Landlords have a lot on their plate. That said, there are some common and avoidable mistakes Anne Arundel County landlords make. It’s important to know you are not alone, reaching out to a Glen Burnie property management firm to assist may be the best way to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Read on as we discuss how to recognize and prevent these common issues from affecting your bottom line.
Avoidable Mistakes That Can Cost Landlords
Profitability and return on investment are huge factors for landlords. Before purchasing an investment property, you likely evaluated various financial scenarios completing your due diligence. However, there are some common and often overlooked ways you could be losing money. Check out some common mistakes landlords make below.
- Not Finding the Best Location: Choosing to invest in an undesirable area with few amenities means it will take longer for the home to rent. Additionally, in less desirable neighborhoods, there is a smaller pool of qualified tenants to choose from.
- Not Properly Screening Tenants: It is worth it to thoroughly screen all tenants for rental history, criminal background, and a credit inquiry to make sure they are a good fit. Besides, not doing this opens you as the landlord to the threat of late payments, no payments, or early lease breaks that only end up costing you more.
- Not Being Equipped for Turnover: Complete a thorough move out inspection to determine what, if any, part of the security deposit to withhold. The longer the home is vacant, the more you are losing. So, have a bank of trusted maintenance vendors who can complete needed tasks quickly. Also, have funds set aside, especially for turnover and maintenance costs. It is not uncommon for turnovers to cost several thousand dollars, be prepared!
Additional Mistakes to Consider
- Not Completing Regular Maintenance: Ignoring or not completing maintenance promptly is a huge mistake that can cost you even more in the end. Remember, if you show the tenant your willingness to address maintenance issues quickly, you, in turn, set an example for them. Regular maintenance can also save time and money when it comes time to turn over the property.
- Improvements That Do Not Add Value: Before considering investing in upgrades to your rental property, carefully consider your budget, rent goals, and the area. Typically, kitchens and baths are an excellent place to consider upgrading as they attract more and higher quality renters. Research the competition in the local Glen Burnie market to see rental rates for comparable homes with the upgrades you plan on completing.
Reasons Anne Arundel Co Tenants Can Sue a Landlord
Landlord-tenant law is crucial to understanding your rights while not violating the tenants. There are several legal and legitimate reasons a tenant can sue or withhold rent. That said, there is a proper process they must follow to do so. Read on as a top Glen Burnie property management firm describes a few examples below.
Most common reasons landlords are sued:
- Withholding Security Deposit: Per the signed lease, the landlord must return the entire or a portion of the security deposit within a set amount of time after move out. If you opt to withhold any monies, provide a detailed list of the damages and costs to the tenant. That said, be sure to include not only a comprehensive checklist but photographic evidence as part of your move out inspection.
- Maintenance Issues Are Ignored or Not Completed: It is always in your best interest to address maintenance problems as soon as possible. Besides, not only do you avoid incurring added cost if the issues get worse, but you keep the tenant happy as well. So, if repairs are not made to the extent the unit becomes uninhabitable; the tenant may seek legal action. If successful, landlords will not only have to make the repairs but may also be required to provide temporary housing.
- Unlawful Evictions: Evictions are a legal process and should never happen any other way. A landlord cannot directly change the locks to take possession of the property. Follow all local guidelines and be sure to maintain excellent records of any non-payment, lease violations, and communications with tenants.
Fair Housing Law Violations
Another reason landlords can get into trouble or be sued is due to Fair Housing Law violations. In 2017 alone, there were over 28,000 housing discrimination complaints filed. So, this is a genuine threat that landlords need to be vigilant about. It is a landlord or property manager’s responsibility to ensure their entire team knows these laws and implements protocols to ensure they are not open to potential complaints. Below are ten common Fair Housing Law violations landlords make.
What Are The Fair Housing Protected Classes in Anne Arundel County?
- Familial status
- National origin
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
Things to Avoid as a Landlord
- Denying a tenant for any other reason than not meeting your standard qualification guidelines. This is easily avoidable by having a standard set of qualification guidelines and holding every tenant to that same standard.
- You cannot discriminate based on familial status. Landlords may not treat tenants with children differently, and it is illegal to ask how many children someone has.
- Not providing reasonable accommodation to a tenant with disabilities. If a tenant needs to make a request for reasonable accommodation based on their disability, they will do so in writing. Before honoring or denying their request, it is a good idea to discuss this with a supervisor or lawyer.
- Denying a service animal because you have a no pet policy. Remember, a service animal is not a pet. They are not bound to the no-pet policy if you have one in place. The tenant can be required to provide documentation supporting their need for the pet as well as all necessary vet and shot records.
- Consistency and transparency in rental offers or special promotions. Fair Housing treats all tenants the same, so if you offer a special to one client, it must be to all. Clearly state or post any available promotions along with precise dates in which the specials are valid. Always keep detailed documentation.
- Picking and choosing maintenance orders and inconsistent response time. Except for a real emergency, there needs to be clear guidelines for maintenance techs to follow when responding to calls. Ensure each maintenance request is honored in the order in which it came. To avoid scrutiny as a landlord or property manager, keep detailed records of all actions taken.
As you can see, many areas can leave landlords vulnerable to loss of profit and potential added court costs. Staying up to date on Fair Housing Laws is a must. That, combined with marketing, turnovers, maintenance, and paperwork, can quickly become overwhelming. However, consider reaching out to an Anne Arundel County property management company in Glen Burnie to assist. Bay Property Management Group Anne Arundel County is a full-service team of dedicated staff with the experience to help you avoid all of the above. Give us a call today!