Why Rental Services are a Must-Have in Baltimore

Maryland is known to be a fairly tenant-friendly state, and the City of Baltimore tends to lead the pack in terms of regulations that are built in favor of renters. This means, as a landlord, you have to be very clear about your requirements as a property manager, or you could find yourself footing a costly bill in the event you misunderstand, unwittingly omit, or outright ignore the obligations set forth by the city, county, and state. Before you hand the keys over to your next tenant, you need to thoroughly understand lead paint laws and rental inspection requirements, which can be incredibly time-consuming in this particular area of the country. Of course, you also need to have a well-written lease, inclusive of all the appropriate addendums. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember this is why successful landlords entrust their investments to professional rental management services in Baltimore.

Lead Paint Laws in Baltimore

Like most cities, particularly those with older homes, Baltimore has lead paint laws. If your property was built before 1978, the state requires you to provide the MDE Lead Paint Pamphlet, the HUD Lead-Based Paint Disclosure, and the EPA Lead-Based Paint Pamphlet to your renters when you give them their lease. In order to be able to legally rent your property in Baltimore, you must meet the standards required by Maryland’s lead paint laws. There are three classifications of lead paint laws in Baltimore: lead-free, limited lead-free, and risk-reduction certifications. If your property qualifies for the former two classifications, you’ll be exempt from the Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Act. In order to obtain these classifications, your property must be inspected by an accredited MDE inspector who has lead-paint tested the interior and exterior of your property to determine the amount of lead present.

Lead-Free Inspection Certificates

A lead-free inspection certificate confirms that all interior and exterior surfaces of your property have been verified to be free of the presence of lead-based paint in accordance with the MDE’s established criteria. To obtain this status, you’ll need to pay a one-time lead-processing fee of $10 per property, per unit.

Limited Lead-Free Inspection Certificates

Limited lead-free certificates indicate the interior surfaces of your property passed the inspector’s lead-free testing, but the exterior painted surfaces contain some level of lead paint.

The exterior paint of your property must be intact to obtain this certificate, which has a two-year expiration. After two years, you must recertify that your property’s exterior is free of chipping or flaking. Should your two-year limited lead-free certificate expire, you’ll need to obtain a new inspection certificate and pay the MDE an additional $10 per property per unit processing fee.

Risk-Reduction Certification

  • Full-Reduction Inspection. This type of inspection is typically performed in vacant units. Inspectors will verify that any chipping, peeling, or flaking of paint has been removed from the walls and the air is free of lead-contaminated dust. The cleaner and more well maintained your unit, the more likely you are to pass the dust test.

The costs of not adhering to Maryland’s lead paint laws can be substantial. Tynae and Tajah Jefferson, who lived in a home riddled with lead-based paint when they were children were awarded a $5 million dollar settlement after their then-landlord admitted he knew of lead problems but did not disclose them at the time he rented his property to their family. In 2014, a 17-year-old boy was awarded a $2 million judgment as a result of suffering permanent brain damage at the hands of his negligent property owner.

If you need assistance with lead inspections for your rental property, consult the State of Maryland’s Department of the Environment for a full list of state-accredited lead paint inspection contractors, or contact a professional Baltimore rental property management company. Only those persons accredited by the state are qualified to inspect your property for the contents of lead.

Rental Licenses

As of August 1, 2018, new rental laws went into effect in the City of Baltimore; landlords and property managers have until January 1, 2019 to become compliant with the new terms. In order to obtain your license by the first of January in the coming year, you’ll need to have your inspections completed between 8/1/2018 and 12/31/2018. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and penalties.

The new law requires landlords to obtain a certified inspection from a Baltimore City-licensed inspector in order to obtain the required rental license each property owner must possess in order to rent his or her space to a tenant. Inspectors will undertake a four-page inspection checklist to ensure your property is fit to be rented to tenants.

Baltimore County also requires certain licensing, which is necessary if your property contains one to six rental units. Should you rent your property without proper licensing, you’ll be subject to the “denial, suspension, revocation or non-renewal of the license or civil penalties of $25 per day for each day a violation occurs and $200 per day for each day a correction notice is not complied with, and there will be a $1,000 fine for not complying with the Rental Registration Law,” according to the Baltimore County Government’s website.

What Inspectors are Looking For

The City’s goal is the safety of its residents. This is why the governing bodies put so much emphasis on regulations and licensed inspectors. When your rental property is visited by an inspector, he or she will be looking for:

  • Properly placed smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Electrical systems that have no apparent issues of hazard
  • Functional plumbing with no apparent defects
  • Operational windows
  • Proper ventilation for all combustible appliances (furnace, heater, dryer, hot water heater)
  • Safe secondary means of escape, particularly in sleeping areas

Before you hire an inspector, be sure he or she is licensed by the State of Maryland. This will likely save you a lot of frustration in the long run. Registration fees range from $40 to $50, depending on whether you live in the property you own, as well as how many tenants you have living in your property. Should you choose to rent your property without the proper licensing, you’ll be subject to costly penalties that can quickly translate into exorbitant costs.

If you’re concerned about the day-to-day dealings regarding Maryland’s landlord-tenant laws, consider hiring a rental property management company based in Baltimore to take care of these tasks for you.

Baltimore Landlord Documentation

Being a landlord is just as much about having the proper documentation as it is owning the property. Before you rent out your place, you’ll need to have a number of documents properly prepared and ready to hand to your future tenant. The following list is a brief summary of some of the most important documents you’ll need:

The Lease

First and foremost, you need to have a properly composed lease that puts all landlord-tenant obligations and expectations on the table in black and white. It’s highly inadvisable to go with an online lease template because rental laws vary greatly between states, counties, and cities. Make sure you’ve covered your assets by employing a legal professional who understands rental laws, specifically as they relate to Baltimore.

Lease Addendums

Related to the point above, Baltimore requires certain addendums you’ll need to present to your future renter, such as the following:

  • Mold Addendum
  • Asbestos Addendum
  • Lead Addendum
  • Pest Control & Bedbug Addendum
  • Baltimore Flood Addendum
  • Radon Disclosure
  • EPA Radon Guide for Tenants
  • Military Addendum

The Leasing Process

Photos are your best friend. Time-stamped images of the before and after conditions of your property will help you substantiate any claims that may need to be made in court. Walk through the property with your tenant and take photos throughout the process. Recreate this journey when your tenant moves out, so you have proper before and after images. Provide your renters with move-in and move-out checklists, so your expectations are kept on a level playing field. This documentation is imperative because it will protect you if a tenant later accuses you of renting an unfit space. It can also help you achieve recourse if your property is left in a mess.

Why A Baltimore Property Management Firm is Right for You

Dealing with lead paint laws, rental inspection requirements, time-consuming eviction processes, and proper documentation is a full-time job. There’s a lot more that goes into property management than most first-time investors realize, and they can quickly find themselves underwater when things start going south. This is exactly why professional property management companies exist. Using their industry expertise and full-time staff of dedicated property pros, property management companies eliminate the stresses of being a landlord from their clients. Once you see how much work goes into managing a rental property in Baltimore, an eight to 10 percent fee pays for itself by giving you peace of mind.

If you don’t know every detail about every necessary addendum, or if you’re not prepared to spend countless hours tied up in the court system, we have a solution! Bring your property management needs to Bay Management Group and let us deal with the rest.

Bay Management Group is Baltimore’s premier property management company, helping property owners and landlords understand the laws while fostering proper landlord-tenant relationships. If you’re ready to embark on a better way of managing your property, you’re ready to reach out to Bay Management Group.


How to Find a Reputable Property Management Company in Baltimore, Maryland

Finding a reputable property management company

With increased technology and globalization, cities are becoming more and more transient. When a landlord decides to up and move to a new city, one of the big decisions they face is what they are going to do with their home. Homeowners typically have two choices; they can either sell the property, or rent it out. If the homeowner decides to rent their property out, they can either manage the property themselves, or hire a property management company. With new laws and regulations coming out almost yearly, many homeowners are turning to property management companies to help assist them in the process.

In this article, we are going to focus on how to find a REPUTABLE property management company in Baltimore, Maryland. To start, Maryland is one of only five states that does not require property management companies to have a broker’s license. This means anyone in the state of Maryland can decide they want to become a property manager, and start managing other people’s homes with no experience or background in the industry. Due to this lax regulation, there are a plethora of property management companies in Baltimore to choose from.

How to Choose a Property Management Company

So, how do you decide which company to choose with all the different options available? First and foremost, our suggestion would be to never choose a company that does not have a broker’s license. In order to obtain a broker’s license, an individual has to first get their real estate salesman’s license and pass a state exam. After holding the license for the minimum three-year requirement, they can then sit for the broker’s license, and if they pass, a background and credit check will be completed. So again, when interviewing property management companies, the first thing to make sure of is that the company has an active broker’s license. This will help rule out many “fly by night” type companies.

Next, it’s important to make sure “property management” is the company’s primary business. Many real estate brokerage companies whose primary business is buying and selling houses for their clients, do property management on the side for them as well. If a company’s primary business is not property management, this should be a red flag. Companies like Long and Foster, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, etc. are prime examples of doing property management on the side.

You will also want to make sure the company you choose has been in business for at least five years and has at least 500 units under management. Our analysis shows most property management companies have between 50-200 units under management. The problem with this is that many of these companies tend to be very understaffed, and lack the infrastructure needed to make sure your property is in compliance with all of the rules and regulations required when you rent it out. These companies also tend to lack good policies and procedures because they are fairly new to the business, and in property management, having a company that is organized, is paramount.

What is the Real Difference in Fees Between Property Management Companies?

So, what is the real difference in fees between property management companies? They can vary drastically. However, below are some that you will want to take note of:

Leasing fees- Almost every property management company will charge leasing fees. The amount for a leasing fee will vary from company to company. We have found that one month’s rent to lease a vacant unit is very standard in the industry. If a company is only charging, let’s say $500, to lease out your vacant property, you may want to inquire more about how the company is able to charge that fee. For example, at Bay Management Group, they charge one month’s rent to lease a vacant unit. Their leasing agents get paid between $750-$850 for each unit they lease, so there is no vested interest to lease high or low dollar properties. It also puts the leasing agent on a commission-based salary, so they are very motivated to lease each and every unit.

Management fees- All property management companies will charge a percentage of the rent collected each month to manage the property. They can range anywhere from 5-10%. Most good and reputable companies will not charge lower than $80-$100 per unit, per month. Again, there are sure to be companies that are willing to offer $50 per month to manage a house. However, with this type of fee structure it is very hard to have good quality service, and enough staff in place to make sure your property is getting the attention it needs.

Other fees- There are a myriad of other fees a property management company can charge from lease renewal fees, to start up fees, termination fees, yearly fees, etc.

Any individual that is considering hiring a property management company should think less about the yearly fees, and more about the following:

  • Which company is going to put good quality tenants in the property
  • Which will provide good customer service
  • Which will protect the value of the asset year over year

Why Bay Management Group?

Time and time again Bay Management Group will take over a property from another management company, and find that the previous group had put the wrong tenants in place. For example, they’ve found everything from HVAC filters that haven’t been changed in five years, and gutters that haven’t been cleaned, to minor maintenance issues that had manifested into much larger issues (leaking basement, leaking roof, etc.).

With a good property management company your home will be leased out quicker, a higher rent will be obtained each month, there will be higher lease renewal rates, better pricing with vendors for maintenance work, they will ensure the owner is compliant with all city and state regulations, and much more. Being penny wise and dollar foolish in picking a property management company can have devastating effects. A home is typically the most valuable asset an individual will own in their lifetime, so paying an extra $30 or $40 more per month should be a no brainer. Our advice is to go with a trusted and reputable group like Bay Management Group. You may pay a small amount more each year, but it will save you 10-fold in the long run.


How Much Do Property Managers Charge in Baltimore?

Being a landlord in Baltimore certainly has its benefits, but it’s not always easy. Fortunately, when you partner with the right property management company, they do the hard work for you. Finding the right property management can be tough. You need a firm with an awesome reputation, outstanding customer service, and the willingness to go above and beyond to make sure your rental property is well maintained and attracts the right tenants.

Naturally, a partnership like this comes with a price. So, how much do property managers charge in Baltimore? If you find the right firm, the fee is well worth the frustration you could experience by trying to navigate the waters of being a landlord all by yourself. If you don’t do your homework, though, you could find yourself paying far more than you really needed to. Let’s take a look!

How Much Do Property Management Companies Charge in Baltimore?

When you’re shopping for a property management firm, it’s important to know the fee structure can vary greatly. Beware that some firms will advertise incredibly low rates, but they’ll often slide hidden fees into the fine print of the paperwork. Generally speaking, fees typically range between 8% and 10% of the amount of money you collect each month in rent once a lease has been signed. At Bay Management Group (BMG), we proudly offer some of the most competitive property management rates in Baltimore with monthly management fees ranging between 5% and 8% of the collected rent.

While a place is vacant, a property manager will usually charge you a fee for the price of maintaining and marketing the property. One month’s rent should cover this cost. If the property management firm you’re considering hiring charges more than a month’s rent, be sure to investigate what the charges cover and obtain a detailed list that explains how the funds are allocated.

You should also expect a nominal charge for lease renewals.

What You Need to Know About Property Managers and Hidden Fees

Like most things in life, if you find a deal that looks too good to be true, it just might be. Reputable firms will put all of their costs on the table, enabling you to make the choice to hire them with optimal transparency, but some property manager fees are hidden out of plain sight. If the rate you’re being offered is a low, flat monthly cost (as opposed to a percentage of the rental income), chances are, there’s more than meets the eye. Here are some things to look for:

  • Supervisory Fees. Some companies offer insanely low monthly fees, only to charge you every time they have to perform routine maintenance. These costs can add up very quickly, often surpassing fees you’d pay to companies that include supervisory fees in their package rates.
  • Vacancy Fees. The cost of renting a vacant unit is one thing; marketing costs money. However, be advised that you may come across a property management company that continues to charge a monthly fee, even when your property is vacant.
  • Start-Up and Termination Fees. This is why it’s important to read the fine print before you sign. Start-up and termination fees can easily be hidden within the verbiage of an agreement. Know what you’re getting into before you commit to a company!

At BMG, we don’t believe in hidden fees. We offer the most competitive pricing in the industry without any added costs.

Bay Management Group is Baltimore’s preferred property management firm. With a competitive fee structure and a reputation for outstanding service, we’re proud to say that we’re a cut above the rest. If you’re ready to put your rental property into the hands of experienced property management professionals, reach out to our BMG team today!


Property Management 101 for New Landlords in Baltimore

Shaking Hands

Being a landlord can be quite exciting. You get to meet new people, troubleshoot problems, and be your own boss. Of course, there are also a lot of things you need to know before you jump into such an endeavor. If you’re considering becoming a landlord in Baltimore and you’re wondering how to manage a rental property, we’ve got some property management tips to help you get started.

Being a Landlord in Baltimore 101: The New Rental Licensing Law

If you plan to rent your home in Baltimore, your property must be licensed to operate as a rental no later than January 1, 2019. This is a new law that was passed in early 2018 and became effective August 1, 2018. It applies to all forms of rental properties, including single-family, two-family, and multi-dwelling units. The new rental property license is issued by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) as long as property owners:

  • Are registered with the DHCD.
  • Have received a property inspection from a Maryland State-licensed and Baltimore City-registered Home Inspector.

If you rent your property without obtaining proper inspection and registration, you could face serious penalties, including a $1,000 fine, suspension, revocation, or denial of your license.

Screening Your Tenants

Most major cities have tenant-screening laws; Baltimore is no different. Before you advertise your space online, you’ll want to have a plan in place to make sure you attract optimal candidates. The trick is understanding what you’re legally allowed to do and ask before you make a devastating screening mistake.
Here are a few pointers:

  • Charging Application Fees. Neither the state of Maryland nor the city of Baltimore limits the amount you can charge for application fees. In the city of Baltimore, all application fees are non-refundable. Keep in mind that security deposits and application fees are two different things, which means they have different laws governing them. Be sure to investigate both types of fees before collecting cash from your tenants.
  • Running Background Checks. You may wish to run background checks on your potential tenants, so you can learn more about them before you hand over the keys. Be advised that Baltimore landlords are required to obtain written consent from potential renters before a background check can be performed. Without written consent, a background check is illegal.
    Evicting Bad Tenants in Baltimore

Unfortunately, there may come a time when a tenant decides not to pay up or causes severe damage to your property, resulting in the need for eviction. Evicting someone isn’t necessarily easy, and it’s seldom fun, so it’s important to have all your ducks in a row before you deadbolt the door.

  • Composing Your Lease. As a landlord, your lease is one of the most important documents you’re going to possess. This is where you clearly spell out your expectations, requirements, and penalties for failure to meet those requirements. It is absolutely imperative to have a professional firm compose your lease to ensure it captures everything you’ll need to protect yourself. You must provide your tenants with copies of their leases at the time they sign them.
  • Absentee Ownership. If you won’t regularly be in the metropolitan Baltimore area, you must include the information of a managing agent on your lease.
  • Service Notice. You’ll need to file an official complaint, at which time the sheriff or constable will serve the summons to your tenant or attach it conspicuously to the property. The summons will instruct the tenant to appear at a hearing five court days after the complaint was filed.

Did you know you can be a landlord without being left to figure everything out for yourself? A great property management company will help you every step of the way. At Bay Management Group, we’ve got everything you need to ensure a successful rental situation. We invite you to learn more about our property management services today!


Renting vs Buying a House: The Millennial Debate

Girl with laptop

If you ask the older generations what was their best investment during the course of their life, a lot of them would say their home. The general premise is that over time, houses tend to appreciate in value, and you end up paying off the debt year over year, so down the road you have tons of equity in the property. In this blog, I am going to discuss some benefits of renting a house and argue why renting is a better option than home ownership for the current millennial generation.

In today’s world the average millennial is much less likely to work in the city they grew up in. Through globalization and technology, it has become easier and easier to find jobs in other cities, and thus packing up and testing out a new city has never been more effortless. If you purchase a home, statistics show you are much less likely to pack up and move to a different city vs if you are renting. There is no hard evidence to understand why this is the case, however one could hypothesize that the homeowner feels trapped with their home and unwilling/unable to pack up and leave. When the average homeowner purchases a home, they typically start underwater. That is simply due to the fact that the homeowner ties the closing costs into the mortgage. Also, if the homeowner were to sell the property they would have to pay a realtor to sell the property along with transfer/recordation taxes. The cost to sell your property for most homeowners is about 7.5% of the total cost of the house (6% to a realtor and 1.5% for transfer and recordation taxes). The most common mortgage in the United States is a 30-year fixed mortgage. If you get a 30-year fixed mortgage for your property, the first few years almost all of the mortgage payments to the bank each month are for interest, and very little of that mortgage payment is going to pay off the actual debt on your house. Here is a URL link to an amortization schedule for a 30-year fixed mortgage for a house that is purchased at $300,000. https://www.myamortizationchart.com/

You will notice that to have more than $40,000 of the house paid off, you will have to live there for over 7 years.

If you purchase a house you will most likely want to furnish the house with couches, chairs, paintings, beds, tables, TV’s, etc… Aside from furnishing the house, you will need to have money set aside for any repairs or maintenance items that come up such as a roof leak, new siding, HVAC system, hot water heater, windows, toilets, locks, yard maintenance, etc..

Over the last 10 years, the average length of time a homeowner lives in their house is for 8.4 years. The prior 10 years from 1998-2008 the average length of time a homeowner lived in their house was just over 6 years. From these statistics, I would venture to say that most homeowners did not make much money when they sold their house simply due to the length of time the homeowner lived in the house.

I have given a few negatives to homeownership, but let’s look at some of the positives from becoming a homeowner. First is the tax deduction you are able to take as a homeowner. You are able to deduct all of the interest on your mortgage payment, along with the property taxes against your income each year. Another benefit is that houses tend to appreciate in value over time. Home prices have appreciated nationally at an average rate between 3-5%, depending on the index used for the calculation. Real Estate tends to be an inflationary hedge, so its appreciation is somewhat tied to the inflation rate. There is a reasonable connection and correlation to the inflation rate and home price appreciation. The link shows the correlation between home price appreciation and inflation.

real estate trends

Another benefit of renting is many cities in today’s market have been overbuilt with apartments, so the apartment complexes are offering tremendous deals to fill up their buildings. I think now is one of the best times to be a renter. You have negotiating power when you walk into an apartment or rental and are looking for a good deal. Many of the larger institutional groups have given their communities the leeway to negotiate pricing on their apartments. As home prices continue to climb, renting is becoming the more affordable option.

My argument would be if you are not dead set on holding onto your house for a long period of time (at least 15 years) it doesn’t make sense to become a homeowner. Some millennials will say they have extra cash and purchasing a home would be a good investment. If that is the case, I would recommend putting your money into a low-cost index fund that charges something like 7-10 basis points per year that mirrors the S+P 500. Here is a link to the returns from the S+P 500 over the last few decades.

The average return over the last 30 years has been just shy of 10% year over year in the S+P 500. A home does not come close to these types of returns.


Baltimore Neighborhoods – Some of the Highest Rated

Picture of Baltimore Skyline
Baltimore, Maryland, USA downtown cityscape at dusk.

Federal Hill, is a beautiful historic neighborhood, overlooking the South Baltimore harbor that ranks high in the best places to live in the city (3rd). Federal Hill itself forms a community park and outer edge of the neighborhood.  The historic Federal Hill takes its name from the celebrated ending of the parade after the Constitution of the United States was signed and monuments still mark the hill and the park and tell the story of its many places in our nation’s history.

Amenities of the Federal Hill neighborhood are:
A historic Cross Street Market built in the 19th century currently serves as a social and commercial hub of the area with restaurants, and pop-up shops in a fun atmosphere.
The neighborhood is also donned with various taverns and bars and serves as a popular location for music lovers; Federal Hill also hosts multiple street fairs each year.
Shakespeare on the Hill summer performances
American Visionary Art Museum
Maryland Science Center
The Baltimore city Light Rail runs through this neighborhood, making transportation a snap.

With a population of this neighborhood about the size of a country town at 7,800, it’s no wonder it pulls in an A+ rating. This city also falls in 6th for millennials in Baltimore, making it hip, tech-savvy and up-and-coming if this is something you are looking.

This neighborhood is one of the few in which its dwellers have left reviews. The Baltimore community calling this neighborhood home cites the friendly people, good businesses, convenience and a hot bar scene as just some of the reasons they love living here.
A+ for Nightlife
B+ for Housing
A- for Raising a Family
B+ for Diversity

Check out Bay Management’s hottest rentals in this neighborhood.

3 BR townhome in Federal Hill – https://bit.ly/2mlDGCs
Restored 3 BR townhome in Historic Federal Hill – https://bit.ly/2NW3T7o

Another solid A rated neighborhood, good for Families and Nightlife is Locust Point. Locust Point has a beautiful downtown and river views. With a population of just over 3,000 and a median income of over  $119,000, this neighborhood will feel urban but be sitting right on the bay also a little nautical. This neighborhood ranks #2 on Baltimore’s best places to purchase a home and we can understand why with 70% of people in this neighborhood owning their own home and the value of a home hovering right around $280,000.

One of our favorite Amenities is the strong sense of community – but the neighborhood wouldn’t be complete without the famous Fort McHenry ( birthplace of our National Anthem), the home of the popular workout gear – Under Armour, or the former Proctor & Gamble Soap Factory. Locust Point also served as a port of entry for Baltimore’s Polish-American, Irish-American, and Italian-American immigrants.  The neighborhood is described as vibrant and industrial and hosts some of the cities oldest row houses as well as its newest high-tech offices.

It is also at the heart of the Charm City Circulator Banner making connecting to another party of the city easy. It is a neighborhood anyone would want to be a part. A graduate  school student left a 5-star review on this neighborhood stating that it is “one of the safest neighborhoods” in Baltimore, with most crimes focused around burglary or theft, “parking is easy, people are friendly, and it is within walking  distance of grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and gyms.”

A+ for Nightlife
A-  for Housing
A- for Raising a Family
B- for Diversity

Check out Bay Management’s hottest rentals in this neighborhood.

Gorgeous 2 BR/w Den – https://bit.ly/2LkITZk


While Mt. Vernon may not have made the list of best places to live in the city of Baltimore,  they do hit #3 on best neighborhoods for millennials in Baltimore, so we thought this up-and-coming neighborhood deserved a shoutout.  After all, it does include the entire UM Medical Center Midtown campus, the Washington Monument and the neighborhood itself has been deemed a National Historic Landmark District as it was once home to the cities wealthiest and most fashionable families.

The population in this neighborhood now surpasses the 7,500 mark, and nearly all occupants in this historic neighborhood are renters – likely because many of them are university students as the area plays host to the following University Institutions and cultural centers:
The Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University
Walters Art Museum
University of Baltimore
Maryland Historical Society
Contemporary Museum
Maryland Institute College of Art
Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Baltimore School for the Arts
Lyric Opera House
Center Stage
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Spotlighters Theater
Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute

Mt Vernon is also known as the gay area of Baltimore and caters to that specific population with gay bars, businesses and health care centers. So if this is something you are not comfortable with, you may want to keep that in mind.

The median home value in Mt. Vernon is $249, 108 and while the majority of crimes are theft, there are almost 4,000 a year – which number is oddly high when compared with the number of people living in the neighborhood. While most people give the area top rankings, the few lower rankings the community has are due to the age of the buildings and the maintenance required for upkeep.

The residents also cite the variety of food and professional opportunities as there is a diverse population that allows for a greater spread of authentic ideas.

A+ for Nightlife
D+ for Housing
B- for Raising a Family
A for Diversity


Check out Bay Management’s hottest rentals in this neighborhood.
Renovated Studio – https://bit.ly/2uBLfsA
2 Bed, 2 Bath Luxury Apartment – https://bit.ly/2NmUbKc
Multi-Story 2 Bed, 2 Bath  in Renovated Mt. Vernon Bldg – https://bit.ly/2NVftj9

For even more rentals in your Baltimore neighborhood visit:

https://baymgmtgroup.appfolio.com/listings#

 

 


The True Costs of Tenant Turnover

Property Management SavingsThe actual cost of tenant turnover can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the notice given, the time the property is left vacant, the property condition and the amount of items that need to be replaced, cleaned or repaired to get the property back to its “move in” condition.

Vacancy Costs

Perhaps the most significant expense will be actual costs that accrue while the property is vacant. When you receive notice that a tenant is leaving, you should immediately start the process of finding someone to fill the vacancy. There is never any certainty with how long the process will take, and when the current tenant leaves, so does your flow of income for the property.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your reserves will start to dwindle, the moment your current tenant leaves. The longer you let the property sit without a tenant, the more you lose, as you have to cover the mortgage yourself. Which is why we recommended above to start looking for a new tenant the moment you know you will be losing one.

This isn’t where the proverbial “buck” stops though, remember there may be cleaning costs, repair costs and even when you do find a new tenant; there will be paperwork and man hours before the tenant can move in and get your cash flow moving again.

Marketing Costs

Many of the larger online, rental specific, directory sites now charge to list your property with pictures or video – so depending on your chosen site listing fees can range from free to a few hundred dollars. Signs, flyers, and letters/emails to real estate agents are also reasonably inexpensive ways to get the word out about your property – but all either cost time or money to get done. Every day the property is vacant, you are missing out on money you could be making – so even if it does cost a little money, get the word out as quickly and as widespread as you can!

Showing Costs

The vast majority of potential tenants want to see the property in person before signing a contract. You will want to make sure the property looks as good as possible before scheduling showings, which takes time. Additionally, keep in mind, scheduling showings will take time out of your day and can often create additional travel expenses.

If you still have a tenant in the property when you start showing it, you can cut down on travel expenses significantly, especially if the current tenant is willing to help you do the showings. Proper and constant communication is key to making this happen. If this can be done, it will help reduce your vacancy time, cutting down on utility and mortgage cost you will be covering while the property is vacant.

Application Processing

To ensure your chosen tenant is not in trouble with previous landlords, the law, is in good financial standing, and has a job, you will want to do some digging.

Order a background check on all prospective tenants. Remember, each report costs money, and these costs will add up quickly, especially if you are screening multiple clients. This is why an application fee is always recommended to recoup these costs.

Cleaning Costs

Clean the property before the new tenant arrives. Whether you only need to dust a little, take care of some other minimal cleaning or the property requires an entire deep clean – the tenant will be more likely to keep it clean if this is how it is presented at move in.

Cleaning costs can rack up quickly, especially if the carpet needs to be cleaned or replaced. Of course, some cleaning costs can be recouped with the security deposit, but carpet replacement and general cleaning costs are things you will take on entirely in most cases.

Repair Costs

Appliance and fixture updates should be done while there is no tenant in the property, so during this downtime without a tenant is an excellent opportunity to do this.

Whether you are just replacing light bulbs or the property needs a complete overhaul of the kitchen and bathrooms, these costs should be budgeted for.

Stop the Hemorrhaging

One way to stop your bank account from hemorrhaging funds due to loss of rental income is to find a long-term tenant who is looking for someplace to live for a few years or more. The best way to ensure this happens is by being very responsive and communicative from the moment a new tenant arrives.

When selecting a tenant you will need to follow all fair housing rules – however, if red flags appear in a tenant application – take these flags seriously when making a final decision on whether to rent to the tenant or not.

Professional Property Management firms can always help with these tenant turnover situations – and other day-to-day property/tenant issues.


4 Ways to Avoid Tenant Problems from the Start

Rental Property For Rent Sign

 

“Intellectuals solve problems – geniuses avoid them.”

  • Albert Einstein

 

When dealing with tenants in long-term rental properties, the quote above offers some wise advice.  Your ability as a landlord to avoid potential problems before they start can save you vast amounts of trouble and money.  Here are four time-tested ways to set yourself up for a more profitable and enjoyable property management experience.

1 – Know the Law.

Depending on where your property is located can dictate everything from the required legal forms, the format of the lease agreement and the procedures and processes that are in place to deal with potential legal issues.  You will also need to make sure you are taking into consideration all the possible jurisdictions that your property may fall under including local, city, township, county and state.

It is always smart to get some form of professional guidance before running blindly into renting property to tenants. Options include working with an attorney who specializes in real estate law or with a professional property management agency that works with properties similar to what you are looking to rent regarding either type of property, location or price range, etc.

Either way, you are utilizing someone else’s experience and expertise so that you can hopefully avoid painful and typically expensive “on the job training.”  Know the law or find someone that does or you will likely learn it the hard, expensive way.

  1.  Have an Extensive Background Screening Process in Place.

Screening tenants is the foundation for creating rental income from investment properties.  You have to know as much as you can about the person or group you are expecting to pay rent each month.  You need to understand how they have paid their previous obligations, specifically their housing payments.  You need to know where the money is coming from that will fund those monthly rent checks. Then, even if they have managed to pay their previous bills on time and are gainfully employed, how have they treated their previous rental properties, neighbors and the community in general?

Most of these items can be found via some form of online credit checks and criminal background checks along with direct phone calls to employers, managers, previous landlords, and references, etc.  

Here is a quick checklist of the minimum background items you should be getting from prospective tenants.

  • Credit Check
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Employment Verification
  • Previous Landlord Verifications
  • Reference Checks

Still be cautious, even if you successfully chase down all of this information, you still have to be aware of the potential for more malicious identity theft or credit fraud.  You will want to plan on some additional checks that can help weed out those prospective tenants that are actively looking to deceive you. Having a property management firm make suggestions or turning to a local Real Estate Investment Group can help point you in the right direction.  In many cases, they have protocols in place to cross-reference data and background information to help find potential issues that only an experienced professional would know how to find.

With tenants, it is always better to be picky.  You are signing on to this person’s financial success for the term of your lease.  You don’t need to “hope” that they will “figure it out.” You are expecting this person or family to be able to navigate the challenges of everyday life and be able to regularly give you thousands of dollars and in many cases tens of thousands of dollars over the next 12 months.  Your tenant screening process should be thorough to the point of almost invasive. Enough random things happen that can adversely affect a person’s ability to pay bills. Your screening process should eliminate as many of the known challenges as possible.

  1.  Keep Exact Records.

If things do go wrong with a tenant, you need to make sure your record keeping is in line with a professional operation.  Specifics like:

  • When was the last rent check cashed?
  • When was the last letter or phone call made requesting rent?  
  • Have there been any calls related to repairs or issues with the home that the tenant may use against you as to why they aren’t paying rent etc.?  

When you approach an attorney or other professional, you will want this information recorded and cleanly organized.  Dates become of the utmost importance if you need to go to court to evict a tenant for non-payment or for damaging the property.  Lack of clear communication or expectations can slow this process dramatically. And, for every week that goes by, in most cases, it means no income to you from that property.

  1.  Be Nice but Firm and Clear.

For almost all landlords, the plan is to make a profit from your time, energy and investments.  Virtually any long time landlord will tell you that the best practice is to be polite but firm. If you have one rental unit or 50, you must demonstrate to the tenants that this is a business, and you have to run it as such.  Most tenants – if adequately screened (see number 2 of the list) will have alternative ways to keep rents on time, i.e., a secondary income earner; savings; family, etc. If you aren’t using a property management agency; then think of yourself as that company.  How would they treat a tenant? How would they communicate with that tenant? If they are running a successful operation, they are likely clear, firm and professional.

If things appear to be headed in the wrong direction with a tenant, this is when crystal clear communication is paramount.  You must ensure there is no ambiguity in your communication with tenants that are falling behind on rent. Communicate with exact dates, times, amounts and responsibilities and what results missing any of these items would create.  This is not about being a greedy landlord or hounding tenants for money, but more about articulating your position in the situation and what is expected due to the legal contract they signed. Most tenants will respect this, and if they are looking at their position logically, they will hopefully appreciate the clarity that you are bringing to the relationship.

The tenant/landlord relationship has been around for hundreds of years and for the most part still revolves around the same or similar pillars.  The tenant agrees to pay for the right to live in the property and typically further agrees to take responsible care of that property while they are the occupant.  Although that seems like a reasonably straightforward relationship, it doesn’t take long to find a landlord that can likely tell you some nightmare stories about how that seemingly simple relationship can find ways to go wrong.  Hopefully, these four suggestions will help you plan appropriately and avoid any unnecessary challenges in your property management adventure.


Who Pays For Rental Property Improvements? What You Need To Know

Buying Rental Property

As an owner of a residential rental property, you already know that you are responsible for paying the property taxes and maintenance costs, but what if your tenant requests upgrades and improvements?

What if they want a new refrigerator, a different style of carpet, or upgrades to the bathroom?

While landlords are always free to perform whatever upgrades they see fit to a rental unit, property improvements that are strictly cosmetic are not required under Maryland law. That means your tenants can’t demand a new set of stainless steel appliances or expect you to paint their living room in the latest trending colors – but they can ask.

In many cases, agreeing to pay for voluntary property improvements can make good financial sense for landlords, especially if the request is coming from a stable, long-term tenant. Providing your tenant with the upgrades they want can be a win-win situation – they’re likely to stay in their unit, and you won’t have to worry about filling a vacancy.

Temporary Improvement or Permanent Fixture?

Whether or not a property improvement is considered to be temporary or permanent can also be a source of conflict between landlords and tenants, especially in situations where a tenant has lived in a rental unit for an extended period of time.

For example, your tenant may decide to take it upon themselves to go ahead and install screens over the windows to keep insects outside during the summer months. Under Maryland law, those screens are considered to be “fixtures” that are now regarded as being an integral part of your property – that means your tenant must leave the screens in place when they move out.

If your tenant has voluntarily performed improvements to your rental property and they decide to ask you to reimburse them for their out-of-pocket expenses, in most cases you are under no obligation to pay your tenant.

Generally speaking, Maryland landlord and tenant law requires tenants to obtain written consent prior to incurring costs on behalf of the property owner, otherwise, the tenant is likely to lose any lawsuit aimed at recouping their costs.

When In Doubt, Create A Contract

It is always advisable to put any agreement regarding improvements, repairs, or modifications to your property with your tenant in writing, even if the issue at hand seems minor.

Clear documentation that outlines what work is to be done, who will complete the work, and most importantly, who is responsible for the costs can go a long way towards preventing conflict with your tenants.

For more information on navigating Maryland’s Landlord/Tenant Law, feel free to contact Bay Management Group today!


10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Property Manager

Property Management Group

Having a qualified and professional property manager to operate your residential and commercial structures is absolutely vital.

There’s a lot that goes into taking care of a rental property, from physically maintaining it, to filling it with renters, and much more. For this reason, you need to ensure that you’re hiring somebody worth their salt.

How do you do so? By asking questions and doing your research. Here are 10 questions to ask when hiring a property manager.

  1. How Long Have You Been Working in Real Estate?

When hiring a property manager, it’s vital that you understand how long he or she has been working in the field. The longer somebody has been in the field, the better chance that he or she is qualified for the job.

  1. What is Your Management History?

In addition to finding out how long a respective manager has been working in the field, you must also inquire about the nature of his or her work. Some property managers are experienced in commercial rentals, while others are experienced in residential rentals. Be sure to hire one that’s experienced in what you need.

  1. Do You Have the Appropriate Insurance?

It’s important for property managers to have a few different insurances. These insurances include general liability insurance, tenant discrimination insurance, and errors and omissions insurance.

  1. How Many Properties Do You Manage Currently?

A good way to gauge a manager’s quality is by finding out how many properties he or she manages. In most cases, someone who manages above 800 properties will have a higher chance of doing a great job.

  1. Are You a Member of Any Relevant Organizations?

Not only should you ensure that your potential property manager is registered with the Better Business Bureau, you should also ensure that he or she is registered with the National Association of Residential Property Managers. The more organizations the company is associated with the better.

  1. May I See a Sample of Your Lease?

Be sure to take a look at your prospective property manager’s lease before hiring. You want to ensure that it meets all legal codes and regulations.

  1. How Long Does it Take for You to Typically Fill a Rental Vacancy?

Another important question to ask is how long it takes for your potential property manager to typically fill a rental vacancy. Make sure that it’s in close contact with the average vacancy rate of your area.

  1. How Often Do Your Perform Inspections?

Inspecting rental properties on a regular basis ensures that they don’t fall victim to any costly deterioration. Make sure that your property manager inspects his or her properties often.

  1. What Do You Charge?

Understand exactly what the prospective manager charges, and what he or she charges for. Make sure to inquire about tacked on fees as well. Many companies have hidden fees in their contract that are not disclosed until they are already managing your property.

  1. What’s Your Renter Screening Process?

You want to ensure that your property manager is filling vacancies with responsible renters. This is done by performing adequate screening. Make sure that the manager runs thorough background checks on all potential renters. You should ask for a step by step process on how this is done.

Interested in Hiring a Property Manager?

If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because you’re interested in hiring a property manager. Fortunately, you’ve found a reputable one.

Working in the Baltimore and Washington, DC metropolitan areas, we here at Bay Management Group specialize in everything from single-family homes, to apartment buildings, and more.

Have questions? Contact us today!