What Are the Responsibilities of a Property Management Company?

What Are the Responsibilities of Your Gaithersburg Property Management Company?

If you own rental property in Gaithersburg and self-manage your rental property business, you may be finding that there is a lot more to being a landlord than you originally anticipated.

And with that in mind, you may be thinking it is time to enlist the help of one of Gaithersburg’s top property management companies.

You may also be wondering to yourself what exactly a property management company is responsible for when it comes to your investment property. 

For those that are unsure whether investing in a property management company is a good idea, or for those that simply don’t know what a property manager is responsible for, keep reading.

Today we are going to give you the rundown on what an experienced, highly qualified property management company should offer you in terms of services.

 

What a Qualified Gaithersburg Property Management Company Should Do

1. Property Advertising

Property Management Company Should Advertise Property

One of the most important responsibilities your property management company has is advertising your vacant property to a high-quality tenant pool.

They should utilize a diverse set of platforms such as Craigslist, MLS, online classifieds, and even direct mail to expose your property to a wide group of prospects. They should also be available for those reaching out with interest.

 

2. Tenant Screening

All potential tenants should be thoroughly screened by your property manager. This includes background and credit checks to make sure they have no criminal background, previous evictions, or outstanding debts.

Additionally, your property management company is responsible for avoiding any discrimination when it comes to fair housing laws and screening potential tenants.

This is a key reason to enlist the help of a property manager. The last thing you want to do is be sued for unintentionally discriminating against an interested tenant.

 

3. Tenant Move-In

Property Management Company Handles Tenant Move-in

Here are some of the things your Gaithersburg property management company will handle at the time your new tenant moves into your investment property:

  • Legally compliant lease drafting according to your specific needs
  • Evaluation of local rent rates so your rent will generate income
  • Lease term start and end dates
  • Detailed move-in inspection with all parties, complete with photographs
  • Collection of security deposit and first and last month’s rent

Lastly, your property manager will provide your tenants with the keys to your property, as well as a welcome tenant package, complete with pertinent contact information, maintenance responsibilities, local area information, and possibly a small gift welcoming your tenant to their new home.

 

4. Maintenance, Repairs, and Complaints

Anytime your tenant has a maintenance or repair request, your property management company is the one to handle it.

And, if you choose one of the top property management companies in Gaithersburg, your tenants will have access to an on-call maintenance crew that is available 24/7.

Not having to take after-hours calls from tenants is one of the best benefits of enlisting the help of a team of property managers. Not only do they have the resources to handle emergencies, they take the pressure off of you and having to be available all the time.

It is also a good idea to look into a property management company that has a 24-hour hotline for tenants that have complaints or non-emergency issues. Again, not having to field these calls all night long is something you’ll love.

 

5. Rent Collection

Property Management Company Should Collect Rent

Receiving rent payments, tracking down those that haven’t paid, sending out rent reminders, and disbursing payments to you are another huge responsibility you place in the hands of your property management team.

In addition to collecting your rent money and handing it over to you, your property manager is also tasked with the job of initiating eviction proceedings, should your tenant fail to pay rent on time.

This includes filing paperwork to start an eviction, sending out proper notices, representing you in court, and even aiding in the removal of tenants, should the need arise.

 

6. Property Inspections

Making sure your property is being well cared for throughout the lease term takes a lot of effort.

That’s why having a property manager to conduct seasonal inspections is so helpful. Not only can they check to make sure everything is okay with your tenants (which is a great customer service method), your property manager can make sure your tenant is fulfilling their lease obligations.

Finding small maintenance issues and fixing them before they turn into bigger issues, reminding tenants of their tenant responsibilities, and finding out what would make your tenants happier are all things that will ultimately aid you in your quest for success as a property owner.

 

7. Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping Handled by Property Management Company

Property management companies have a duty to maintain all financial documentation as it relates to your rental property business.

Here are some things your property manager will likely handle while managing your rental:

  • Proper accounting of all rent payments collected, including receipts
  • Annual reporting of all financial statements, including a 1099 form
  • Monthly income/expense reports
  • Documentation of any payments made on your behalf (utilities, HOA, insurance premiums)
  • All maintenance estimates, work orders, and invoice/payment receipts
  • Yearly tax information for the property itself and the rental property business

While it can be helpful to hire on a separate accountant to help you with your yearly financials as they relate to your rental property business, know that an experienced property management company can handle most, if not all, of that documentation for you.

In fact, some property managers will even help you file your annual taxes so that you don’t have to hire external services.

 

8. Tenant Move-Out

Just as your property manager helped move your tenant in, they are responsible for helping your tenant move out as well.

When a tenant gives their notice to move out of your property, you property manager will likely inspect the unit as a whole to determine what damages the tenant has incurred.

From there, the following will happen:

  • Provide tenant with a detailed list of estimated damages
  • Return the remaining balance of your tenant’s security deposit
  • Re-key all locks and make any repairs
  • Clean rental property for next tenant that will move in
  • Place vacant property back on the market

 

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of Gaithersburg property management responsibilities.

Rather, it gives you a good idea of the scope of tasks a high-quality property manager will gladly take on while managing your rental property.

If you own rental property in Gaithersburg and have realized that self-management of your investment property is not right for you, get in touch with Bay Management Group today. We take great pride in our customer service-oriented approach to property management, and strive to provide you and your tenants the best experience possible.


How Can a Catonsville Landlord Break a Tenant’s Lease?

How Can a Cantonsville Landlord Break a Lease?

In the past, we have discussed the various reasons why your Maryland tenants maybe able to legally break their lease agreement with you.

Things such as being called to active military duty, being a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, and even things you do such as harassing your tenant, or failing to provide a safe and habitable place of living, are all legitimate reasons your tenant may initiate an early lease termination.

But have you ever thought about it the other way around, with landlords as the ones to break the lease agreement?

Today we are going to discuss the legal reasons a Catonsville landlord may break the binding contract they agreed to with their tenants at the start of their tenancy.

 

3 Legal Reasons a Catonsville Landlord May Break a Lease

Catonsville landlords should seek advisement from their property management company if they want to terminate a lease agreement early.

Since every state has their own set of rules and regulations, in addition to the federal landlord-tenant laws all property owners must abide by, it is important to consult with your property manager before quitting a lease agreement early, in order to avoid legal troubles.

That said, there are some general reasons why you may be able to initiate an early lease termination in Maryland that apply whether you own property in Catonsville or not.

 

1. Violations of the Lease Agreement

If your tenant repeatedly violates any terms of their lease agreement, you may legally terminate the lease with proper notice.

Here are the major violations that tend to force landlords to initiate an early lease termination:

 

Failure to Pay Rent

Failure to Pay Rent Allows Landlord to Break The Lease

If you use an experienced Maryland property management company, you should know by now that failure to pay rent on time, every time, is a major breach of the lease agreement.

And, if your property manager cares about the status of your rental property business, they will begin the eviction process as soon as your tenant fails to pay on time.

This not only reminds your tenants that you are serious when it comes to paying rent; it also protects you from losing too much rent income.

In addition, the minute a tenant feels you will not enforce the rules, they will begin to take advantage of you. That’s why administering the consequences, regardless of the reason rent is late, is so crucial to your success as a rental property owner.

 

Lease Provision Violation

There is a reason you and your property manager go through every line of the lease agreement with your tenant prior to move-in day.

This way, all involved parties fully understand what is expected of them throughout the lease term.

Lease provisions include things such as:

  • Rent collection
  • Pet policies
  • Maintenance and repair responsibilities
  • Rules regarding a tenant’s ability to alter the interior of the property
  • And more

If your tenant signs the lease agreement understanding the rules, and breaches that agreement, you have grounds to terminate the lease early.

 

Breaking the Law

Another common reason you may feel the need to terminate your Catonsville tenant’s lease agreement early is if they break the law on the property they lease from you.

Though your property manager should have included terms in the lease agreement addressing your zero-tolerance policy for things such as illegal drug use or any other criminal activity, you can still consider early termination without those provisions.

Again, consult with your property manager to ensure state and local laws support your reason for wanting to break the lease.

 

2. Property Damage

Tenant Damaging Property Allows Landlord to Break Lease

If your tenant damages your rental property, you may have the right to break the lease agreement with them early. However, be sure that the type of damage inflicted is grounds for an early lease break.

You cannot terminate a lease agreement for just any type of property damage.

Tenants are not responsible for damage to your property that is a result of normal wear and tear.

However, whether by accident or on purpose, any excessive damage, such as broken windows or flooded flooring due to negligence, is the responsibility of your tenant.

And, depending on the circumstances surrounding the damage, you might want to break the lease early with your tenant if the damage is serious enough.

 

3. To Sell the Property or Move-in

The Landlord Can Break the Lease to Sell or Move In

There are times when a landlord feels they need to sell their rental property, or move back into it and make it their primary residence.

But what if these feelings happen halfway through a tenant’s lease term? 

The only way you can break a lease early with your Catonsville tenant to sell your property or move back in, is to have this outlined in the lease agreement you both signed.

So long as your tenants agree to all of the lease provisions, and sign on the dotted line, you are legally able to enforce those provisions throughout the lease term.

This can apply to your wanting to sell the property mid-tenancy.

However, as mentioned before, it is important you know exactly what you are doing before initiating this process. The last thing you want to do is illegally break the lease term and reap the consequences of it.

 

Breaking the Lease the Legal Way

If you run into a situation where you want to initiate an early lease termination with your Catonsville tenant, make sure you have the help of your Maryland property management company so it is done properly.

Breaking a lease with your tenants is a process. And, it typically begins with proper notice of termination:

  • Pay Rent or Quit. For those times when your tenant refuses to pay rent on time, you can send them notice to pay rent within a certain period of time, (usually 3-5 days) or ask them to vacate the premises.
  • Cure or Quit. When your tenant is breaking a lease provision outlined in the lease agreement, and you want to break the lease early, you must first send them a notice with the option to cure the problem, or vacate the premises.
  • Unconditional Quit. This means there are no options for your tenant to pay up or fix the problem they are causing. Instead, they simply must vacate the premises within a certain period of time.

If you are a Catonsville landlord looking to break a lease early, chances are you will want to use an Unconditional Quit notice. That way, you can break the lease immediately, and move forward with finding new tenants to lease your rental.

In Maryland, the following amount of notice is required when delivering an Unconditional Quit notice to your tenants:

  • 14 days’ notice is required for tenants that breach the lease in a way that is dangerous to themselves, others, the landlord, or the property
  • 30 days’ notice is required for tenants that pay rent late 3 times in a 12-month period (though you must have won an eviction lawsuit for each instance of nonpayment)

 

As you can see, breaking the lease with your Catonsville tenants is possible, but there are things to consider before initiating the process.

If you own a rental property in the Catonsville region, and need help drafting a legally compliant lease agreement that addresses things such as early lease termination, both on the part of your tenants, and yourself, contact Bay Management Group today.

We can help you create a lease agreement that touches on all of the policies you want in place, help guide your tenants through the lease during the signing, and even offer tenant welcome packages to remind tenants of what they are responsible for while leasing your investment property.

When hiring Bay Management Group, you will know that your property is being well cared for, and that you have the legal backing to end a lease early, just in case.


5 Easy Ways to Childproof Your Maryland Rental Property

Easy Ways To Childproof Your Maryland Rental Property

With the growing rental market, property owners all over the country find that families are stepping away from buying property, and are looking to rent instead.

In fact, according to the New York Times, every year since 2004, 770,000 new rental houses have come onto the rental market.

While not every one of those rental homes goes on to be filled by families, the chances of a family renting your Maryland rental property is continuing to increase.

And, if you’re looking to keep vacancy rates low on your property, you’ll want to make your property more appealing to families.

What is a great way to do that?

If you’re looking to rent to families, it is a good idea to childproof your Maryland income property.

And, if you’re not sure how, you’re in luck. Today we are going to look at some of the most common ways you can adapt your rental property to make it safe for children.

 

Helpful Ways to Childproof Your Maryland Rental Property

 

1. Window Treatments

Don't Use Window Treatments That Hang Down In Your Maryland Rental Property

Many windows in rental properties have window treatments with long cords that hang down and are used to open and close the curtains or blinds. Unfortunately, the cords often lay close to the ground, or at least within reach of a small child.

Luckily, there are some simple ways of preventing a child from ever grabbing ahold of the cord, and endangering themselves:

  • Avoid using window treatments that require long cords
  • Install a small hook near each window with corded curtains or blinds, where adults can hang any excess that hangs down
  • Give your tenants the ok to change out the window treatments if they have small children, or plan to have visitors with children over
  • Provide curtain cord covers that clip together excess cordage and retract out of any child’s reach

These are some inexpensive ways you can proactively approach the issue of long window treatment cords in your rental property that tenants with small children will appreciate.

 

2. Falls

As one of the leading causes of injury amongst children at home, it is important to consider any heights you have in your Maryland property that may be deemed a safety hazard.

For example, if your property is a two-story home with a sliding glass door leading out to a balcony, consider doing the following:

  • Install pin locks near the top of the door to prevent tiny hands from sliding the door open unsupervised
  • Add thick fly screens to the sliding glass door entryway, because they can often withhold the weight of a child that falls through them
  • Make sure the balcony fencing is vertical to prevent a child from easily climbing up and falling over the edge
  • Ensure the balcony fencing does not have enough spacing between bars that a small child could slip through

In addition, mention to your tenants that they are free to install their own personal baby gates on the stairs inside the house to prevent falls.

 

3. Drowning

Install a Fence Around the Pool to Childproof Your Maryland Rental

If your rental property has a pool, there are many ways you can make accidental drownings a non-issue for tenants with children.

  • Pool Surroundings. Your investment property’s pool should have a fence with a locked door surrounding it to prevent children from trying to swim unattended. In addition, the fence should be tall enough so that small children cannot climb up and over it, and should not consist of gaps that children can easily slide through.
  • Pool Alarm. An interesting feature that may entice tenants with small children is a pool alarm. Designed to alert adults when the pool water is disturbed, this feature may make parents feel safer about having their child living in a home with a pool.
  • Pool Covers. Not only is covering your pool with a sturdy, hard covering going to ensure less damage from the weather and normal wear and tear, it may also help prevent children from accidentally falling in.

Having a pool as an amenity that tenants can enjoy is going to allow you to command much higher rent rates.

However, childproofing your pool is going to be even better for those that are looking for a safe place for their family to live, in addition to the fun a pool provides.

 

4. Outlets

One of the easiest ways you can childproof your Maryland rental property for tenants with small children is to provide outlet covers for all electrical outlets throughout your property.

It’s cheap to do, does not affect the overall aesthetics of your property, allows for regular use of all outlets, and saves your tenants the hassle of doing it themselves.

And, while it would be easy for your tenants to childproof your property’s outlets themselves, this kind of customer service is just what high-quality tenants are seeking.

This, in turn, can lead to a more satisfying rental experience, and possibly result in more lease renewals.

 

5. Get the Right Insurance

Get the Right Homeowners Insurance to Protect Children in Your Maryland Rental

Requiring your tenants to have renters insurance can significantly decrease the liability you have for bodily injuries suffered while on the premises of your property.

This will also help keep your homeowners insurance premiums lower, since payouts will typically come from the renters insurance in the case of an injury.

However, for those times that you are found to be responsible for the injury of a child (or anyone for that matter), it is wise to have enough insurance to cover your losses.

 

In the end, you are legally liable for providing your Maryland tenants a safe and habitable place to live. However, this does not mean you need to childproof every square inch of your property.

After all, you are not legally responsible for the well-being of your tenant’s child, beyond what your homeowners insurance requires.

That said, taking the time to provide extra precautions, and thus some childproofing strategies, throughout your rental property can have a positive effect on your potential tenant’s desire to lease from you.

If you want some help with childproofing and staging your Maryland rental property to appeal to a large tenant pool, families with small children included, enlist the help of Bay Management Group today. We know what prospective tenants are looking for when it comes to a safe rental property.

Plus, we can help with cost effective ways to appeal to families with children that will widen your tenant pool, garner you higher quality tenants that are more likely to renew, and who also appreciate the time and effort that went into your childproofing efforts.


Landlord’s Guide to Student Tenants in Towson, MD

Landlord's Guide to Renting to Student Tenants in Towson, Maryland

Baltimore County is home to some of the nation’s top universities − Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, Maryland Institute College of Art, and of course, University of Maryland Baltimore County.

And, those are just a few of the most popular.

 

To say that Towson is a thriving community is an understatement.

For those that own rental property in the Towson area, or even the surrounding Baltimore County region, leasing to student tenants offers plenty of benefits, some of which we will share with you today.

However, in addition to reaping the benefits of leasing your rental property to student tenants, it is important to get an idea of what student tenants are like, what they look for in a rental home, and the best ways to attract them to sign a lease with you.

That’s why today, we are going to share with you the ultimate landlord’s guide to leasing to student tenants in the Towson region.

 

The Benefits of Leasing to Student Tenants

Before we jump into how to attract student tenants to your Baltimore County rental property, it is crucial we look at some of the best reasons why you should consider leasing to tenants in the first place.

  • High Demand. In areas with plenty of high-quality schools to attend, the demand for rental homes by students is real and booming. In fact, it is estimated that upwards of 87% of students live off-campus.
  • Steady Income. Leasing to a student that will be attending university for a few years is a great way to secure a steady and reliable income.
  • Fewer Vacancies. As mentioned above, student tenants leasing your same rental each school year, and possibly staying throughout the summer, will result in lower turnover rates.
  • Easy Advertising. Advertising to the younger crowds today is easy thanks in large part to the internet, social media, and word-of-mouth.

 

As you can see, there are several reasons why leasing your Towson rental property to a student might be a good idea.

And, with the help of a highly qualified Baltimore County property manager, attracting student tenants, drafting appealing lease agreements, and encouraging lease renewals will not be a problem.

 

What Student Tenants Look for in Your Baltimore County Rental Property

What Student Tenants Look For In A Towson Rental Property

In the past, we have talked about what student tenants will likely look for in a rental property, as far as amenities are concerned.

To review, let’s take a look:

  • Wi-Fi. College students need access to a good solid Wi-Fi signal in order to keep up with both their schoolwork and social obligations.
  • Appliances. In-home washer and dryers are a luxury for most student tenants. Add other major appliances such as a dishwasher, microwave, or toaster oven, and your student tenants will be beyond excited to lease from you.
  • Prime Location. Being in close proximity to their school, shopping, dining, and entertainment hot spots are going to make your Towson rental very appealing.
  • Lots of room. Oftentimes student tenants bring with them all of their personal belongings when living away from home and attending college. And, if they are rooming with other students, they will need enough storage space in their room.
  • Security. Increased security measures are something all tenants, especially young tenants with worried parents, want in a rental property. Ensure the safety of your student tenant, and watch their parents help them renew many leases with you.

 

How to Attract Student Tenants to Your Rental

In addition to the above-mentioned amenities, take a look at some other things student tenants are sure to want when looking to lease your rental property; things you can use to attract them to your property and use to convince them to sign a lease with you.

 

Flexible Lease Terms

Student tenants need to have flexible lease terms so they don’t feel locked in, trapped, or unable to get out of a lease term, should their life take an unexpected turn.

Being flexible in the length of lease terms you offer, while giving plenty of renewal notice time, will help ease the mind of a tenant who is unsure about their first years away from home, as well as help keep turnover rates low.

Here are some ideas:

  • One-year lease
  • Six-month lease
  • Three-month lease
  • Month-to-month lease

 

Furnishings

Sometimes a student tenant has very little by way of furniture and other necessities for a home when they move out of their parent’s house for the first time.

And, while this is usually okay while living in the dorms, it is not going to get your tenant very far if they live in your property with zero furniture, kitchenware, or linens.

If you hire a Baltimore County property management company to lease your rental property, you can rest assured that they will screen all tenants thoroughly, ensuring only the highest quality tenants will be placed in your property. With this in mind, you should feel confident that should you choose to rent out your income property with furnishings, that your tenants will take good care of all of it, and doing so may attract tenants willing to pay more for the convenience of renting a furnished home.

 

Roommate Allowances

Allow Student Tenants to Have Roommates in Your Towson Rental

As mentioned earlier, many student tenants look to lease a property that has room enough for a roommate or two in order to keep costs down.

Allowing roommates into your rental property is not a bad idea, so long as you have a strict lease agreement in place outlining every last detail. Take a look at some important considerations:

  • Make roommates joint and several liable
  • Do not allow subleasing
  • Screen every roommate, including replacement roommates
  • Have every tenant sign the lease agreement
  • Don’t divide the security deposit
  • Insist on receiving one rent check each month
  • Encourage your tenants to sign a roommate agreement amongst themselves
  • Require renter’s insurance
  • Assign a tenant representative to communicate with you about anything property related

 

Allowing roommates can be a difficult thing to do as a Baltimore County property owner.

However, with an experienced property management team in place helping you with tenant screening, security deposit collections, routine inspections, and rent collection, you are sure to have a monthly rent check in your bank account each month, as well as an intact rental property at the end of the lease term.

 

If you have a Towson rental property, and are looking to attract student tenants to lease your investment property, get in touch with Bay Management Group today and see how we can help.

With experience in all regions of Baltimore County, including the ones swirling with potential student tenants, we can make sure your rental property is safe and sound, regardless of who is residing there.

There is a lot to reap from leasing your Baltimore County rental to student tenants.

Let the best management property company around aid you in your efforts, and maximize your investment property’s potential by catering to a large and often untapped tenant pool.


7 Ways to Ensure Your Potential Tenant’s References are Real

How to Ensure Your Tenant's References Are Real

Any responsible Baltimore City property owner knows the importance of tenant screening when it comes to placing tenants in their property.

You want to make sure the tenant you are considering has no criminal background, has verifiable income that can cover the monthly rent expenses, and has a good credit score.

Since most rental applications require prospective tenants to list personal and professional references, along with contact information regarding their employers and past landlords, it is equally important that you do not skip verifying these references during the screening process.

Though it shouldn’t come as any surprise, plenty of potential tenants fabricate their references in an attempt to secure a rental home.

And, while this may seem somewhat harmless, the truth is, tenant references have the potential to reveal some very helpful information about your tenant that the paperwork may not.

But how do you know if the references listed on an application are in fact real?

To help answer this question, we will look at some of the best ways you can ensure that your prospective tenant’s references are legitimate.

 

Verifying Your Baltimore City Tenant References

1. Interview the Tenant First

Interview Your Tenant First For Your Baltimore City Rental Property

One thing you might not think about when looking to verify a potential tenant’s references is to talk with the tenant first.

This initial conversation can be brief and should include questions such as:

  • Where are you currently employed?
  • What is your monthly gross income?
  • What might your boss or former employers say about you as an employee?
  • What are your monthly debt obligations?
  • What do you think your previous landlords would have to say about you?

Interviewing a tenant before calling their references will give you a heads up on anything that may seem amiss about the tenant.

It also lays a good foundation for comparison between what the tenant says, and what the references say.

You never know what a tenant’s reference is going to say. Having an idea beforehand what may be said will alert you to any discrepancies right away.

 

2. Explain the Consequences of Falsifying a Reference

Some prospective tenants are going to lie about their references, no matter what.

Unfortunately, that’s just part of being in the rental property business.

However, explaining that any falsifications discovered on a tenant application, references included, will lead to an automatic rejection of the application, may cause some tenants to think twice before lying.

Being clear upfront about the consequences of a dishonest tenant application may help to discourage tenants from putting any fake information on the application.

It also gives the tenant a look at how serious you are about leasing your property. It gives the impression that you stand firm, act as a professional, and will not tolerate problems of any kind.

 

3. Ask for Pay Stubs

Ask Your Tenant For Pay Stubs With Their Rental Application

Sometimes tenants do not have a good relationship with their employers and have someone else, such as a friend, act as their boss on the other end of the phone when a property owner calls in to verify an employer reference.

One great way to get around this, and better verify the tenant’s income in the process, is to ask for a few pay stubs, and possibly even employment verification documents.

With this information on hand, you can conduct your own research, and see if the reference listed is in fact a real person.

In addition, you can reach out to the employer’s HR department and ask to be put in direct contact with the tenant’s employer, rather than call the number listed on the reference sheet.

This will help diffuse any “fake boss” calls.

 

4. Always Call References

Always Call Your Tenant's References in Baltimore City

It is very easy to forge a written reference, either on paper or via email. In addition, you may not get a real feel for how a reference feels about a tenant when reading a prepared statement.

It is best to call all of your prospective tenant’s references and talk with them one-on-one.

This question-and-answer type of conversation may yield some red flags, or further confirm a potential tenant as a good fit for you.

In addition, speaking in person with someone will help solidify that your tenant’s references are real.

 

5. Be Specific in Your Questioning

However, just because you call a tenant’s references and speak to someone directly, does not mean they are a real reference.

Thus, when it comes to interviewing a tenant’s previous landlords, there are specific things you can start off with during the conversation to help verify you are speaking to a landlord, as opposed to a buddy pretending to be one.

RentSpree recommends prefacing the conversation with a statement that you are simply going to ask some generic questions first, to verify that they are an actual landlord.

RentSpree then goes on to say you should ask things like what type of license is needed to become a landlord in that particular region, and what type of inspections are required to lease property.

A real landlord will be able to answer these questions easily.

 

6. Ask for More References

There is nothing stopping you from asking a tenant’s reference for a secondary reference.

In fact, this tactic is very useful when verifying employer references. The more people you talk to about the potential tenant, the better insight you will gain into what type of person, and tenant, they are likely to be.

Start by thanking the reference for their time, and then kindly ask for the contact information of another person that works closely with the tenant.

If you are immediately given information, you can almost guarantee your tenant’s employer references are real.

 

7. Hire a Property Management Company

Hire Property Management Company For Your Baltimore City Rental

An experienced property manager will have had run-ins with tenant references of all kinds.

They are best suited to tell when someone is being dishonest, and when the true character of a potential tenant is being revealed.

There is no doubt that a skilled property management company will be able to handle tenant screening better than anyone else will, yourself included. Their job is to place high quality tenants in your rental property, so that you continue to employ them for their services.

Not taking tenant screening, specifically reference checks, seriously would do their business more harm than good.

That’s why relying on a quality property management team to screen your tenants for you is often your best bet for ensuring a tenant has given you real references.

 

In the end, verifying that your Baltimore City tenants have real references on their rental application can be tough.

It will often take some extra research on your end, and a little bit of gut instinct to decide whether a reference is telling the truth. Luckily, however, there are good ways of getting around some issues that tend to pop up with fake tenant references.

If you are in the Baltimore City area and own rental property that needs a tenant, contact Bay Management Group today and see how we can help you with your tenant screening and placement needs.

Not only do we have a thorough tenant screening process in place that includes contacting all potential tenant references, we also have a 12-month tenant warranty in place that promises to re-lease your property for free, should your tenant be evicted within the first year of leasing your property.

So, contact us today and take advantage of this great warranty, among many other things.


What Fees to Expect When Financing a Rental

What Fees To Expect When Financing a Rental Property in Montgomery County

You may look at the price of a potential Gaithersburg investment property, and think you’ve got a fairly good deal.

However, do not be fooled – more lies beneath the surface.

Besides the price tag of a rental property, there are numerous miscellaneous fees you can expect to pay when financing a rental.

But do you know what those fees are?

If you are looking to invest in a rental property in the Montgomery County area, and are curious about what fees to expect while financing that property, keep reading.

Today we are going to give you the lowdown on what you can anticipate paying while financing a Gaithersburg rental property, so that you don’t walk away more empty-handed than you expected to after this major purchase.

 

10 Common Fees to Expect While Financing a Rental Property

 

1. Private Mortgage Insurance

If you put a small down payment on a rental property (typically less than 20% down), it is likely you will need to purchase what is called private mortgage insurance (PMI).

This policy will protect your lender from losing money, should you end up foreclosing on the property.

The problem with this added fee is that sometimes the private insurer providing you PMI requires you to pay an entire year’s worth before closing on the property you are purchasing.

This can add up quickly, and adds a sizeable amount to an already expensive purchase.

 

2. Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance Is a Fee To Expect In Your Montgomery County Rental Property

Another common type of insurance that is typically required while purchasing a rental property (and is recommended even if it’s not required), is homeowners insurance.

This policy will protect you should your tenants, or some unforeseen disaster, damage the structure of your property in any way.

While homeowners insurance can be paid monthly throughout the year, thus reducing your upfront costs at the time of financing your property, you will still need to have a policy in place before closing on the rental, which means some sort of payment will need to be made right away.

 

3. Title Insurance

Title insurance is a way to protect yourself in the event the seller of the property you are purchasing did not in fact own the property, yet sold it anyway.

This kind of insurance protects both you and your lender from any losses arising from ownership disputes.

 

4. Processing Fee

Another Common Fee is the Processing Fee With Your Montgomery County Rental Property

When you apply for a mortgage with a financing company, there are application fees that you are expected to pay.

These fees do not typically surpass $500, though it is important you keep track as you continue through the process.

 

5. Origination Fee

In addition to paying a processing fee, you will be responsible for paying an origination fee to the bank or lender you are financing your Gaithersburg property through.

This is your way of paying them for creating the loan you are being approved for.

 

6. Credit Report Fees

Include Credit Report Fees With Your Montgomery County Rental Property

Just like other major purchases people make that come with loan terms (e.g. cars, boats, and major appliances), your lender will want to run a thorough credit check on you before even thinking about loaning you money to finance a rental property.

This also includes any courier or postage fees. Do not expect the bank to pay for all of this for you.

 

7. Survey Fee

Drawing up a precise legal boundary of the property you are trying to purchase, as well as including other details related to the property’s land, must be done before the closing of an investment property, if an existing survey does not already exist.

 

8. Appraisal Fees

An appraisal consists of a professional appraiser evaluating the property you are purchasing, and estimating its market value.

You must have an acceptable appraisal before you can finance a rental property.

Why?

A good appraisal is in place so that lenders do not give away too much of their own money.

In short, lenders need to know that the property you are purchasing is worth more than what you are paying for it. This way, should housing prices drop, lenders can easily recover their money.

 

9. Inspection Fees

Not all lenders require a general inspection of the property you are about to finance.

However, with things such as mold and pests being such a costly problem to deal with later on, it is sometimes worth the money to have a thorough inspection performed at the rental you are about to finance.

The last thing you want to deal with is a landlord-tenant dispute over who is responsible for pests in a rental.

In addition, it is your legal responsibility in Maryland to ensure that your tenants have a safe and habitable home to live in, free of mold or lead paint.

 

10. Recording Fees

Recording fees are fees you will pay the county or city to officially record all of the real estate documents that are drafted during your investment property purchase.

In Montgomery County, you will pay $6.90 per thousand dollars financed, $10.00 per thousand dollars financed over $500,000, a 1.5% transfer tax (1.0% to the county, 0.5% to the state), and a property tax of $0.883 per hundred dollars assessed.

 

Financing a rental property in Montgomery County is no easy feat.

You do not simply look at the price tag of the property and pay that amount.

Unfortunately, many first-time buyers do not understand this process in full, and can become very surprised, and discouraged, during the closing process.

Do not let this happen to you.

If you are looking to invest in a Gaithersburg rental property, or perhaps have just invested, and are facing not only the reality that you now have a mortgage to pay, but also that you have no tenants in your property, contact Bay Management Group today.

We can place a tenant in your rental property within 30 days or less of being hired on to help you.

In addition, we charge a low 8% monthly management fee, which is amongst the lowest in both the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metro areas.

 

Self-managing a rental property is a tough gig after just going through the exhausting process of financing a new property.

Let us at Bay Management Group help you manage your property for a low monthly management fee, and place high quality, high paying tenants in your rental so you can start to recoup some of those fees you paid during the financing of your property.


5 Mistakes You Could Be Making With Your Lease Agreement

5-mistakes-you-could-make-with-lease-agreement

Becoming a successful investment property owner in Chevy Chase, MD takes a lot of real estate expertise.

You must be familiar with how to:

  • Finance and purchase rental properties
  • Place high quality tenants and collect timely rent payments
  • Maintain and repair your property whenever an issue arises
  • Keep your tenants satisfied so they will want to renew at the end of their lease term

However, one of the most important things to know and understand as a Montgomery County property owner is how to construct the perfect lease agreement.

Knowing how to protect the interests of you and your investment property via a signed lease agreement is crucial to avoiding legal problems in the future.

But do you know what common mistakes even the most experienced landlords make when drafting a lease agreement for their rental property?

If not, you are not alone.

Many property owners do not have the help of an experienced property manager to draft thorough lease agreements that touch upon everything that is important to the owners.

And, unfortunately, as a result, these mistakes cause harm to their rental property business.

Today we are going to examine some lesser-known mistakes you might be making with your lease agreement, in hopes that you can become the successful property owner you desire.

 

5 Mistakes You Are Making With Your Montgomery County Lease Agreements

So many things go into drafting into a solid lease agreement.

Whatever provisions you decide to add, be sure to always include the following basics:

  • Tenant names and personal information
  • Lease term start and end dates
  • Rent collection amount and procedures, including late-payment penalties
  • Security deposit and pet fee deposit amounts
  • Additional fines, fees, and charges your tenant is obligated to pay
  • Property access information
  • Proper use of the property and consequences for breaking the rules
  • Signatures of both parties

Failure to include any of the above is automatically considered a major lease agreement mistake. This is general information that all lease agreements should include, no matter what.

However, some things are more landlord-specific that can be considered a mistake as well, if not drafted correctly into your lease agreement.

Read on to find out if you are making any of these lease agreement mistakes so that you can fix them come the next time you place a tenant in your Chevy Chase rental property.

 

1. Using Outdated or Incorrect Forms

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For those that self-manage their Chevy Chase rentals, it is important you take special care when deciding which lease agreement forms to use in drafting a lease agreement for your rental property.

Found all over the internet, so-called “standard” lease agreement forms can be a dangerous thing to use without making sure they comply with your state’s laws.

Here are some of the problems you may encounter when using a cookie-cutter lease agreement form:

  • Lease provisions you want included may not be on the form you are using, and are thus unenforceable
  • Overly strict clauses may be included that place an undue burden on both you and your tenants
  • Incorrect rules and regulations may be written into the lease agreement unbeknownst to you or your tenants that can cause a dispute later on

If you are not using a reliable property management company that knows how to draft a legally compliant lease agreement highlighting all of the provisions you want, make sure the standard form you use is up-to-date and is compliant with federal, state, and local laws.

 

2. Not Including Insurance Requirements

Though not a legal requirement, Bay Management Group encourages all of our property owners to require their tenants to have renters insurance prior to moving into their rental property.

Here is a quick roundup of reasons why renters insurance is so important, and how not including this in your lease agreement can be a huge mistake:

  • It lessens your chances of losing a lawsuit if your tenant’s personal belongings are damaged, or a tenant or their guest is injured on your property
  • Renters insurance covers damages that may otherwise come out of your homeowners insurance (or worse, your own pocket)
  • It decreases the chances your tenant will leave mid-lease in the event of an emergency because everything including damages, temporary shelter, and food costs are covered
  • It helps you place higher quality tenants that are okay with paying the small monthly fee for added protection

 

3. Not Requiring a Cosigner

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Not requiring a tenant to have a cosigner, and still approving them to reside in your rental property, can be a major mistake.

When you are screening tenants to place in your Chevy Chase rental property, it is important you ensure the tenant has the following attributes:

  • A verifiable income that meets your monthly demand
  • Creditworthiness
  • Proof of employment
  • Quality references including employers, personal, and prior landlords
  • No criminal history
  • No prior evictions

In an ideal world, every tenant that is interested in leasing your property will make plenty of money, have verifiable references, employment, and previous renting history, and will not have a criminal background.

However, in the case that only some of this is true, building a required cosigner clause into your lease agreement will better protect your interests in the long run.

By allowing your tenant to have a cosigner, you will have better protection should your tenant not be able to pay rent, incur damages beyond normal wear and tear, or have roommates that do not fulfill their part of the lease obligations.

 

4. Failing to Outline Tenant Responsibilities

While residing in your Montgomery County rental home, your tenants are responsible for the general maintenance and upkeep of the property. After all, they will be residing in it for some time and should care for it as though it is their own home.

However, failing to outline in the signed lease agreement exactly what your tenants are responsible for is a mistake on your part.

Sure, you are obligated to provide a safe and habitable home for your tenants. But what about things such as:

  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Pest extermination
  • Simple maintenance such as light bulb replacement, air filter changes, and smoke alarm batteries
  • Landscaping
  • General cleanliness both inside and outside of the property

These are all things that many tenants will take care of without you asking.

However, in order to protect yourself from a dispute in the future, it is best to spell it out for your tenants in the lease agreement.

Additionally, consider adding some general maintenance tricks and tips into the tenant welcome package you should provide your tenants upon move-in.

 

5. Rules Regarding Roommates

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If you are going to allow roommates in your Montgomery County rental property, it is imperative you draft the lease agreement to include some of the following information:

  • Adult Tenant Screening. Require a full background check on any adult that will be residing in your property, regardless of whether they contribute to the rent each month or not.
  • Security Deposit Information. In addition to the general language that goes into a basic lease agreement concerning a security deposit, include additional information outlining that any unpaid rent or damages to the property, regardless of who is at fault, will be taken out of the security deposit at the end of the lease term.
  • Liability Clause. Failing to add a clause concerning joint and several liability is a big mistake on your part if you allow roommates in your property. You want to ensure that if one roommate disappears, the other will be held fully responsible for rent each month, as well as damages at the end of the lease term.
  • Breach of Lease Provision. Your tenants must be aware that the behavior of one roommate affects the entire group of people living in your property. Include in your lease agreement that you have the right to terminate the lease for all tenants residing in your property, even if only one person breaches the lease.

 

In the end, drafting a lease agreement is a large task. And, for those that are unaware of the complexity that comes with lease drafting, it is easy to make mistakes that carry far into the lease term and actually harm your rental property business, investment property, and bottom line.

If you own property in the Montgomery County area and need an experienced property management company to help you draft the perfect lease agreement for your rental property, contact Bay Management Group today.


6 Best Ways to Add Square Footage to Your Rental Property

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Anne Arundel County’s competitive market and wide appeal makes it a prime place to rent.

As the heartland of Maryland, Anne Arundel County offers tenants wonderful things, such as close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, educational and employment opportunities, and plenty of outside activities to enjoy with friends and family alike.

With this in mind, it is no wonder why those with Anne Arundel County rental properties are trying to appeal to the highest paying tenants.

Further, since the competition is so stiff, and people looking to lease in this area know that, your investment property is expected come with plenty of curb appeal and amenities.

So why not add a few square feet to your property and make it stand out amongst the crowd?

If you’re not sure how to expand your rental property upwards and outwards by way of square footage, check out our below suggestions.

By adding square footage to your rental, you are sure to attract a high paying, high quality tenant.

 

How to Add Square Footage to Your Anne Arundel County Rental Property

Before trying to add square footage to your Anne Arundel County rental property, it is best to gather some of your ideas and present them to a licensed and insured contractor that specializes in structural additions to a home.

To inspire those ideas, let’s look at some of the best ways you can add square footage to your rental property.

 

1. Build into the Backyard

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Adding square footage to your rental property via the backyard is a popular choice. Typically, property owners extend the kitchen out (who doesn’t want a bigger kitchen?) or expand upon the already existing family room.

This addition not only adds some serious room to your rental that can now accommodate more people, it leads itself right out into the backyard, which can be a haven of entertainment for Anne Arundel County families.

 

2. Add a Greenhouse

Sometimes referred to as a “jewel box,” a greenhouse is an excellent way to add square footage to your rental as well as an element of surprise; not many homes come with their very own greenhouse addition. And, if your rental property does, you will likely have some serious competition amongst interested tenants wanting in on that special amenity.

Here are some things to remember when thinking about adding a greenhouse to your rental property:

  • Ensure the greenhouse’s placement will provide proper sunlight
  • Consider the landscaping of the backyard – will you need to trim any large trees or brushes that block sunlight or to maximize the overall appeal of the greenhouse?
  • Make sure the foundation is secure and that proper drainage from the greenhouse can occur
  • Watch for material use – the best materials are not always the cheapest nor the most expensive, rather, they are the ones that will provide the right climate for your greenhouse
  • Be sure you aren’t in violation of any homeowners’ association rules, if applicable

If done right, a greenhouse can add a lot of appeal and bring in some seriously high rent.

 

3. Think Small

building-small-patio-add-square-footage-anne-arundel-rental-property

Adding square footage is not always about adding a lot more space to an existing structure.

Sometimes, adding a small patio to the backend of the master bedroom or a front porch to accommodate a simple bench is enough to make a statement without overwhelming your rental. You can still get creative and not break the bank – or your rental property’s structure – by adding small accent statements to the exterior.

 

4. Or…Think Big

On the other hand, adding something large and bold, such as a pavilion, can make a huge statement when it comes to your rental property. Try adding a small pool house in your backyard where summertime visitors can change, shower, or cool off.

You have the option of making your pavilion freestanding or attaching it to the main structure.

Though atypical, a pavilion can also be used as a place of residence. Pavilions are so great because they’re versatile – they can offer the shade of a gazebo, the storage room of a backyard shed, and the feel of a cabana, all at the same time.

 

5. Make Your Rental Tall

make-rental-tall-add-square-footage-anne-arundel-rental-property

If your Anne Arundel County rental property is on a small lot, and there is not a lot of room to expand outwards, one unique way to expand your rental’s square footage is to raise the ceiling (and thus, the roof).

Though this strategy will not work on all rental properties due to certain restrictions you must adhere to, it can work for some. A higher ceiling gives the feeling of more space and a bigger home.

 

6. Add Another Level

This is an ambitious addition, and not one to be taken lightly in terms of completion time, stress, or cost. However, if you own the type of rental property that will benefit from adding an entirely new level, you will definitely gain some more square footage points with prospective tenants.

If you do opt for this addition, follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure to use only qualified architects and remodelers
  • Understand that your entire property may need moving and that the roof will be removed
  • A solid foundation is a must
  • Strong walls are necessary as well
  • Upgrades to electrical, heating, and cooling systems may be required
  • Staircase location is crucial and will affect your first floor square footage space

 

Tenants are always looking for bigger and better. And if they have the expendable income, they are sure to pay premium rent rates to lease your large property.

If you live in the Anne Arundel County region and have a rental property that has expanded upwards, outwards, or both, contact Bay Management Group to help you advertise your property appropriately.

With targeted techniques, a solid understanding of the market, and the resources to connect with the best pool of tenants, Bay Management Group is the property management company you want to employ.

Contact us today and see how our expertise of the rental property business can get your unique property leased to a high quality (and high paying) tenant within thirty days.


How to Deal with Late Paying Tenants

how-deal-late-paying-tenants-prince-georges-county-rental-property-management

One of the biggest challenges property owners in Prince George’s County face is collecting rent from tenants.

Though ideally every tenant will pay rent in full and on time every month, all property owners know that this is not always realistic.  There will be a late paying tenant at one point or another; it just comes with being in the rental property business.

So, how do you deal with late paying tenants?

To learn how to handle non-paying tenants before it becomes an issue for you, keep reading.

We are going to reveal some of the most effective ways to handle tenants that do not pay their rent on time, because the truth is, this is very much a part of being a property owner.  Equipping yourself with ways to take care of late rent payments will ultimately lead to the best outcome for both you and your tenants.

 

Top 5 Ways to Handle Late Paying Prince George’s County Tenants

Late rent payments come with the territory of being a property owner.  And, while some property owners and their property management companies can be quite forgiving when it comes to late paying tenants, you do not want this to become a recurring issue.

Here are some of the best ways to handle late paying tenants, along with a few important considerations, when you are faced with the fact that your rent payment will not be deposited into your bank account on time.

 

1. Set Clear Expectations from the Start

set-clear-expectations-rent-due-dates-tenants-prince-georges-county-rental-property

Before diving into how to handle a late paying tenant, it is important to understand the proactive approach to preventing late payments in the first place.  Although not foolproof, setting clear expectations at the time of move-in is going to be one of the best ways to get your tenants to pay on time every month.

  • Set a clear payment date. In the signed lease agreement, you should have a designated rent payment due date clearly outlined for your tenant to see.  This often fits best in the same section that details how much the monthly rent rate is and what the acceptable forms of payment are.  If your tenant knows very clearly beforehand when rent is due, they may be less likely to miss the payment.
  • Dictate a “late payment” date. If you or your Prince George’s County property management company want to allow a grace period for “late” rent payments, include that in the signed lease agreement as well.  This way, your tenants know exactly how many days past the rent due date they have to pay without penalty.  It is also important to designate on what date a rent payment will be considered “missed.”
  • Set a “missed” payment penalty. Clearly define in the lease agreement what the penalty is for paying the rent after the due date and grace period.
  • Consider sending out reminder notices. Sometimes, life gets in the way and tenants forget to pay their rent; it can happen even to the best of them.  Consider sending out email, text, or phone call reminders to tenants when their rent due date is nearing so that it is on their mind.
  • Implement an online rent collection process. Collecting rent online, especially when automated, helps high quality tenants that are not trying to miss payments stay on track.  It also gives tenants a more convenient way to pay.

By outlining in the lease agreement all details regarding rent collection, you establish with your tenant what you expect from them each month, and when.  That means your tenant should have no excuses for late payments.

Additionally, by taking that extra step, as well as reminding your tenants that their rent is due and offering convenient online payment options, you take the “I forgot” excuse out of their list of reasons why they didn’t pay on time.

 

2. Act Quickly

If by chance, after all of the above-mentioned prevention strategies do not work, and a tenant pays their rent late (that is, past the grace period), act immediately.

You or your property manager should issue a notice of non-payment right away.  This notice will outline for the tenant how many days (generally three) the tenant has to pay the rent in full before you start the eviction process.  It can also include any applicable late charges for paying the rent so far past the due date.

Every state has its own rules and regulations regarding notices of non-payment, so make sure you and your property management company understand the law in your area.  And, don’t forget to document in the tenant’s file that you reached out to them and informed them of their late payment.

 

3. Start the Eviction Process

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Though this seems harsh, the only way to protect you, your investment property, and your rental property business is to stick to your guns when it comes to rent that is so late it surpasses the grace period and extension-with-penalty period.

This means starting the eviction process right away.

In Maryland, there is no law requiring a notice of non-payment be given to a tenant that has missed a rent payment.  This means that as soon as the payment is considered “missed,” you can file a lawsuit right away to start the eviction process.  That said, your tenant can still stop the eviction process if they pay the rent in full, along with any late penalties and court fees, up until the day of the trial or hearing for their eviction lawsuit.

 

4. Stay Consistent

Staying consistent with all of your Prince George’s County tenants when it comes to late rent payments does a few things:

  • Establishes you as a firm, but fair property owner
  • Avoids the possibility of favoritism or discrimination accusations
  • Streamlines the rent collection process at all points
  • Enables you to strongly defend your actions in court, should you go to trial or face a judge

Consistency is key to maintaining a successful rental property business.  After all, your bottom line depends on rent collection.  If you don’t get your money, you are hurting yourself.

 

5. Considerations to Think About

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Some property management companies have a zero tolerance policy for late payments, no matter the excuse.  And, while this may be the most effective way to handle the issue of late paying tenants, it is important to remember that each situation is different.

If you are a property owner who believes in assessing a scenario before immediately acting, consider the following when it comes to late paying tenants:

  • Is the tenant new or a long-term, good-standing tenant? If a new tenant is already making late rent payments, you might want to consider acting immediately, as suggested above.  After all, you have no way of knowing whether this is a one-time occurrence or a budding new reality.  However, if you are dealing with a tenant that has been leasing from you for some time, and this tenant has always paid on time, you may want to consider at least giving them a notice of non-payment.
  • What is the financial reasoning behind the late payment? In hearing your tenant’s excuse for a late rent payment, consider the financial reason for it prior to acting.  For example, a surprise car problem is not likely to affect later rent payments, whereas a lost job is.
  • What is the communication like with the tenant? If you are dealing with a tenant that is avoiding you and not paying their rent on time, it is time for you to act on this to prevent further issues.  This may include an aggressive reminder, a notice of non-payment, or even the filing of an eviction lawsuit.  However, if your tenant is openly communicating with you, is willing to work something out, and understands the severity of late rent payments, you may want to back off starting the eviction process right away.

Collecting rent from your tenants can be a difficult thing.  Not every tenant will pay in full and on time, which makes your job as a property owner that much tougher.

 

If you want to forgo the process of rent collection and the stresses that come with late paying tenants, contact Bay Management Group today.

We have streamlined the rent collection processes so that you get your money on time, every time.  And, when a rent payment comes late, Bay Management Group follows the lease agreement and penalizes accordingly, even if that means evicting a current tenant right away.

So contact us today and see how Bay Management Group can not only help you with the entire rent collection process, but everything else property related as well.


5 Things Landlords Should Know About Renting to Roommates

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As the average rental rates continue to rise nationwide and the percentage of people living with someone other than their spouse or partner continues to rise as well, it is important for property owners in Howard County to understand what it might mean to lease their rental property to roommates.

Despite the fact that your tenant pool significantly widens when you allow roommates to enter into a lease agreement together and reside in your rental property, this type of situation does come with its share of concerns.  In fact, agreeing to lease to roommates puts you, your property, and your income at a higher risk.

That’s why today we are going to discuss five crucial things landlords should know about renting to roommates.  Proactively protecting yourself can help you avoid messy situations and make for a smoother lease term.

 

Top Things to Know Before Leasing Your Howard County Rental to Roommates

If two people enter into a legal agreement to lease your Howard County rental property, they technically become co-tenants.  This means that each tenant has the same legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to residing in your property.  This also means, however, that one bad tenant can affect the entire tenancy agreement and potentially bring you down with it.

Below are some key things you should know before taking the plunge and allowing roommates to lease your rental property:

 

1. Tenant Screening and Lease Agreement Considerations

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Typically, when a family applies to lease your rental property, you require every tenant over the age of 18 to submit an application.  However, you do not always screen each tenant that will reside in your property.  For instance, if a tenant has adult children living with them that will not be responsible for the rent payment each month, you may forgo such a strict tenant screening on them.

However, if you are agreeing to lease your rental to roommates it is imperative you run thorough background checks on both parties, since both tenants will be agreeing to pay rent each month.  Make sure that each applicant has the right qualities you are looking for and does not exhibit any red flags that may harm your rental property business in the long run.

In addition, it is important that you employ the help of an experienced property management company when it comes to structuring a legally compliant roommate lease agreement.  Since each roommate will be legally responsible for residing in your property, you must set clear expectations from the beginning and ensure each roommate understands their role in the tenancy.

Joint and Severally Liability  

Adding this language to the lease agreement will ensure that each tenant is held equally, and fully, responsible for the terms and provisions outlined in the lease agreement as a single entity.  This way, should one tenant come up short on rent, damage property and leave, or breach the lease agreement in any other way, the other tenant can and will be held fully responsible if legally applicable.

 

2. Security Deposits and Joint Liability

When it comes to security deposits and roommates, all tenants are responsible for damage to the property at the end of the lease term regardless of who caused said damage.  In essence, you are combining both roommates’ portion of the security deposit, making it a “whole,” and using the correct amount of funds at the end of the lease term to pay for unpaid rent or damages incurred.

If one roommate leaves the property before the end of the lease term, you should not return his or her portion of the security deposit until another roommate signs a lease agreement with the remaining tenant. If a new roommate cannot be found, the departing roommate will receive his or her security deposit at the end of the lease term, as agreed to by all parties at the time of move-in, less any unpaid rent and repair costs.

 

3.  What Happens if One Roommate Refuses to Pay?

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Roommates living in your Howard County rental property can decide to split the monthly rent as they see fit so long as the full amount is paid to you by the due date.  Again, this is why adding the clause “joint and severally liable” into the signed lease agreement is so important for protecting yourself against non-payment by one of the roommates.

If one roommate refuses to pay his or her share of the monthly rent amount, the full amount will fall upon the remaining tenant, but only if the “joint and severally liable” provision is built into the lease agreement; this is a risk the roommates take when entering into a lease agreement together.  As long as everyone agrees to these terms and signs the contract, you are allowed to impose this provision on your tenant, regardless of how they feel about the situation.

 

4. Breach of Lease Terms by One Roommate

It is not uncommon to have one roommate violate the provisions in your lease agreement during a lease term.  And while thorough tenant screening is in place to help prevent this from happening, it does occur from time to time and it is good to know that you, as a property owner, have ways to handle these situations.

You are legally allowed to hold all tenants responsible for the actions of one, as well as terminate the tenancy of all roommates with appropriate notice if you see fit.  This means that you can legally evict all of your tenants even if only one seriously damages your rental property or violates the lease agreement

 

5. Recommend a Roommate Agreement

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One extra layer of protection you can afford yourself when allowing roommates to lease your Howard County rental home is to recommend they sign a roommate agreement at move-in time.  Though you will not be able to enforce any of the agreed upon terms, a roommate agreement can help your tenants sort out the details of their living arrangements on their own.

For instance, a roommate agreement outlines how each tenant will pay rent, who will be responsible for what amount, and how any disagreements or conflicts will be handled. This way, each roommate will have a full understanding of each other’s expectations about living together.

 

In the end, the decision to lease your investment property to roommates is a serious one.  And, with the increasing popularity of roommates looking to rent homes together continues, this is apt to be something most landlords face at one point or another.

If you are considering allowing roommates to enter into a single lease agreement and rent from you, but want some help managing the property and ensuring everything runs smoothly throughout the lease term, contact Bay Management Group.  We have knowledgeable staff on hand to draft legally compliant lease agreements that accommodate roommate situations as well as the ability to conduct routine inspections to ensure your property is being well cared for.

In addition, we have the experience to handle evictions, non-payment of rent, and all other property related issues.  Bay Management Group is here to help you with whatever you need in order to make your roommate rental experience a successful one.