How Renters Insurance Benefits Property Managers and Landlords

renters insurance

Insurance certainly has its place in the world. Hopefully, you wouldn’t drive your car without proper insurance, and if you’ve ever taken an impromptu trip to the emergency room, you know how valuable health insurance can be. As a property owner, doesn’t it only make sense to take measures to protect your investment just as you would your car or body? Some landlords overlook the importance of renters insurance, but if you have tenants living in the space you own, a solid insurance policy not only protects you and your property—it protects your tenants, as well.

With that said, let’s dive into the details of renters insurance in Baltimore, MD!

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

For obvious reasons, most people think renters insurance is something that’s meant to protect tenants. While that’s certainly true, it also protects property managers and landlords. Just like car insurance, the items that are protected by renters insurance vary from policy to policy. The following are some items that may be protected, along with the benefits they offer landlords and property managers:

Protection of Renters’ Contents

The most basic renters insurance policies protect tenants’ personal belongs from situations such as:

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Non-flood water damage

This is an essential protection because you don’t want your renters coming after you in court if a natural disaster or unforeseen accident occurs and damages or ruins their property. Many renters are under the impression that their landlords’ insurance policies automatically protect their belongings, but that’s typically not the case. The contents of the unit they’re renting belong to them, and as such, it’s their responsibility to ensure they’re covered, should something bad happen down the road.

Protection of Landlords’ Properties

Unfortunately, sometimes, bad tenants happen. Unsavory people can damage your property before you even know it’s happening. In these cases, renters insurance can help you recover the cost of the damages so you can repair your place and get another renter in the unit as soon as possible.

Medical & Financial Protection

If someone accidentally injures themselves in your tenant’s unit, his or her renters insurance policy helps protect the lessee from financial losses that may be associated with related wounds. This, in turn, is good for the landlord, too, as it helps ensure the existing tenant’s bank account isn’t stretched to the point that he or she won’t be able to pay the rent.

Structural Loss Protection

If something tragic, such as a fire, breaks out, it won’t just be your tenant’s belongings that are affected—the structure of your property will likely be damaged, as well. Accidents or negligence caused by your tenants can cost you a lot of money if your property isn’t properly protected. But renters insurance helps prevent unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses if you need to rebuild the structure.

How to Offer Renters Insurance to Tenants

It’s best to discuss renters insurance upfront, especially if it’s a requirement of a tenant’s lease. Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive, but renters who have never had this type of coverage may be afraid of the extra cost if you’re not prepared to explain it to them when you bring it up. To mitigate the possibility of sending qualified candidates running, have the base cost available when you begin the discussion. It’s also helpful to be prepared to answer potential tenants’ questions that might arise, such as:

  • Why the cost of rental insurance varies by type of dwelling (single-family versus apartment) and region.
  • Which additional riders may be beneficial above and beyond the basic coverage (and why).

If you’re able to tie the cost of renters insurance into your tenants’ monthly rental fees, the process is usually a lot less confusing for renters. Of course, you’ll want to be sure you discuss why the cost of rent is a little higher than the base rent. Besides making it easier for your tenants to have coverage without incurring an additional bill, this method enables you to ensure your tenants always have renters insurance. The last thing you want to do is find out your lessees’ renters insurance policies have lapsed after a devastating event occurs.

If you’re not tying the cost of renters insurance into the lease, it’s helpful to offer a list of reputable companies your tenants can call to get coverage on their own. This helps reduce the stress and anxiety of having yet another task on the to-do list when they’re already looking for a new place to live and getting ready to move. Even if your tenants will be seeking their own rental insurance, it’s a good idea to have an estimated cost ready, so they can see that they probably won’t be facing sticker shock when they call.

It’s important to present renters insurance as a protection for your tenants, rather than an obligation. They should see this as a gesture that shows you care about their well-being, safety, and security. Framing the conversation in this way helps reduce the idea that you’re merely trying to get them to pay more money each month.

If your current tenants don’t have renters insurance, you should approach the topic upon lease renewal. Again, it’s best to arm yourself with the positive benefits of insurance protection, as well as the estimated cost so your renters can be as informed as possible.

The Cost of Renters Insurance

Renters insurance is typically inexpensive, and it will be well worth it if a catastrophe occurs. There are plenty of factors that can contribute to variations in price, but many monthly premiums are around $15 a month, if not less. There are some situations that will typically cause rates to be higher or lower, including:

  • Local crime rates.
  • Regionally costly catastrophes.
  • The addition of other renters on the same policy.
  • Credit scores.
  • Discounts offered to bulk properties (this is a great item to explore if you’re the owner of multiple units or wish to benefit from the many advantages of hiring a property management company to take care of your investment on your behalf).
  • Bundling with other types of insurance, such as vehicle insurance.
  • The addition of extra riders (for example increased coverage limits, natural disasters not covered in the basic policy, pet damage, property or identity theft).

Renters insurance is essential protection for all parties involved. As a landlord or property manager, you want to be sure your investment is taken care of, should something unforeseen occur. You also want to make sure your tenants have security so they can recover from any damages that may happen in the future. When your lessees carry proper coverage, everyone’s risks are mitigated.

Are you unsure how to navigate conversations revolving around renters insurance? Our team at Bay Management Group is happy to help. Whether you have questions about the type of coverage you’re allowed to require your tenants to carry, or you need help ensuring your lease agreements are written in a way that best protects your investments, you can count on our team of expert property management professionals to guide the way. Touch base with us so we can talk about renters insurance policy best practices today!

Announcement: Bay Management Group is Expanding into Southern PA

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

We have exciting news!

Bay Management Group—the premier leader for property management services in Baltimore, Laurel, and Philadelphia—is expanding into southern Pennsylvania!

Property Management in York County

With just under a half-million residents, York County offers a small-town feel that’s filled with tons of history. Nestled near the Susquehanna River Valley, York County provides a peaceful respite for families who want to stay away from the busy hustle and bustle of the city.

Since there are so many beautiful, historic homes, we understand that property owners want to make sure their investments are well-kept and rented by the right tenants. Whether you own a single-family home, a building that’s been converted into multiple units, or a more modern complex that offers rental condo units, we’ll be here to help you.

Property Management in Lancaster County

Lancaster’s another quiet area we can’t wait to meet. With farm communities abound and an authentic experience that enables residents to enjoy slower lifestyles than those found in the cities, Lancaster County is going to be a fun market for us to get to know. There are a lot of historic brick buildings that deserve the love and attention our property management firm can offer. Whether you’re looking for efficient ways to market your space, great tenant-screening tools, or assistance with evictions, our team is ready to step in and get the ball rolling.

Property Management in Dauphin County

It’s easy to see why people love Dauphin County’s waterfront aesthetics. It’s a lively area that’s still remarkably homey and humble. It’s exactly the kind of place where people want to raise their families, and as your property management firm, it will be our job to help future tenants find the rental properties of their dreams.

With vineyards dotting the landscape in every direction and breweries being found alongside city streets, we also understand that this is an excellent place for young professionals who are looking for homes with easy access to fun activities. Our marketing team is taking this idea to task, ensuring we’re covering your bases and ready to tout all the amazing things Dauphin County has to offer.

Property Management in Cumberland County

With a proud heritage of beautiful homes, some of which date back centuries, we’re excited to explore this landscape on behalf of our landlord clients and the renters who are looking for apartments or single-family houses to call home. With nearly one-third of households in this area having children, we’ll be on the lookout for ways to help families find Cumberland County properties that are situated around entertaining areas. For the homes that don’t have children, we’ll have an assortment of beautiful properties, too.

Meet TJ Noye

Bay Management Group has welcomed TJ Noye as the expansion leader for the southern Pennsylvania area. TJ previously worked at Axis Group, where he:

  • Performed financial analysis for new real estate projects and business ventures
  • Managed and invested the company’s money into various deals
  • Developed budgets and forecasts for prospective deals
  • Managed multiple teams for the projects Axis Group was working on

As a major contributor to the Bay Management Group team, TJ will help facilitate our mission and vision to renters and landlords in the southern Pennsylvania region.

Meet Bay Management Group

Bay Management Group is proud to help landlords and tenants come together in a way that makes sense for optimal living. We offer a full suite of property management services, including tenant screening, background checks, marketing, maintenance, rent collection, eviction processing, and so much more. If you’re ready to enjoy positive ROI from your property investment with minimal effort, we invite you to learn how Bay Management Group can help you!

Tips for Any Potential Renter Looking to Lease an Apartment  

Potential Renters

Finding the right apartment is never easy. Sometimes, you get really lucky and happen upon a dream spot shortly after you’ve begun your search. But many times, it takes a lot of work to find a place that checks all (or, at least most) of your boxes. Once you’ve found a spot that resonates with your needs, there are a few things you should always pay attention to so there are no surprises along the way. The better the tenant you are, the better the response you’ll get from your landlord when you need his or her assistance.

If you’re ready to learn how to rent an apartment, let’s take a look at a few key essentials that every renter must know!

1. Read the Lease Before You Sign It

The lease is the most essential part of any tenant-landlord relationship (besides the roof and walls that come with the property!) There can be all kinds of clauses in the lease that might obligate you to pay a higher monthly fee than the rent you’re anticipating.

For example, the fine print might require you to pay a pro-rate share of certain things such as:

  • Water bills
  • Trash bills
  • Utilities
  • Internet usage
  • Lease renewal terms
  • Pet deposits and monthly rents
  • Parking spaces

More than likely, you’ll be required to pay a security deposit, as well as first and last month’s rent. Make sure you understand the financial implications of your lease before you sign, as the upfront fees can be a bit heftier than the actual monthly rent you’ll be paying after you get settled in.

If things like utilities, cable, and internet aren’t included in your lease, make sure you understand how much those monthly payments will be. The most important of those items is electricity. You can call your utility provider to request an estimate of the monthly payments other renters in that unit have made in previous years. If you need to have cable and internet in your home, make sure those monthly fees fit into your budget after your rent is paid. Be sure not to budget down to the bare minimum, as you’ll still need to eat and get from place to place.

It’s imperative to understand the terms of the lease before you sign, so you don’t find yourself underwater with bills you weren’t factoring into your budget after you’ve already moved in.

2. Put All Correspondence in Writing

People who don’t know how to rent an apartment often find themselves in precarious situations when they take landlords at their word. While your soon-to-be landlord may seem incredibly trustworthy, it’s in your best interest to get everything in writing.

By emailing your questions to the property management company, you’ll have a written record of the responses that you can file away in case you need them. Phone calls don’t afford you this luxury, and he-said-she-said situations are extremely difficult to contest in court. If a dispute ever arises, you can refer to the email exchanges you’ve accumulated throughout your tenancy.

Along the same lines, make sure you always have a receipt for your monthly payments, indicating the amount you paid and the date on which you made the payment. If you’re able to pay online, you should be able to reference those records fairly easily. But if you’re paying cash or by way of money order, it’s more difficult to track and access previous payments.

3. Always Ask Permission First

When you rent an apartment, you’re using the facilities of the person who owns the property. He or she may have rules that you’re not aware of—either because they weren’t specified in the lease or you didn’t quite understand what the applicable portion of the lease was telling you.

It’s okay to have questions, and it’s a far better idea to ask permission first than request forgiveness later when you’re in a rental situation.

Are you thinking about getting a pet? Do you want to alter the landscape by planting a garden or pulling out some bushes? If you’re not sure about something, always get permission first and (as mentioned above, be sure to get it in writing.

4. Keep Your Apartment in Good Shape

This is one of our top renter tips, but it’s also good for overall peace and well-being within your dwelling.

You need to keep your apartment in a sanitary condition. If you have a mess that attracts rodents and pests, the management company can make you pay for the extermination and cleaning of the property, which can be extremely costly. In very rare instances, if your apartment is found to have appalling living conditions, the property manager can terminate your lease prematurely.

In most cases, renters put down a security deposit, and they want that money back when they vacate the premises. By ensuring the apartment is kept in good shape, you’ll have a greater chance of receiving your full deposit back.

Here are some other tips to help you keep your place looking as top-shape as possible:

  • Call your property manager as soon as something malfunctions. If your refrigerator stops working or your stove is doing weird things, call your property manager immediately. Don’t let problems go without attention.
  • Don’t let people who aren’t on the lease live with you. In the end, you’ll be liable for any damage they do, and the simple fact of having someone else in your home could cause you to incur other penalties.
  • Clean your space regularly. You don’t have to clean your windows every day but vacuuming weekly, keeping dirty clothes off the floor, and the dishes washed will help keep unwanted pests from appearing on the property.

Bay Management Group works with landlords and renters across Baltimore, Laurel, and Philadelphia. Our goal is to ensure we find the best fit for all parties involved. If you’re searching for a rental home or apartment unit in these areas, we’d love to help! Take a look at our tenant FAQs, and feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to discuss your ideal rental situation!

Navigating Through the Eviction Process in Baltimore City

past due bills

When you begin searching for tenants for your rental property, it’s important to screen them thoroughly. If you skimp during this process, you could find yourself spending tens of thousands of dollars to compensate for your oversight. Unqualified tenants could cause significant damage to the property and may even stop paying rent altogether.

Today, let’s look at the step-by-step process for evicting a tenant in Baltimore City.

Step 1: Filing the Rent Notice

If a tenant hasn’t paid rent for a particular month, you’re allowed to file a notice in court any time after the fifth of that month. Be sure to adhere to the guidelines of your lease and give the tenant any applicable grace period that’s specified before you file. For example, if your lease says the tenant has a ten-day grace period after the first of the month in which to pay his or her rent, you’ll need to wait until this grace period has passed to file.

The shorter the grace period you write into your lease, the sooner you’ll be able to file a rent notice in court to get the eviction ball rolling.

What is a Rent Notice?

The rent notice sets up a scheduled hearing date for the landlord and tenant to meet in court before the legal professionals who deal with evictions and other tenant-landlord disputes. This hearing date is typically two to three weeks after the rent notice has been filed.

Step 2: The Court Hearing

The next step in the Baltimore City eviction process is the court hearing. At the court hearing, your job as the landlord is to try to obtain something known as the warrant of restitution.

What is a Warrant of Restitution?

The warrant of restitution allows the landlord to take back possession of the property. If you’re successful in winning your court hearing, the judge will allow you to obtain a warrant of restitution, which legally permits you to regain possession of your rental property.

Step 3: Waiting After You’re Granted the Warrant

The sheriff is required to be involved in the eviction process in Baltimore City. Once the judge awards the warrant of restitution, you’ll need to wait for seven to ten business days before you can call the sheriff’s office to schedule the eviction.

Why Do You Have to Wait?

The paperwork has to find its way from the courthouse to the sheriff’s department. This can take several days.

Step 4: Scheduling the Eviction with the Sheriff’s Office

When you call the sheriff’s office, they’ll give you a scheduled eviction date, which will typically be about 30 days or so out from the date on which you call.

What You Need to Know About Scheduling the Eviction

It’s not uncommon for paperwork to move rather slowly from the courthouse to the sheriff’s department. You might need to make several calls before the sheriff’s office schedules the eviction. This can be an incredibly time-consuming process, and it’s one of the reasons our clients rely on the full suite of property management services we offer at Bay Management Group. We take care of these phone calls for you.

Step 5: Dealing with the Details on the Day of the Eviction

On the date of your eviction, the sheriff will typically give you a few-hour timeframe in which he or she will be at the property for eviction. As the landlord, you or a designated appointee will need to be present at the property to meet the sheriff and evict the tenants.

What You Need to Know About Moving Day

Often, the renters won’t be present. If that’s the case, you should have movers on hand to remove their property from your home or apartment unit. Even if the tenants are present, they’ll likely leave behind a lot of stuff that will become your responsibility to haul away. The more items you can remove from the premises while the sheriff is on-site, the easier things will be in the long run.

The Baltimore City Eviction Process from Beginning to End

The entire eviction process can take anywhere from 60 to 75 days, if not longer—a period during which you won’t likely be receiving rent from your tenants. It’s essential to make sure you put the appropriate tenants into the property from the very beginning. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself going months and months without the rental income you expect from your investment.

Beyond this, any damage to the property that’s caused after you evict tenants will further eat into your bottom line. You may need to repaint, replace the carpet, repair holes in the walls, and take care of any other unexpected damage you find along the way.

Eliminating the Eviction Process with Proper Tenant Screening

The best way to avoid dealing with evictions is to put the right renters into your property in the first place. With proper screening, you’ll have insight into a tenant’s:

  • Employment history
  • Credit background
  • Prior rental reputation
  • Criminal history

The eviction process in Baltimore City, Maryland is known to be difficult for landlords. Given this is a tenant-friendly city, renters have a lot of rights; as a property owner, it’s essential to set yourself up for a successful tenant-landlord relationship from the very beginning. Bay Management Group is the property management firm Baltimore & Philidelphia landlords trust to keep their properties safe and protected in areas like York, Lancaster, Cumberland, Dauphin counties and nearby. We offer a full menu of services, including tenant screening, eviction, and everything in between. Learn more about our property management services today!

Why BMG is the Right Group to Manage Your Single-Family Rental in Baltimore


Managing a Baltimore rental property is seldom easy. There are different trials and tribulations associated with multi-dwelling units, as opposed to single-family rental houses. Investors who rent single-family homes to tenants may be less “in the know” about the legal ramifications that can result from non-compliance of rental laws. Beyond that, there are a lot of things that need to be kept up with on single-family homes that a lot of people don’t realize until big invoices start to fall in their laps.

That’s why landlords trust Bay Management Group with their Baltimore rental properties.

BMG is the premier choice for property managers across the greater Baltimore region. We know the laws, and we know how to make tenants and landlords happy. Here are the top five reasons people choose our Baltimore property management company when they want positive results:

1. A Great Reputation

Bay Management Group holds an outstanding reputation for property management in Baltimore.

We currently manage about 1,500 units, just in the city of Baltimore alone. Our familiarity with the city, its neighborhoods’ personalities, and the amenities available in each location enable us to locate tenants whose needs align with the available properties of our landlord clients. Not only that, but we’re skilled in managing more single-family units than any other property management company in Baltimore.

2. Brokers’ Licenses

Bay Management Group holds a broker’s license, and we advise any homeowner to choose a property management company that maintains an active broker’s license in the state of Maryland.

We are your one-stop-shop when it comes to caring for your investment. This means our team will market your property, negotiate headaches with contractors, and ensure your property is in move-in condition when it’s time to find a new tenant.

In 45 out of 50 states, anyone who manages someone else’s property is required to have a brokers’ license. Maryland does not mandate this requirement, but at Bay Management Group, we believe it’s an essential component to the overall success of our business and our clients. As such, we ensure that we keep our broker’s license current, bringing with it the value that only trusted, reputable brokers can deliver to their clients.In order to have a broker’s license you are required to have met the following:

  • Passed a criminal background check
  • Maintain an excellent credit score(remember you are holding tons of tenant and owner money)
  • Pass a state examination
  • Have had your salespersons license for 3 years prior to taking the brokers exam
  • Complete 60 hours of pre licensing coursework with an approved education provider

With several years’ experience under our belts, we’re proud to say we understand our clients and tenants, and we know the importance of having a brokers’ license.

3. Accessibility Anytime, Anywhere

It only makes sense that you should be able to see what’s going on with your property when you want to check in on things. It’s an essential element that gives you the transparency and insight you need into your investment.

Bay Management Group provides our clients with a cloud-based software system that offers owners access to their accounts and statements each month. You can easily log into your portal to review your account any time.

4. Competitive Rates

Bay Management Group is proud to offer fees that are extremely competitive in our industry. We charge 8% of the monthly rent, one month’s rent to lease a vacant unit, and $299 if an existing tenant renews. We believe economies-of-scale have enabled our company to be competitive about pricing while still providing outstanding customer service.

5. Easy Access to Maintenance

BMG is very competitive with our maintenance costs. We have multiple contractors who are trustworthy, enabling us to stand by the quality of work they provide while solidifying competitive pricing for our clients.

When a roof needs to be replaced—or an HVAC system gets installed—you can rest assured that our BMG team and our network of reliable vendors have already negotiated the best prices possible for your situation. BMG works with multiple contractors who are standing by and ready to give competitive quotes each time the need arises. Due to the number of units we service, we’re able to achieve super competitive pricing from our contractors, which, in turn, we pass on to our clients.

Bay Management Group was formed in 2010. We’ve continued to grow year after year because our customers recognize our commitment to outstanding service and top-of-the-line property management. We wouldn’t be so highly acclaimed if our clients and their tenants didn’t believe in the work we’re doing, which makes everyone’s life a little easier.

BMG is here to help you market your rental home to the right tenants. Through our thorough screening process, we’ll find you a selection of candidates that’ll perfectly fit the clauses within your lease. Reach out to our BMG group to learn more today!

When is the Best Time to Put Your Property on the Market to Rent

rent out propertyIf you own a rental property, you want to fill vacancies as soon as you can. After all, the faster you can get a tenant to sign a lease, the quicker you’re bringing in income and satisfying the bills that fulfill your bottom line.

There’s always a debate about the best time for people to put their properties on the rental market. Some people say spring; others say summer. While you don’t always have a say in the timeframe in which your properties become available to renters, there is a science related to making Baltimore rental properties attractive at the right times and to the right audiences.

Here’s a quick guideline that’ll help you rent out property to the people who are most likely to pay attention when you have vacancies:

1. Location: Near Colleges and Universities 
Before you consider renting out your house, take a look at the surrounding community. Is your home located near a college or university? If so, you’ll probably want to have your house on the market at least a couple of months before school starts. Students who are seeking off-campus housing tend to start looking for homes in July or August, if not sooner. They want to lock down their leases, so they’re in a good place when school starts.

Even though academic renters may not be moving into your rental property until the school year begins, they start looking for properties pretty early. Don’t let great renters slip by the wayside because you thought it was okay to wait until later.

2. Location: Not Near Colleges or Universities 
Spring and summer are the best time of year to rent out a house that is on or around university grounds. Bay Management Group advocates placing your property on the market between March and July (if possible). This is when young professionals and families are exploring their environments and looking for their next homes. They’re meandering through coffee shops, enjoying daily walks, and figuring out which neighborhoods would work best for their needs.

Spring and early summer offer prime months for potential tenants to take advantage of beautiful weather while they see what’s out there in the rental market. You don’t want to be left out in the rain because you didn’t list your property in time to catch the springtime attention.

3. Prolonging the Off-Season 
You don’t always have the luxury of choosing when a tenant moves into your space. Sometimes, off-months like November, December, or January lend themselves to vacancies you need to fill. In these cases, try to entice your tenants to stick around on month-to-month leases so you can be in good standing when the optimal renting time rolls back around. This won’t only benefit you; it will help your renter, too, as places are bound to become available as the snow starts melting.

If your tenants love your pad, place them on a year-to-year lease that expires between March and July. You can easily offer an incentive for a re-signing if your tenants have shown themselves to be great renters up to this point. Off-season re-signing can be remedied with 15-month leases, which typically fill the gaps of the winter months.

4. Lease Terms 
Bay Management Group advocates year-to-year leases whenever possible. By having your tenants agree to twelve-month-at-a-time contracts, you can rest easy, knowing you don’t have to constantly be on the lookout for 30-day notices before your tenants move out. These 12-month leases ensure the people who will be staying on your property commit, and if anything should go amiss while they’re there, you have legal guidance to remedy bad situations. Consider offering slight reductions in monthly rent to people who are willing to sign two-year leases (or longer). In the end, you’ll save money because you won’t need to change the carpet, paint the walls, or market the property as frequently as you would have, had your tenant only signed a single-year lease.

Bay Management Group rents single-family homes and units within multi-dwelling buildings throughout the year. If you’re able to get your renters on a schedule that begins or renews between March and July, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. But we know you don’t always have control over the months in which your vacancies become available. That’s why we’re here to help all year long. From placing advertisements to screening tenants and performing eviction procedures, Bay Management Group is your full-suite property management firm.

BMG knows how to market rental properties, no matter which season your vacancies become available. Thanks to our team of highly skilled property managers and real estate investment pros, you’ll be in good hands when you have square footage that needs to be filled. Touch base with our team to see how we can help you achieve optimal ROI on your investment property today!

Making the House Safer for Children When Renting

child safety gate

Is it legal to not rent to someone with a child?

Great question!

Are you aware that you could get in big trouble if you deny parents the right to rent your property? This is a very real statement, and it’s something that could cost you substantial fines and penalties if you disobey the laws that are in place to protect renters who have small children. Landlord discrimination against children is an offense that’s taken very seriously by courts in cities across the nation.

Property managers and landlords around the country—including Baltimore County—are forbidden from discriminating against tenants because they have children. Doing so would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act regarding “familial status.” With this in mind, if you have a new renter who has a child, it’s important to childproof your house to make it safe and accommodating for even your youngest tenants.

Here are a few helpful suggestions as you prepare your rental property for children:

1. Install Cabinet Locks

Install cabinet locks so children aren’t able to access toxic chemicals or hazardous materials.

As an adult, it can be pretty easy to forget which substances little hands shouldn’t get ahold of. If you’re unsure, put a lock on it. You can never have too many locks, but you can certainly have too few. Pay special attention to cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom, as these are the two rooms where hazardous substances are most likely to be kept. If the apartment or house has a laundry room, you’ll want to make sure you give this space attention, too. Bleach and laundry detergents and even small detergent pods can be a temptation for children, and if consumed, can cause a lot of harm very quickly.

2. Eliminate Cords from Blinds

If the blinds in your rental property have long cords, replace them with window coverings that don’t have cords or strings hanging down. Window-covering cords present choking hazards for children of all ages—even babies in cribs. An accidental entanglement can cause kids or babies to asphyxiate.

3. Put a Fence Around Your Pool

If there is a pool at your property, pool safety needs to be high on your list of priorities. Install a fence around the pool to prevent children from wandering into the area and falling into the water accidentally when no one is around to assist them from drowning.

4. Tighten Loose Railings

Loose railings present potential hazards for renters of all ages. It’s important to check any railings on both the interior and exterior of the house to identify any that are loose and won’t provide stable support to those who need it.

Make sure every railing is checked and tightened before anyone moves into the property—especially someone with small children.

5. Cover Electrical Outlets

Little fingers have a way of finding holes you wouldn’t even think about, which certainly includes electric sockets. Many parents prefer to keep electrical outlets covered so kids can’t explore the holes with their fingers or sharp objects. As a landlord and property manager, this is a very inexpensive way to prevent accidents and childproof the house.

6. Install Baby Gates

If your rental home has stairs, install gates at the top of the stairs so a child doesn’t accidentally fall down. Of course, baby gates aren’t just for tenants with babies; they’re a solid investment to help any tenant who will have younger family members living in your property.

Don’t overlook areas where there might only be two or three steps; A tumble down even a few stairs can cause devastating results.

If a child ends up getting hurt on a rental property, the owner, landlord, and property manager can all be held liable. As the owner and landlord of your investment property, you’ll want to take a few steps to make sure you’ve done everything you can to make your home safe for tenants who are moving in with children. If you’re not sure what parts of your home may be unsafe for your smallest tenants, take a day to see the world from their points of view. When you’re down on the ground at a child’s height, you’ll likely identify safety concerns you wouldn’t even have spotted from your typical vantage point.

Property Management for Your Property

Our team at Bay Management Group is serious about ensuring our clients abide by all applicable rental laws for the safety of all tenants. We’re well-versed in federal, state, and local statutes that govern our clients’ rental properties, enabling us to provide guidance and direction whenever it’s needed. If you’re searching for a property management company in Baltimore that knows how to protect you, you’ve come to the right place! Get your free Property Management Analysis from our team today!

Preventative Rental Property Maintenance Checklist

staining deck

It’s easy to let your rental or investment property go without small repairs or preventative maintenance from time to time. As a landlord, you’re a busy person, and if you have other tasks to tend to besides your rental property—which you almost assuredly do—time can easily slip away. You miss one annual checkup, and you think, “I’ll just do it next time.” Before you know it, you’ve added a dozen do-it-laters to your list, and things start to fall by the wayside.

Little things can add up quickly when it comes to preventative maintenance and repairs; putting off small items can cost you ten times more money in the long run if they’re not tended to in a timely manner.

To help you make the most of your investment, we’ve compiled this rental property maintenance checklist, so you don’t miss a thing:

1. Change Your HVAC Filters Quarterly

Your HVAC system accumulates a lot of dust, dirt, dander, and pollen every day. Its filters have a huge job, and if you’re not changing them regularly, your HVAC system will become inefficient, ultimately costing you mostly in energy costs—as well as repair costs to the unit down the road.

By changing your HVAC filters each quarter, you’re enabling your heating and ventilation system to function at the highest level possible, preserving its overall life. Studies have shown that by not changing your filter regularly, your system will last half as long as it would if it were properly maintained.

2. Turn Off Water to Outside Spigots Every Fall

Winter can settle in without much warning. We recommend turning the water off that leads to your outdoor spigots every fall. By doing this, you’ll prevent water from freezing within your pipes, which can lead to burst lines when temperatures fall below 32 degrees for extended periods of time—an expensive endeavor that can eat into your budget from many different aspects.

3. Clean Your Gutters Every Autumn

Your gutters will begin to accumulate dead leaves as soon as summer changes into fall. Gutters that are filled with debris prevent water from draining off the roof properly. This situation often leads to unexpected water damage because the water that’s gathered after precipitation falls needs to escape somewhere. If it’s unable to get down your gutters, it’ll likely seek the path of least resistance, which often forces it to find its way underneath shingles and into any open area available if it’s able to travel down the side of your house. The end result can be very costly water damage.

4. Remove Leaves from Your Yard Each Fall

A lot of homeowners don’t realize the importance of removing leaves from the lawn when the trees start to go bare. In fact, if you’re not diligent about cleaning up dead leaf debris, you might actually find yourself with dead grass, too. A buildup of organic matter on your lawn leads to something called thatch—a thick mat of material that starves your grass’s roots of oxygen and minerals. The end result could be a lawn that never gets a chance to grow when spring arrives.

The cost of redoing your landscaping will be considerably more than the time it takes to rake leaves regularly.

5. Stain Your Deck and Fence Every Now and Then

Your home’s wooden features are exposed to sunlight and weather elements all year long. If you have a deck or fencing, they’re particularly susceptible to premature damage if they’re not kept protected. Staining these items can preserve the life of the wood by three times the lifespan of untreated materials.

Even the best stain fades eventually, which is why it’s important to apply a fresh coat every few years to ensure your investment is protected as best as possible. A quality stain and sealer can help prevent the wood from chipping, peeling, and cracking as it swells and shrinks in hot and cold temperatures. The higher quality stain you choose for this task, the less frequently you’ll need to apply new stain. But, you should still check in with your wood features every so often to ensure they’re not experiencing excessive fading or damage that a new layer of protection wouldn’t fix.

6. Power Wash Your Porch and Siding Every Few Years

Power washing is another part of standard maintenance that doesn’t need to be done every year, but should be done on a regular basis. By performing this duty every few years, you’ll not only keep your porch and siding looking its best (thus, attracting more potential renters when it’s time to advertise your investment again), but it will also remove mold and mildew, which can cause damage beyond the exterior of your home if it continues to grow and find its way to the inside of your walls.

Power washing is also an important part of the process when it’s time to re-stain your fence and deck. It will remove the existing sealant, stain, dirt, and grime, giving you a great foundation for the longest-lasting results.

Beware that power washing isn’t always an activity for amateurs. It’s often best to hire professionals to take care of this job because a misapplication of the water pressure can wind up splintering and damaging your wood. What starts as a simple cleaning task can quickly turn into an expensive project.

Hire a Property Management Company

It’s very easy to overlook these regular maintenance items. At Bay Management Group, we’d venture to say 80% of homeowners are negligent in at least two of these categories. We strongly feel the value of your home will be optimized when you follow these six preventative maintenance guidelines.

At Bay Management Group, we understand the importance of rental property maintenance; that’s why we employ a team of trusted handymen, contractors, and rental maintenance professionals to ensure our clients’ investment properties are well-cared for all year long. If you’re ready to experience a better way to manage your rental property, we invite you to learn more about BMG’s property management services today!

The Pros and Cons: One-Month Free vs Lowering the Rent

lower rent vs free month

When it comes to attracting new tenants, there are many different things you can advertise to bring attention to your property. Of course, online ads are essential, and you need to have a rental property where people will actually want to live. But what do you do when you need to get potential renters over the hump, so they sign on the dotted line? Free money usually does the trick!

There’s been a constant debate between offering one month’s rent free versus reducing the rent on a monthly basis for the tenant throughout the term of the lease. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each approach. For simple math, we’ll assume you’re renting your space for $1,300 a month on a twelve-month lease.

Pros of Offering One-Month’s Rent Free:

  • Easy Marketing. It’s easy to attract people to your place when they don’t have to pay for the first month’s rent. This tactic works particularly well if you need to fill vacancies quickly, especially if you have multiple apartments that need to be rented. Switching apartments can be quite costly, and many people could use the option of a first month free to make for a better transition while they wait to get their deposits back from their prior apartment. A one-month concession can make this process much easier for prospective tenants.
  • Increased Renewal Rates. When the lease is up, your tenants’ renewal increases will be based on the monthly amount they paid for rent. The one-month concession doesn’t factor into the equation, so you can still charge an increased renewal price that’s appropriate in relation to the monthly rent. Using our example rental payments, you could calculate an annual increase on the $1,300 monthly rent, even though the renter didn’t pay one of those months.
  • Availability of More Income Each Month. If you’ve ever worried you might have to spike rent just to cover the bills, you’ll probably understand why the one-month free option appeals to some landlords. One-month-free concessions tend to keep occupancy high. Properties that don’t have vacancies typically have more leeway in terms of cash flow.

Cons of Offering One-Month’s Rent Free:

  • Renters’ Inability to Pay. If you have renters who are stretched to meet your monthly rent after the one-month free concession has ended, you may find yourself in the face of an eviction process. This situation also lends itself to costly court battles and the potential of damaged property. As a landlord, you have enough things to deal with; if you can put out fires before they even begin, that’s always a good, proactive approach. It’s important to thoroughly screen renters to ensure they have the funds to pay rent when the contractual charges settle in.
  • Potential of Attracting Underqualified Candidates. If you’re attracting renters who are solely interested in your property because you’re offering a free month’s rent, that could be a red flag for future problems. Of course, that’s certainly not always the case, but it’s definitely a possibility to be aware of.
  • A Month of Missing Income. This is the most obvious con. When you offer a month of free rent, you’re immediately leaving that income off the books for an entire thirty-day cycle. If you’re in a pinch for cash right now, that free month might be the make or break moment for your bank account.

Lowering Monthly Rent

Now let’s use the same $1,300-per month example. If you shave off $100 per month for the length of the lease, your tenants will pay $1,200 a month. Some property owners believe it makes more sense to lower the rent versus offering a single month free. At Bay Management Group, we agree. By lowering the monthly rent, you’ll expand your pool of potential tenants because most renters tend to search within a specified price range. You’re effectively moving into a different pricing category for potential tenants; thus, you’ll get more candidates inquiring about the property.

Pros of Lowering Monthly Rent

  • Attracting a Higher Pool of Potential Tenants. The higher your monthly rent is, the smaller the pool of potential renters will be. By lowering your monthly rent, you’ll increase visibility to your property. This is an important marketing tool that’ll take care of most of the work itself, simply by making you more searchable by a greater number of people.
  • Filling Vacancies Quickly. The longer your property stands vacant, the more money you’re losing. Each day takes a hit on your wallet, and the more expensive your property is to rent, the longer it’s likely to exist without potential tenants. Sure, you could get lucky if you have a pricey place on the market because there are always people looking for rental properties. But it’s much easier to cast a wide net when your monthly rent is lower. By filling vacancies quickly, you ensure a steadier revenue stream.

Cons of Lowering Monthly Rent

  • Decreased Revenue Each Month. Obviously, the lower you make your monthly rent, the less income you’ll have each month. It’s important to do the math and make sure you’re presenting realistic numbers that still ensure you’re covering all of your bases, so you don’t find yourself in crisis mode a few months down the road.
  • Difficulty Increasing Rent with Renewals. When your tenants’ leases are up, you’ll have a hard time bringing your property back to market rates if you decrease the monthly rent too much. A stark increase will likely lead to turnover, which can be costly in and of itself. That will require repairs and renovations, advertising costs, screening potential new renters, and dealing with new lease agreements.

Incentives really are a personal preference. Whether you choose to offer a free month’s rent, or you decide to lower the rent across the entire term of the lease, there are pros and cons to each option. At Bay Management Group, we have had far greater success by lowering the rent. We feel that if an owner gives us the option to either (a) offer one-month free at $1,300 or (b) lower the rent by $100 per month, we would choose to lower the rent by $100 all day long. In our experience, the property will lease much faster with the lower rent and attract higher-quality tenants.

Are you feeling stuck, trying to decide if you should reduce rent or offer one-month free rent? Don’t deal with this decision alone! Bay Management Group is Baltimore’s go-to property management company landlords look to when they need help with these types of obstacles. Reach out to our team to learn how we can help you with this situation and much, much more!

Strategies for Being a Professional and Good Landlord

professional landlord baltimore, md

Being a landlord in Baltimore isn’t easy if you don’t have professional guidance. There are a lot of rules and laws to follow, and even if you’re a seasoned landlord, you can easily do something wrong if you don’t know about certain regulations or about laws that may have changed somewhere along the way. This is one reason it’s important to team up with a professional property management company when you own rental property. Most of the larger management companies in Baltimore only follow this set of processes and procedures when managing apartment buildings and single-family homes. But at Bay Management Group, we make sure to not only follow the rules and regulations, but go above and beyond to always make improvements at our clients’ properties.

Consistency is Key

If anyone has ever told you, “if I do that for you, I’d have to do that for everyone,” you’ll relate to this element. Consistency is key anytime you’re in the position of authority—that includes being a landlord. If you do something for one tenant, you have to do it that way for all tenants.

The following are some common pitfalls landlords encounter when they’re faced with the possibility of being inconsistent with the rules:

Waiving Late Fees

It can be tempting to waive a late fee because someone is facing financial hardship, but if you do so without giving other tenants the opportunities to waive their late fees, you could get into trouble with discrimination. Of course, if you let everybody waive late fees, you’re setting a bad example in a completely different way (and losing money while you’re at it).

Disregarding Background, Employment, and Credit Checks

If it’s within your policy to thoroughly screen every tenant, you need to make sure you run checks on everyone—even if one of your applicants is a friend. You’re setting yourself up for legal issues if someone feels you showed favoritism and you don’t have the background information to show why you made the decision to choose one applicant over another.

Waiving the Security Deposit

We get it; coming up with first and last months’ rent plus a security deposit can be a daunting task for many applicants. Someone may pull at your heartstrings and try to win you over with a story that seems fit for a security deposit waiver, but you can’t do it. You need to protect your investment property from any future damage that may occur. That security deposit may be the thing that keeps you in the black if the renter damages your space.

Allowing one tenant—or a small handful of renters—to bend the rules shows favoritism, which is never good for business. As a Baltimore landlord, the best thing you can do for your investment is to be consistent.

Bending Your Pet Policy

If your pet policy says no one can have pets, that means no one can have pets (properly registered service pets excluded, of course). If you only allow cats, none of your renters should have a dog. If you only allow one dog, you’re asking for trouble if one of your other tenants knows you let someone have two.

Your pet policy is important. Bending the rules on this can cause trouble down the road.

Putting off Repairs

Maybe you have a tenant who has a bad attitude. Those people are never fun to work with, but as their landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure he or she has proper living conditions. If the toilet isn’t working, or the lock on the front door has jammed, you don’t have the luxury of avoiding that unpleasant person simply because they have a rotten demeanor. You have to push through the nastiness and deliver exceptional customer service that keeps your tenant safe and as happy as possible.

Repairs can be especially difficult if they happen in the middle of the night or if you’re located too far from the property to get there at a reasonable time. Even if you’re not putting your tenants’ needs off on purpose, it can look that way if you’re not able to respond to critical matters in a timely manner. To avoid 3 a.m. mishaps that you can’t get to, it’s best to have a professional property management team on your side. Bay Management Group offers 24/7 on-call professionals who can take care of any challenge, no matter the time or urgency of the situation.

Putting off essential repairs for one tenant, while simultaneously taking care of others’ needs, is a surefire way to find yourself in a sticky situation that may end in a trip to the courtroom.

Forgiving a Month’s Rent

Maybe your bank account is doing well, and you’ve got a tenant who simply can’t swing this month’s rent. It’s a heartbreaking story, but this people-oriented business is still that—a business. Forgiving someone’s rent will certainly show favoritism and set you up for lengthy battles with other tenants when they discover someone got to skate payment-free on an entire month’s rent.

Ignoring Tenants’ Complaints

There will always be that one person in the crowd who has to complain about everything, even when there’s nothing to complain about. When that person is your tenant, your job as a landlord can be even more tedious, but you have to treat each complaint as a valid problem until you know otherwise.

Some people just want to be heard, even if they don’t have much to say. By acknowledging each of your tenants’ complaints, and treating them with respect and professionalism, your renters will respect you in return.

Maintaining and Repairing Your Property

Good property management companies know it’s critically important to reinvest in your property to keep it running at its best. Maintenance might include minor things that get inspected regularly, or it could mean fixing unexpected problems that occur without warning. Ensuring your space is attractive to new tenants when the current ones leave is important, so it doesn’t go vacant for an extended period of time.

Keep Up with Maintenance

You never want to neglect maintenance issues (small or large) because, as time goes on, your property will become unappealing to qualified renters. This will force you to either lower your rents or have someone in the property who is unqualified. Alternatively, you can fix up the property after it’s gone into disrepair so you can attract better tenants. But the amount of money you’ll need to spend after things have become rundown will be far more excessive than it would have been, had you taken the steps to incrementally make repairs and upkeep as needed. By setting budgets for repairs, maintenance, and capital expenditures each year it can be helpful in making sure your property is getting the attention it needs.

Stay Up-to-Date with Law Changes

Keeping up with the constant law changes and making sure you’re treating each tenant equally can be difficult at times. Showing favoritism is easier than you might think, and you can do it without even realize it’s happening. That’s why more and more individual investors are turning to professional property management companies in Baltimore to help manage their rental properties.

Invest in Property Management

At Bay Management Group, our team understands the importance of routine maintenance, and we’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those mishaps that weren’t on the schedule. Whether it’s fixing a running toilet, making a drywall patch, installing new smoke detectors, changing HVAC filters, or dealing with any of the other miscellaneous task’s that properties require, we’ve got you covered. Bay Management Group provides property management Baltimore landlords trust. Get your free Property Management Analysis from BMG today!