Sometimes being a landlord can feel a little like flying blind in a snowstorm on your first solo flight.
Fortunately, there are a variety of tools and resources that help you get your bearings, plot your course, and make sure you land safely.
Keep in mind that while all of the resources in this article can help you get going, one of the best resources for local landlords is an experienced Maryland property management company.
A professional property manager will have years of experience dealing with tenants and property issues and also has knowledge of specific local challenges and opportunities.
Answers for Rental Legal Questions
Nothing can take the place of solid legal advice from a lawyer familiar with landlord-tenant law and real estate law, but the web offers many resources for you to find answers to simple common questions.
These sites are not a substitute for qualified legal advice, but instead a good place to start your research and help you better evaluate your legal needs.
Nolo.com is one of the most complete and accurate sources of legal information on the web. They have a page dedicated to landlord issues with links to dozens of helpful articles and the ability to search for your specific questions.
The Maryland Attorney General’s website contains a free booklet you can read online or request to have mailed to you that answers common questions landlords and tenants have. While the language is geared towards tenants, the booklet has plenty of useful information for landlords about everything form application fees to lease issues.
If your legal needs are beyond just getting some basic information you should ask a Maryland property manager for referrals to local attorneys.
How to Calculate Cash Flow and Rent
Money issues can be some of the thorniest problems for landlords. Trying to figure out what to charge for rent and how to calculate your cash flow can frustrate even experienced landlords.
While getting advice from a CPA is often the best in the long run, sometimes you don’t have time for a consultation and you need answers right away.
InvestFOURMore.com is a website devoted to people looking to make passive income from real estate. It has several useful tools, including a Rental Cash Flow Calculator. You enter the amount of rent and all of your expenses and see how much cash flow you have every month. It is easy to change variables if you are looking at the best places to cut expenses or raise rent.
Mr. Landlord is another great site with a wealth of information and calculators for landlords to use when trying to decide what to set the rent at. The financial calculators are free to use, but some of the site’s resources are only available with a paid membership.
Online calculators can help you get a general idea of where to set the rent and what your cash flow should look like, but every community is different. After using some of the free tools you should also seek the advice of local experts, such as Maryland property managers to see where rents in the neighborhood are. A professional property management company can also refer you to local accountants experienced in landlord business and tax issues.
Dealing With Tenant Issues
The passive income from being a landlord would be perfect if it wasn’t for having to deal with consistent tenant issues.
Even the landlords who have been renting for years sometimes come upon new situations and are unsure of the best way to move forward.
If the issue it a legal one, the resources listed above and consulting with a lawyer are your best bet. But, if you are looking for advice on managing tenants, the web has several great resources.
The Bigger Pockets Blog has hundreds of articles devoted to every landlord issue imaginable. It has a great article for dealing with problem tenants. You can also search the site for other articles on how to deal with tenants, including everything from late rent to noisy parties.
Our own blog also has several posts about dealing with tenant issues.
Often, local laws and conditions will affect how you deal with tenants. One of the advantages of having a property manager on your team is being able to go to them for advice on tenant issues. Property management companies in Maryland will often handle most of the tenant interactions saving you time and trouble.
Repairs and Renovations
There is a constant need for repairs and renovations on rental properties. You may have questions about everything from where to begin to what upgrades will give you the highest return on your investment.
There are many online landlord communities where landlords can share their experiences and make recommendations. There are also several sites that offer expert advice on rental repairs.
Landlord.com has a specific forum dedicated to rental repair and renovation issues. Here you can ask questions and see what other landlords are doing in their rentals. It is a great place to learn from both the bad and the good experiences of others in similar situations.
If you are looking for expert advice on managing rental repairs the previously mentioned Invest FOUR More has a detailed article explaining when to make repairs on your rental properties.
Landlordology offers help knowing how repairs and renovations on your rental affect your taxes and what you can do as a landlord to maximize your tax deductions without running afoul of the IRS.
Just like with almost any other issue with rental properties, Maryland property managers are going to be a prime resource for questions about repairs. These local experts can tell you what tenants like to see in properties and what types of things frequently need repaired or replaced. They can also refer you to local contractors and other professionals that have proven track records of success.
If you are a Maryland landlord you don’t have to face these income property challenges alone. There are many resources available both online and in your local community to help you get the most out of your rental property. The biggest mistake landlords make is not getting help when they need it.
If your questions or problems are beyond what these free resources offer, find professionals to help you. The cost of hiring a professional and having something done right the first time will save you money in the long run.