to market the assets your property already offers, like sprucing up the patio.

To learn more about how to market your renter-friendly features or which renovations may help you attract renters willing to pay more, check out these tips.

Do you have thoughts to share on what D.C. renters are looking for in a place? We’re curious to see your opinions in the comments section!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

(Updated at 10:40 a.m. Saturday) Federal income tax filing season officially began this week.

Though this season isn’t likely to bring cheer, rental property owners have reason to look on the bright side. Landlords actually get many tax advantages that can make the tax pill a little easier to swallow — so make sure you’re getting all the breaks you’re entitled to.

As a landlord, most expenses related to your rental property are deductible. The cost of advertisements listing your rental: deductible. Mortgage interest and real estate taxes: deductible. Same with the property’s electric bills and furnace repairs.

All those deductions help offset your taxable income from your rental property and lower your overall tax bill. Despite this, experts say most rental property owners pay too much each year.

“Taxpayers should ensure they are maximizing every tax benefit possible to offset rental income,” said John Caldwell, managing partner at Malvin Riggins & Company, a CPA firm with local offices in D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

Some of the most common tax benefits for landlords are listed below. But this isn’t tax advice. Please consult a tax professional for information pertaining to your specific situation.

Regular Expenses, Including Mortgage Interest, Property Taxes and Insurance: These costs, along with condo association fees and utility bills, can all typically be deducted.

Depreciation: Because your rental is a place of business, the IRS allows owners to depreciate, or deduct, a percentage of the value of the building (not land) from their taxes, as long as it is used as a rental. Residential rentals are typically depreciated over 27.5 years, allowing an annual deduction of about 3.6 percent of the building’s adjusted cost during each full year of use.

Repairs and Improvements: If you had to send a repair person out to fix the stove three times last year and a plumber finally fixed that drippy faucet, the cost of those and other repairs are deductible. The IRS considers larger projects improvements, such as replacing windows or the water heater or redoing the kitchen. Those costs must be depreciated and deducted over a period of time set by the IRS. For example, the cost of new carpeting for a rental would often be deducted over a five-year period.

Employees and Professional Services: Fees for attorneys, tax preparers, cleaning crews and repair workers are all deductible, as are fees paid to property management companies.

Travel: If you need to drive or fly to check on your rental property, your mileage, plane ticket and other expenses may be deductible if the purpose of the trip is managing the rental.

Home Office: If you’ve set aside part of your home as an office for managing your rental, you may be able to deduct some expenses for that portion of your home.

Losses: There are very specific rules for deducting rental losses incurred, so consult your tax advisor for more detail, Caldwell said.

And as you work on your federal return, don’t forget D.C. landlords also need to file and pay D.C. franchise taxes by April 15. The tax applies to owners with D.C. property that earns $12,000 or more in gross rents. Landlords making less than $1 million in gross rents pay the greater of the actual franchise tax or the minimum franchise tax of $250.

The D.C. tax applies even if the rental generates a federal income tax loss for the year and whether the owner lives in the District or in another state or country, Caldwell said.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

When searching for a home or a place to invest in a rental property, walkability matters.

Increasingly, renters and buyers are opting for homes where they can walk to dinner and to the dry cleaners, whether in a suburban village or the urban core. And studies show they’re willing to pay more for that convenience and the sense of neighborhood that comes along with it.

While the D.C. area ranks high overall in terms of walkability, some neighborhoods really shine when it comes to allowing residents to ditch the car. They offer not only convenience, but a more environmentally friendly lifestyle that appeals to many renters, especially millennials.

Dupont Circle, Chinatown, Downtown and U Street tie for the district’s top walkability score, according to Walkscore.com, the website that rates homes, towns, and neighborhoods from 0 to 100 based on how many amenities are within easy walking distance.

Those neighborhoods are among 17 in the district that the site rates as “walkers’ paradises,” with scores of 90 or above, including Swampoodle, NoMa, Judiciary Square and Near Northeast. Capitol Hill ranks 20th, with a score of 89.

Arlington’s urban villages also earn high marks. Ballston-Virginia Square earns the top spot in Arlington, with a score of 93, followed by North Rosslyn and Courthouse-Clarendon, which both come in at 91. In Alexandria, King Street Metro/Eisenhower Ave., Old Town and Braddock Road Metro areas earn top marks for walkability.

More walkable places have higher rents and home prices, according to a 2012 Brookings Institution report on walkability in the DC metro area. It said rentals in neighborhoods with good walkability averaged over $300 a month more in rent than those in neighborhoods with only fair walkability.

Using its own criteria for rating walkable neighborhoods, the study said Downtown D.C., Courthouse in Arlington, Georgetown, Judiciary Square, Penn Quarter/Chinatown and National Harbor were tops in the region. And when walkable neighborhoods are clustered together, as they are downtown, the premium on real estate values rises even higher, the report said.

The current district neighborhoods fetching top rents bear that out. Most with the best walkability also show up on an Apartmentlist.com list of district neighborhoods with the highest average rent costs in November.

If you own rental property in a walkable neighborhood, be sure to capitalize on it. When listing the home, mention the Walk Score and paint a picture of what life in the neighborhood would be like. Drop the names of the indie coffee shop, grocery, hot restaurants and trendy shops that are just steps away.

When showing the home, offer to walk around with interested tenants, pointing out Metro access, parks and other nearby amenities likely to interest them.

Properties in walkable neighborhoods will likely cost more but also be in high demand and command higher rents, bringing steady investment income that will pay dividends in the long run.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Want a surefire way to increase tenant demand for your rental? Take down the No-Pets Allowed sign.

The decision about whether to allow pets is a tough one for many owners, and there are no right or wrong answers. But some surveys show that nearly 75 percent of renters own pets. That’s a huge pool of potential tenants to turn away.

Tenants who find a welcoming home for Fluffy are also more likely to stay longer, which can reduce vacancy time. For owners renting their property as an investment, being pet-friendly makes good business sense.

But allowing pets isn’t always the right answer for owners renting out a home they plan to return to. For owners who have pets themselves, allowing renters to keep a cat, dog or goldfish will likely make leasing the home faster and easier. For those who haven’t had pets, keeping the rental pet-free is a reasonable choice.

According to a recent survey by Apartments.com, 9 out of 10 renters said deciding where to live hinged on the landlord’s pet policies. Seventy-two percent of renters said they owned pets.

Protecting Your Property When Allowing Pets

How can you avoid the dog that barks day and night and chews the cabinets, or the kitty that favors the closet floor over a litter box? Finding responsible pet owners is key to protecting your property and neighbors’ sanity.

The Humane Society suggests that landlords check references on both the tenant and their animal, including calling prior landlords, the veterinarian and neighbors to ensure the animal behaves and won’t cause serious damage.

The organization suggests owners limit the number of pets allowed in each unit and approve pets on a case-by-case basis, rather that create limits based on size or breed. The Humane Society recommends creating a pet policy that outlines acceptable pet behavior and requires that all pets be licensed, up-to-date on vaccinations and spayed or neutered.

Deposits and Fees

Beyond policies, landlords often charge extra deposits, fees or pet rent to limit risk and cover the cost of additional cleaning or wear and tear animals can cause to the unit, building and grounds. In the Apartments.com survey, nearly 80 percent of renters said they had to pay a fee or deposit for pets, with more than half paying $200 or more per year.

Be aware of what’s customary in your neighborhood plus local laws when deciding how much of a fee or deposit to charge.

D.C. law does not require that you rent to tenants who have pets. Service animals for people with disabilities are an exception. Under Fair Housing laws, landlords must allow service animals, even if a property is pet-free, and may not charge extra fees or deposits.

Whether you decide to allow pets or not, advertising your policy and targeting tenants most likely to appreciate your decision will help you find the perfect tenant faster.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

The D.C. metro area is teeming with transient and temporary residents, including college students, interns and short-term staffers, ensuring there are plenty of tenants who wish to sublet apartments and plenty of people to fill them.

Ads on Craigslist show sublets for just a few days to several months or longer. But regardless of the duration, experts warn that subletting carries risks for the landlord and tenant, and often advise against it.

Allowing subletting isn’t wise, especially in Washington, D.C., said Emilie Fairbanks, a landlord-tenant attorney practicing in D.C. and Maryland. District tenants may stay in apartments as long as they please, barring a valid reason to evict, she said. Subletting brings in an unscreened tenant without a direct lease with the landlord.

Instead of subletting, a landlord who is amenable to ending the current tenant’s lease could allow the tenant to help find a replacement, she said. The landlord could then screen the potential replacement just like any other applicant, terminate the first tenancy and sign a new lease directly with the new, qualified tenant.

“Everything is cleaner and much less likely to result in legal problems for you later,” she said.

Tenants may not take the same precautions property owners would in finding someone to live in the rental, and their selected person could fail to pay rent, cause damage or refuse to leave. Experts say evicting subletters can be difficult. Often the original tenant must be evicted as well.

Experts typically recommend that leases lay out subletting policies and, if it is allowed, require tenants to obtain written permission first. If landlords do allow subletting, they should always screen the subtenant, just as they would any other tenant, Fairbanks said.

Tenants who sublet become the sub-tenant’s landlord, with all the legal requirements and responsibilities that go with that.

Because the original tenant’s name is on the lease, he or she generally remains responsible for ensuring rent gets paid and the property is cared for. However, if the original tenant has left town or left the country, recovering any losses may be difficult.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Millennials are flocking to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area for its job opportunities, cultural attractions and vibrant neighborhoods.

The area is the nation’s third most popular city for the generation, according to a recent report on Niche.com. D.C.’s popularity among millennials has been influencing local housing trends, fueling high demand for rentals and a preference for walkable, urban neighborhoods over homes in far-flung suburbs.

Washington D.C. earned its top rank because of the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who make it home. The rankings also took into account quality of life, measured by factors such as diversity, income, housing costs, crime rates and younger residents’ views on the quality of amenities, including professional sports, shopping and nightlife.

Only New York City and Austin ranked higher.

“The political epicenter of the United States draws young hopefuls with the promise of ambition and idealism and keeps them there with a solid job market and diverse cultural attractions,” the report said.

Amenity-rich District neighborhoods where millennials make up at least a third of residents include Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, Cardozo-Shaw (U Street) and Logan Circle- Shaw. And many of the neighborhoods in and around Capitol Hill aren’t far behind, with millennials making up around 30 percent of residents.

Millennials want to live in walkable urban centers with good public transportation and nearby shopping, restaurants and offices, according to the 2014 Nielsen Co. report “Millennials: Breaking the Myths.” Two-thirds of the generation rent their homes, it said.

That’s good news for owners of rental properties and those considering investing. Local market experts expect the demand for rentals in great neighborhoods to continue as millennials move out of their parents’ homes and wait longer than prior generations to marry and have families.

“They prefer to live in dense, diverse urban villages where social interaction is just outside their front doors,” the Nielsen report said. “The ‘American Dream’ is transitioning from the white picket fence in the suburbs to the historic brownstone stoop in the heart of the city.”

Nielsen ranked the D.C. metro area sixth nationwide among cities with the highest concentration of residents born between 1977 and 1995, which is how it defined the millennial generation. The District is the only city east of the Mississippi in the top 10, and it has the highest concentration of what Nielsen dubbed wealthy millennials – those earning more than $100,000 a year.

The Niche study named the Clarendon/Courthouse neighborhood in Arlington, with its variety of coffee shops, bars and restaurants, the top D.C.-area neighborhood for millennials, who make up 53 percent of the population there.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Searching for a residential income property is an overwhelming ordeal, especially in a metro area notorious for its high cost of living, transient population and glut of new apartment construction. These factors amplify the need for property owners to choose their next investments wisely. The surest way to do this is to buy property in hot, up-and-coming neighborhoods that are in high-demand among renters.

Location, location, location — the aptness of this real estate adage probably doesn’t surprise you. But the results of a study by Onboard Informatics ranking the five hottest neighborhoods for renters and investors in D.C. might.

Take the guesswork out of your next property hunt and check out why you should invest in these top renters’ havens.

1. Navy Yard – Anchored by the Washington Navy Yard, this Southeast D.C. neighborhood has enjoyed a vibrant resurgence, marked by a new wave of mixed-use developments that both preserved and modernized its industrial-era charm. The neighborhood is home to the Washington Nationals ballpark and several popular bars, restaurants and cafes.

There are government agencies located nearby, while Capitol Hill and Eastern Market are just a short walking distance. This neighborhood attracts military members, government employees and young 20-somethings. Residents depend on cars or public transportation and their average commute is 28 minutes.

Investor Stats: 85 percent renters. Average home price (past six months): $478,000. Average monthly rent: $909. Vacant homes: 9 percent. Annual resident turnover: 11 percent.

2. Mayfair – Mayfair was the childhood home to singer and songwriter Marvin Gaye. Now, its affordable townhouses and multi-family homes are capturing the attention of renters and investors looking for an area on the rebound. Mayfair’s residents include families, students, single professionals and retirees. This neighborhood is Metro-accessible and located along several bus routes. The average commute is 31 minutes.

Investor stats: 83 percent renter-occupied. Average home selling price: $449,666. Average monthly rent: $919. Vacant homes: 7 percent. Annual resident turnover: 13 percent.

3. Judiciary Square – Filled with federal courthouses and municipal buildings, this neighborhood hums with suited-up government employees, politicos and lawyers. Residents can enjoy the proximity of the National Mall, Smithsonian museums, Verizon Center and high-end restaurants and shops. Judiciary Square is Metro-accessible, and the average commute is 25 minutes.

Investor stats: 82 percent renter-occupied. Average home selling price: $272,000, Vacant homes: 14 percent, Average monthly rent: $1,008. Vacant homes: 14 percent. Annual resident turnover: 24 percent. Read More

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Nearly 46 years ago, the H Street NE Corridor in Northeast Washington, D.C. wasn’t ablaze with funky night clubs, eclectic art galleries or mixed-use lofts. Parts of the street had literally erupted into flames. In the wake Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968, protestors took to the street, igniting fires, looting businesses and damaging storefronts.

When the upheaval settled, vacant properties and dismal stretches of urban blight remained on H Street until the mid-2000s. Then, on the heels of the redevelopment of the iconic Atlas Performing Arts Theater, construction on a new streetcar line and the opening of nightlife mainstays like The Argonaut, Smith Commons and the Rock & Roll Hotel, the community began to make some headway. Now, with the H Street NE streetcar in its final testing phase and an inked lease agreement for a new Whole Foods on H Street between 6th and 7th streets, this corridor has gone from budding urban dwelling to a neighborhood in the throes of a renaissance.

Here is what you should know if you lease out your property on or near H Street, or are looking to buy:

The cat is out of the bag, but there is still opportunity. Like any up-and-coming area with character from a gritty historic past and a promising score of unique dining and entertainment options, H Street was bound to become a bit of a media darling. Opinion columns discuss its gentrification, lifestyle blogs praise its hot spots, Gawker equated it to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, and President Obama even dined there on his 2012 campaign trail. But no matter how hipster-friendly and en vogue H Street has become, it’s not an over-saturated market — demand to live there is still high. This is good news for property owners, as Urban Turf reported that prices for condos, townhouses and detached homes increased from 2012 to 2013, and the National Association of Realtors projected a 6 percent increase in 2014. Read More

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