Baltimore Neighborhoods – Some of the Highest Rated

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 Cost 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

 

“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

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

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!


4 Renovations To Keep Your Tenants Happy & Complaint-Free

Renovations to Keep Your Owings Mills Tenants Happy & Complaint-Free

Keeping your tenants happy is the best way to continue collecting a consistent stream of rental income, prevent an unnecessary vacancy, and of course, build your Owings Mills rental property business into one that is reputable and successful.

That said, how you keep your tenants happy can be challenging at times.

There are so many ways to keep tenants satisfied, and each tenant you encounter will have their own individual needs, and complaints, that you need to address.

If you are looking to secure more lease renewals, and genuinely provide quality customer service to your tenants, take a look at these common renovations you can make to your rental property to help lower tenant complaints.

 

Lower Tenant Complaints with These Rental Upgrades

As a property owner, you cannot possibly anticipate every issue your tenants will have.

However, with these Owings Mills rental property renovations, you can definitely lower the number of complaints you receive from tenants, and boost their overall satisfaction.

 

1. Appliance Upgrades

Upgrade Appliances to Keep Owings Mills Tenants Happy and Complaint-Free

Your tenants will always have maintenance and repair issues that need dealing with throughout their tenancy.

In fact, some of the most common maintenance complaints you are going to face will be associated with your property’s appliances.

The last thing you want is to have multiple grievances about your property’s appliances put in by your tenants during their tenancy.

Not only will this begin to cost you, since it is your responsibility to handle all maintenance and repair issues, this is sure to grind on your tenant’s nerves – even if you handle every repair quickly and efficiently.

In short, tenants want the appliances in their home to work. What they don’t want is to have to call your property management company on a regular basis to inform you of another appliance that has burnt out.

If you have room in your budget to upgrade your rental’s appliances to newer, more energy efficient ones, you should.

This will not only allow you to command higher rent rates, new appliances are bound to last longer without needing repair, which is something every tenant will appreciate.

 

2. New Flooring

In the past, we have discussed the various flooring options you have when it comes to your rental property.

And, while flooring such as hardwood or laminate garner you a higher ROI on your rental property, the truth is, they don’t do much for one major tenant complaint – noise.

 Noise problems can wreak havoc on your tenant’s daily life, especially if they lease an apartment or townhome from you, where shared walls are common, and neighbors become an issue.

What’s worse is that typical noise complaints don’t usually break the threshold designated by local authorities as a violation of the city’s noise ordinances. This means your tenants have to deal with neighboring animals, music, or children, and there is usually no legal remedy available to stop it.

This is when noise complaints become your problem.

As the landlord of your tenants, it is your responsibility to maintain their surrounding peace and quiet. And, if noise is something your tenants complain about consistently, it is your job to handle it.

One renovation that helps keep noise at bay, and your tenants satisfied, is carpeting the floors.

Though not always the number one option when it comes to your rental property’s flooring, it helps keeps noise under control, especially in apartments.

This is especially true if you budget in a noise-blocking carpet underlay.

In addition, you can install some high quality carpet choices in your rental if you are looking to rake in higher rent rates. No one ever said the carpet in your rental had to be cheap.

If, by chance, you are not a fan of carpet, there is always the option of installing cork in your rental property. Cork floors absorb sound since they are soft and dense, much like carpet is.

This flooring type will do wonders for controlling outside noise, and look great in your rental property, which is something all property owners aim for.

 

3. New Windows

New Windows Keep Owings Mills Tenants Happy

If your Owings Mills rental property is near a busy area that conducts a lot of excess noise (think New York City during morning rush hour), your tenants may start to voice their problems with this.

What many property owners don’t realize is that the windows on their property have a tendency to exacerbate outside noise.

This means children playing in the street, cars honking, or nearby construction zones may project noise directly into your property, disrupting your tenant’s peace and quiet.

This is because windows conduct light, heat, and noise, and can make all three things worse if not installed properly.

One renovation you can make on your rental property to lower the chances your tenants will complain of outside noise is to install double or triple paned windows.

You can also provide thick, noise projecting window treatments such as drapes to keep out the light, heat, and noise.

Lastly, it is important you make sure your window seals are not cracking, as these tiny gaps have the potential to allow unwanted noise inside the property, without you even realizing it.

 

4. Landscaping

If noise complaints are still something you are receiving from tenants, you can always take your renovations outside to help eliminate some of the problem.

Landscaping your backyard with large trees and shrubs can help block noise from the surrounding businesses and street traffic.

In addition, this renovation will create a backyard oasis for tenants to enjoy, help reduce energy bills thanks to the shade they provide, and help keep drafts out during the cold winters.

 

In Closing

It is impossible to eliminate all tenant complaints with renovations to your rental property.

And, while there are some decent options for helping to reduce tenant complaints, especially when it comes to appliances and noise, there is much more to keeping your tenants satisfied and complaint-free.

If you own rental property and want help boosting tenant satisfaction through not only renovations, but also exceptional customer service, contact the leader in Owings Mills property management − Bay Management Group.

We provide superior customer service when it comes to tenant complaints we receive. With years of experience dealing with every type of tenant issue you could possibly imagine, we know the best way to alleviate problems, provide excellent maintenance and repair services whenever there is even a minor issue, and can help advise tenants of the best ways to make their residency in your rental property one that they enjoy.


Top 4 Reasons Why Detailed Move-In Inspections Are Essential

Why Move-In Inspections Are Essential For Your Rental Property

Any time you place a new tenant into your Bel Air rental property, you must conduct a thorough move-in inspection – even if you think that your rental is in tip-top shape.

But you and your property management company tirelessly prepared your rental for new tenants, made sure that everything was clean, in good working order, and was visually appealing – that’s enough, right?

Wrong.

In an effort to protect both you and your tenants, as well as the investment property itself, a move-in inspection documenting the original condition of the rental at the time your tenants move in is absolutely necessary, despite how “perfect” the condition of the rental may seem.

To learn more about what a move-in inspection is, and why they are the key to starting a satisfying your renters (as well as one of the best ways to protect your rental property business), keep reading.

 

What is a Move-In Inspection?

Before physically moving into your Bel Air rental property, your tenants, alongside you and your property manager, must take part in what is called a move-in inspection.

Move-in inspections are designed to document, in both writing and visual proof such as photographs or video, the original condition of your rental property at the time your tenants move in.

This way, any existing damages will not become the responsibility of your tenants come the end of their lease term.

In addition, any new damages that do appear at the end of the lease term can be attributed to your tenants, should the damages extend beyond that of normal wear and tear.

The most important part of the move-in inspection is the signature section, where both the landlord and tenants sign in agreement to the original state of the property at the time the tenant takes possession.

 

4 Reasons Why the Move-In Inspection is Important

According to Maryland law, the move-in inspection should be performed with both the property owner and tenants present. This way any damages found in the property at the time the tenant takes possession are seen and agreed to by both parties.

There are very specific reasons why you and your property manager should conduct move-in inspections every time a new tenant moves in.

Let’s take a look.

 

1. Easily Recover Repair Costs

Move-In Inspections Easily Recover Repair Costs Of Your Rental Property

Your Bel Air property management company is going to recommend you collect a security deposit from your new tenants at the start of their lease term.

This is to cover any costs associated with damages to the property, an early lease termination, and any unpaid rent on the part of your tenants.

However, in order to use your tenant’s security deposit to cover the costs of damages that go beyond normal wear and tear, you will need to have proof those damages didn’t exist at the time your tenants moved in.

This is where a detailed move-in inspection checklist comes into play.

If you and your tenants sign a document agreeing to the original state of the property at the beginning of the lease term, and the property looks very different from that original state at the end of the lease term, you now have legal proof that you can collect from your tenant’s security deposit to make necessary repairs.

 

2. Maryland Law Requires It

Every landlord needs to follow all federal, state, and local landlord-tenant laws when it comes to disclosing specific information to tenants at the time they move in.

These disclosures either need to appear in the lease agreement itself, or be attached to the lease agreement as a separate document. Either way, the original state of the property must be revealed to those moving in.

One of the most important things to disclose to your Maryland tenants, which may end up on your move-in inspection checklist, is the certification that your property is free of any lead paint hazards.

According to Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing law, all properties built before 1978 must be registered as having potential lead paint hazards. In addition, landlords must distribute educational materials regarding lead paint hazards, and meet specific inspection requirements that certify the property is safe for living.

As a rental property owner, it is your legal duty to include this information in the move-in inspection so that your tenants are fully aware of what type of rental property they are about to reside in.

This not only protects them from the hazards of lead paint (since your property must be certified as safe to live in), it also protects you from a lawsuit at the end of the lease term should your tenant make the claim you failed to disclose this information to them.

Make sure that you and your Bel Air property management keep your rental property updated with its lead paint certifications. At any time, your tenants may request a copy of your most recent passing lead paint risk reduction inspection certificate that is on file with the Maryland Department of the Environment.

If you do not have this on file, you may find yourself in some legal trouble that you and your property manager may not be able to get out of without paying a hefty amount of fees and fines.

3. It Holds Parties Responsible

Move-In Inspection Holds Parties Responsible In Your Rental Property

Move-in inspections are designed to hold all parties – the landlord, property manager, and tenants – responsible for the condition of the rental property at the time of move in, during the lease term, and at the end when the tenant moves out.

By having your tenants sign the move-in inspection, you set a very clear message that you expect them to care for your property in a certain way, and that if they fail to do so, they will be held accountable.

On the other hand, the move-in inspection, as well as the lease agreement, holds you responsible for detailing the damages at the end of the lease term as an itemized list of security deposit deductions. This ensures that you do not wrongfully take your tenant’s security deposits to fix things in the property that are considered normal wear and tear items.

 

4. It Protects Your Property, Business, and Bottom Line

Here are some of the biggest complications that can arise from not conducting a move-in inspection of your rental property before the tenant moves in:

  • If you wait until after your tenant has moved in to ask them to complete a move-in inspection, you may have trouble compelling them to finish it properly
  • Once a tenant starts to move-in, the original condition of the property has become altered, perhaps even damaged, with no proof of when the damage occurred
  • If you let your tenant complete the inspection without you or your property manager, you run the risk of additional things being added to the list that are not there
  • Simply failing to complete a move-in inspection altogether (or failing to have the tenant sign the inspection) makes collecting the security deposit for repairs nearly impossible

 

These are just some of the scenarios you face if you don’t have a detailed move-in inspection process in place when new tenants move into your rental.

 

In Closing

If you own an investment property in the Bel Air region, and want help ensuring that all parties are fully protected from the start of any tenancy, get in touch with Bay Management Group today.

We can help draft legally compliant lease agreements addressing the issue of both move-in and move-out inspections and security deposits, set up time to thoroughly inspect your rental with both you and your tenants at the start of the lease term, and make sure your property is well cared for throughout the tenancy.

And, in the case excessive damage has been incurred during the lease term, we make sure you collect on your tenant’s security deposit to make proper repairs, so that the next tenants that move in have a pristine rental to call home.


Top 7 Ways to Guarantee Success in Your First Investment Property

Ways to Guarantee Success in Your First Investment Property

Investing in rental property is a great way to boost supplemental income, or even replace your traditional 9-5 day job.

In fact, getting into the rental property business can be extremely lucrative, if approached the right way.

However, it’s important to note that many first-time investors can mistakenly get caught up in the excitement of buying a rental property – and this excitement can easily get in the way of making sound financial and business decisions.

Taking the step from the decision to invest in Abingdon rental property to actually doing it is a big one that warrants a lot of thought.

It comes with risks that you may not be aware of – ones that have the potential to affect the success of your rental property business for years to come. This is a decision to take very seriously.

If you want to avoid major mistakes when you set out to invest in your first piece of rental property, read on to find some helpful tips that are designed to guide new investors in the right direction, right from the start.

 

Helpful Tips for Investing in Your First Rental Property

1. Have a Plan

Before you jump into investing in your first rental property, you should take the time to devise a solid plan of action.

This will help prevent many unexpected issues that tend to pop up during the purchasing process.

Here are some things experienced property management companies suggest:

  • Pay Down Your Debt. Paying down your existing debt does more than help you qualify for a loan. It also creates a buffer once you own the rental property for things such as emergency maintenance issues, unexpected vacancies, and times when your tenant fails to pay rent.
  • Create a Budget. This is something any experienced property owner will tell you. Making a strict budget, before you invest in a rental property, will prevent you from getting in over your head. Factor in purchase price, maintenance and renovations, an emergency fund, and the cost of placing a tenant in your property.
  • Save for a Down Payment. Even if you have purchased a home in the past, it is important to realize that investing in rental property is much different. You will typically need at least 20% when it comes to a down payment, because there is no PMI available to protect the banks in case you default on the loan.
  • Watch the Market. Knowing when to invest is almost as important as having enough money to invest. You should take care to watch the market and see what interest rates are doing at the time you want to invest. Remember, investment property loans will usually have higher interest rates than traditional homes, which can kill your bottom line, even if you warrant high rent rates from quality tenants.

Making a plan before you get into the excitement of purchasing a rental property will help keep you on track during the investment process.

 

2. Take Your Time Choosing an Investment Property

Take Your Time Choosing an Investment Property

Again, closing on your first investment property is an exciting time that can cloud your judgement if you are not careful.

Avoid buyer’s remorse by taking your time to find the rental that will work best for your pre-defined budget. Check out any property you are interested in buying before entertaining any negotiations, and don’t take the previous homeowner or real estate agent’s word for it.

Ensure that the property has all the amenities you wish to offer to your tenants. Find out what makes this property stand out from others in the area that are being leased, and take note of all the things you may need to renovate before placing a tenant to make sure it fits into your overall budget.

In any business deal, jumping in too soon harbors room for problems that can have lasting effects on your rental property business.

Give yourself time to find the right one; it will be worth it in the long run.

 

3. Avoid Fixer Uppers

In the past, we have discussed how investing in a fixer-upper rental property can be a good idea. However, for those that are new to investing in real estate, this may not always be the best idea.

A great purchase deal on the surface often indicates that there is a lot of work needing to be done after you purchase the property in order to make it rent ready.

And, unless you have budgeted this into your overall plan, and are handy when it comes to repairs, chances are a fixer upper is not what you are looking for in your first investment property.

 

4. Choose a Reliable Real Estate Agent

Choose a Reliable Real Estate Agent For Your First Investment Property

The real estate agent you choose to help you with your property purchase can make or break your longtime success.

To avoid getting mixed up with a less-than-stellar real estate agent, take note of these helpful tips:

  • Don’t get caught up in negotiations with other interested buyers if the purchase price or other details begin to extend beyond what you originally planned for
  • Choose an agent that you trust, that has a reliable reputation, is patient and understands your needs, and is communicative throughout the process
  • Never let an agent rush your purchase decision, even if that means you lose out on a deal
  • Try to get referrals from those close to you that have had success with a real estate agent in the past

If at any time you begin to feel your agent is not being helpful, simply walk away and get a new one.

 

5. Decrease Expenses

Being successful with your first investment property does not stop after you finalize your purchase.

In fact, closing on a property is only the beginning.

From the start, think of ways you can decease expenses and boost your positive cash flow once you place tenants in your property.

For example:

  • Make sure all utilities are the tenant’s responsibility
  • Build extra costs, such as HOA fees, into the rent rate if you can
  • Shop around for homeowners insurance, and require your tenants to get renters insurance
  • Make your rental eco-friendly, especially when it comes to major appliances
  • Challenge your property taxes if you feel they are too high
  • Interview property managers to make sure you are getting the best deal for the services they offer

These small considerations have the potential to save you a lot of money as you lease your rental property, and are easy for new investors to handle.

 

6. Learn the Laws

Learn The Laws For Your First Investment Property

Whether you self-manage your rental or employ Abingdon’s best property management team, it is ultimately your responsibility to know and understand the federal, state, and local laws surrounding the landlord-tenant relationship.

Even if something illegal happens under the care of your property manager, you could find yourself in a lot of hot water.

Court fees and fines, a ding on your reputation as a property owner, and the loss of your property if your bottom line is damaged enough, can all result from not knowing the laws.

Educate yourself so that you know how to properly handle any legal situation that comes your way. And, if you have a knowledgeable property management company backing you, think of that as an added bonus.

7. Consider Hiring an Abingdon Property Manager

Getting into real estate and leasing your first investment property can be daunting at first.

You may not know what to do after you have purchased your property, or maybe you are not keen on the idea of self-managing your rental.

No matter the case, the solution resides in hiring a trusted property manager to help you out with everything from advertising your available property to tenant placement; tenant complaints to the lease renewal process.

If you are looking to invest in your first rental property in Abingdon, consider getting in touch with Bay Management Group from day one. With years of experience in the rental property industry, Bay Management Group has the staff on hand to answer all of your questions about being a successful rental property owner.

This way, once you invest in your first rental property, you will already have a qualified property manager in Abingdon ready to help you with setting rent rates, conducting inspections, providing 24/7 maintenance and repair services, and more.


The Top 5 Pro Tips For Long-Term Essex Resident Retention

Pro Tips for Long Term Tenant Retention In Essex

Learning how to retain your Essex tenants, and encourage them to sign lease renewals at the end of their lease terms, is something all successful property owners do at some point during their career.

In fact, learning this skill early on will save you the time and money it takes to advertise a vacant property, screen for new tenants, draft a new lease agreement, and prepare your property for new tenants.

Not to mention, retaining tenants grants you a consistent stream of income, and helps you keep your vacancy rates low.

Whether you employ an Essex property management company to help boost your property retention rates, or you self-manage your rentals and approach tenant retention yourself, there are always new tips to add to your arsenal for satisfying your tenant, and making them want to stay year after year.

Keep reading to find out some of the best tenant retention tips both you and your property manager can implement to secure long-term resident retention in your investment property.

 

The 5 Essential Ways to Boost Retention Rates in Your Rental

1. Build Strong Landlord-Tenant Relationships

Build a Strong Relationship With Your Essex Tenant

Property management companies always stress the importance of first impressions when it comes to the landlord-tenant relationship.

And there’s a reason for that: how you begin a lease term with new tenants sets the tone for the rest of the tenancy.

That said, it is easy to forget to build on those relationships as your tenants settle into your property. This is especially true if your tenants always pay their rent on time, rarely complain or cause problems, and take care of your property the way they are supposed to.

But remember, when it comes to higher retention rates, it is this relationship with your tenants that matters most.

Do not spend all of your time and resources marketing vacant properties, dealing with problem tenants, and seeking new investment properties.

Instead, take the time to solidify relationships with good tenants that you hope to keep on for another lease term.

 

2. Say “Thank You”

Expressing your gratitude towards tenants that are worth the lease renewals you send out at the end of each lease term is another way to encourage high quality tenants to stay.

Try giving your best tenants something meaningful when it comes to rewarding them for their great tenant behavior.

Of course, a discount on rent is always welcome, since 58% of tenants prefer lower rent rates when it comes to incentives.

However, here are some unique ideas you can try should your budget allow:

  • Reserved Parking Spaces. Loyal tenants are sure to appreciate a reserved parking spot. Perhaps a covered spot or one that is closer to the property is something you can offer as an incentive. This works especially well for properties in urban areas where parking space is limited.
  • Deep Clean. Many property owners offer an annual carpet cleaning for tenants that sign lease renewals. However, taking it one step further and offering a house-wide deep clean is sure to make your tenants that much more satisfied.
  • Buy a Gift. Depending on your budget, and how much you value your tenant, consider buying them a unique gift that you wouldn’t normally purchase for an adequate tenant. For example, annual passes to the local zoo or amusement park, new furniture, or even something electronic such as a TV can go a long way when it comes to tenant satisfaction.

 

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to reward your tenant for being a good tenant and signing lease renewals with you. Sometimes, all it takes is a small incentive to push them in the right direction and convince them to stay.

 

3. Make Tenant Satisfaction a Year-Round Priority

Just as it is important to work on your tenant-landlord relationship throughout the lease term, it is important you check on the level of your tenant’s satisfaction throughout the lease term as well.

If you wait to find out your tenant does not want to renew with you come lease renewal time because they were not happy with some of the things you or your Essex property management company did or did not do, it’s too late.

Check on your tenants year-round to make sure any minor issues they are having are addressed immediately.

This proactive approach may be just enough to show your tenants that it’s worth their while to stay in your property for another year.

 

4. Get Feedback from Tenants and Make Improvements

Get Feedback From Tenants and Make Improvements

One thing all our property managers in Essex encourage their clients to do is collect feedback from current tenants to find out what improvements, if any, can be made.

Again, waiting until lease renewal time to find out your tenants are unhappy is too late.

Chances are they have already made their mind up and are on the way out, no matter what you do to try to stop them.

Here are some helpful feedback tips:

  • Attempt to meet with your tenants face-to-face for a more personalized meeting
  • For tenants that cannot meet in person, make an online or mail-in survey available so they can participate at their own convenience
  • Consider offering a small incentive to get tenants to complete the survey, such as a one month rent discount
  • Take the time to work with your property management company once results come in to make needed improvements

 

In addition to maintaining an open line of communication with your tenants throughout their lease term, implementing an annual satisfaction survey can help you lower tenant turnover rates, and make your rental property business more successful.

 

5. Offer 24/7 Rental Property Maintenance

Offer Around the Clock Rental Property Maintenance

Around the clock maintenance is something that all tenants appreciate when it comes to leasing a rental property.

When you fail to pay attention to the overall maintenance and repair procedures you have in place, and problems ensue, tenants are sure to look elsewhere to live once their lease is up.

Make sure your tenant knows from the start what to do in the case of an emergency versus a minor repair issue.

Give them all of the appropriate contact information – property manager, contractors, emergency maintenance, and the after-hours call center – so that when they need something, they know exactly what to do and who to call.

In addition, it is crucial you stay on top of the relationship your property management company and vendors have.

If that relationship is broken, this will surely carry over into any work performed on your investment property for your tenants. This can bother tenants to the point they do not want to sign a lease renewal with you.

 

In Closing

Your tenants need to feel good about where they live, especially if they are going to sign lease renewals come the end of their lease terms.

And as the property owner, whether you enlist the help of a property manager or not, it is your responsibility to make sure they are nothing short of satisfied.

If you own rental property in the Essex region, and hope to reduce your property vacancies, get in touch with Bay Management Group today. We provide superior customer service to both property owners and their tenants, and believe that how we treat our customers is the most important aspect of our business.

With effective maintenance procedures in place to guarantee tenant satisfaction, the ability to regularly check in on tenants to ensure they are not having any issues, and the desire to collect and utilize any feedback we receive from your tenants, we can help you improve your property retention rates. It is our job to place long-term tenants in your rental and make certain they are happy.


3 Ways to Help Your Tenants Calculate Renters Insurance Coverage

How to Help Your Abingdon Tenants Calculate Renters Insurance Coverage

Requiring your tenants to have renters insurance is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your Abingdon rental property, and your tenants.

Unfortunately, many tenants feel that having renters insurance is not necessary.

In fact, a 2016 Insurance Information Institute poll reports that only 41% of renters have renters insurance, compared to 95% of homeowners that have a homeowners insurance policy.

Many tenants say that their belongings are not worth enough to have renters insurance. In addition, they feel that the property should already be insured by the landlord, and that renters insurance is an additional expensive that is too costly.

However, the truth is, tenants largely underestimate the value of their belongings and, thus, the value of having renters insurance.

It’s important to know that your homeowners insurance does not cover the cost of tenants’ belongings or tenant displacement.

And, despite what some people may say, a renters insurance policy is fairly inexpensive.

That’s why requiring your tenants to have a renters insurance policy in place before they move into your rental property is crucial to your success as a rental property owner.

And, it just so happens that there are ways you can help your tenants determine just how much renters insurance they need so that, should the unthinkable happen (think fire, flood, theft, or injury), they are properly covered.

Renters Insurance: A Quick Review

Renters Insurance Covers Furniture and Personal Belongings

Renters insurance is an insurance policy that protects tenants and their personal belongings in the case of an emergency.

It also covers personal liability issues should anyone be injured while on your property, or damage something while on the premises.

Lastly, a good renters insurance policy will cover additional living expenses should your tenant become displaced due to an emergency, or uninhabitable living situation.

According to Liberty Mutual, here are some of the key things renters insurance will cover:

  • Personal property such as furniture, clothing, and electronics
  • Valuable items up to a specified amount
  • Any personal belongings stolen from your car
  • Medical bills related to any injuries that occur on the property
  • Legal costs should anyone sue your tenant
  • Accidental damage done to your property
  • Reimbursement for housing and living costs in the case the property becomes unlivable

 

It is important to remember that some things will not be covered under a traditional renters insurance policy.

That’s why it is recommended your tenants talk to an insurance professional, in addition to speaking with you, before purchasing a policy to ensure they are properly covered.

 

Helping Your Abingdon Tenant Calculate Renters Insurance

Helping your tenants determine how much renters insurance to invest in is as simple as following these three tips.

 

1. Have Your Tenants Calculate the Value of Their Possessions

Have Your Tenants Calculate the Value of Their Possessions

The first thing you are going to want to help your tenants with is the overall value of their personal belongings.

This will include every personal item they own, not just the expensive items like furniture and electronics.

Remember, renters insurance is there to replace personal belongings.

If your tenant estimates they have $5,000 worth of personal items, and lose everything to a fire, only to find out they really had upwards of $10,000 in personal belongings, your tenant is going to be in financial trouble.

That’s because any purchases that exceed the insurance payout amount will fall upon the tenant to cover.

There are several that can help your tenants determine approximately how much all of their personal items are worth.

From there, the key is to insure belongings for more than the cash or depreciated value of the items, so that there will be enough coverage to actually replace everything.

 

2. Recommend Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is not always included in a standard renters insurance policy.

That’s why, as a landlord, it is helpful to either require liability coverage up to at least a certain amount, or strongly encourage tenants to add that type of coverage to their policies.

In fact, if you are working with an Abingdon property management company, chances are they are going to suggest you require liability insurance in additional to renters insurance before a tenant can move in.

Liability insurance typically covers things like bodily injury, medical bills, and property damage done by your tenants or guests in your rental property. This additional coverage is usually inexpensive and worth it to add on.

The last thing you want is your tenant to become financially responsible for an injury on your property.

This kind of financial strain may cause them to be unable to pay the monthly rent, and ultimately break the lease agreement early.

This leaves you without a monthly rent collection and with a vacant property that now has to be filled.

 

3. Encourage Documentation

Encourage Documentation of Purchases for Renters Insurance in Harford County

It is important to encourage your tenants to document their personal belongings via receipts and photographs.

This documentation, to be held outside of the rental property in an accessible and secure place, serves as proof that the amount of coverage owed in an insurance claim is legitimate.

Plus, taking the time to document every personal belonging helps your tenants calculate the actual value of their belongings, so the right amount of renters insurance is purchased.

For instance, you cannot claim you have a million dollars in personal belongings, and collect that amount after an emergency, without proof the belongings actually existed.

Insurance fraud is a big problem, and is something that is very carefully monitored.

It would be nice of you to remind your tenants that, in the event of an emergency that results in significant property damage, the insurance company is going to demand to see proof of their belongings before paying out on the policy.

 

Helping your tenants understand the importance of renters insurance should be one of your biggest priorities.

This is not only because it is helpful to your tenants, but because it is helpful to you as well.

Should an emergency, injury, or property damage occur, anything not covered by renters insurance may carry over to your homeowners insurance.

By requiring your Abingdon tenants to have renters insurance, you protect your bottom line and save yourself from higher premiums should something terrible happen to your property or the people inside of it.

If you own rental property in Abingdon or anywhere in Harford County and want help with structuring a lease agreement to require renters insurance, contact Bay Management Group now.

We have years of experience in the rental property industry, and know that renters insurance is necessary when it comes to placing new tenants in your investment property. We can draft lease agreements that require renters insurance, help your tenants determine how much they should be insured for, and help you maintain your bottom line should anything happen to your rental.