The Case Against Move-In Incentives


A move-in incentive is generally something that motivates a potential tenant to move into your rental property. The same applies to those already leasing your property; a move-in incentive can be something that motivates them to renew their lease with you. These incentives are essentially bonuses or discounts for living in your home.

The question remains however, just how effective are move-in incentives for placing long-term tenants in your rental property and is this a practice you should follow?

Although move-in incentives are seemingly a great option for many landlords looking to rent their Anne Arundel County homes, there are more beneficial ways to appeal to potential or current tenants.

Today we will make a case against move-incentives by showing you the problems that can arise from offering them in an effort to lease your home.


Move-In Incentives

There are certain things that can affect whether a landlord is able to offer move-in incentives to potential or even existing tenants.

  • If the market is saturated with available homes, you may be more apt to offer move-in incentives to potential tenants to get ahead of the competition and prevent a lengthy vacancy. Though in a place like Annapolis the demand for rental homes is currently high, a drop in population growth can affect this competitive market easily.
  • If a tenant with high income and superior credit is interested in leasing your rental home, you may be more willing to offer an incentive to get them to sign the lease. This is the case for tenants residing in Fort Meade as they are more likely to hold stable and highly paid positions due to the nationally scaled industries.
  • If you are financially secure and rental income is considered supplemental income to your primary sources, you may be more flexible in offering incentives to the right tenant.


Types of Move-in Incentives

It is not surprising that the best times to offer move-in incentives are at the initial lease signing or right before a tenant’s lease agreement is up.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common move-in incentives you may be tempted to offer potential or current tenants and why they may actually pose more of a problem for you in the long run.



Rent Reduction

Reducing the first month’s rent is a popular and long-standing way to attract potential tenants.

However, if this is offered at the start of a lease agreement, it has the potential to make the impression that you actually can afford to lower the monthly rent that is being asked for. This may cause the tenant to question your asking rent amount. In addition, should they take the incentive and move in to your home, they may remember this incentive at lease renewal time and ask for a lower rental amount knowing your pocket can probably handle it.


Gift Certificates

Rather than offering the standard first month’s rent reduction, you may want to give tenants a gift certificate to the grocery store, hardware shop, or restaurant in order to get a lease signed.

Although people generally like the idea of free things, and are often motivated by them, the real reason a person is renting your home is not because they received a gift card. Rather it is because of things such property location, home layout, and surrounding area amenities like job opportunities and good schools. In fact, it is reasons such as these that tenants are going to want to rent in Severna Park.

Gift certificates do not make your rental home more appealing, and it probably won’t sway someone to move into a place they are not 100% happy with. If a tenant moves into your home that is not their first choice, they may not care for it as well, are less likely to renew, and may cause problems later on.

In addition, 58% of people say they prefer lower rents rather than cash. The reality is, if your home is not what a tenant is looking for, chances are they will not rent from you based on a $100 gift certificate.


Rent Negotiation


Lowering the asking rental price in order to seal a deal with a potential tenant is also a tempting incentive to offer.

Though a $25 or $50 decrease in monthly rent is definitely enticing to any tenant, this is really just a way for a landlord to prevent a vacancy.

While the tenant may take the deal, it is often because your lower price simply fits their budget better. The problem will come later on at the end of the lease agreement, when it is time to increase the rent to a price you find more fitting.

This will be is risky, especially in places such as Laurel where long-term tenants are found. The tenant may be accustomed to the lower rental amount and may not want to renew at a higher price. You will then be left to find another tenant.


Lease Renewal Incentive

Lowering the rent at lease renewal time is the most successful move-in incentive to date. Another common incentive some landlords like to provide is a surprise refund of part or all of the first month’s rent or another reward of some type, such as a gift certificate.

The problem with this is that the tenant usually does not expect these types of incentives and may again think that the original asking price for rent is simply overpriced since you can obviously afford to make refunds or give rewards.

This may show to be true in a highly coveted place such as Glen Burnie. Tenants typically know the current market prices of homes in the area they hope to live in, and knowing that an expensive Glen Burnie home is going to come with a high rental price to begin with may dissuade them from continuing to rent from you.

Come next renewal, they may simply leave thinking they can find a better deal elsewhere from the start rather than waiting for the end of the term to reap the incentive reward.


Better Ways to Attract Quality Tenants

The truth is, though some of those move-in incentives may work initially, in the long run there is the potential for many unforeseen issues that will cause you a headache when it comes to placing or even retaining tenants in your rental property.

Here are some better ways to attract and keep quality tenants in your investment property that will not force you to wheel and deal with various move-in incentives:

  • Present curb appeal – Make the outside of your home inviting and beautiful.
  • Include all appliances – Rather than offer them as “bonus incentives” for signing a lease agreement, offer them as part of the home.
  • Take care of the interior – Make small repairs, such as freshly painting the walls, cleaning or replacing flooring, replacing fixtures, providing window coverings, making sure all light bulbs work.
  • Have a great property management group to handle everything that goes into leasing your home – This includes things like proper tenant placement, legally compliant lease agreements, 24 hour maintenance, routine inspections, timely rent collections, and great tenant communication.


Final Thoughts

There is much more to attracting quality tenants to your Anne Arundel County home than simple one time move-in incentives.

Tenants want rental homes that make financial sense, are in prime locations, are surrounded by several amenities, are in close proximity to good job opportunities, and so much more. They tend to make decisions based on their first impression of the property they want to call home. If it does not provide all of the qualities that they are looking, offering an incentive will not convince them to lease from you, and you will be facing a very empty rental home.


Long-Term Landscaping for Your Montgomery County Rental


One of the biggest first impressions left on potential tenants looking to <href=””>rent your Montgomery County home is the outside curb appeal.

Think about it. When someone pulls up to your highly sought after Potomac property, located in an exclusive, beautiful, and well-maintained community, tenants expect the same to be true of your rental home’s landscaping.

The problem is, many landlords are inexperienced in the field of long-term landscaping, tend to waste a ton of resources creating a beautiful springtime yard (often forgetting that the Maryland winter will soon arrive), and end up with a dead, pathetic looking landscaping mess within just a couple of years. This causes more time and money to be invested into redoing the home’s landscaping and the cycle begins all over again.

Today we will look at some of the ways in which you can easily maintain a great looking yard over the seasonal changes that places such as Rockville experience, without straining your budget.


The Importance of Having a Landscaping Plan

When you first purchase an investment property in a place such as Bethesda, Maryland, it is pretty easy to create a lush and beautiful landscaping masterpiece. Everything is new and full of life. The flowers are in full bloom, the grass is tall and green, and the trees are rooted in the ground and ready to make their ascent into the sky over the years.

But did you really think about what you planted in your yard?

As a result of time, the changing environment, and maintenance (or lack thereof), you beautiful yard is vulnerable to the harsh reality of the outside world. That is why developing a landscaping plan before you take charge on your rental home’s curb appeal is sometimes more important than the actual yard itself.

Rather than having to re-landscape every time the weather damages your landscaping, adopt a long-term landscaping plan that will weather the environment and only require minor, low-cost adjustments as time goes on.

It is also wise to consider the fact that other people will be in charge of caring for your investment property’s landscaping, unless you plan to employ a full-time maintenance crew to manage that for your tenants (and kudos to you if you do!). However, if you are the average landlord who simply leases a property out for supplemental income to make a living, you may not want to put all of your trust into your tenants to take care of the rare Chocolate Cosmo you thought would be cool to put near you front yard’s walkway.


Basic Long-Term Landscaping Tips

Here is a list of some of the best tips that either you, your landscaping company, or even your tenants can handle during the changing seasons Maryland brings its residents every year.

1. Envision the Future

Before tenants move into your rental home, and as you plan your landscaping ideas, think about what the future holds for each shrub or tree you are planting.

How big will they grow year after year? What resources will they need to sustain life? How will each plant or tree affect other plants or trees planted nearby?

Be wary of overcrowding because plants will develop disease and die off, will fight for things such as sun and water, and may not survive when competing with other nearby foliage.


2. Prep Greenery for the Cold


The dormant times for plants and trees are the perfect time for you to prepare for next year’s warmer months.

  • Mow one last time before the winter snow hits to prevent matting and damage to your grassy yard.
  • Keep all leaves off of the ground, collecting them every few days. This way the grass underneath is not prevented from receiving proper sunlight and will have a better chance of surviving the winter frost.
  • If your grass is patchy when autumn hits, take this time to install or reseed so the grass is ready come springtime.
  • Trim your perennials and small shrubs so that they can have extra energy to survive the cold months and wake up refreshed in the spring.
  • Mulch the ground before it freezes so your plants and trees have extra ground warmth for when the snow comes.


3. Don’t Forget Non-Plant Landscape Items

During the winter months it is essential you winterize your watering systems and landscaping tools to prevent freezing and damage.

Turn off and cover all water spigots, watch for frozen pipes and insulate them if necessary, store your lawnmower and other landscaping tools appropriately, and watch brick or sidewalk walkways for shifts in layout due to changing temperatures and humidity.


4. About That Pool or Hot Tub

Making sure your tenants understand their maintenance responsibilities when it comes to your Gaithersburg rental home is important and includes things such as pools and hot tubs.

Having a professional winterize your pool is probably a wise choice, but year-long maintenance is a must and should be a part of the lease agreement.

If not handled correctly by your tenants because you failed to instruct them how to do so properly, you might face a costly bill should repairs be required.


Maryland Long-Term Landscaping Options

Aside from the necessary steps to maintaining year-long landscaping success that are mainly based around the winter months, there are some other options that have nothing to do with season, and everything to do with region.


Container Landscaping


Many perennials and shrubs can last for years in Maryland living in containers of all sizes. With the creative advantage potted plants offer your rental home, paired with the ease of care, you may want to consider incorporating container landscaping into your Chevy Chase landscaping plan.

Although potted plants must rely on you (or your tenants) for water and nutrients, you drastically reduce the amount of time and money spent on caring for them in the long run, they can be re-designed easily and on a low budget, and they live for longer periods of time.


Use Native Plants

Utilizing native plants to Montgomery County regions such as Silver Spring are a great option when it comes to landscaping your rental property’s yards:

  • They are naturally adapted to the local environment
  • They are often more disease resistant than non-natives
  • They serve as attractive landscaping options, offering color and variety
  • The provide food and shelter for wildlife such as bees

Due to Maryland’s diverse geography and climate, there are many choices when it comes to which native plants you can use in your yard.


Final Thoughts

In the end, it is not just what you do during the changing seasons that matter when it comes to creating a long-lasting landscaped yard for your rental property. Luckily, there are some very efficient and low cost options for creating a great looking area that your tenants will be impressed with from the moment they pull up.

Most long-term landscaping is easily achieved with a little planning on your part.

By preparing your yard with native plants that are acclimated to the region your property is located in, properly winterizing your foliage to survive the sometimes harsh Maryland winters, and keeping in mind that time and money play a large role in your property’s curb appeal, you will have a great looking yard for your potential tenants to enjoy and not a lot of work to do maintaining it.

Additionally, using your favorite Montgomery Count property management group to keep tabs on how your landscape is being cared for by your tenants will ease your mind and save you money. With routine inspections, a thorough lease agreement outlining tenant maintenance responsibilities, and proper use of security deposit money, Bay Management Group can guarantee your property will be well cared for.


6 Ways to Turn Tenants into Raving Fans of Your Landlord Business

How Landlords Can Build Strong Relationships with Howard County Tenants

While you’re relieved to have good tenants, your tenants are happy with a landlord they like and trust.

But being a good landlord to your tenants won’t just keep them happy – it’ll likely help you as well by allowing you to keep long-term tenants in your properties and avoid the costs that result from high tenant turnover rates.

Sounds good, right?

If so, we’re here to teach you how to make it happen. Check out the following tips from our Howard County property management team to learn how you can turn your tenants into raving fans of your landlord business.


How to Make Tenants Love Having You as Their Landlord

1. Be a great landlord from day one.

According to Forbes, you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. That means it’s important for you to smile, make eye contact, and make tenants feel confident that you’ll be a great landlord for the duration of their stay in your property.

Here are a few other ways you can show that you’re a great landlord from the start:

  • Give them a welcome package. Consider including a local map of Howard County, some essentials (like cleaning items and toilet paper), and bottled water.
  • Connect and build rapport. Without being intrusive, get to know your tenants a bit when you first meet them.
  • Explain their lease terms in detail. Doing so will clear up any confusion your tenants may have about renting from you and help prevent miscommunications in the future.

Also, make sure you ask if they have any questions about your rules, the property, or their lease terms. That way, they have all of the information they need to follow your rules and be a good tenant.


2. Communicate the right way.

Howard County Tenant Texting with Landlord

Try to accommodate your tenant’s communication preferences if possible. For example, if your tenant is a millennial, he’s likely to prefer text messages and emails to face-to-face meetings and phone calls. If that’s the case, you should consider communicating via those methods whenever the situation allows.

Another way you can communicate effectively is by responding to tenant requests as quickly as possible. You don’t have to wait until you have a resolution to respond – just letting them know that you’ve received their request and are working on attending to it will make them feel like you care.


3. Keep your properties in good condition.

If you’re unsure of whether or not your property is in good condition, ask yourself this question:

Would I want to live in this property?

If your answer is no, think about why you wouldn’t want to live there. Is it because the lawn has not been mowed, the appliances are old and unattractive, or some other reason?

Whatever the problem is, try your best to address it in a timely manner. If you wouldn’t want to live in your property because of its condition, there’s a good chance that your tenants don’t see themselves living there long-term either. That means they’ll be more likely to move out, and you’ll end up spending money on advertising the property to find new tenants.


4. Set up a rewards program.

Creating a rewards program is a great way to keep good tenants in your properties for a long time. Consider rewarding tenants for things like:

  • Living in your property for a specified amount of time
  • Maintaining the property to your standards
  • Paying rent on time every month for a specified amount of time
  • Referring a new tenant to your rental property business


Here are some ideas for ways you can reward your tenants:

  • Paint a room in the property a color of their choice.
  • Clean the carpet throughout the property.
  • Hire a professional cleaning company to deep clean the property.
  • Offer a temporary discount on their regular monthly rent rate.

While the reward program may seem a bit costly, keep in mind that keeping good tenants around helps you avoid high turnover rate costs. Plus, paying for tenant rewards is definitely worth avoiding the hassle of trying to find new tenants later on.


5. Keep your relationship with tenants professional.

If you communicate with your tenants often, you may find it tempting to establish a friendly relationship with them. While being friendly is nice, you must remember that the tenant/landlord relationship is first and foremost a business relationship.

Keep some emotional distance from your tenants to avoid problems later on. You never know – you may end up facing them in court one day or needing to evict them, and having a close personal relationship with them will make that process even more difficult.


6. Send gifts for birthdays and/or holidays.

Simple Gifts are a Great Way to Show Tenant Appreciation in Howard County

Sending a tenant a small gift on their birthday or during the holiday season is a great way to show your appreciation for them. Here are a few inexpensive gift ideas you may want to try:

  • $25 gift card to a local movie theater (try AMD Columbia 14 in Columbia) or restaurant (try Mango’s Grill Restaurant in Laurel)
  • Small gift basket that includes snacks (if it’s cold outside, hot cocoa is a great item to include!)
  • Potted plant or bouquet of flowers

Don’t forget to include a simple card letting your tenants know that you’re thankful to have them living in your property. This small gesture could mean a lot to them.

Tip: These small gifts can add up to a significant expense if you have lots of tenants, but don’t worry – tenant gifts are usually tax deductible as long as they don’t exceed $25 per person!


In Conclusion

Although pleasing your tenants is an important part of becoming a successful landlord, remember that you’re running a business. That means you shouldn’t let tenants take advantage of you. If you constantly excuse late rent payments, waive security deposits, and show that you’re flexible on your rules, you’ll set yourself up for more of those situations in the future, which could cost you money and place a strain on your relationship with your tenants.

Of course, you may want to make an occasional exception for a good tenant since unexpected financial circumstances (divorce, medical problems, etc.) can happen to anyone. Use your best judgment, and make sure you’re strict about your rules the majority of the time.

Bottom line: you can (and should) enforce your rules and still be liked by tenants – that way, everybody wins.

But what if you aren’t interested in handling property management tasks like tenant screening, maintenance, and rent collection?

You may want to consider Howard County property management services from Bay Management group. We handle your unwanted rental property business tasks so you don’t have to – that way, you have more time for the aspects of your business that you enjoy.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today.


Landlord-Tenant Laws to Remember

Important Landlord-Tenant Laws in Montgomery County MD

Laws concerning rental homes are established to protect both the landlord and tenant involved in the lease agreement. While landlords want to make a profit and wish to keep their investment properties safe, tenants want their rights to be respected.

Compliance with federal, state, and local regulations pertaining to rental housing is crucial for landlords. Today we will discuss some of the top landlord-tenant laws to remember while renting out your Montgomery County home.


7 Important Legal Requirements for Landlords

1. Avoid Discrimination

Owning an investment home in a diverse town like Silver Spring can make you vulnerable to discrimination. With all walks of life looking to rent homes, you must be aware that you are following two of the most important federal landlord-tenant laws:

Fair Housing Act

This law prohibits landlords from discriminating against potential tenants based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or the presence of children. More so, this act applies to advertising as well, meaning you are not allowed to direct advertisement of a rental property to a specific group of people.

In addition, Maryland adds additional protection to potential tenants by preventing discrimination based on marital status, gender identification, or sexual identification.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

This act dictates how a landlord may use a tenant’s credit history. Designed to protect the tenant’s privacy and to assure the most accurate information is being reported, the Fair Credit and Reporting Act has several requirements for landlords when accessing a tenant’s credit history:

  • Permission from the tenant must be given to run a credit report.
  • The credit agency used to run the report must be provided.
  • An “adverse action notice” is required detailing a denial of tenancy.


2. Lease Drafting

Montgomery County Property Management Tenant Lease Agreement

Drafting a legally compliant lease agreement can be difficult. It is easy to get caught up in making a profit, especially in places such as Gaithersburg, where a population boom is creating many rental opportunities. Owning multiple properties may cause you to slack in drafting thorough lease agreements. Check out some of the provisions you are required by law to include in each lease agreement you draft:

  • You must offer an initial 2 year lease term.
  • To force a tenant to vacate the premises, a written notice must be provided.
  • Acknowledgment of liability for damage caused by the negligence or violations of applicable laws.
  • Late rent penalties must not exceed 5% of the monthly rental amount and no late charges can apply until the rent is more than 10 days late.

It is just as important to understand some of the things that cannot be included in your lease agreement:

  • Authorization to take possession of the rental property without a court order.
  • Denial of a tenant’s right to a trial by jury.
  • A provision allowing a rent increase more than once in a twelve month period.

It is important to note that these are just some of the many regulations regarding legal lease agreements in Montgomery County and that depending on your particular area within Maryland some of these requirements may differ.


3. Required Disclosures

The Consumer Protection Act provides tenants protection from a landlord engaging in any “unfair or deceptive trade practice”. This means there are certain things you must disclose to potential tenants before they sign a lease to rent your property. One such disclosure is whether your property has been exposed to lead paint.

Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing law requires owners of rental properties built before 1978 to register their units, distribute educational materials, and meet specific lead paint risk reduction standards in their homes. More importantly, your tenant may request a copy of your most recent passing lead paint risk reduction inspection certificate on file with the Maryland Department of the Environment.

4. Providing a Safe Home

Local housing codes in Maryland set minimum property maintenance standards for housing that landlords must abide by. A rental property may be deemed unfit for occupancy if it is unsanitary, vermin or rodent infested, contains filth or contamination, or lacks ventilation, illumination, sanitary, or heating facilities.

Keep in mind however that the landlord-tenant laws were intended to protect you as well. Tenants have a certain level of responsibility when it comes to your rental home such as cleanliness, garbage disposal, and vermin extermination after occupancy begins. If these standards are not met by your tenant, they become liable for your property and you will have certain rights under the law to recover from damages should any occur as a result.

5. Repair Responsibilities

Your refusal to make certain repairs to your rental home may be cause for serious legal ramifications.

In Maryland it is your duty to present the rental home at the beginning of tenancy as clean, safe, and sanitary. More specifically you must:

  • Maintain and make required repairs to all electrical, plumbing and other facilities.
  • Supply hot and cold water as required by housing code standards.
  • Keep all areas of the rental property, grounds, and facilities clean, safe, and sanitary.

By law you must make any necessary repairs to keep your rental property in as good a condition as it was at the start of occupancy. However, should you decide to dictate some particular maintenance issues to your tenant, you may do so as long as it is detailed clearly in the lease agreement.


6. Security Deposit Rules

Maryland Rental Property Security Deposit Best Practices

A security deposit is any payment of money given to the landlord by a tenant in order to protect the landlord against the tenant’s failure to pay rent, expenses incurred due to a breach of lease, or damage to the rental property. This landlord-tenant law protects you in the sense it helps keep your investment property safe, however, tenants have several rights when it comes to how their security deposit is handled by you.

  • You must provide the tenant with a receipt.
  • Deposits must be placed within 30 days of receipt in a federally insured financial institution that does business in the state of Maryland.
  • The money must remain in the bank the entire lease term and must bear interest.
  • You must provide an itemized list if any of the money is used.


7. Eviction Procedures

If you are renting a home to the affluent tenants of Chevy Chase, chances are you will not run into any financial reasons for evicting them. However, it is wise to understand the why and how behind proper tenant evictions just in case.

You may evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, breach of the lease agreement, or failing to vacate after receiving proper notice. You can only evict your tenant by Order of the District Court in the presence of the Sheriff who is responsible for executing that Order.

You may not evict a tenant without proper judicial process, meaning you cannot physically remove your tenant, lock a tenant out of the property, cut off utilities such as water or electricity, or remove windows or doors to force a tenant out of the home. It is essential you follow the proper court proceedings to avoid criminal prosecution or civil liability. Lastly, if a tenant feels the eviction was unjustified, they have the right to a court hearing to solve the issue.


Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that landlord-tenant laws are in place to protect both parties involved in a rental agreement and are meant to be taken seriously. Landlord-tenant laws change frequently and keeping up with them can be a struggle. Enlisting you favorite Montgomery County property management group to handle your rental property is a safe way to avoid any legal issues regarding landlord-tenant laws. With a knowledgeable staff up to date on all rental property laws, including ones specific to the Montgomery County area, you will never have to worry about discrimination during the screening process, non-compliant lease agreements, mishandling of security deposits, or improper evictions.


4 Scary Tenant Types and How to Handle Them

Scary Tenant Types in Howard County and How to Handle Them

As a landlord, you do not want just anyone leasing your rental home. You want good quality people that will pay their rent on time, respect your property, and follow the terms of the lease agreement.

As if handling a rental property wasn’t enough, the last thing a landlord, or their Howard County property management company, wants to deal with is a problem tenant.

While it is impossible to avoid all problematic tenants, even with the most thorough of tenant screening, having a clear understanding of the difficult tenant personality types will help you prepare for how to handle potential problems should a problematic tenant type end up leasing your rental home.

Here are some of the most common scary tenant types and their potential bad behaviors. Plus, let’s take a look at some of the ways to ward off their difficult personalities, hopefully before they ever surface in the first place.


4 Common Problem Tenants (and What to Do about Them)

1. The Complainer

While consistent communication with your tenant is crucial to maintaining a healthy landlord-tenant relationship, there are those scary tenant types that simply communicate too much.

The complainer will criticize everything and always seems to be looking for an argument in which they are sure they will win. They want their concerns to take priority and their behavior may turn aggressive if you do not address their needs right away.

You may even notice a condescending tone with complainers as they communicate even simple maintenance requests to you. This sense of entitlement will make it difficult for you to evaluate whether they have a legitimate complaint because to them, everything is always a problem.

Screening people’s communication styles is difficult to say the least. You may never know you have leased your rental home to a complainer until it is too late. However, there are some steps you can take with each tenant that may prevent or lessen the complaining:

  • Provide clear ways a tenant may submit a concern they are having with anything related to your property. Maintenance requests, complaints, and emergencies should be outlined in detail.
  • Use an email or online portal for tenants to submit concerns.
  • Provide definitions and examples in a tenant manual about what is deemed an emergency.
  • Assure your tenant that all concerns will be prioritized and handled.
  • Offer an estimated time-range on when the problem is likely to be resolved. This will assure tenants a resolution is on the way, while decreasing the chances they will be constantly following up to find out when it will be completed.


2. The Late-Payer

Late Rent Notice for Howard County Tenants

It seems simple enough right? Pay your rent when rent is due. However, if you have been a landlord for a while, you will know that sometimes tenants appear to be on their own time schedule and pay rent whenever they feel is convenient for them, not you.

The late-payer may have several reasons for not paying their rent on time. They may claim they had car issues, a sick grandma, say their paycheck simply didn’t cover the monthly rent amount, or even that they simply forgot. Nevertheless, your tenant must be held responsible to avoid late-payment patterns in the future.

This kind of scary tenant type has the ability to dig deep into your pocket. After all, late rent means money that is not in the bank when you expect it to be.

However, a much scarier tenant type is the non-payer. Related to the late-payer, the non-payer’s behavior constitutes an extreme lease violation and is one of the top reasons tenants are evicted from their homes.

While you might not be able to determine whether a potential tenant will be a late-payer or a non-payer when deciding whether to let them rent your property, there are some things you can do to help lower your chances of leasing to one:

  • Stick to your lease agreement consequences for late or non-payments no matter the reason.
  • Keep records of your tenant’s payment history.
  • Verify potential tenants make enough income to cover the asking rent. They should spend no more than 20-30% of their income on rent each month.
  • Check your tenant’s references and discuss previous payment patterns.
  • Offer convenient ways for your tenants to make the monthly rent (i.e. an online payment option).
  • Choose an investment property in areas like Elkridge, MD. Boasting higher than average median incomes, your chances of placing a tenant in your home that does not make enough money are considerably lower in neighborhoods like these.


3. The Rule Breaker

Lease agreements are in place to protect both the landlord and tenant. This binding contract outlines the terms and conditions for living in a rental property and are agreed to by both signing parties.

Unfortunately, some people are born rule breakers and may end up leasing your Columbia rental home. Although some rule-breakers only commit minor infractions such as violating a pet policy, failing to adhere to quiet hours, or having too many visitors, the scary tenant types all landlords hope to avoid are the law breaking rule-breakers.

A tenant that breaks the law, such as participating in the illegal use or distribution of drugs, can cause a lot of trouble for landlords. Landlords are typically responsible for protecting the neighborhood their rental property is in from criminal acts their tenants participate in. Should your tenant engage in any illegal criminal activities while residing at your property, you may be held liable for your tenants’ actions.

In order to fully protect yourself from facing punishment due to the actions of your scary tenant follow these tips:

  • Have your property management company draft a solid lease agreement stating a zero tolerance policy for any illegal activities.
  • If at any time you become suspicious that your tenants are conducting illegal activities in your property seek the help of law enforcement and consult an attorney well-versed in landlord-tenant law.
  • Screen criminal history, public records, landlord references, and credit reports to help determine what type of person your potential tenant is.


4. The Destroyer

Messy Kitchens Can Be Indicative of Bad Tenants in Howard County MD 700x412

Landlords and property management companies are primarily responsible for the maintenance of a rental property, however tenants have a large role in caring for the home they are leasing.

The destroyer is a scary tenant type that may just be extra messy or might actually damage your rental home. This destruction may be intentional and can include things such as:

  • Little regard for cleanliness – Letting dishes pile up, staining carpeted areas and not treating them properly, allowing a pet to tear up interior furnishings or soil the floors, and much more.
  • Not keeping a well-maintained yard – This may include tenant responsibilities such as trash disposal, lawn mowing, shrubbery maintenance, sprinkler controls, etc.
  • Purposeful damage such as punching holes in walls, breaking major appliances, even making changes to the landlord’s home without permission to so (i.e. repainting, changing fixtures, ripping out grass yards, etc.)

While most property damage beyond that of normal wear and tear can be billed to your tenant, the amount of time it may take to restore your home to a habitable condition can mean a major loss in rental income. Even worse, the destroyer may disappear or declare bankruptcy, leaving you to cover the cost of damage.

Preventing this kind of scary tenant type from renting your home is difficult, yet following these tips to avoid this kind of behavior is not:

  • Inform the tenant of their responsibilities in the lease agreement. Some tenants simply do not know what they are supposed to maintain.
  • Conduct routine inspections and walkthroughs so you always know the condition of your rental property.
  • Require your tenants to get renter’s insurance. Not only does this cover your tenants’ personal belongings in the event of theft or damage, it can also help cover the cost of damage due to negligence.


Final Thoughts

Arming yourself with knowledge about some of the most common scary tenant types and their typical behavior can help you manage bad tenants, or better yet, avoid them altogether. Sadly though, there are many other scary tenant types we can come into contact with and we cannot protect our rental properties from everything.

Tenant screening is going to be your best weapon against leasing to a scary tenant type. With the help of your favorite Howard County property management company, Bay Management Group, you will have access to an exhaustive screening process, help drafting airtight lease agreements, the benefit of routine inspections and walk-throughs, and a staff fully knowledgeable in all areas of landlord-tenant law. Plus, you will have the peace of mind that only the best of tenants will be placed in your rental property and that any issues that do pop up will be handled professionally and quickly thanks to your property management company.


How to Protect Your Vacant Rental Property

How Baltimore County Property Managers Can Protect Vacant Rentals

Do you own a rental home in Baltimore County?

If so, then you probably know that although the county’s vacancy rate is at an impressive 5.89%, far lower than the state’s average of 6.49%, your home will sit vacant at one point or another for an extended period of time. That is simply the nature of owning a rental property.

What you may not know, however, is how susceptible that vacant property becomes to would-be thieves and acts of vandalism during its vacancy. After all, empty homes are the easiest to break into and there is usually a relatively low possibility anyone will even notice.


6 Steps to Protect Your Vacant Rental

Although rental properties can be great investments, they can quickly become security nightmares if you do not take the necessary steps to safeguard them.

Costly property damage can put you back thousands of dollars. Replacing stolen appliances can dent your pocket even more. And let’s not forget the loss in rental profits you will experience while repairing your home so that it is livable again.

It is important that you understand the loss that can occur by not properly protecting your vacant rental property.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to protect your investment property from a break-in.


1. Ask Your Neighbors for Help

Neighborhood Watch Program in Baltimore CountyIf you know your rental home will be vacant for some time, consider asking your neighbors to keep an eye on the property for you.

This is especially easy in areas such as Essex that have tight-knit communities where people tend to know each other, or in neighborhoods that have a Neighborhood Watch Program.

Ask them to report any suspicious people or noises to you or the authorities and be sure to thank them with a small gift around the holidays or by letting them park their car in your extra space.


2. Maintain Signs of Activity

There are plenty of small things you can do to make it appear as though a tenant is living in your vacant rental.

  • Keep up on your yard’s landscaping – Lawn maintenance and tree care should be one of your first priorities when it comes to protecting your vacant rental. An unkempt lawn is the first sign that no one is living in your property.   Mow the lawn, trim the trees and shrubs, watch for trash in the yard, and fix broken sprinklers. If your rental property is in between tenants for the time being, grooming the yard is something that should be handled anyways to maximize your ROI by placing a high-quality tenant in it. Plus, it will make your neighbors happy.
  • Light up the exterior – Consider installing motion sensor lights on the exterior of your home to deter criminals from breaking into your vacant home in the dead of night. It is also recommended that you install timed lights on the exterior of your home. If you simply leave the porch light on 24 hours a day it will become obvious to someone scoping out your vacant property that it is indeed vacant.
  • Use your window coverings – This gives the appearance someone is home. Try leaving the downstairs ones closed and the upstairs ones open.
  • Regularly inspect the property – Check all locks on your home, including the garage door and all windows.
  • Get an alarm – A security alarm will add peace of mind knowing someone will be alerted should anyone attempt to break in. Further, you can post signage around your home that your property is armed to prevent attempts.


3. Visit Often and At Different Times

Visiting your vacant property regularly will do two things for you.

First, it will give the impression to anyone watching that someone lives in the property.

Second, it will allow you to inspect the home for any signs of a forced break-in or property damage. Check all locks and look for broken windows.

Make sure you visit often and never on a regular schedule. Always showing up on a Saturday morning will tip off anyone watching that you do not reside there.


4. Screen Potential Tenants

Though you should be using Baltimore County’s best property management company around, if you have potential tenants contacting you directly regarding your vacant rental that is available, be aware how much information you divulge. Compromising specific details about your vacant rental over the phone to a stranger may set your home up for a break-in.

If you own an investment property in regions such as Dundalk or White Marsh try taking advantage of Bay Management Group’s thorough tenant screening process to avoid handing your vacant property over to a thief.


5. Stop Advertising with Visible Signage

Baltimore County Income Property with For Rent Sign in YardIf your rental property is in Catonsville or Towson, you undoubtedly experience more turnover than the average landlord. Though not your fault, these student-populated areas have an influx of tenants moving through town on a regular basis.

It would seem easiest to place a ‘For Rent’ sign in the window or yard of your vacant rental to advertise that the property is available. Yet this only signals to those wanting to break-in that you are not around and the home is free to rummage through.

Try using Bay Management Group for marketing your available rental home. Not only will your property only be exposed to the best tenants Maryland has to offer, they can get your property leased quickly so it does not stay vacant for long.


6. Get Vacancy Insurance Coverage

Understanding the insurance coverage you have on your home, especially while it is vacant, is essential when it comes to protecting your vacant rental. While Baltimore County defines vacant as “…any unoccupied structure that is unsafe or unfit for human habitation or other authorized use,” your insurance company may have a different definition and not cover you in the event of robbery or vandalism to your ‘vacant’ property.

Insurance companies typically allow 30-60 days for the owner to find another tenant before cancelling the primary coverage policy. After the allotted time to find a new tenant expires, your insurance company may deem the property ‘vacant’ and require an additional, often more expensive policy, to cover damages incurred while the home is unoccupied.

Make sure you check with your insurance company so that if the unthinkable happens you are adequately covered.


Final Thoughts

Living in a place such as Parkville may offer you extremely low turnover rates because tenants tend to lease for longer periods of time while they raise their families. However, tenants do move at some point and will leave you with a vacant rental. By heeding the actionable tips mentioned above, your vacant rental property will be better protected and less likely to incur you costly damages due to break-ins and vandalism.

But do you want to better your odds of having a protected vacant rental?

Consider Bay Management Group for all of your property management needs. Priding themselves in quick rentals through their dedicated marketing of properties, chances are your rental home will not be vacant for long anyways.

In addition, Bay Management Group can provide you a whole host of other management services after your investment is leased that will give you the peace of mind that everything is taken care of.


The Property Manager’s Guide to Renting to Millennials

How to Rent to Millennials in Howard County MD

Did you know that 60% of renters are under the age of 40?

Many of these renters are millennials, ranging in age from 18 to 34 as of 2015. Often, they prefer renting over home ownership because:

  • They are paying off huge amounts of student debt and cannot afford home ownership.
  • Their career requires them to be flexible, and they must be prepared to move when necessary.
  • There is no longer a stigma associated with renting, and it is often easier and more cost-effective than buying a home.

With so many renters in this group, you can see why it’s important for you to understand what they value when looking for a place to live.

This especially applies if your property is located in Howard County near a college campus (like Howard Community College in Columbia), as it is likely to attract millennial tenants due to its close proximity to the school.

But before you rent to a millennial, realize that they are a unique group of renters with specific preferences regarding the place they live. Here’s what you should know:


What Landlords Should Know Before Renting To Millennials

1. Millennials communicate differently.

If you frequently call or require your millennial tenants to meet with you in person, you may soon find them looking for a new place to live. That’s why, if you need to send rent due date reminders or contact your millennial renters for other reasons, you should opt for email instead.

If you must set up a phone call or an in-person meeting, at least schedule it with the tenant ahead of time so they know when to expect you.

Here’s something else you should know: millennials hate voicemails. Many of them avoid leaving voicemails when calling someone who doesn’t answer, opting to send that person a text message instead. They also often avoid listening to voicemails that have been left for them by others.

While this might be a bit frustrating for you, it’s important to accept it and adjust when possible.

Ask your millennial tenants if they’re okay communicating via text message or email, and use one of those methods instead of calling often. You can bet that they will appreciate the courtesy.

Millennial Tenants Using Their Phones to Communicate


2. Millennials prioritize location.

For a millennial, finding a place to live has a lot to do with the location, but they aren’t usually looking for great schools and kid-friendly activities in the area the way that families do.

Instead, they often prefer easy access to both their workplace and fun activities that allow them to socialize and enjoy their spare time. That can include:

  • Outdoor recreation areas, like parks and lakes
  • Nightlife (clubs, bars, music venues)
  • Trendy restaurants
  • Coffee houses

If you can purchase a property near these kinds of places, you’ll be much more likely to attract them. Make sure you list all of the nearby attractions when you advertise your property so millennials know right away that they’ll have easy access to fun activities if they move in.


3. Millennials care about the environment.

With green living on the rise, you’ll find it easier to attract and keep millennial tenants if you can show that you care about the environment. Here are some of the eco-friendly amenities you can offer:

  • Recycle bins
  • Water-saving showerheads
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Low-flow toilets

If your property already features any of these amenities and you are trying to attract millennials, be sure to list them in your property advertisement. If not, try to at least add energy-saving light bulbs to your property and mention them in your ads.


4. Millennials look for places to live online.

There’s no doubt that most millennials would complete the entire rental process online if it were possible.


Because it’s convenient. They already spend a ton of time online, and they know that handling many day-to-day tasks using the internet is almost always quicker than handling them in person.

While it isn’t realistic for you to offer a rental process that is completed solely online (proper tenant screening typically requires more contact than that), you can set up an online presence for yourself to attract millennials to your properties.

Here’s how:

  1. Create a website for your rental property company. You can either hire a web designer/developer to take care of it for you or create the website yourself using WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix.
  2. Create social media accounts to advertise your properties. Don’t be afraid to branch outside of Facebook – Twitter, Instagram, and other social sites are popular with millennials too!
  3. Engage with your target audience online by sharing photos of your rental properties, creating a regularly updated blog on your website, starting conversations on social media, and using hashtags to your advantage.

If you aren’t interested in learning how to market your rental property business yourself, consider hiring a property management company to handle it for you.

Market Your Vacant Howard County Rental Properties Online


5. Millennials want super-fast internet at home.

Just about everyone wants fast internet access in their home, and millennials are no exception.

Many of them work from home and must rely on the internet to make a living, while others simply enjoy online gaming or streaming services like Netflix that require fast internet speeds to work properly. So, before you invest in a property, figure out what kind of internet access is available there.

You may want to pass on the property if slow, unreliable internet service is the only option.


6. Millennials prefer to make payments online.

There are few things millennials despise more than the antiquated payment method of delivering a check or money order to their landlord. That’s because they’re used to handling everything online in an instant.

So, if you’re looking to attract millennial tenants and keep them happy, consider setting up an online payment system. This small change will mean a lot to a busy millennial who prioritizes convenience.


7. Millennials are pet owners.

A millennial is likely to rule out your property if you don’t allow pets. That’s why, if your property is located in an area where millennials are likely to rent, you should seriously consider allowing pets in your properties.

To protect yourself and your property, make sure you add a section about the pet restrictions and rules to the lease, and clearly explain your policies to your tenants.


In Conclusion

While adding millennial-friendly amenities to your properties may help improve your business, keep in mind that the Federal Fair Housing Law states that you cannot discriminate against prospective tenants due to their familial status or age. Doing so could land you in serious trouble with the law, so avoid denying someone a place to live just because they aren’t a millennial.

And remember, if you need help managing your Howard County property, consider using a Maryland property management team like Bay Management Group. We can help with maintenance, screening, rent collection, and more so you can focus on building a profitable rental property business.


4 Things Landlords Should Know Before Renting a Property with a Pool

Anne Arundel County MD Rental Property with Swimming Pool

For certain tenants, a swimming pool can add great appeal to a rental property.

They might envision themselves hosting neighborhood barbecues near the water, spending an afternoon relaxing on a raft in the pool, or helping their kids learn how to swim.

Plus, a swimming pool can add to the value of the property overall, allowing you to charge a higher rent rate.

However, it’s important for you, as a landlord, to fully understand the risks associated with renting out a property that has a pool.

If you decide to do it, you’ll need to comply with several laws and take extra precautions to protect yourself from being sued or landing in financial trouble.

Read on to discover everything you need to know!


What Landlords Need to Know Before Renting a Property with a Pool

1. You could be held liable for injuries or deaths that occur due to the pool.

Regardless of whether you live in Cumberland County, Dauphin County, Anne Arundel County or a different part of Maryland, you’ve undoubtedly heard stories on the news of people, especially children, becoming injured or drowning due to swimming pools.

What you may not know is that, according to the CDC, drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, and it is the 5th leading cause of death by accidental injury for people of all ages. So, it’s easy to understand why a property with a pool can be risky – both for you and your tenants.

In fact, you can be sued or face a wrongful death lawsuit if a guest (someone who has been invited to use the pool for social reasons) or licensee (someone who is invited to enter the pool premises to service it or for another business reason) suffers an accident related to the swimming pool.

Sometimes, trespassers (people who enter the pool area without anyone’s permission) have even been known to sue landlords for injuries sustained in a property’s swimming pool!

So, make sure you take precautions to prevent injury or death due to swimming pool accidents, repair/maintain the swimming pool as needed, and follow all of the laws that apply to you to save yourself from financial and legal trouble.

To protect your tenants further, consider giving them a pool safety brochure/sheet as a part of their welcome package when they move in – especially if they have small children. It’s a great way to show that you care about their well-being and inform them of ways to stay safe.

On a related note, keep in mind that landlords are also liable for injuries/deaths that happen due to things other than swimming pools, including:

  • Failure to repair something that could endanger a tenant
  • Carelessly fixing a dangerous problem
  • Hiding a dangerous condition from the tenant

To avoid being held liable, simply inform your tenants of any problems with the property, fix those problems, and quickly resolve any other dangerous issues that your tenants bring to your attention.


2. You may need to pay extra for insurance to cover swimming pool liability.

As a landlord, you should already have a homeowner’s insurance policy that covers liability to a certain degree. However, if you purchase a property with a swimming pool, you should also buy additional insurance coverage because of the risks associated with swimming pools.

If you have any doubt about exactly what you need, talk to an insurance expert who can help you choose the right coverage.


3. You must follow Maryland pool fence laws.

In Maryland, residential swimming pools must be surrounded by an adequate barrier to help ensure safety on the pool premises. So, you’ll need to make sure a fence is installed around the swimming pool.

Keep in mind that county-specific laws may determine the required height and specifications of the barrier. For example, Prince George’s County law states that fences placed around swimming pools must be at least 6 feet high. On the other hand, Anne Arundel County requires swimming pool fences to be at least 4 feet tall, and those fences must all comply with the local building code.

Because pool fence laws can vary widely from county to county, it’s important to research your local swimming pool laws whether your property is in Annapolis<, Fort Meade, or another Maryland city – you don’t want to accidentally break the law simply because you weren’t aware of the requirements!

And don’t just stop at researching the pool fence laws that apply to you – look up the other laws that apply to you too! You may be required to post warning signs, provide pool alarms, or take other actions before you rent the property.

Landlords Must Follow Maryland Pool Fence Laws 700x400


4. You should add a swimming pool addendum to your lease agreement.

If you rent out a property with a swimming pool, add a swimming pool addendum to the lease agreement.

Not only will this help you protect yourself from liability – it’s a good opportunity to educate your tenants on their responsibilities as far as the swimming pool premises.

Here are a few things you’ll want to tell your tenants in the body text of your swimming pool addendum:

  • They are using the pool premises at their own risk, and you (the landlord) cannot be held responsible for injuries sustained by tenants, guests, or occupants of the property.
  • They must notify you immediately if a repair is required.
  • You will handle some of the pool maintenance tasks, but other everyday pool maintenance tasks will require their attention (be clear about which tasks apply to which party so there is no confusion in the future).
  • They must use the swimming pool in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • They must keep the fence around the swimming pool area secure and keep the gate locked at all times.

You’ll likely want to add in other terms about pets, evictions (in case they break the lease terms), and more. Check your local laws to customize the document based on what is required.

When you’re done creating the swimming pool addendum, make sure your tenant signs and dates it after reading it thoroughly. Then, make a backup copy of the addendum on your computer as soon as possible. This extra step could come in handy if you misplace your paperwork and need the document to avoid being sued!

Tip: Check out this page to view a sample swimming pool and hot tub addendum – you can use it as a reference when creating your own!


In Conclusion

Though renting a property with a pool can be risky due to liability issues, it may be worth the added property value and desirability if you are willing to adhere to swimming pool laws, handle certain maintenance tasks, and keep your tenants safe.

If you want to rent a property with a pool but don’t want to handle the property management tasks associated with that property, consider professional property management services from Bay Management Group.

We can take care of maintenance, eviction services, rent collection and many other tasks.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help, contact us today!


Thinking About Buying a Rental Property? Here’s 6 Signs It Will Be Profitable

6 Signs Your Prince George's County Rental Property Will Be Profitable 700x400

Aspiring landlords may think that renting out properties is a quick, easy way to make a substantial amount of income.

However, seasoned landlords know the reality of the situation – lots of hard work (not to mention time) is required to achieve financial success.

You can’t just buy any property and rent it out – you have to make good decisions regarding both your properties and your tenants to run a highly profitable business.

Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

If you’re feeling unsure about what factors determine whether or not a property will be profitable, read on – we’ll explain what Prince George’s County landlords should consider when buying a rental property!


6 Signs Your Rental Property Will Be Profitable

1. Local Attractions

No one wants to live somewhere that makes it inconvenient for them to run errands or find something fun to do on the weekends. That’s why a good property typically offers many local amenities to tenants, which include:

  • Major city attractions – Many people find living near a large city appealing because it means they have easy access to both entertainment (movie theaters, music venues, etc.) and necessities (grocery shopping, post offices, etc.).
  • Public facilities – Attractive public facilities like parks, trails, hospitals, and libraries can make your property more enticing because of the convenience of having those places nearby.
  • Public transportation – Studies have shown that close proximity to public transportation (bus stops, for example) boosts the value of a home.

As a Prince George’s County landlord, consider the fact that Bowie does not have many restaurants, grocery stores, or nightlife attractions before you purchase a property there. Other cities within the county, like Laurel, offer quite a bit more for tenants.


2. Good Neighborhood

To determine whether or not a property will be profitable based on the neighborhood it is located in, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the property near a college (Prince George’s Community College or Bowie State University, for example) in a popular area for student renters? If so, you may need to prepare for summer vacancies when they go home or shorter lease terms as they may frequently change living situations and/or graduate.
  • Is my property in a highly sought-after area? Chances are, you’ll experience a positive cash flow if you can keep a property in a popular area well-maintained. In not-so-popular areas, you may find it more difficult to remain profitable.
  • If I plan on renting to families, are there great schools nearby that their children can attend? If not, consider finding a different property to purchase – parents often prioritize choosing good schools for their children before they choose a home.

Good Neighborhoods Add Value to Rental Homes in Prince George's County MD 600x379

Remember, when a tenant rents your property, they aren’t just paying for the home – they’re paying for the area they live in. That’s why it’s so important to choose a property in a desirable neighborhood.


3. Low local crime rates

Would you want to live in an area where you don’t feel like your family is safe?

Of course not – and neither do your prospective tenants.

In fact, a 2010 study showed that robbery and aggravated assault crimes influence neighborhood housing values, so make sure research the safety of the area where your potential property is located before you purchase it.

For example, if you’re a Prince George’s County landlord, you’ll want to keep in mind that crime rates in Laurel are higher than those in Bowie. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase a property in Laurel – it just means you may need to do a bit more neighborhood-specific research before you commit to it.


4. Infrequent natural disasters

As a landlord, you already know that getting insurance is absolutely necessary.

But have you ever considered that properties located in areas prone to natural disaster may cause you to pay higher insurance rates?

In Maryland, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and winter storms occur from time to time, so consider researching the area where your property is located to determine the likelihood of a natural disaster there – doing so could help you save money on insurance costs.

Tip: Use Trulia’s map tool to look up your property and discover the frequency of natural disasters in that area (you can also check crime rates, amenities, schools, and more!).


5. Abundant nearby job opportunities

Most people want to live where there are plenty of jobs – after all, they can’t pay their bills if they can’t find work!

So, if the area where your property is located has lots of job opportunities, you can feel pretty confident knowing that there will be no shortage of tenants wanting to live there (provided the property meets other criteria for a good property, of course).

If a big new company is moving into the area, you might want to consider purchasing a property nearby. Chances are, most of their employees will be looking to move into that area too, and you can cash in on their need to live close to their workplace.

Choose a Rental Property in Prince George's County Near Abundant Job Opportunities


6. Good rent rates

When purchasing a property, always consider the average rent in the area.

You’ll need to keep the amount of rent you charge somewhere near that average. If that rent amount won’t cover the amount you have to pay for the property (mortgage, taxes, insurance, property management expenses, etc.), then keep looking for a property that is more suited to your financial needs.


In Conclusion

When you’re looking for a new property to purchase in Maryland, consider all of the factors listed here as well as your short-term and long-term financial goals.

You’ll find that Prince George’s County, as well as many other nearby counties, has lots of profitable properties to offer if you’re willing to put in the work to look for them.

And keep in mind that Bay Management Group can help you with property management tasks as needed. We handle maintenance, rent collection, tenant screening, and more so you can stop stressing over unwanted responsibilities and get the most out of your investment!

Interested in learning more about how we can help your rental property business? Contact us today.


Maintenance Responsibility: Tips for Tenants Renting Your Home

Who is Responsible for Tenant Maintenance Issues in Baltimore County, MD

Renting a home comes with its fair share of benefits for tenants, one important one being minimal maintenance responsibilities. However, it is important that your Baltimore County tenants understand the role they play in rental home maintenance and know that some maintenance issues can and should be handled themselves.

Although it is normally required that the landlord or property management group handle all maintenance requests received by a tenant, there are times in which a tenant might actually be held responsible. Today we will look at some instances in which a tenant may be held accountable for general maintenance of a rental home and some maintenance tips tenants can use to prevent future conflict regarding such maintenance issues.


The History Behind Tenant Responsibility

In 1972 the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) was enacted in an effort to equalize the roles between landlords and tenants. At the time, when a conflict arose between a landlord and tenant, it was often the landlord that came out triumphant, leaving tenants with very little control against landlord abuse of powers.

This act sought to standardize the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in the United States. More so, it was an attempt to force landlords to meet minimum standards regarding their rental properties. Landlords would now be obligated to provide safe and habitable housing for tenants leasing their homes. Even today, this document is the closest set of federal rules we have governing landlord tenant laws across the nation, though not all states have accepted the act as law.

Although the focus was mostly on landlord duties to their tenants, this act did not suggest that tenants could not be held responsible for damage done to the property they were leasing. While landlords were required to provide a safe and habitable rental home, tenants would be held responsible for general maintenance of the home to prevent future damage as well as repairs that were necessary should any damages incur due to the tenant’s lack of general maintenance care. Tenants might also be held accountable for maintenance issues that were not properly reported to their landlord or property management group.

Legal Principals for Rental Properties in Maryland


Landlords versus Tenants

If you are currently renting out a home in Baltimore County or its surrounding areas you can be sure that you will be responsible for large maintenance items such as:

  • Lack of heat, light, electricity, or water.
  • Lack of adequate sewage disposal.
  • Rodent infestations causing an inhabitable home.
  • Lead paint hazards that were not properly addressed at the time of lease signing.
  • Any structural defects that present a serious threat to your tenant’s physical safety.
  • Serious fire or health hazards


Tenants on the other hand should be prepared to be responsible for these types of maintenance items unless otherwise noted in the signed lease agreement:

  • Maintenance of all lots and exterior premises such as sidewalks and gutters, making sure that they are clean, safe, and sanitary.
  • Extermination of pests (other than wood destroying species).
  • Plumbing fixtures must be clean and free from foreign objects.
  • All interior home structures must remain clean and sanitary.
  • Things such as light bulb replacement, air filter changes, battery changes in smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors, landscape care, etc.
  • Any damages that incur due to lack of general maintenance care or damage that is a result of the tenant’s negligence.

Note that no law states that cosmetic or “annoying” maintenance problems are required to be fixed by the landlord, whether a tenant requests a repair or not. It is however implied that if a tenant breaks something within the home, they can be held at least partially responsible for fixing it if it was their fault. You can find out in more detail about actual landlord and tenant responsibilities in the Baltimore City Charter Codes.


Maintenance Tips for Tenants

It is common practice to outline landlord and tenant responsibilities in detail in the lease agreement that both parties are required to sign before tenancy begins. In fact, it might be a good idea to include a list of general maintenance tips in the tenant manual you provide tenants at the start of tenancy.


It is important that tenants know that while there is a common understanding that landlords or property management groups will generally be responsible for major maintenance issues in the property, tenants have a list of responsibilities to abide by as well. Additionally, it is crucial to mention that should a maintenance issue arise that is the fault of the tenant, regardless of severity, there may be some level of liability on the tenant’s part.


Here are some of the most common maintenance issues a tenant can not only handle on their own, but may be required to do so per the signed lease agreement to avoid costly repairs in the future.


  1. HVAC System

Although the landlord is responsible for providing heat (and often air conditioning depending on the property’s location) in the rental property, there are several maintenance tasks that should be adhered to in order to avoid a breakdown of the system. This is especially important for regions such as the student-populated Catonsville or Towson where students out on their own for the first time may not be aware of how to properly care for an HVAC system.

  • Monthly filter changes.
  • Breaker checks to ensure not only that they are turned “on” but that they have not shorted.
  • No blocking of floor or ceiling vents with furniture or other objects preventing proper airflow.
  • Constant turning on and off of system. The strain put in the system can cause an outage and shut the entire unit down.

Programmable Thermostat in Baltimore County Rental Property


  1. Leaky Faucets

While there are generally no maintenance tasks required when it comes to your faucets and pipes, it is important to check periodically that there are no leaks present. If there are it is your duty as a tenant to inform the landlord before any severe water damage occurs.


  1. Toilet Overflow

One of the most common reasons for toilets overflowing is the flushing of a foreign object down the toilet, among other things. Baltimore County is full of young families; make sure your children understand that their toys are not to be flushed down the toilet less you be responsible for the plumbing repairs and water damage. Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not flush things such as cigarettes, cotton swabs, diapers, and paper towels as they can easily clog a toilet.
  • Have a plunger on hand at all times to help a fresh clog.
  • Make sure the rear valve on the toilet is fully open so proper drainage occurs with each flush.
  • If water flows onto the floor take care to clean it up as quickly as possible to prevent floor damage and water leaking through the ceiling should you live in a multi-level home or building.
  • Remember prevention is the key to a properly flushing toilet.


  1. Garbage Disposal

Even in a place such as Pikesville, where the population is more mature and should already know, placing large amounts of food down a garbage disposal is a common cause of malfunctioning garbage disposals. If your garbage disposal stops working, before you call your landlord or property management group try this first:

  • Check the wall switch (and other outlets near the disposal) to make sure they have not been tripped and simply need resetting.
  • Reset the actual garbage disposal underneath the sink at the base of the garbage disposal (if one is present).
  • Reset the external breaker, usually located in the garage or laundry room.


  1. Garage Door

Places such as White Marsh, noted for having new and more advanced homes, may come with fancy garage doors that are difficult to operate. Here are some helpful tips to consider if your garage door refuses to open or close properly:

  • Check to make sure a foreign object has not blocked the sensors, usually located near the floor and on each side of the garage door.
  • Check remote batteries to ensure a simple battery change won’t solve the issue.
  • Again, when electrical appliances stop working in your rental property a good place to check is the breaker box.

Baltimore County Rental Property with an Automatic Garage Door


Final Thoughts

Per you lease agreements you can hold tenants responsible for general home maintenance care as well as small repairs that are required in your rental property. In addition, it may just be smart to advise tenants to handle these small issues on their own to prevent additional and costly repair bills.

Informing your tenants of their obligations at the start of tenancy is the key for not having to charge the tenant for things such as a light bulb replacement. Tenants should appreciate that your rental property is to be properly cared for and that any major issues arising must be reported immediately.

Rest assured that your favorite Baltimore County management group has all maintenance requests handled, regardless of whether a tenant chooses to report every little maintenance issue or not. With around the clock request availability, Bay Management Group provides quality repair services in a timely matter so that you don’t have to worry about a thing. In the meantime, educating your tenant that they can help may ease a lot of problems all around saving everyone time and money.