5 Things Landlords Should Know About Renting to Roommates

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

1. Tenant Screening and Lease Agreement Considerations

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

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

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

Joint and Severally Liability  

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

 

2. Security Deposits and Joint Liability

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

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

 

3.  What Happens if One Roommate Refuses to Pay?

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

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

 

4. Breach of Lease Terms by One Roommate

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

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

 

5. Recommend a Roommate Agreement

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

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

 

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

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

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


Top 5 Mistakes New Landlords Make, and How to Avoid Them

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If you are lucky enough to own rental property in Ellicott City, you know that managing a rental home requires experience, knowledge, and a lot of patience.  In addition, you know that if you do not employ a property management company, self-managing rental homes means running a small business on your own.

Or, maybe you don’t own rental property quite yet and are curious to know which mistakes to avoid as a novice in the rental property business.

Either way, if you are interested in investing in rental property in the Howard County area, and are hoping to learn from the past mistakes of previous newbie property owners, keep reading.

Today we are going to look at the most common mistakes new property owners make in their quest to build a strong rental property portfolio and rake in a positive cash flow throughout the year.

 

Top Mistakes New Ellicott City Landlords Make

Without prior experience in the real estate or rental property industries, it is easy to make plenty of mistakes as a new property owner.  And unfortunately, some of these mistakes can cause more problems than just a bad day.  In fact, some common mistakes new landlords make can cause a loss of money, a legal dispute, and even a collapse of their rental property business before it gets off the ground.

Read on to find out what mistakes you should avoid as a new Ellicott City property owner.

 

1. Not Adequately Screening Potential Tenants

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For new property owners that have not employed the help of Howard County’s most experienced property management company, Bay Management Group, you may quickly find that one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to rush the tenant screening process.  Sure, your number one goal is to place tenants in your property and start collecting rent right away.  However, not thoroughly screening a tenant may end up costing you much more money in the end.

Here are some of the credentials you should verify before placing a tenant in your investment property:

  • Personal Information. Have potential tenants fill out a rental application that includes all of their personal information.
  • Background Check. Check for prior evictions, criminal history, and terrorist activity.
  • Financial Stability. To ensure your prospective tenant will have the means to pay rent each month, check for past bankruptcies, liens, judgments, credit worthiness, and income.
  • Contact all references listed on the rental application and ask the pertinent questions to make sure your tenant is worthy of placement in your property.

Having a property management company conduct thorough tenant screenings on all potential tenants will help catch bad tenants before they move in and you’re stuck dealing with problems and likely an eviction.

 

2. Underestimating the Cost of Maintenance and Repairs

Everyone that gets into the rental property business is hoping to incur income from it; whether your rental property serves as supplemental income or your primary source of money, you’re looking to make some cash.  After all, that’s why you have invested so much of your time and hard-earned money into a rental home.  However, many new landlords fail to realize until it is too late just how much added expense regular maintenance and repairs on their properties will cost annually.

Spending thousands of dollars each year on maintenance issues big and small, upgrades to make your property more appealing, and repairs that are your responsibility will easily cut into your positive cash flow.  Here are some things to consider to ensure these costs do not cause you too many financial setbacks:

  • Have savings set aside for routine maintenance and repairs
  • Only hire licensed and insured contractors
  • Make sure your tenants know before move-in what their maintenance responsibilities are
  • Provide tenants with a tenant welcome package that includes maintenance tips

 

3. Not Following the Law

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Despite being a new landlord, it is your obligation to know all federal, state, and local laws that apply to leasing rental properties.

Here are some of the most important laws you should become familiar with to avoid a legal dispute:

  • Housing Discrimination. You cannot refuse to rent to a tenant based on criteria such as race, color, religion, national origin, sex or gender, disability, or familial status.  This is why although your tenant screening process should be thorough; it should also be legally compliant.
  • Right to Privacy. There are times when you will need to enter your rental property while it is occupied.  However, regardless of whether it is for a maintenance issue, repair, or routine inspection, there are proper notices you must provide and time limits that you must follow before entering your rental property.
  • Improper Use of Security Deposits. Though security deposits are collected from your tenants prior to move-in to cover expenses such as damage or non-payment of rent, there are specific rules and regulations that you need to understand and follow during the collection and use of security deposits.
  • Wrongful Eviction Procedures. Starting the eviction process is never fun, especially if you are new to the rental property business. However, if your tenant needs to be evicted from your Ellicott City rental property, make sure to follow the legal eviction process.

Breaking the law when it comes to renting property is an easy thing to do if you do not educate yourself properly.  This is where having a property management company in place becomes key.  Not only does an experienced property manager keep up to date on the ever-changing rental property laws, the management company itself typically backs you in court if a dispute ever lands before a judge.

 

4. Not Putting it in Writing

What exactly does putting “it” in writing mean?  Well, in the case of rental properties, “it” means any agreement that you come to with your tenants regarding anything that has to do with your rental property and the leasing of it.

Drafting a written lease agreement, complete with provisions outlining both parties’ duties and responsibilities, is one of the most crucial things a new landlord can do before placing a tenant in their property.  Things such as the rent collecting process, issues regarding maintenance, and even basic provisions about how a tenant can redecorate your rental property must appear in writing, must be agreed to by both parties, and must be signed as a legal contract for the entire lease term.

Additionally, any other agreements you decide upon later in the lease (e.g. the allowance of a pet) should be drafted as an addendum to the existing lease agreement and signed by both parties.

 

5. Charging too Much Rent

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As a new landlord that has presumably placed a large amount of money into their first investment property, it is natural to want to charge a high rent to make up for any financial setbacks that getting into that first property created.  In fact, even seasoned landlords want to charge a premium rent and make as much positive cash flow as possible.

The difference is, seasoned landlords know how to read the market, follow area trends, and understand what a reasonable rent amount is.  If you are a first time landlord, consider getting advice from real estate professionals knowledgeable in the area your rental property sits.  Better yet, do your own research and see what similar properties are renting for compared to yours and adjust the amount according to any amenities you may be providing tenants.  In the end, it is better to charge a lower, more reasonable rent than have a property sit vacant hoping for higher paying tenants.

 

Other Important Mistakes to Avoid

Though the above 5 mistakes are some of the most common, and detrimental, any new landlord can make when it comes to their first rental property, here are some more things that should never be far from your mind:

  • Make sure communication with tenants is open, available, and professional
  • Always enforce lease terms, especially when it comes to rent collection
  • Do not mishandle abandoned belongings left behind from your first tenants
  • Learn successful marketing strategies if you do not have a property management company to do so
  • Don’t forget to routinely inspect your property
  • Make sure you have homeowners insurance and consider requiring tenants to have renters insurance

In the end, being a new landlord can come with a steep learning curve if you have never had any experience with real estate.  And, while the rental property business is a very lucrative venture if done correctly, there is always a chance you make a damaging mistake as a new landlord that can cost you time, money, and your sanity.

If you are new to the rental property business and are looking for an exceptional Ellicott City property management company, contact Bay Management Group today.  Our experienced and knowledgeable staff can help guide you through the entire leasing process and ensure everything is done professionally, legally, and with the least amount of hassle possible.


5 Reasons to Collect Rent Online

reasons-collect-rent-online-howard-county-maryland-rental-property

Collecting rent from your Howard County tenant is no easy feat.  Especially if you have more than one rental property.

Remember, you must keep accurate records of all rent payments accepted and balance any other financial transactions that may dip into this rent collection income for when tax time comes. In the end, this adds up to a lot of work that many property owners or their property management companies do not want to deal with.

But did you know there is an easier way?

Have you ever considered collecting rent in the form of an online payment?

Well, if you haven’t, you are in the minority.  In fact, a recent survey taken by TransUnion states that 6 out of every 10 property owners prefer to collect rent online.

If you are wondering why online rent collection is becoming increasingly popular, or are just looking for some property management tips that will help make your life a little easier, keep reading to find out the top five reasons why you should start collecting your Howard County rent payments online.

 

Leading Reasons Why You Should Collect Your Howard County Rent Payments Online

 

1. It Will Save You Time

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Collecting rent online from all of your Howard County tenants will save you loads of time.  Instead of frequenting your P.O. Box at regular intervals (especially if rent payment due dates differ for all tenants) or picking them up from your property manager’s office, all rent is sent directly to you.  And don’t forget, physical rent payments equate to multiple trips to the bank for depositing.

With online collection, the money deposits right into your bank account.  In the end, there is nearly zero effort on your part.  Just wait for the tenant to pay and watch your bank account grow.

 

2.  It Makes Rent Collection Easier

Not only does online rent collection act as a great property management tip that is beneficial for property owners, it makes things easier for tenants as well.  Remembering to send a rent check or grab a money order and drop it off with Howard’s leading property management company can be tough sometimes.  This often leads to late rent payments that not only upset tenants (because of late fees) but also delays the process of you getting paid.  With online payments, especially those that are automated, this doesn’t happen as often.

Additionally, you should not be surprised to find that your tenants tend to deal with most of their financial matters online. Therefore, adding the option to pay rent online is a welcome feature for many. In fact, for some tenants, writing you a check for rent is the only time a check is needed, which can be annoying for them. So, save some paper and make things easier for everyone by collecting rent payments online.

 

3. It is More Secure

 

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Have you ever thought about the information that is printed on the front of a paper check? That’s right, your tenant’s name, address, bank account information, and even their signature appears on the rent check they physically send your way.

This means there is a chance their identity may fall into the wrong hands en route to you and cause lots of problems for both you and your tenant. Think about it: if your tenant is the victim of identity theft and loses all of the money that is in their bank account as a result, what do you think the chance is of you getting your rent payment on time?

By collecting payments via a secure online payment system, you lessen the risk of any personal or sensitive information getting lost and mishandled.

 

4. Increased Organization

One of the greatest things about collecting online payments is that it streamlines the rent collection process.  This is especially helpful if you are managing more than one property.  By sending all payments to one localized online payment software, not only do you create digital payment records showing how much was paid and when, you have definitive proof payment was (or was not) collected in the case you find yourself facing a landlord-tenant confrontation.

In addition, these recorded payments help you evaluate your progress as a property owner.   Depending on the software you or your property management company decide to use, you may be able to gain insight into your property rental business like never before:

  • See upcoming rent payment due dates
  • View past charges that tenants owe
  • Determine annual profit/loss values
  • See detailed payment information
  • Export payment information during tax season
  • Record and view offline payments made by tenants

All of these valuable metrics will allow you to determine if you need to increase your rent come lease renewal time, if your tenants are the high quality type you want to offer a renewal to, and if there are any rent payments that are behind that may require legal action to collect.

Moreover, you can often add in other numeric expenses that can coincide with your collected rent payments such as maintenance and repairs, insurance fees, HOA fees, upgrades, and more.  Altogether, utilizing this type of software provides property owners an easy way to input their rental property finances and make better sound decisions in the future.

 

5. Reduces Rent Collection Hassles

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Implementing online rent payments with your tenants will lessen your stress dramatically.  No longer will you have to manually send a monthly invoice, go door-to-door collecting rent, pick up checks continuously from your management company, or even make phone calls that most tenants tend to ignore anyway.

Instead, set up automatic invoices and email reminders for all tenants that opt to receive them and let the online payment software, and your tenant, take care of the rest.  If your tenant fails to pay, the online payment hub will automatically calculate any necessary fines and fees as well as alert you.

Rent collection becomes even easier if you have an experienced Howard County property management company collecting rent for you. This is because they will be the ones alerted when tenants are behind or simply not paying, and it will be their responsibility to handle the situation according to state and local law.

If you own Howard County rental properties and are considering online rent collection, take this bit of advice: include all information regarding the collection of rent via an online portal in not only the signed lease agreement (that should always be thoroughly explained in detail to your tenants prior to move-in), but also in the tenant move-in handbook as well.  This way there is no confusion as to how you want rent to be paid and your tenants have no excuse for not paying on time.

 

If you need an experienced property management company in Howard County to help with your rent collection needs, contact Bay Management Group today.  Understanding that rent collection is how you make your money, and knowing that collecting rent can be stressful if not conducted through an online payment system, Bay Management Group has you covered when it comes to collecting your money.  Let your property management company deal with the small hassle of collecting your rent payment while you rest assured your money will appear in your bank account every month on time.


Top 7 Ways Your Tenants Can Temporarily Decorate Your Rental Home

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Even though your Howard County tenants do not own the property they lease from you, chances are they want it to feel like home; for the time being, it is their home.

Many property owners have strict rules when it comes to decorating or making any changes to the interior of their rental property, and rightfully so.  The last thing you need is a tenant going into your home and tearing up floors, painting the interior and exterior of the house bright blue, or digging a homemade pool in your backyard.

However, as a good property owner that takes pride in making their tenants feel at home and satisfied with their leasing experience, it is important to be flexible on some things when it comes to rental property decoration.

To help ease your mind that your Howard County rental property is not going to be turned upside down while tenants reside in it, today we are going to share some excellent temporary decorating tips you can forward to your tenants that are sure to make them feel at home.

 

7 Ways Your Howard County Tenants Can Temporarily Decorate Your Rental Home

1. If Painting is an Option

This may be a major pain point for many Howard County property owners, but try to have an open mind and at least consider allowing your tenants to take part in one of the most popular (and temporary) decorating techniques.

If your tenant is bored with the plain white walls you have provided them (after all, white is clean and crisp and looks oh, so good), they might want to spice things up with some colored paint.  This is especially true if they have a baby on the way and wish to paint the nursery.  Including a strict lease provision allowing tenants to paint with the condition they return the walls to their original colors upon move-out is a great way to get around the dilemma of paint.

If, however, you just cannot stomach the thought of letting your tenants paint, try to offer another solution such as removable wallpapers.  With all the appeal of a freshly painted room, yet without the mess and permanency some people feel paint has, removable wallpaper can help a tenant personalize your property without causing too many issues.

 

2. Add a Rug

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Changing the flooring that is in your rental property is likely out of the question.  However, a great temporary decorating tip to recommend to your tenants is to have them add a large area rug.  Adding bold designs and color to a room, a beautiful throw rug can easily become a decorative statement.  And what’s great about rugs is that they move with your tenants so there are never any permanent flooring changes made.

 

3. Shelving

Though you may not want to allow your tenants to place holes in your rental property’s walls, the truth is your tenants will appreciate it a lot if you do.  Even if you have to require them to patch and paint the holes at the end of the lease term, being able to hang shelves and picture frames can go a long way when it comes to making a rental seem like home.

One great idea for livening up a room without excessive holes is to install a floating shelf that provides plenty of space to add multiple art pieces, picture frames, and various knickknacks.

If however, you simply do not want to deal with poor patchwork and shoddy paint jobs, one suggestion you can give tenants is to hang lightweight artwork and frames using double-sided tape – specifically designed for hanging things on the wall.  Rather than using nails and creating a lot of work for everyone involved (and possible permanent wall damage), the double-sided tape is easily detached at move-out time.

 

4. Faux Granite Countertops

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Granite countertops are a coveted amenity in rental homes these days.  Unfortunately, it may not be in your budget to redo your entire kitchen’s counters.  That is not to say, however, that your tenants cannot bring the granite look to the countertops themselves.

With plenty of color options to choose from, your tenants may be able to add faux granite countertop wraps to your kitchen counters using something similar to the New Instant Granite™.  Easily placed over old countertops, and peeled back at the end of the lease term, faux granite countertops may offer your tenants just the look they are going for without any of the cost coming out of your pocket.

 

5. Window Treatments

Investing in expensive window treatments that your tenants may not like is usually not at the top of any rental property owner’s to-do list.  That’s why so many rental homes come with basic, neutral window treatments such as blinds or shades.

Yet, a great way for your tenant to add a temporary pop of color to any room in your property is to add their own window treatments.  Black out shades, long curtains, and valences all add a personal touch to any home and are easily removable at any time.

 

6. Hang a Disco Ball

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Maybe not a disco ball per say, but one great home accessory that is temporary, fairly affordable, easy to do, and offers an entirely different vibe in the room it is placed is a new light fixture.

Whether that be a standing lamp, table lamp, hanging light, chandelier, or decorative night lights, adding stylish lights throughout your rental is sure to set the tone and add functionality to each room.

Plus, your tenant can take the light fixtures with them when they leave and use the lights they purchased in their next home.

Here are some unexpected places you may want to suggest your tenants add specialty lighting:

  • Bathrooms
  • Laundry room
  • Corners of rooms
  • Hanging on the wall
  • In the backyard
  • On the kitchen counter
  • In the closet

 

7. Bring the Spring Inside

Even if your rental property has a flourishing backyard full of trees, flowers, and shrubs, you can always recommend to your tenants that they bring some of the foliage inside.  Using beautiful pottery that matches their personal style, your tenants can easily add flowers, plants, and vines to any room in the home.  Not only are plants considered a healthy alternative to chemically infused potpourris and sprays, they are temporary and will not violate any of your established decorating rules.

 

In the end, working within your decorating boundaries, your tenants have plenty of creative options for personalizing your property as their own while they reside in it.  And, with a little bit of flexibility on your part, you and your tenants are sure to come to a compromise that meets the needs of both parties.

If you are looking for a way to incorporate your rental property decorating rules into a solid lease agreement that both you and your tenant agree to and are satisfied with, choose Bay Management Group as your property management company.

With experience drafting legally compliant and thorough lease agreements, as well as priding ourselves in the customer service we provide our property owners and tenants, Bay Management Group can help you draw up the perfect lease agreement.


Why You Should Require Renter’s Insurance

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Part of being a successful landlord in Howard County is ensuring that your rental property is safeguarded in the case of an emergency.  And oftentimes this is accomplished by requiring your tenants to have renter’s insurance.

Yet, according to the Insurance Information Institute, as of 2016, only 41% of renters reported to have renter’s insurance.

Renter’s insurance is greatly beneficial to both property owners and tenants.  Thus, you should not overlook the compelling reasons to require your Howard County tenants to have a renter’s insurance policy in place upon move-in.

Not sure what those compelling reasons are?

Read on to find out.

 

Reasons Why Renter’s Insurance is a Must

1. Lessen the Threat of a Lawsuit

Landlord-tenant disputes are nothing new to the rental property business.  And, while sometimes there is good cause for a tenant to take you to court, the truth is, property owners should try to avoid a court dispute at all costs.

If your tenant’s personal belongings are damaged, depending on the reason for the damage, there is a chance they may try to take you to court and make you responsible for covering their losses.  This is especially true if they do not have renter’s insurance.  And though it is unlikely your homeowner’s insurance covers your tenant’s personal belongings in the case of an emergency, that is not to say your tenant will not attempt to collect anyway.

In the end, requiring your tenants to have renter’s insurance voids the possibility of a lawsuit since renter’s insurance covers not only damage to your property, but also the personal belongings of your tenant.

 

2. Reduce Your Responsibility

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In addition to lessening the chances of a lawsuit, requiring renter’s insurance eliminates some of your responsibility in case an emergency occurs at your rental property.  Take a look at two examples:

  • Structural Damage. Should your rental property suffer from any type of damage that renders it uninhabitable, you will be responsible for providing your tenant temporary housing in the absence of a renter’s insurance policy for the entire duration of damage repairs. This also includes providing necessities such as food and clothing.
  • Personal Injury. If someone in your rental property, whether that be your tenant or a guest, is injured, and there is no renter’s insurance policy in place, you may be responsible for damages.  This is likely to include medical bills and any other damages the courts feel are owed to the injured party.  Plus, you can be sure to have higher premiums the next time you renew your landlord’s insurance, which ultimately cuts into your annual profits.

If your tenant has renter’s insurance, temporary living accommodations are covered and personal injury liability falls upon the tenant, not you.  This added layer of protection with renter’s insurance not only protects your tenants during an emergency, but prevents you from having to foot the bills as well.

 

3. Ensure Cleanup and Avoid a Disappearing Tenant

If your tenant does not have renter’s insurance and something terrible happens to your property, such as a flood or small house fire, there is a scary chance they may just move out unannounced, leaving you to clean up the remnants and reap the costs of fixing the property as well as the costs of having a vacant property.

That said, with a good renter’s insurance policy in place, your tenant is more likely to deal with the problem appropriately and remedy the situation.  This is because most, if not all, of the incurred damage is covered under the renter’s insurance policy; and your tenant knows this.  In fact, some renter’s insurance policies will even cover the removal and disposal of damaged property.

 

4. Place Higher Quality Tenants

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For those that are unfamiliar with renter’s insurance policies, it is good to know that they are relatively cheap.  For example, the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America estimate a decent renter’s insurance policy can go for as low as $12/month.

If you inform your tenants that they will need to have renter’s insurance in order to live in your Howard County rental property, and they balk at that, you have to ask yourself why.

If your potential tenant claims they cannot afford the monthly expense of renter’s insurance, then you might reconsider their application and your intentions of placing them in your property.  After all, making the monthly rent payment is important and if they cannot afford $12/month, what are the chances they will not be able to make the rent each month?

Additionally, if cost is not the factor for refusing to get renter’s insurance, you may want to ask yourself why your potential tenant is not willing to agree to take responsibility for possible damage they inflict on your investment property.

In the end, it is your responsibility as a property owner to require your tenants to have renter’s insurance before moving in if you want to add that extra layer of protection to both your tenant and yourself.  Doing so will ensure you a more successful experience as a landlord and will save you money, time, and stress.

 

The importance of renter’s insurance should never be underestimated.  If you own rental property in the Howard County area and are looking to add a required renter’s insurance provision to your lease agreement, contact Bay Management Group today.  As the most experienced and knowledgeable property management company in Howard County, MD, Bay Management Group can help you draft an airtight lease agreement complete with renter’s insurance requirements.

Further, we can help you manage all other things property related including, but not limited to:

  • Tenant screening and placement
  • Rent collection
  • Eviction procedures
  • Regular property inspections
  • 24/7 on-call maintenance requests

Avoiding disasters such as fires, floods, theft, or personal injuries is nearly impossible.  However, with the help of Bay Management Group, you can rest assured you and your tenant are as protected as possible so that should the unthinkable occur, you are well prepared.


How to Keep a Good Relationship With Your Tenants

keep-good-tenant-landlord-relationship-howard-county-rental-property

Customer satisfaction is the key to any business’ success.  So, as a rental property owner, a good tenant relationship should be a priority.

Whether you self-manage your investment properties, or employ Howard County’s top property management company to help you out, the importance of seeking a good landlord-tenant relationship should not be underestimated.

There are many reasons why a tenant may choose not to renew a lease with you at the end of their term.  Therefore, as an investment property owner, you must take a proactive approach to avoid tenant turnovers as best you can.  After all, long-standing tenants are far more cost effective than having a constant turnover or worse, a vacant property.

Today we are going to look at why creating a good relationship with your tenants is so crucial as well as some of the best ways you can forge and maintain that relationship with your Howard County tenants.

 

Why a Good Tenant Relationship is Important

Before looking into the many ways you can establish a long-lasting and positive relationship with your tenants, let’s look at some of the reasons why doing so is key to the success of your rental property business:

  • Increased likelihood your tenants will care for your property
  • Timely rent payments with little to no excuses
  • Reduced tension when it comes to maintenance and repair requests
  • Better communication between parties due to trust and reliability
  • Mutual respect may lead to more lease renewals

 

How to Establish a Positive Relationship with Your Howard County Tenants

 

1.  Be Forthcoming From the Start

Tenants are not typically going to welcome surprises after they have signed a lease contract with you and have moved into your property.  To ensure that the move-in process, and entire lease term, go well for both property owner and tenant, it is important you state your expectations clearly from the start.  This means:

  • Going through the lease agreement thoroughly before signing
  • Making sure your tenants know exactly what they are responsible for
  • Disclosing any problems with the property at the beginning and offering helpful solutions
  • Only making promises you intend to keep
  • Explaining how the maintenance and repair requests work and with whom tenants can expect to be dealing
  • Introducing the acting property manager if applicable

You will find that by doing all of this at the start of the lease term there will be far less confusion and misunderstanding throughout the lease term.

 

2. Be Quick and Efficient

efficiency-important-tenant-landlord-relationship-howard-county-rental-property

One thing that most tenants will value over all else is the speed in which you take care of their concerns.  If a tenant has an issue, strive to remedy the problem as quickly as possible.  If you rely on a property management company to do these things for you, check in from time to time with your tenant to make sure questions and concerns are being handled appropriately.  If not, consider getting a new property manager.  In the end, it is your property and your tenants that need to be protected and cared for. If your tenant has to wait a long time for issues to be resolved, they are likely to become increasingly upset.

 

3. Respect Your Tenant’s Privacy

Accessing your rental property is something you may have to do on occasion.  However, one way to erode the relationship you have with your tenants is to spring such entries on them at the last minute.  Aside from the fact that legally you have to provide a certain amount of prior notice before entering a property occupied by tenants, it is just common courtesy to discuss these things with them beforehand.

Inconveniencing your tenant should not be the goal at any time; this will make them feel uncomfortable and on edge. Rather, try working with your tenant’s schedule when it comes to routine property entries.  In addition, always follow up after any entry has been made to the premises to ensure your tenants did not experience anything that might cause them to be upset.

Also keep in mind when it comes to getting into contact with your tenants, do not harass them with multiple phone calls and voicemails.  Consider using various forms of communication so that you do not interrupt their daily life all the time or become bothersome.

 

4. Be Flexible

flexibility-important-tenant-landlord-relationship-howard-county-rental-property

Every property owner is going to have their standard set of rules – no painting, no pets, no roommates, etc.  However, if you have a high quality tenant that continues to pay on time, has very little to complain about, and is looking like a potential long-term renter, consider bending the rules if possible.

If your Howard County tenant comes to you or your property management company with a request, try to have a willingness to discuss it with them.  And, if the answer is still no, have the decency to provide a reason why and offer an alternative if possible.  This shows your tenant that you care enough to have open discussions about things and thus, despite a refusal from you, your tenant relationship will remain intact.

 

5. Employ a Qualified Property Management Company in Howard County

Maintaining a good tenant relationship when you have a property management company can be tricky.  Your property manager is an extension of you and your reputation as a property owner.  Employ the wrong one and you can easily lose a tenant.

Choose a property management company that values customer service.  Caring for your property, collecting rent, conducting inspections, and dealing with lawsuits is not all that property managers do.  In fact, they are likely to have most, if not all, contact with your tenants anytime there is a problem.

In the end, there are many things you can do to build a good relationship with your tenants.  Always keep in mind that your tenants:

  • Are your customers
  • Deserve a safe and habitable home to live in
  • Want the respect that any consumer would from a company they are doing business with

Remembering this will help you take the necessary steps to ensure your tenant relationship stays positive and strong.

 

If you are looking for an experienced property management company in Howard County that strives to make tenants feel welcome and comfortable in your rental properties, contact Bay Management Group today.

With an emphasis on tenant satisfaction, as well as the ability to properly manage all things property related for you, Bay Management Group has just what it takes to produce satisfied tenants that want to continue to lease from you term after term.


Outdoor Updates to Your Rental Property Worth the Price Tag

outdoor-rental-property-upgrades-worth-price-howard-county-maryland

Howard County is one of the most competitive rental property markets in Maryland.  With beautiful scenery, the excitement of city life, and a touch of history sprinkled throughout, it is no wonder people are rushing to make Howard County their home.  Plus, with plenty of work opportunities that pay well above the average American income paired with lower-than-average housing costs, Howard County offers an affordable place to grow professionally.

If you are a property owner that has an investment property in Howard County, you are likely aware that the competition is tough.  In fact, you may already know that attracting high quality tenants takes more than offering a decent rental rate and a clean and inviting property. But you may not know how to use outdoor upgrades on your rental property to your benefit.

Thus, today we are going to look at how to improve your rental home’s outdoor living space in order to appeal to tenants looking to call Howard County home.  The outdoor updates we are going to look at are going to make sense financially and be worthwhile in the long run.

 

The Best Outdoor Updates for Your Howard County Rental Property

Making outdoor rental property updates can become a costly venture if you are not careful.  In addition, if you do not do your research and make sure the upgrades you are performing are going to pay off in the long run, you could easily lose thousands of dollars in the process and never recover.  However, there are plenty of great opportunities to upgrade the exterior of your rental home without breaking the bank.

1. Tend to the Backyard Ground Space

Looking at a huge backyard is not appealing if it is a barren space of dirt or even plain grass.  Luckily, there are a number of easy and affordable ways to make your rental property’s backyard ground space look well-maintained and attractive:

  • Paving Stones. Placed in attractive patterns or designs, recycled paving stones can really make your ground space pop.  To add to the appeal, consider allowing moss or grass to grow up between the stones.  Not only does this help save you money on materials, it makes your ground space unique when compared to others with similar outdoor spaces
  • Gravel is an inexpensive way to fill a large ground space and make it look maintained and more finished.  Rather than leave the existing earth, choose a colorful gravel mixture to match the outdoor vibe you are looking to provide tenants.
  • Grass Alternatives. Grass is hard to maintain and can be expensive if you have a large ground space.  However, using alternatives such as thyme or lamium instead of grass are increasingly popular choices for giving your backyard that lovely green look without all the cost.  Other great choices that add texture and color include Blue Oatgrass, Feather Reedgrass, colorful Flax, Fountaingrass, and Zoysia.
  • Getting creative with items you may already have on hand for planters is a great way to upgrade your backyard without having to invest a lot of money.  For example, wine crates, barrels, tires, or old pallets make great and rustic looking planters.

 

2.  Add Flowers and Trees

thoughtful-flowers-trees-upgrade-howard-county-rental-property

Although this may seem like an obvious thing to do when it comes to upgrading your rental property’s outdoor space, the truth is that putting some extra thought into your choices and methodically choosing your flowers and trees can go a long way.

Flowers

One of the best things you can add to your property’s exterior, whether in the front or back yard areas, is perennials.

Perennials flower throughout the year, during every season, and require very little maintenance on your part (or your tenant’s).

The only thing to keep in mind with perennials is that they are typically more expensive upfront.  However, since they return year after year and add beauty to your yard, the initial investment pays for itself over time.

Here are some great perennial options that would work well for your Howard County yard space:

  • Daylilies
  • Coral Bells
  • Russian Sage
  • Lavender
  • Delphinium

If you choose to plant annual flowers, as opposed to including perennials in your yard space, that’s okay too.  Though these types of flowers only bloom once a year, the money you invest upfront will be significantly lower meaning you can add more color and texture to your yard for the same amount of expenditure.

Consider using dropseed rather than planting full-grown flowers as this will yield more foliage throughout the year.  Poppies and sweet peas in particular are excellent annual flower options.

Trees

When it comes to adding trees to your Howard County rental property, here are some things to keep in mind to make this potentially expensive upgrade worthwhile:

  • Use young, slow growing varieties as they are often cheaper than full grown trees
  • Include “shade trees” that are strategically placed near the exterior of your property to help save your tenants money on their cooling and heating bills
  • Use large trees such as Evergreens to help block wind
  • Choose species native to Maryland that are suited to the extreme climate and that require less maintenance
  • Install a watering system that soaks rather than sprays to keep water costs lower and your trees alive without the help of your tenant or a professional landscaper
  • Shop around and be mindful of what time of the year you are purchasing to give your trees the best chance at living

 

3.  Bring the Indoors, Outdoors

bring-indoors-outside-howard-county-rental-property-outdoor-upgrades

Another excellent way to pique the interest of potential tenants is to add a little bit of indoor living to the outdoor area of your rental home.  For example, one of the most popular amenities tenants look for in a backyard space is an outdoor kitchen of some sort, complete with a functioning sitting area.  This means an outdoor BBQ, counter and cooking spaces (such as a stovetop), sinks, an island with barstools, full patio furniture, and even a fire pit for enjoying the later evening hours.

You may want to consider a patio or deck as well.  Adding to your tenant’s personal enjoyment of your property, patios or decks are a great way to bring interior living space outside.  Providing an entertaining and relaxing place for tenants outdoors is an upgrade that will not go unnoticed.

In the end, being able to host a large amount of people is a major selling point for some tenants.  And, with these kind of rental property updates, not only will you be able to place higher quality tenants that are willing to pay more for such amenities in your property, these are likely to be the kind of tenants that will lease from you longer in order to enjoy the great rental they have.

 

4. Vinyl Siding Replacement

As one of the most preferred outdoor property upgrades these days, replacing your investment property’s siding comes with plenty of benefits:

  • It gives your property’s exterior a modern and upgraded look
  • It is relatively inexpensive
  • It is very durable even for the sometimes harsh Howard County climate
  • It requires very little maintenance
  • It typically comes with exceptional warranties

ROI Statistics

In order to understand how adding certain upgrades to your Howard County can be worthwhile in the long run, let’s look at some convincing return on investment statistics:

  • Replacing your older Howard County rental property’s siding: 80% ROI
  • Adding outdoor lighting: 50% ROI
  • Paving a gravel driveway: 50-75% ROI
  • Professional deck addition: 73% ROI
  • Landscaping: 28% additional home value = higher rental rates
  • Replacing exterior doors: 101% ROI

Offering your tenants some of the above-mentioned outdoor improvements will produce many worthwhile benefits.  Not only will exterior improvements put your property ahead of even the stiffest competition, it will appeal to high quality tenants looking for a rental home that exceeds their expectations.

 

If you have a rental property in the Howard County region and are looking for a property management company to put it on the market, contact Bay Management Group.  Not only do we help ensure that your property is maximizing its curb appeal, we also advertise your property across many channels, screen potential tenants, and draft solid lease agreements, among many other property management-related tasks.

So contact us today to ensure that your outdoor updates to your rental property will yield you the return on investment you deserve.


How to Handle the Dreaded Pest Control in Your Investment Property

pest-control-howard-county-rental-propertyIn the past, we have discussed some of the legal considerations Howard County property owners should be aware of when it comes to pest control in a rental property.

In short, as a property owner you are legally responsible for providing a pest-free property to your tenants upon the start of a lease term.  From there, you can either offer your tenants pest control services or hand over the responsibility of maintaining a pest-free property entirely to them.

Now that you know some of the best ways to prevent a pest infestation in your investment property while it is occupied by tenants, we are going to focus on how to handle pest control whether a tenant occupies the property or not.

 

Pest Control in Your Howard County Rental

Everyone knows that bugs and rodents can quickly turn into a property owner’s biggest nightmare.  And the truth is, no matter how old your property is, there is always the possibility that unwanted pests will enter your property during a vacancy and expose themselves once new tenants take up residence.

Battling pest problems in your Howard County rental property is best accomplished by understanding the causes of pest infestations as well as having pest prevention strategies on hand that both you and your tenants can use.

 

Common Causes of Pest Infestations

Here are some of the most common ways pests or rodents can enter your Howard County rental, regardless of whether it is vacant.

pests-enter-through-open-doors-windows-howard-county-rental-property

Doors and Windows

Doors that do not seal tightly against thresholds and windows with worn weather-stripping make for easy entryways for common household pests.  More so, doors that lack door sweeps and windows that have screens with holes in them are also obvious ways small pests can invite themselves into your property.

Vents and Exhaust Fans

Though you probably do not give much thought to the air vents in your ceilings or the exhaust fans in the back of your property’s dryer unit, the fact is that many bugs and even small rodents do. Crawling through your home’s internal maze of vents, pests such as insects and rodents can easily sneak past improperly sealed vents and exhaust fans.

Property Foundation

Cracks in your rental’s foundation will lead the way directly into your property if you are not aware that they exist and if you do not fix the problem immediately.  Any time there is an eroded barrier between your property and the soil, there is a chance that pests will enter the property and take up residence right alongside your tenants.

Chimney Caps

Small rodents such as squirrels, birds, raccoons, and other critters love to make their homes inside of unused chimneys.  After all, a sturdy chimney keeps rodents well hidden from predators and offers great protection from the harsh weather.

Walls

Inside your property’s walls, there are thousands of wonderful places for pests and rodents to cozy up in and call home.  The problem with walls is that anytime you have something passing through your wall (such as a pipe, electrical wire, or ventilation item), a new entryway is created for bugs and rodents to use.

 

How to Deal With Those Pesky Pests

Now that you have a good idea of what causes pests to enter your rental property, let’s further discuss how to handle the problem of a pest infiltration before it gets out of hand and you are forced to call in the experts.

1. Put Food Away

clean-food-messes-keep-pests-away-howard-county-rental-property

It may seem obvious that leaving out open food will invite pests and small critters to help themselves to their next meal.  However, time and again people leave open food containers out or fail to clean up crumbs or food messes from cooking.  By encouraging tenants to clean up after themselves, you will cut down on many of the pest problems tenants typically complain about during their lease term.

In other words, if you make a mess clean it up.  If you have leftover food place it in airtight-sealed containers.  If you eat somewhere other than at the table, bring all remnants of food, dishes and utensils to the kitchen for washing.

2. Delegate Landscaping Duties

If you have a rental property with lots of greenery in both the front and backyards, delegate in the lease agreement who will be responsible for maintaining the yards.  This may mean offering your tenants a monthly landscaping service to handle the yard work for them.  Or, this may mean your tenants will take on the responsibility of cutting back large shrubbery, hauling in extra wood, or trimming tall grass.

In the end, no matter whose duty it is, the very act of regular landscaping will help reduce the amount of pests that take up home in your yard.  In addition, it will also significantly lower the chances these same pests will eventually crawl over to your rental and let themselves in to live.

3. Inspect Your Property

As mentioned above, things such as worn windows and doors can allow pests and rodents to easily enter your property both when tenants are residing there and when your property is vacant.  Either way, this problem needs immediate handling.

Did you know mice only need a dime size hole to crawl through to get into your rental and rats only need a quarter sized hole?

This disturbing fact alone should be enough to get you and your property management company into gear when it comes to regularly inspecting your property for natural wear.  Start by fixing screens in the windows and doors that have tears, installing new door sweeps on all doors, and making sure windows seal tightly when they close. In addition, any holes in the walls, both inside and outside your property, should be properly sealed to discourage rodents from entering. Altogether, this small task of regularly inspecting your property will have a dramatic impact on what kind of rodents pop up in your rental unannounced.

4. Enlist a Professional

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If your rental property is in an area known for being wrought with insects and rodents, consider offering your tenants pest control services to keep pests and rodents to a minimum.  You can even have your property management company write into the signed lease agreement that any pest issues that arise in-between service times will become the tenant’s responsibility.  This way you are both you and your tenants are working together to keep pests at bay.

Before your Howard County rental becomes infested with pests and rodents and the heavy hand of a professional exterminator is needed, be proactive and handle the issue of pest control yourself.  By implementing some easy preventative strategies, as well as taking action to keep things under control, the likelihood of you or your tenants experiencing any major pest problems is greatly reduced.

In addition, drafting a solid lease agreement that outlines both you and your tenant’s responsibilities regarding pest control will help prevent the chance of having to deal with a landlord-tenant dispute.

 

One great way to make sure you get the most legally compliant and thorough lease agreement is to enlist the help of Howard County’s best property management company, Bay Management Group.  With an experienced staff that deals only in property management, Bay Management Group property managers can get you the highest quality tenants that will not let pests become an issue in your property in the first place. In addition, we will draw up an exceptional lease agreement that both you and your tenants can agree to.

 

So, contact us today and see how Bay Management Group can help you manage your rental property and ensure that pests and rodents will not be welcomed into your property without a fight.


5 Tips to Boost Your Tenant Retention

boost-tenant-retention-howard-county-rental-propertyTenant retention in Howard County is serious business.  If you or your property management company do not look for ways to boost tenant retention, chances are you will experience more rental turnaround than you wish to see.  Even worse, you may have to deal with extended property vacancies, which will cut deeply into your annual income.

Luckily, there are several things you can do as a property owner to boost tenant retention in your Howard County investment property.  And today, we will be sharing five exceptional ways of doing just that.  So read on, share this information with your property manager, and begin your work towards better tenant retention rates this upcoming year.

 

Top Ways to Keep Tenants in Your Howard County Rentals

When you have a plan in place to prevent existing tenants from leaving your Howard County rental property come the end of the their lease term, we call that tenant retention.

It is crucial you take tenant retention seriously because it is cheaper to keep existing tenants in place year after year than it is to outfit your property with new tenants at the end of each lease term.  After all, property listings and advertisements, tenant screening procedures, lease drafting, and property tours all cost money.  Not to mention the loss of monthly rent income you will experience during a vacancy or the time you will have to set aside to place new tenants each time your property becomes available.

Here are some excellent ways you and your Howard County property management company can aim to keep current tenants satisfied and willing to renew their lease at the end of their term.

 

1. Be Available

landlord-available-tenants-howard-county-rental-propertyIf you employ Baltimore’s best property management company to manage your rental properties, you can rest assured that your tenants will be able to communicate with someone from the company at all times.  However, for those that self-manage their properties, you must give your tenants a way to get in touch with you.

Whether it is a simple inquiry about when rent is due or an emergency about a broken water heater, your tenants need to know who to contact at all times, even after hours.  If you ignore your tenants over the course of their lease, they are bound to go elsewhere in search of better customer service.

 

2. Be Flexible

Everyone that is a property owner knows how much hard work and money it takes to purchase the perfect rental property, maintain it over the years, and allow others to live in it.  And that’s just the thing.  Your tenants live in your property.  They call your property “home.”  They raise children, celebrate holidays, enjoy visitors, and even nurse themselves better when sick – all in your property.

Being able to personalize their home, even though it is a rented space, makes a world of difference to tenants.  This is especially true if a tenant is planning to stay long term in your property.  Your tenants may wish to add additional shelving to the garage area, paint a mural in the new baby’s room, or even put some nails in the wall to hang family pictures.

By allowing your tenants to make what you feel are reasonable changes to the interior of your property you allow them to feel more at home.  And, with a quality property management team on your side, drafting an airtight lease that addresses how these changes are to be dealt with both during and after the lease term will guarantee that you never have to worry that your property is being damaged in any way.

 

3. Maintain the Property

One of the best ways to make sure your tenants remain satisfied during their lease term is to maintain the property they are renting from you at all times.  However, this should go beyond your legal obligation to make the property a safe and hazard-free living space and the fact that it is your responsibility to fix any leaking sinks, broken windows, or even non-functioning appliances.  Rather, you should aim to go above and beyond your tenants’ expectations and care for all maintenance-related issues in a timely manner.

Here are some creative ways to provide your tenants with exceptional customer service in the form of property maintenance:

  • Offer landscaping services or pool cleaning free of charge
  • Upgrade the flooring, window treatments, or appliances come lease renewal time
  • Have a 24/7 on call emergency repair staff for any after hour issues
  • Consider getting online when it comes to maintenance requests
  • Add a working security system to keep tenants feeling safe
  • Regularly monitor your maintenance staff to make sure they are treating tenants in a professional and kind manner
  • Always follow up on any maintenance requests and ensure tenant satisfaction

Following these tips will help you build a lasting relationship with your tenants.  And, if you are lucky, it will encourage them to sign on the dotted line at the end of their lease term.

 

4. Ask for Feedback

tenant-feedback-retention-howard-county-rental-propertyAsking your tenants for feedback can be a scary thing.  Oftentimes companies feel they are doing everything right, only to find out their customers are livid about something they were completely unaware of.  However, negative feedback can be helpful in retaining current tenants, or at least those you place in your property in the future.

Try sending out a simple survey to all of your Howard County tenants asking them various questions about their experience leasing from you and your property management company.  Not only will tenants likely highlight things you are doing right, they will also point out your faults.  Additionally, it will also help you determine whether your Howard County property management company is up to par.

In the end, tenants like to feel heard. As a property owner, you can use this feedback to better your tenants’ experience as well as show existing tenants you care enough to be proactive and make changes, thus fostering their desire to renew for at least one more lease term.

 

5. Make Tenant Screening a Priority

Something we at Bay Management Group strive to do is keep tenant screening as one of the main priorities when it comes to tenant placement in your investment property.  This is because placing quality tenants in your property from the start will likely lead to multiple lease renewals.

By properly screening tenants from the start, you weed out those likely to miss rent payments, damage property, become disruptive to neighbors, and even engage in criminal behavior.  In addition, if you have high quality tenants in your property (those you want to retain) you are more likely yourself to do what it takes to keep them satisfied and wanting to renew their lease agreement.

Altogether, even following just one of the above-mentioned tips for boosting tenant retention has the potential to significantly impact your rental property’s vacancy rates.  Better yet, having an experienced Howard County property management company such as Bay Management Group to help you retain tenants will help lower the stresses that come with extended property vacancies.

 

If you are in the Baltimore area and are searching for the leading property management company, look no further.  Contact Bay Management Group today and see how we can help you with your tenant screening procedures, lease drafting, and tenant retention plan.  Offering top notch customer service, a 24/7 maintenance crew for issues of all sizes, and the ability to forge lasting relationships with your current tenants, Bay Management Group works closely with you to boost tenant retention and give you the peace of mind everything is running smooth in your rental property.


How to Conserve Water and Energy in Your Rental Property

howard-county-property-management-tips-conserve-water-energy

Water and energy conservation are at the forefront of many peoples’ minds.  As the cost of energy continues to rise, major droughts are also becoming a real threat in regions all across the country.  Thus, as the number of people wanting to become environmentally friendly with their daily activity increases, it is important as a rental property owner to do your best to meet all of those concerns.  In addition, it is helpful to share conservation tips with your tenants as well so you can work together to save water and energy in your rental property.

Every household uses its fair share of utilities such as electric, water, and natural gas services to function on a daily basis.  And, while your Howard County tenants likely wish they could forgo paying their monthly utility bills, there is just no way around it.

That’s why today we will discuss some of the best things you and your tenant can do together to save water and energy in your rental property. Not only will this lower your tenant’s utility bills, it will benefit the environment as well.  And in both instances, every little bit helps.

 

Simple Tips for Conservation in Your Howard County Rental Property

 

Take a Look at Your Lighting

change-lighting-conserve-energy-rental-property-howard-county-maryland

According to the experts at ENERGY STAR, one of the best (and easiest) ways you can help lower your tenant’s impact on the limited amount of energy resources available is to replace commonly used lightbulbs throughout the property with ENERGY STAR certified lightbulbs.  Providing a lot of light for very little energy output, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) not only save on the energy bill, they typically last longer than traditional incandescent lightbulbs.

Further, though seemingly obvious, remind tenants to turn off lights when leaving a room, and definitely when leaving the house.  This waste of energy is unnecessary and remembering to turn the lights off can make a big difference in the long run.

 

Install a Low-Flow Showerhead

Getting tenants to take 5-10 minute showers may be out of the question.  And, if your tenant has a large family, monitoring water use can become overwhelming and frustrating, even if they want to reduce their use and their monthly bill.

However, installing a low-flow model showerhead can cut down on water use dramatically, without sacrificing the quality of water flow.  In addition, if you want to take it one step further and really help your tenants save water, consider installing a smart shower adapter that slows the flow of water to a dribble while heating up.  Then, once the water has reached an appropriate temperature, simply pull a cord to allow for the normal flow of water.  This may save your tenants up to 7,800 gallons of water a year for a family of three.

 

Care for the Refrigerator

You may not be aware, but your Howard County refrigerator is one of the biggest energy hogs in your property.  By encouraging tenants to keep the fridge coils clean on the back of the appliance, as well as adjusting the internal temperatures to meet their needs, they can save a ton of energy and cash over the course of their lease term.

 

Get Decorative

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Using window blinds, shades, or curtains can add some lovely visual appeal to the inside of your rental home.  This is especially useful if you are giving walk-through tours of your property during a vacancy spell.

Better yet, these window treatments can be appealing to potential tenants who wish to lower their energy bill and keep the property at a more consistent temperature throughout the season changes.  After all, heavy curtains or shades will block heat loss during the winter and prevent heat gain during the summer.  And the great thing about window treatments is that they are adjustable for letting sunshine in or controlling privacy.

 

Think About the Outdoors

Many times people think about ways to conserve water and energy inside their rental property, but fail to think about what is happening outside.  Here are some great things to tell your tenants upon move-in that will help them save money and water:

  • Do not overwater the lawn. If your rental property does not have an automatic sprinkler system for watering plants and grass, have tenants water during the early morning or late evening to prevent over-evaporation.
  • Get a nozzle. To prevent unnecessary loss of water while watering the lawn or washing the car, outfit the hose with an adjustable spray nozzle for controlling the spray.
  • Consider rain barrels. If allowed in your region, consider encouraging tenants to make use of rain barrels for watering their lawns on days with plenty of sunshine.  Using this natural water resource is a great way to re-use what nature provides.
  • Maintain the yard. Regularly trimming back large bushes or shrubs and removing weeds will prevent over-watering of plants in the yard that do not need it.

 

Use Power Bars

Although it is probably impossible to get everyone, your tenants included, to unplug every appliance in your rental property that is not currently being used, there is a solution that can make a difference.  For easy to reach areas, such as in the kitchen, have tenants use power bars for appliances that are not always in use.

Things like the toaster, blender, coffee maker, and mixer are good examples.  By plugging each of those into one power bar, your tenants will be able to unplug the whole set of appliances more easily.  The reverse is also true – that re-plugging in those appliances when needed will not seem like such a hassle.

 

Flush Your Way to Savings

To use less water per toilet flush, try adding a sealed plastic bottle filled with gravel inside of the property’s toilet tank.  This way every time the toilet flushes, less water is used.  This can be especially helpful for tenants that have large families.

There is no realistic way of avoiding constant toilet flushes in your property.  However, saving a bit of water per flush can make a difference over time.

 

Kitchen Tips

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Here are some of the easiest things you and your tenants can do to reduce water use and energy output in the kitchen:

  • Install ENERGY STAR certified appliances
  • Avoid defrosting frozen food with hot water
  • Only run a full dishwasher and scrape rather than pre-rinse dishes
  • Keep the freezer stocked at all times to maintain the coldest temps possible
  • Do not open and close the oven multiple times while cooking
  • Repair all leaky faucets and pipes; even a small drip adds up over time
  • Ensure proper seals on refrigerator doors to prevent cold air loss through a worn seal
  • If handwashing dishes, do not let water run constantly

In the end, people use their fair share of water and energy on a daily basis.  There is no way around that.  However, by understanding the impact you and your tenants can have on the utility bills and environment by making an effort to conserve both water and energy output, you can end up doing a great deal of good in the long run.

 

If you have a rental property in the Howard County area and are in the process of looking for a property management company that not only cares about your property, but your tenant’s monthly bills, and the environment at large, contact Bay Management Group today.

Striving to meet the needs of Maryland property owners and provide exceptional customer service to tenants, Bay Management Group not only handles all things property related, but also takes the extra step in educating both the property owner and the tenant on how to save money and become more environmentally friendly.