Upgrades to Your Rental Property That Will Help Increase Rent

Rental Property Upgrades

Making your rental property attractive to tenants can be tricky. Not all potential buyers look for the same features and characteristics when viewing a potential home. For example, some may like hardwood floors while others may like tile. And some buyers may want an open concept while others like walls to designate where each room starts. But there are some factors that every buyer will in fact look for when searching for the right place to rent. To start, you need to present a clean, pristine rental that’s attractive and functional, so any potential tenant can easily visualize themselves in the space. The more beautiful your space, the more likely renters will stay for an extended period of time, which can lower your turnover costs and save you money in the long run.

When it comes time to upgrade your rental property in Baltimore, there are tons of options; some of them should be standard each time you’re ready to bring new renters in, while others are added amenities you may not have otherwise considered before we offered these tips and tricks. Installing new carpet, painting the walls, ensuring the shutters are in working order, landscaping the outside, and staining the deck are all part of normal turnover maintenance. However, there are a few rental property upgrades beyond these that will help increase the amount of money you’re able to get for your investment.

Here’s a look at the best upgrades for rental properties:

Making Life Easier for Your Renters: Adding a Washer and Dryer

If your rental property doesn’t have a washer and dryer, consider installing them. Don’t gaff at the initial expense. Sure, it can cost you $3,000 or $4,000 to purchase the equipment and run the appropriate lines so it’s installed right and functioning properly, but you’ll be able to charge another $65 to $75 a month simply because you offer your tenants the ability to do their laundry in the comfort of their own home. That means your return on investment will be about 20%.

Try and find an ROI even close to 20% in today’s market – go ahead, we challenge you! Newly constructed apartment buildings are being designed with washers and dryers built right into each unit. To stay competitive, you have to think about the things other landlords are offering tenants who might otherwise consider renting your property. For a lot of Millennials, not having a washer and dryer is a deal-breaker when they’re looking for places to rent.

Remember, you don’t have to have a huge space to install a washer and dryer. Having a hidden space like a closet with a stackable unit can do amazing things for your monthly income – and there are plenty of compact washer and dryer units out there for you to pick from. Also try to find ways to add a bit of storage nearby so your future tenants can see how easily accessible their laundry detergent, bleach, and other clean-clothes essentials will be when they move into your space.

From our analysis of the Baltimore rental market, we advise upgrading your rental property to include a washer and dryer.

Adding Space Below the Surface

Finishing the basement is something a lot of property owners and investors put on their to-do list, but it often doesn’t get done due to the time and money involved. Again, it’s not just about looking at the initial cost because that certainly can be steep. What you need to understand is how much more rent you can charge once the project is complete, which, in the end, will give your money back to you many times over.

Let’s say you’re able to finish your basement for $10,000. You then charge an extra $125 per month to the lucky tenants who now get to occupy this grand space. That means you’re getting a 15% return on your investment. You won’t be able to find this kind of return elsewhere.

Prospective renters often see finished basements as a third or fourth bedroom. They add tremendous value. As an added bonus, besides being able to charge higher rent while you’re using this as an investment property, you’ll be able to sell it for significantly more money when you’re ready to put it on the market.

At Bay Management Group, we’ve seen this situation play out over and over again. It’s much easier to rent out investment properties that have finished basements than those that don’t.

Making Life Easier for Your Renters: Adding a Dishwasher

While it’s true that dishwashers and garbage disposals were at one point luxuries to renters, those days have changed. People expect to see these items in the places they’re considering nowadays, and if the property doesn’t have them, they’ll likely move on.

Adding a dishwasher and garbage disposal are always at the top of the list when it comes to upgrading a rental property to maximize the amount a landlord can charge. You might be surprised to find that it’s actually quite simple to install a garbage disposal, and the process doesn’t cost a ton of money. It can also be somewhat inexpensive to add a dishwasher if you do a little research ahead of time. You might need to take out an extra kitchen cabinet to make the dishwasher fit, but the addition can make a world of difference to a family that enjoys taking advantage of homemade meals.

The Great Takeaway

At Bay Management Group, we’ve seen it all. From our experience, these three improvements will drastically help increase the rental price of your property. We believe most property management companies in Baltimore would also agree. With tenants demanding more and more out of their landlords, these few simple items can help keep your property in high demand without draining your wallet dry.

There’s never a wrong time to upgrade a vacant space. If you’re just now shopping around for an investment property, take these tips into consideration. Picture what each potential space will look like when you make these upgrades and factor in the cost while your Realtor takes you on property visits. Make sure you shop around so you find a place that makes sense for your budget, time constraints, and other investment conditions.

If you already own investment properties, make a list of the upgrades you’d like to do when your renters move out. If you’re already making money on an occupied property, this is a great time to shop around and talk to contractors, so you can determine how much your changes will cost you when your property becomes vacant. You never want to rush into any sort of renovation, no matter how small it may be, so take advantage of the time given to you by doing your research before you’re ready to go to build.

It’s also smart to network with other area landlords or ask your property management company if you can see some of the units they’re currently advertising. Getting a firsthand look at how other landlords have upgraded their spaces can spark ideas that you might not have previously thought of. Be sure to take pictures when something strikes your interest and take time to browse online for great deals you might miss if you wait too long.

Are you trying to find the right tenants to fill your rental property’s space and feel like you’ve hit a crossroads? Bay Management Group knows how to attract top renters all over Baltimore. Thanks to our team of 24/7 on-call property managers and a team of advertising experts that know how to drive attention to great rental properties, your search for assistance is over! Get your free Property Management Analysis today!

Everything a Renter Must Know

Baltimore Renter Checklist

It’s exciting to find a new apartment! You’ve searched high and low to find a spot that fits your personality and lifestyle needs. You’ve got the cash, envisioned the places where you’re going to put furniture in your new space, and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line. But wait! Before you sign your life away on your next lease, there are a few things you should know, especially if you’re a first-time renter.

When you’re a first-time apartment renter, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement, but don’t forget that there’s a lot of responsibility that comes alongside the signing of a lease agreement. It’s essential that you read everything in your lease, even if it seems dry and boring. Everything in that document is critically important, and there are a few details you’ll want to make sure you pay specific attention to.

To help you out, we decided to create a first-time renter checklist.

1. Understanding How Much You’ll Have to Pay

At first glance, most apartments seem to tell you exactly how much you’ll need to pay if you live there. You’ve budgeted XYZ dollars, and the apartment only costs XY dollars, so you’re saving Z. Yay, right?

Not so fast.

Have you asked about utilities? How much will your electric bill be? Do you have to pay extra if you have pets?

The list price of many apartments is only face value. You have to do a little investigating to see what you’ll really be paying.

  • Call the electric company. Ask what the average monthly electric bill has been for your address in the past three years. This will give you a good idea of the extra amount of money you’ll need to pay above and beyond your monthly rent to stay warm and cozy or cool and comfortable, depending on the season. You might find a spot that includes utilities in the price of your rent, but if that’s the case, it’s still best to know upfront so you’re not caught by surprise later on.
  • Ask about upfront costs. Rent is just the beginning. When you’re first signing onto a place, you’ll be faced with more expenses than your monthly payment. It’s best to have a couple months’ rent saved up to cover the upfront costs of renting, which may include first and last months’ rent, security deposits, application fees, and other miscellaneous costs. It’s important to understand the total cost of your application before signing day so you’re not caught off guard with unexpected expenditures.
  • Find out about other expenses. You’ll probably want internet access, so you should factor that cost into the price of your new rental. What about renter’s insurance? You’ll need that, too. As you figure out your budget, don’t forget that you have normal expenses like food, car insurance, and gas, which aren’t going to go away. You need to make sure your budget accommodates the stuff you’re already used to—like eating.

2. Looking Over the Lease

It’s imperative that you understand everything that’s in your lease. Don’t feel rushed or like you need to know what everything in your paperwork means when it’s set in front of you. Ask your landlord questions anytime you’re unsure about what something means. It’s their job to explain things to you if you’re not certain about the agreement. Be sure to ask your landlord to point out any charges you’ll be incurring above your normal rent. Your lease should clearly spell out additional expenses, such as:

  • Pet fees
  • Trash fees
  • Water bill fees
  • Amenity fees

By talking with your landlord about your lease from the beginning, you’ll have a better understanding of the fees (and potential fines) you’ll be facing after you move in. This is also a great opportunity to open discussions, so you fully understand what’s expected of you when your lease is finished, particularly if you won’t be renewing when the term is complete.

3. Getting Acquainted with the Lease-Break Fee

Stuff happens in life, and, sometimes, we find ourselves needing to move on from our current situations. Perhaps you find yourself with a roommate who’s not a good fit for your personality. Maybe you get a job across the country that requires relocation. Even if you don’t anticipate leaving your new apartment before the lease is up, it’s important to understand how much you’ll have to shell out in the event you do need to break your lease early.

Here are a few things to ask your landlord before you commit to your rental clause:

  • How much notice will I have to give you before the lease automatically renews? This is important because, even if you’re staying in the same city, you might choose to find a different apartment when your lease is up, for any number of reasons. If you don’t give notice within the timeframe specified on your lease, you could be subject to expensive penalties when your lease rolls over if you choose to go elsewhere. You might even have to pay a whole year’s rent if you intend to move out after the end of your initial term.
  • What happens if I get a job somewhere else? Some landlords will allow you to sub-lease your apartment, which means someone else takes over the term of your lease. Others will not. Some landlords may even allow you to break your lease if you can prove you’re doing so because of occupational requirements. This is an important distinction to understand upfront because you could wind up in an expensive situation if you choose to sublet your apartment outside of the boundaries of your lease agreement.

Even if you don’t plan to leave, know what your options are. A lot can change in a year or two, and you want to be armed with all available options, should something alter your current plans.

4. Finding New Reasons for Photos

Selfies in your new apartment are probably second nature in this day and age, but there’s a better reason to put that shutter to work. Make sure you take tons of pictures of any damage or distress to the property as soon as you move in. Your landlord will likely charge you for those damages if he or she doesn’t know they existed when you got there. Put that camera on your phone to use and document anything you might be charged for when you move out. Send those photos to your landlord as soon as you can and keep them in a time-stamped folder for your safe-keeping, in case you ever need them.

Here are a few examples of things you should look for:

  • Stains on the carpet
  • Marks or scratches on the floor
  • Marks on the wall
  • Damaged blinds

Many landlords will have you fill out a move-in report where you can outline these types of damages on official letterhead, but it’s important to be prepared if a checklist isn’t provided to you.

5. Knowing What the Lease Actually Means

First-time renters sometimes have buyers’ regret (or renters’ regret, as the case may be) because they didn’t truly understand the rules of the decisions they’ve made. You don’t want to sign up for something, only to find out too late it’s not what you bargained for. It’s absolutely imperative to read the entire lease and understand exactly what each section is telling you before you sign it. Otherwise, you could cost yourself thousands of dollars throughout the duration of your lease.

6. Finding Furniture That Fits

There are a few things many first-time renters don’t realize they need to put on their apartment-hunting checklists until they find out the hard way. Of course, you’ll need furniture, but how will you get it? Will the furniture you currently own fit into your space? Don’t just think about the area where it will ultimately reside (although, that’s certainly an important factor). You also need to take entryways, elevators, stairwells, and hallways into consideration. If you’re sofa’s too big for the move, your entire aesthetic could go bust very quickly.

It’s important to take measurements before moving day to ensure your furniture actually fits inside your apartment.

7. Asking About Move-In and Move-Out Policies

A lot of first-time renters don’t realize there are usually rules around move-in and move-out. You might only be permitted to move on certain days of the month or week, and the times are usually restricted to specific hours during the day. Make sure you know this information in advance, so you can properly plan when the moving truck should be there. Otherwise, you could incur penalties if you move outside of a permitted window, or you may find yourself sitting around for extended periods of time as you wait for the approved time period to roll around.

The same goes for move-outs. Make sure you’re all set up and ready to go when your move-out day arrives. Being unprepared in an apartment full of boxes is no fun, especially if you find yourself in a rushed situation.

8. Knowing About the Parking Situation

If you rely on public transportation to get around, you can skip this one, but if you drive a vehicle, it’s important to find out about the parking situation before you find yourself endlessly circling the block for a spot. A lot of people who have relied on their parents’ driveways find a rude awakening when they realize that luxury doesn’t exist everywhere. Will you have an assigned spot? If so, will you have to pay for it? If street parking is the only option, how difficult will it be to find a spot on a regular basis?

It’s also important to know what the street parking rules are so you avoid expensive parking and street sweeping tickets.

If you’re ready to sign your first least—whether you’ll be a first-time home renter or signing on the line for your first apartment—it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you make a commitment. Bay Management Group has everything you need to be sure you’re safe and secure as a first-time renter. If you have first-time renter questions, we’re here to help. If you’re looking for a place to rent, we’ve got you covered. Simply head to our website, browse our available rental properties, peruse our helpful FAQs, or contact us today.

What Are Tenants Looking for In a Rental Property in Baltimore

Couple in house

When looking for a rental property in Baltimore, prospective tenants have many decisions to make. Along with what the interior of the unit looks like and which amenities are available, people also want the exterior of the building to look nice, for common areas to be well-kept and welcoming, and many have a preference whether the property is professionally managed or not. In other words, landlords must go beyond hardwood flooring for a rental property and other rental property trends, and instead must give new tenants a look into the whole package.

What Do Tenants Want in their Units?

When it comes to rental property upgrades, kitchens and bathrooms are where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Nearly every tenant will appreciate a recently renovated space in these rooms, and many renters are looking for top-of-the-line finishes such as granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. Smart appliances and features such as smartphone integration are also making their way to the top of tenants’ wish lists. The good news about these upgraded appliances is that you’ll be able to keep tabs on maintenance and troubleshooting issues which can make some management tasks a bit easier.

When considering upgrades for your rental unit, budgeting for washers and dryers in each unit will help keep your vacancies down. Nearly all new construction is including these appliances in each unit rather than a community laundry space or no laundry room at all. Busy lifestyles and tight schedules mean trips to the laundromat or shuffling heavy baskets down to the basement are becoming a thing of the past.

Finish off the rest of the space by considering the best paint color for a rental property such as neutral grays, tans, and creams. Stay away from bold colors that can interfere with a tenant’s personal taste or worse, a stark white that can turn any rental unit into a cold, institutionalized space. Pay attention to places where you can add creative storage solutions, too—especially if your rental space is on the quaint size. Renters appreciate having a place to put all of their belongings that keep them out of plain view, and kitschy creativity can win you big points when you unveil hidden gems and unexpected storage spaces.

Your Property’s Exterior

Safety, security, and a clean building in good repair are what today’s tenants are looking for. Single-family homes do not need to have extensive landscaping with a hefty maintenance bill, but the lawn should be in good shape and plants, bushes, and other greenery should be regularly trimmed and maintained. Siding should be clean and free from major damage and the entire exterior should be free from chipped paint and other eyesores.

Multi-family properties should be in the same condition as single-family homes, but a little extra attention should also be directed to common areas. Dirty, aged carpeting, dingy and poorly-lit hallways, and unwelcoming entryways are a quick turn-off. Instead, invest in these spaces so they are fresh and include security features such as cameras and bright lighting.

It’s important to maintain proper upkeep on your property not only to ensure it’s aesthetically pleasing to potential renters, but also to ensure the bones and structure of your space stay healthy. For example, it’s best to have your roof professionally inspected at least once a year, preferably twice. Doing so will ensure your tenants aren’t caught off guard with leaks, mold, and mildew that usually occur when roofs aren’t properly maintained. Catching this type of situation before it erupts into a problem can save you tons of money down the road, both in the cost of repairs, as well as replacing any damaged property your renters would suffer.

Neighborhood Considerations

When searching for a property to purchase as a rental, spend extra time looking into the neighborhood of the building, as it’s a critical element for most renters–especially those of the younger generations. Millennials, in particular, want friendly, walkable neighborhoods with plenty of amenities nearby. Destinations with casual and trendy dining, nightlife, and dog-friendly parks are a must for happy tenants, as well as plenty of shopping options, especially for staples such as groceries, pharmacies, and clothing. When possible, people would rather not get into their car and drive–especially city dwellers who don’t want to fight with parking and traffic. Up-and-coming neighborhoods can obviously bring with them outstanding returns on investment if you get in at the right time and know how to navigate. Bear in mind, however, that there’s a fine line—at least in the eyes of renters—between still-too-dangerous to inhabit and soon-will-be-trendy. You don’t want to dump all of your money in a neighborhood that won’t be awesome for two more decades, but you need to find a way to fit into the scene while changes are still occurring. If you do it right, you’ll attract a specific type of tenant who’s drawn to that exact type of lifestyle.

For buildings you already own, there’s not much you can do about the neighborhood, but consider who you’re marketing to when trying to fill vacancies. Suburban locations that demand at least one car per household may not be very attractive to younger individuals or working couples. Instead, those neighborhoods may be more appealing to families and people who are already accustomed to this lifestyle.

Beyond Appearances

The interior of your rental unit may be a primary concern for your prospective tenants, but it’s far from their only consideration. While you want to invest the time and budget on upgrades, repairs, security, and cleanliness inside your units and buildings, the exterior factors will also be important for a renter’s final decision. In fact, if the outside looks like it comes from the pages of a horror novel, nobody’s going to care what it looks like inside; many prospective tenants may opt out of even entering your apartment in the first place.

Make sure you’re doing as much as you can to improve the factors you can control such as lighting, security, paint, and repairs and that you’re marketing to the right audiences for elements you cannot control such as neighborhood amenities and walkability. The right marketing will bring perfect tenants to your front door. Poor marketing will just waste valuable time and resources on people who aren’t likely to be interested in the property you’re offering anyway.

Marketing to prospective tenants is as much an art as it is a science. If you’re not sure how to get the right renters’ attention, don’t spin your wheels on stuff that may not work. It’s best to invest in a professional property management firm that speaks the marketing lingo your future tenants are looking for.

Are you a landlord who’s trying to attract the right tenants to your rental property? Bay Management Group specializes in tenant screening to ensure the best and brightest rental candidates arrive at your door. Our full-service suite of property management services includes marketing our clients’ rental properties, identifying top potential tenants, and taking care of your renters’ needs with our team of 24/7 on-call property managers. Ready to see why we’re all the buzz in the Baltimore rental market? Start with your free Property Management Analysis today!

Part 2: How to Effectively Market Your Rental Property

marketing baltimore real estate property

Once your property is ready for advertising, you must decide where to market online. With so many sites, it’s difficult to know which ones are reputable and worth your time and money. Here are a few websites we recommend you should use to market your property to gain the most exposure:

1. Use Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

MLS is a collaborative effort between brokers that helps to make properties more widely available to potential buyers. If another broker has a client who’s interested in a listed property, this broker contacts the listing broker, and they both receive part of the sales commission. MLS is not only beneficial for brokers to increase their sale opportunities, but it’s highly beneficial for future landlords because it exposes their properties to a colossal pool of potential renters.

Renters or landlords must work with a real estate agent, broker, or property management company to access MLS. NAR (National Association of Realtors) statistics show 92 percent of buyers use an agent in the home-buying process, so the likelihood of your property gaining massive exposure is certain. Using an agent is a great choice for effectively marketing your property. Many agents specialize in working solely with landlords to rent properties and don’t handle home buying at all. Find a trusted rental agent or property management company who will invest in your property.

2. Market for Free

Beyond MLS, many free online marketplaces exist for gaining rental exposure. Zillow receives 160 million visitors per month. It is a popular site that offers free listing services to landlords with fewer than 50 units. Zillow is so powerful it bought two other well-known marketplaces – HotPads and Trulia – to form Zillow Group. Now, if you post on Zillow, your listing spans across all three networks, making Zillow Group essential to your marketing strategy. NAR research shows 99 percent of millennials use online search websites, and 89 percent of older consumers use them, too. Free services such as Zillow are an easy and valuable choice for marketing.

Craigslist is another option that receives massive online traffic because it ranks 14th in the country compared with all other U.S. sites. Listing is free, and you are guided step-by-step through the listing process. Craigslist has mandatory sections to fill out that provide renters with helpful information, and landlords can write as much description about the property as they want in the description box. Space is available for the address, or you can simply enter the zip code if you’d rather not make the address public. The post becomes live on Craigslist after you upload photos. For online amateurs, Craigslist is a simple, yet powerful platform to market rentals properties.

Consider the Implications of Online Marketing

Online marketplaces are easily accessible and provide good exposure, but it takes time and effort to manage your listings. After going through the process of preparing your property, you may not have the energy to complete the second half of the process of actually marketing your property. Along with the time investment, you must avoid several issues that thwart the ease of marketing online.

1. Avoid Misleading Strategies

Many landlords are unaware of hidden strategies when they use online listing services such as Zillow. It is free to post your rental property, but Zillow has a few secret strategies you should understand. If you’re renting your property yourself (For Rent By Owner – FRBO), you run the risk of interested renters mistakenly contacting other real estate agents about your property because of Zillow’s page displays. In the sidebar of a page, you’ll normally see some agents listed where Zillow sells advertising space to agents. One agent is typically pre-selected, so an interested renter can easily mistake them for you – the owner – and fill out his or her information card. Zillow then sends the information to that agent as a lead. Zillow’s mobile app has a call button that goes directly to an agent and not to the owner of the property. These hidden strategies increase the difficulty of receiving any leads as a FRBO.

2. Avoid Safety Issues

Safety considerations come along with FRBO. Since Craigslist is free and open to the public, it attracts some people of questionable character. Safety precautions are vital when communicating with a potential renter on Craigslist. One way to protect yourself is to avoid posting the exact address of your property; post only the zip code. You can supply the address if someone contacts you requesting more details and you determine he or she is trustworthy. Not posting your phone number or email is another way to protect your privacy. Renters can contact you using Craigslist’s email link initially, so if you receive spam, you can ignore the email and have peace of mind knowing the spammer doesn’t have your personal email.

Zillow Group and similar websites often present the same safety issues. If you want to ensure potential renters contact you instead of a pre-selected real estate agent on Zillow, you must make your phone number extremely obvious at the top of the listing. This could result in spam calls that make you feel insecure. FRBO always involves doing your own showings as opposed to an agent handling this step. Communicating with an interested renter via email or phone offers a limited means of assessment. Meeting someone in person at a private location brings a whole other level of unease if you are not comfortable with the person. To protect yourself, invite a friend or family member to your property when you have showings.

3. Avoid Hidden Fees

Hidden fees for listing your property creep up and make the online marketing process much less enjoyable. Many companies make you pay a one-time flat fee to post across multiple platforms, such as Flat Fee Group. Other companies charge for any leads you receive. All these unexpected fees make online marketing an unpleasant experience for many landlords and sellers.

Invest in Bay Management Group

Investing in a property management company is the best way to avoid online complications. If you lack the time or energy necessary for successful online marketing, Bay Management Group (BMG) is a reputable choice that will handle all the work for you. Here are the benefits of using a property management company like BMG:

1. Streamline the Process

At BMG, we streamline the marketing process through Appfolio. This software has a platform that allows us to post your listing across almost 40 different sites. After we enter a description of your property and upload photos, one click of a button sends your listing to numerous sites to increase exposure and market your property to as many renters as possible.

2. Save Time

Life is time-consuming enough without having to worry about renting out a property. Preparing and marketing rental property could be another full-time job all in itself. Using BMG is an excellent choice for landlords who want to avoid the time-consuming process and begin renting their property as quickly as possible. We offer full leasing services as well as tenant screening for landlords.

3. Enjoy the Added Benefits

The work doesn’t stop once you rent your property. BMG assists you as a property owner by offering many additional services. Whether you need move-in and move-out reports to assess any damage to your property, collection of rent and management of the eviction process, BMG can advise you on the latest laws regarding rental properties to ease the process. We even send monthly financial statements and provide a 1099 at the end of each year and our maintenance crew is available 24 hours a day to address any concerns from you or your tenants. Beyond the initial marketing process, we handle all your needs as a property owner.

Select the Best Option for You

Marketing your rental property on your own is a definite possibility. Plenty of online resources and marketplaces, such as MLS, Zillow Group, and Craigslist exist, though MLS restricts access to brokers and real estate agents. Preparing your property consumes a chunk of time initially, but once your property is ready for the market, you won’t have to invest more time in preparations.

Do-it-yourself marketing requires a lot of time and energy. You also will have to schedule time to answer phone inquiries and conduct property showings to potential renters. Handling the entire process is overwhelming for most property owners. If you’re looking for a solution, BMG offers the marketing services you need to rent your property promptly with as few obstacles as possible. Save yourself time and lease your property as soon as possible with BMG.

Additional Resources:


Part 1: How to Effectively Market Your Rental Property

marketing your baltimore rental property

Back in the day, searching for a home was as simple as opening up the newspaper and looking at advertisements. But now, the impact of the digital age is infiltrating many areas of life, and real estate is no exception. 95 percent of homebuyers search websites as one method of shopping for a home, according to the 2017 Report: Real Estate in the Digital Age by National Association of Realtors (NAR). Additionally, 72 percent of homebuyers use their mobile devices as another tool in their home search. These intriguing statistics make a case for the importance of the internet when marketing a rental property. Online search sites have replaced newspaper ads, and virtual tours have replaced in-person showings. With online marketing you have the most exposure if you want to market your property effectively and rent it quickly.

Some people may not be comfortable with marketing to online platforms. Unfamiliarity with online property sites and the time involved in posting to each is enough to deter potential landlords from starting this process. But by employing the aid of a property management company, they can market your property to its fullest potential and provide additional assistance after you sign a lease – ultimately this is your best option.

Prepare Your Property for Marketing

Marketing a rental property online takes work and there is some required preparation involved. You will first want to ensure you do everything possible to create a warm and welcoming appearance to your property to attract renters. By following these essential steps before you market your home online, you will achieve greater marketing success:

1. Clean Up

This seems basic, but it’s amazing how many dirty and disorganized homes exist on the market. If you want to attract buyers, don’t repel them with filth and messy rooms. Start by discarding any trash, and then pick up and put away shoes, clothes, or other objects lying around. Put everything in its proper place in a neat and orderly fashion. Remember, interested renters want to look in closets, so don’t just shove your belongings in there; arrange them neatly. You want the closets to appear spacious, so renters see there is plenty of room for storage.

Deep clean your property after you have decluttered and removed any garbage or debris. Clean behind furniture you don’t normally move and all kitchen appliances, wipe off any obvious wall marks, remove any carpet stains, and replace any missing cabinet knobs. Make your home look the way you would want it to if you were moving in. Cleanliness is a basic step, but it’s vital to your property’s success.

2. Landscape

After you’ve cleaned the inside, move on to the outside. The front of your home is the first impression a potential renter has of your property and you can’t afford to make it a bad one. Reliable sources such NAR and HGTV tout the importance of curb appeal and show how making your home’s outer appearance great doesn’t have to be expensive. Simple tasks such as mowing your lawn and weeding your flowerbeds are good places to start.

After you’ve tidied up the landscape, consider if some newly planted flowers or bushes may accentuate your property. Do a thorough scan of the exterior of your home. Are there any obvious repairs to address? Would a fresh coat of paint give your home a needed face-lift? Would a different color make the front door pop? Power washing the exterior is another wonderful way to revitalize your home. Lastly, examine the roof. Missing shingles or other roof damage negatively affects your property’s value, so address any roof repairs before advertising your property.

3. Stage and Photograph

Once your property is clean and looking its best, it’s time to stage your home for photographing. Make your home look like the alluring living space you see on TV shows. Fluff up the sofa pillows, arrange the furniture with care, and add a vase of flowers to the kitchen table. Pay attention to even the smallest of details and remove random objects from the kitchen and living room surfaces and ensure all toilets seats are down.

Once you’ve staged your home, you’re ready to take photos. High-quality photos can help you receive the highest price for your rental property. 89 percent of buyers find photos extremely useful when shopping online, according to NAR. Consider hiring a professional photographer if you feel incapable of taking high-quality photos.

Lighting dramatically impacts the appeal of your property. Poorly lit, grainy pictures give potential renters the impression the house is dark and gloomy. You want to market your property as warm, welcoming and full of light. If you’re unsure of your ability to capture well-lit photos, invest in a professional photographer. If you are comfortable with your photography skills, consider the best angles to showcase each room and the best time of day to capitalize on natural lighting.

Next Steps…

Now that your property is picture perfect and ready for advertising, you need to decide the best places to market it. Want to do it yourself? Check out these online rental marketing property resources. Or, if you don’t have the time to put into listing your property, contact Bay Management Group today and we can discuss the marketing resources we can offer you.

Additional Resources:


The Real Cost of Having to Evict A Tenant in Baltimore

eviction notice

Maryland is known to be a very tenant-friendly state, with Baltimore being one of the most tenant-friendly cities. This is awesome news if you’re a renter. However, if you’re a landlord, you should read the phrase “tenant-friendly city” far differently than you would if you were scouting a place with which to sign a lease. Tenant friendliness throws a lot of precautions in the faces of property owners because, by default, renters have a lot of protections. Strong renter protections mean landlords have a lot of hoops and ladders to crawl through if they need to evict a tenant. Even if you follow every requirement to a tee—which can be incredibly difficult for individual property owners, given the complexities of the laws— you’re still probably looking at a minimum of three months to have a non-paying tenant evicted from your property.

So, why does the eviction process take so long in Baltimore? Let’s take a look!

Evicting a Tenant in Baltimore: The Process

If you’re like most landlords, your rent is probably due on the first of the month, but you likely give a few days’ grace period. Depending on the terms of your lease, you can file after your specified grace period has expired, or sooner if you don’t offer a grace period. In Maryland you have to wait 5 days before you are allowed to file on a tenant for failure to pay rent. This is why it’s imperative to have a properly written lease signed and on file; it’s for your protection.

Step 1: Filing the Failure-to-Pay Notice

Before you can evict a tenant in Baltimore, you have to notify him or her that they have failed to pay rent for a given month. It’s important to do this as soon as you’re lawfully able, as the process that follows will be long enough without any additional delays.

To file a failure-to-pay rent notice, you must submit a written complaint to the District Court with details such as the amount of rent due and the court costs you’re expecting the tenant to pay. The rent notice will give your renter a court date, so they can defend themselves, should they wish to do so. The court date is usually about two or three weeks out from the date of filing.

Why Working with BMG Baltimore Makes a Difference

Bay Management Group in Baltimore, MD files failure-to-pay notices on all tenants after the 8th of each month if a tenant hasn’t paid rent. We monitor payments scrupulously and act immediately. We appear in court on your behalf, so you don’t have to take time out of your busy day.

Step 2: Obtaining the Warrant of Restitution

If the judge sides in your favor, you get can what is known as a warrant of restitution, which allows you to set up a time with the sheriff to go-ahead and take back possession of the property.

Once you receive the Warrant of Restitution, you have to wait about ten business days for the paperwork to be processed and sent to the sheriff’s office. When that’s in order, you can schedule a day and time to evict your tenant. In Baltimore City, you can expect an eviction date to be scheduled about 30 days out from the time the paperwork is ready.

Why Working with BMG Baltimore Makes a Difference

This process sounds easy on paper, but it can be frustrating for people who already have other commitments and busy lives. It often takes several phone calls before the paperwork has been processed and is in working order for an eviction. As you can see, even if you know all the channels and avenues you need to take, eviction in Baltimore is still a laborious process. If you’re trying to do it on your own, you’re going to spend hours (if not days) at the courthouse getting all of the documents prepped and sitting in the courtroom.

Bay Management Group eliminates the frustration and puts time back on your clock by taking care of these tasks for you.

The True Cost of Evicting a Tenant in Baltimore

Even if you’re successfully able to evict your tenant, you’ll be out roughly three months’ rent in a best-case scenario. Mind you, best-case scenarios can be pretty uncommon, so you may be looking at more, particularly if you try to take the process on by yourself. The missed-rent calculations are obvious, but a lot of people forget about the damage non-paying tenants can—and usually do—inflict on properties when they know they’re going to be evicted.

Once you’ve regained ownership of your property, prepare yourself for the worst. You might have:

  • Holes throughout the drywall
  • Destroyed carpeting, cabinets, and mirrors
  • Broken locks, doors, and appliances
  • Heaps of trash throughout the property

The cost of eviction goes a lot further than the loss of rent. Once your tenant is gone, you’ll need to pay for all the fixes necessary to make your place livable again before the next tenant can move in. In some cases, repairs could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. If you don’t already have a team of qualified professionals to help you clean up the mess, you’re looking at days or weeks of phone calls, and if you stumble upon a contractor that doesn’t live up to his or her expectations, you’ll have to hire someone else to deal with the shoddy job left by your first-choice vendor.

Rebuilding After an Eviction

Once the tenant is out of the property, you’ve regained possession of your space, and made the necessary fixes to get it back into a rentable condition, you’ll need to find new tenants. You don’t want to wind up in another eviction situation a few months down the road so you will want to be extra careful about the tenants you select.

It can easily take over a month to find a high-quality tenant to whom you want to rent your space. To rent your space again, you’ll need to:

  • Take new pictures
  • Post your property to plenty of different rental sites to ensure you get great exposure
  • Start hosting property showings so people can see your place
  • Evaluate potential candidates
  • Call references
  • Run background checks, credit checks, and employment screenings

This process is seldom easy, and it’s far from quick. If you don’t already have a process in place, this part of rebuilding can get very overwhelming quite quickly. When you work with a professional property management company, these details are taken care of for you. You’ll have a team of social media experts, real estate-gurus, and experts who will present your place to proper potential candidates. In return, you can rest assured that thorough background and credit checks are done, ensuring the person who’s chosen for your property checks the boxes and meets your standards, so you can realize the benefits of being a homeowner in Baltimore.

Why Hiring a Property Management Company Makes Sense for Baltimore Property Owners

A well-written lease is your best friend when you’re a landlord in any city. But with Baltimore’s tenant-friendly practices, you really need to cover your assets. It is critically important to make sure you find quality tenants from the beginning, so you don’t have to deal with the eviction process.

If you don’t have the right screening processes in place, the total cost of an eviction could exceed $10,000 in Baltimore. The eviction, repair, and re-rental processes are not only costly by themselves; they’re also time-consuming, and time costs money.

Bay Management Group facilitates a reduction in evictions because we find the right people right out of the gate. Our clients’ tenants are thoroughly screened and vetted. We know when to take action, and we know how to approach eviction situations. It’s not your job to deal with the details; it’s ours.

Bay Management Group is Baltimore’s solution for eviction prevention. Given our thorough pre-screening process and highly skilled property management experts, our people know how to put the right renters in your space in the first place. If we place a renter who gets evicted within the first six months, we’ll re-lease your property for free because we stand by our word. If you’re ready to realize peace and comfort with our six-month tenant warranty, reach out to our BMG Baltimore team today!

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!