Top 4 Tips To Smoothly Handle Your Rental’s Emergency Maintenance

How to Handle Rental Maintenance Emergencies

Being a rental property owner leaves very little time for dull moments.

To start, you search out and purchase the “perfect” property, perform upgrades and renovations so your investment becomes a hot commodity, and then interview interested tenants until you find the ideal one.

Once all of that work is done, you may feel ready to rest.

However, after you place tenants in your property and start collecting monthly rent payments, there is always a chance that your tenants are going to call you with an emergency rental maintenance issue. 

In the rental property business, whether you enlist the help of Columbia property management or not, it is your duty to keep your tenants safe, as well as protect your investment.

And, despite your property being in tip-top shape, things can happen when you least expect them to.

Knowing how to handle emergency maintenance issues in your rental property is something all property owners should learn.

Today we are going to outline some of our best property management tips for handling emergency maintenance request so, should the unthinkable happen, you have an idea of what to do.

 

What is Considered a Rental Property Emergency?

What is Considered a Rental Property Emergency

What you consider an emergency situation, and what your tenants consider an emergency situation, are often very different things.

Here is a breakdown of some of the most serious emergency scenarios your tenants can experience while leasing from you:

  • Loss of heat during the cold months, and loss of air during the hot months, depending on where your property is located
  • Gas leaks
  • Water leaks or floods
  • Broken windows
  • Exterior doors that will not lock
  • Fire
  • Loss of power
  • An intruder break-in

 

As you can see, all of these situations are very serious in nature and not only require your help, but the help of professionals as well.

If any one of these situations occurred in your rental property, your investment is at risk for damage, as well as your tenants’ health and safety.

 

How to Handle an Emergency Maintenance Request

If your Columbia tenant contacts you with an emergency maintenance request, there are things you can do to help resolve the situation as quickly and efficiently as possible, no matter how serious it is.

Additionally, there are proactive steps you can take to minimize the occurrence of an emergency maintenance issue at your rental.

 

1. Inform Your Tenants About What to Do During Emergencies

Informing your tenants at move-in about emergencies is one of the best things you can do to reduce the number of emergencies that occur, and resolve them as quickly as possible if they happen anyway.

Here is some key information you should include in your tenant welcome package that will help tenants know what to do in the case of an emergency:

  • Provide a detailed list outlining what a true emergency is
  • Explain the procedures for putting in a general maintenance request versus an emergency request
  • Include any pertinent contact information (e.g. you, your property management company, the after-hours call center, the maintenance crew, and any emergency vendors you have approved to work on your rental)

Prepare Your Tenants for Emergencies in Your Rental Property

In addition, it’s a good idea to give your tenants some emergency tips for things such as

  • Turning off the main water line to your property
  • How to reset breakers
  • Who to call in the case of extreme emergencies such as fires or home intrusions
  • How to get to safety should an emergency threatening their health or safety occur

 

2. Discuss the Issue with Your Tenant Before Taking Action

If you self-manage your Columbia rental property, and you receive an emergency call from your tenant, be sure to discuss the issue in full before jumping into action.

This will assure both you and your tenant that the situation is indeed an emergency, and make planning your next steps much easier, since you will both be on the same page about how to move forward.

  • Non-Emergency. If you and your tenant decide the situation at hand is not a true emergency, reassure them that the problem will be handled efficiently. Explain what the next steps are, and when they can expect someone to come by and fix the issue. Always ask if there is anything else you can for them – customer service like that is what makes tenants happy, and is what gets you lease renewals.
  • Emergency. If the situation is an emergency, you should immediately make sure your tenant is safe. Advise them to get out of the house immediately if their health or safety is at risk, and get alternate contact information such as a cell phone number so you can keep in touch. You should also remind them to call the authorities, if appropriate. It’s also a good idea to stop by your property to make sure the authorities, maintenance crew, or vendors are handling everything properly.

 

In situations like this, it is more important than ever to have the right insurance in place as well.

Homeowners insurance to protect the structure of your investment property is necessary when you own rental property.

In addition, requiring your tenants to have renters insurance prior to moving in to your rental will help mitigate some of the damages (specifically when it comes to their personal belongings), and will help house your tenant if the property becomes inhabitable.

 

3. Have Your Own Contact List Available

Provide Tenants Your Contact List for Rental Property Emergencies

It’s not enough to provide your tenants with a list of people to contact in the case of an emergency – you too should have your own Rolodex of vendors to call in the case of an emergency.

This is especially true if you don’t enlist the help of a property management company.

If you do employ a property management company, they will either have a maintenance crew for you to contact in the case of an emergency maintenance issue, or a list of approved contractors that you can contact to resolve the emergency.

Either way, having your own contact list readily available will lessen the stress once a call comes in that your property is on fire, flooding, or otherwise falling apart.

 

4. Stay Proactive

Lastly, as yet another way to help reduce the number of rental property emergencies you and your tenants experience, you should stay proactive.

Take a look at some of the easiest ways to do that:

  • Perform thorough move-in and move-out inspections with every new tenant so you always know the condition of your property, and can tend to small maintenance issues before they become emergencies
  • Conduct routine seasonal inspections to ensure your tenants are caring for your rental properly and no major maintenance issues have developed
  • Work with a property management company to help with anything maintenance-related – inspections, maintenance fixes, after-hours calls, tenant complaints, insurance requirements, and even lease drafting so everyone involved understands their role in preventing property emergencies

 

Many property owners struggle with maintenance in general, so emergency situations can feel entirely overwhelming.

That’s why having a property management company such as Bay Management Group on your side is so valuable.

We have a 24/7/365 maintenance crew on hand to take care of all maintenance issues – not just the emergencies. We also have highly qualified professional contractors that we work with on a regular basis that provide timely and affordable workmanship.

So, if you need help managing your Columbia rental property’s maintenance requests, contact Bay Management Group today.


Top Addendums to Include in a Lease Agreement in Columbia, MD

Top Addendums to Include in Your Maryland Rental Property Lease

Drawing up an airtight lease from the very beginning is one of the most important things you and your Columbia, Maryland property management company can do.

Doing this prevents any confusion amongst the parties regarding what is to be expected throughout the lease term, and helps to protect both property owner and tenant.

If you are currently self-managing your rental property, you might want to consider beefing up your lease drafting skills.

In fact, unless you have a finely tuned lease template, now might be a good time to enlist the help of a professional property manager in Columbia to put one together.

Knowing what to include in your lease agreement can be challenging, especially at first. And, the truth is, basic lease agreement templates found on the internet do not always address your most pressing needs.

This can lead to a lot of confusion and heated discussions between you and your tenants throughout their lease term.

That’s why today we are going to examine what a lease addendum is, and some of the top ones all property owners should include in their lease agreements.

 

What is a Lease Addendum?

Typically speaking, a lease addendum is a lease provision that changes, clarifies, or nullifies a part of an original lease document. Once added, it becomes a legal part of the signed contract, and is enforceable.

That said, there seems to be some confusion between the terms lease addendum and lease amendment. We are here to clarify.

 

Lease Addendum

This is an additional lease clause or provision attached to the lease agreement template that adds or excludes certain terms.

At the time of signing, the lease addendums are included and agreed to by all parties.

A great example of a lease addendum is a provision outlining the right of entry by the property owner. Entry by a landlord throughout the lease term is not unusual, and needs addressing in the lease agreement.

Sometimes, a separate clause is drafted and added to the back of the general lease agreement so both the property owner and tenant understand what constitutes a legal entry of the premises.

 

Lease Amendment

On the other hand, if you and your tenants have already agreed to sign a lease agreement, and then want to add a provision or clause altering the original document, this would be considered a lease amendment.

A perfect example of this is a pet policy.

Keep in mind, this can be included during the initial drafting of the lease agreement as an addendum.

However, if the original lease made no mention of a pet policy, because your tenants did not have any pets, and halfway through the lease they decided to adopt a dog, an amendment to the lease agreement will be needed.

This will outline any rules you have regarding pets in your rental, and will be signed and attached to the already-finalized lease agreement.

 

Top Addendums to Include in Your Columbia Lease Agreement

1. Smoking

No Smoking Addendum is Popular With Maryland Rental Property

Whether you decide to make your Columbia rental property smoke free or not is a personal decision. However, if you wish to prevent smoking in your property, make sure to include a no-smoking addendum to the lease.

Clarify whether this policy applies to guests, and what the consequences are (including loss of security deposit) for breaching the agreement.

 

2. Pest Control

Pest control is a huge point of contention between landlords and tenants. There is plenty of debate over who is responsible for pest control, who is in charge of resolving a pest infestation, and who decides what constitutes an inhabitable living condition.

That’s why including a detailed pest control addendum is crucial to avoiding a landlord-tenant dispute. Just make sure to investigate your local laws regarding pest control, and clearly outline each party’s responsibilities.

 

3. Renters Insurance

Another critical lease addendum all Columbia property owners should include in their lease agreements is the requirement of renters insurance. It’s inexpensive, easy to get, and covers your tenants in a variety of situations, so you don’t have to.

Renters insurance typically covers the loss of your tenant’s personal property in the case of an emergency. It also takes some, if not all, of the liability off you if someone is injured while on your property.

Paired with your homeowners insurance, this provision is great for protecting your investment.

 

4. Roommates

Roommate Addendum Popular in Maryland Rental Properties

Your tenants need to understand your stance on roommates.

It is important you outline details regarding short- and long-term guests as well. After all, you don’t want to end up with adult tenants in your property that have not been screened, or are not paying rent.

In addition, you may want to include a separate lease addendum addressing the issue of subletting your rental. This way, you don’t end up with brand new tenants you have never met in your property mid-term.

 

5. Maintenance

Maintenance is a hot issue for tenants that lease your rental from you.

They want to know that at any time, no matter how minor the issue is, you are going to be available for maintenance and repairs.

Outline exactly what you will be responsible for, who to contact in the case of minor and emergency matters, and what type of maintenance and repair service they can expect.

In addition, do not fail to mention financial responsibilities of both parties, as well as maintenance issues that will be the responsibility of the tenants to handle (such as landscaping, filter changes, etc.).

 

6. Utilities

Include a Utility Addendum for Your Maryland Rental Property

Some property owners may offer covering the costs of some utilities as an incentive bonus for their tenants.

Or, you may choose to make your tenants responsible for all of the utilities.

Regardless, ensure your tenants know exactly what utilities they are to have placed in their own name.

In addition, any utilities that must remain under your name as the homeowner, but that you would like the tenant to pay, should be explained in this addendum.

This way, there is never any confusion as to who will pay for what, and when.

 

7. Move-Out Instructions

As much as you would love to have your existing tenants renew their lease with you forever, this is not a reasonable expectation.

That said, having clearly defined move-out instructions is the key to a smooth end of lease transition. Here are some things to include:

  • Forwarding address requirement
  • Key turn-in process
  • Cleaning procedures
  • Charge estimates for incomplete tasks
  • Charge estimates for broken or missing items
  • Supply costs and labor charges
  • Utility statuses
  • Move-out inspection process

 

Make sure your tenant understands the entire move-out process so that you don’t end up with a tenant that has disappeared with all of your keys, and has left a filthy rental behind that you have to take care of.

 

8. Early Termination

Early Termination Addendum Maryland Rental Property

Speaking of the end of a lease term, another lease addendum that is strongly suggested you include in your Columbia lease agreement is the early termination clause.

There might be an instance where your Columbia tenant needs to break the lease agreement early.

And, while this is not ideal, it is in your best interest to outline the terms regarding an early lease termination to preserve your losses as much as possible.

 

Other Important Lease Addendums

As you continue building your rental property business, and you gain experience, you will quickly build a solid list of lease addendums to add to every lease agreement that gets put into place.

Here are some other important ones to consider:

  • Appliances (including maintenance)
  • Lock changes
  • Fees and violation consequences
  • Use of rental for home business
  • Alterations
  • HOA terms
  • Right of entry
  • Extended absence procedures
  • Pet fees
  • Rent collection procedures

 

Many of these lease addendums may very well be a part of your basic lease agreement.

However, for those times when you need to add something specific onto an existing lease agreement before you and your tenants sign and begin the move-in process, it’s good to know what types of things can easily be turned into lease addendums.

 

If you own rental property and are in need of an experienced property management company in Columbia who knows exactly what should be included in a lease agreement, contact Bay Management Group now.

We have the expertise to draft airtight lease agreements, complete with every lease addendum you could possibly need. We guarantee that both you and your tenants will know exactly what is expected of each other, and that you and your investment property will be protected to the fullest extent of the law.


6 Reasons to Make Your Howard County Property Eco-Friendly

How to Make Your Howard County Rental Property Eco-Friendly

Did you know 40% of the United States’ total annual energy consumption is swallowed up by residential and commercial sectors?

That’s a lot of energy.

In addition, it is suggested that Americans leave an average carbon footprint of nearly 5 times the worldwide average.

Measuring in at 50 tons of total greenhouse emissions per United States household each year, this is not something to be proud of.

Now, imagine how much greener and cleaner our environment would be if everyone combined their efforts to make their homes more eco-friendly.

In fact, if everyone took part in conserving the environment, the country as a whole would see a healthier planet, healthier citizens, and healthier plants and animals.

If you own rental property in the bustling area of Howard County, where income is high, students are excelling, and unemployment rates are low, you should consider making your rental more eco-friendly.

There are several reasons why all property owners should aim to make their investment properties more eco-friendly.

And today, we are going to explain those reasons in hopes of inspiring you to take part in conserving our planet’s natural resources.

 

Why Making Your Howard County Rental Property Eco-Friendly Is A Great Move

 

1. Your Rental Property’s Value Will Increase

Making Your Rental Property Eco-Friendly Will Increase Property Value

People are more aware than ever of how their behaviors and lifestyles are affecting the Earth as a whole.

This applies to your Howard County tenants as well.

Leasing a green rental property is enticing to many of your prospective tenants – they want to know they are doing their part when it comes to being eco-friendly.

Plus, they want to enjoy the benefits that a green rental offers them, such as healthier air to breathe, and lower utility bills.

Even if you only splurge on small eco-friendly upgrades to your home, – such as installing window treatments or upgrading your appliances to energy efficient models – your property becomes more appealing to those seeking an environmentally friendly rental.

With a tenant pool full of people wanting an energy efficient home, you will be able to command the highest rent rate possible, and reap the benefits in the form of additional rental income.

 

2. It’s Cost Efficient

The United States Green Building Council estimates that by increasing our eco-friendly building efforts, the United States can achieve upwards of $1.2 billion dollars in energy savings between the years 2015 and 2018.

You would be wise to think that those savings will trickle down to your Howard County tenants at one point or another if your investment property is part of this green effort.

In fact, more money in your tenant’s pocket means on-time rent payments, more money to spend on higher rent rates, and of course, more money to be spent on shopping, dining, and entertainment in the area your rental property is located.

All of this is helpful in keeping your tenants in your property for the long haul.

 

3. It Helps the Job Market

Eco Friendly Rental Properties Help The Job Market in Howard County

Although not directly related to your profits as a Howard County property owner, green construction can have the same trickle-down effect mentioned above.

Spurring nearly 1 million jobs in the United States by 2018, green construction is expected to directly influence the nation’s unemployment rate and economy.

And, as a property owner, you know that if the prospective tenants in your area have high-paying, stable jobs, they will have more money to spend on a rental home such as yours.

In addition, by investing in larger scale projects such as installing solar panels on your rental property’s roof, not only are you taking part in the eco-friendly movement with your own property, you are employing people that might otherwise not have had stable jobs before the green movement.

 

4. Your Tenants Will Breathe Easier

Eco-friendly rental homes offer your tenants better indoor air quality than any non-environmentally friendly, new or pre-owned home will because of the materials used to build them.

This makes being inside physically better for your tenants and their families, which is something any tenant can appreciate.

If your rental was not built to be eco-friendly, that’s okay.

One of the best ways to ensure healthy air for your tenants is to use paints and cleaners that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

This reduces your tenant’s exposure to carcinogens such as formaldehyde.

 

5. Your Green Rental Will Last Longer

Your Eco-Friendly Howard County Rental Property Will Last Longer

Sometimes recycled materials, even those used in the construction of your rental property, are more durable than traditional construction materials, giving your rental property the chance to last longer than ever.

For example, using recycled steel over wood planks, concrete as a form of home insulation, and dark colored roofing materials made out of recycled products, all help to make your property last longer, keep utility bills lower, and offer better health conditions for those residing in the actual property.

In the end, by using recycled (and oftentimes, more durable) materials on your rental property, you will spend less time and money maintaining your property, which means more money in your pocket.

 

6. You Will Lessen Your Impact on the Surrounding Area

Having an eco-friendly rental property does more for the environment than just help your tenants save on their energy bills and breathe easier.

Green building has less of an overall impact on the surrounding environment – that is the goal behind the entire movement of “going green.”

For example, construction companies will only take down foliage that is directly in the way of the project they are working on.

By keeping your backyard landscaping as natural as possible, even if you are simply re-doing the yard, adding a deck or pool, or are increasing the square footage of your rental property by adding an extra room, you can do your part by preserving the surrounding area.

In addition, by leaving the surrounding foliage, you allow this natural habitat to work for you.

Extra trees and bushes surrounding your home better insulate the property from the harsh weather conditions that affect your tenants during both the summer and winter.

 

If you live in the Howard County area, and own a rental property that is currently eco-friendly, contact Bay Management Group today to help place equally environmentally friendly tenants in your investment property.

With aggressive advertisement of your vacant property to the tenant pool that seeks an eco-friendly rental home, we can make sure to get the highest quality tenant in your rental property.

Our thorough screening process ensures placement of tenants that appreciate your efforts to help save the environment and reduce your carbon footprint, as well as their own.

In addition, your eco-friendly rental will bring in high rent rates, and will be carefully monitored by an experienced Bay Management Group property manager to make sure your tenants are caring for your eco-friendly property as they should.


5 Things Landlords Should Know About Renting to Roommates

tips-renting-roommates-howard-county-rental-property

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

tenant-screening-important-roommates-howard-county-rental-property

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?

roommate-refuses-rent-payment-howard-county-property-management

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

roommate-agreement-property-management-howard-county-maryland

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

mistakes-new-landlords-make-how-avoid-mistakes-ellicott-city-maryland

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

properly-screen-tenants-ellicott-city-maryland-rental-property

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

follow-law-new-landlord-ellicott-city-maryland-rental-property

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

collecting-rent-online-saves-time-howard-county-rental-property-landlord

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

 

online-rent-payment-more-secure-howard-county-rental-property

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

renters-insurance-reduces-landlord-responsibility-howard-county

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.