Renting out your Baltimore County home can be a very lucrative business move. Increased cash flow, potential tax benefits, appreciation over time, and even the flexibility to sell later on are just some of the reasons to consider renting your home.
There are many steps you can take to prepare your home as a rental.
From setting up your living space for suitable tenant occupation, to passing home inspections before obtaining proper rental licenses, there is a lot that needs to be done before attracting the perfect tenant.
Fortunately, when you have decided to rent your Baltimore County home, Bay Management Group will steer you through that transition.
Here are some considerations:
Prepare Your Living Space
When your home is empty and awaiting an occupant, take a good look around. Inspect all areas and note anything that need repairing, amenities that need upgrading, and safety issues that need addressing.
The key is to set your home up so that tenants will stop looking at other rentals and choose yours right then and there.
While you are not required to furnish your house or spend a small fortune on fancy upgrades, there are a few inexpensive things you can do to make your house more appealing and protect your investment.
- Clean Up
Nothing will make a potential tenant turn around and run faster than a dirty home. A clean rental property is always expected and this applies to yours too.
Shampooing the carpets, freshly painting the walls and trim, and cleaning the windows and blinds will set the stage for a great viewing when prospective tenants check your place out.
- General Maintenance
Ensure that the basic amenities are in good working condition. It is your responsibility as a landlord to maintain the electrical, plumbing, and AC/heating systems for your tenants. The home you rent out must be livable; in fact, it is a legal requirement.
Make any additional repairs necessary to make your home more appealing. This includes fixing leaky faucets, light switches, electrical outlets, even burnt out light bulbs. These are simple things to handle before showing your property and will make your house more rent-worthy.
Clean up all outside areas. Trim trees and shrubs, fix cracked sidewalks, repair sagging gutters, and even consider adding some fresh flowers to the yard to make the rental property feel more like home.
First impressions are important when showing off rentals and the yard is the where potential tenants will get that first glimpse of your home.
- Assess Appliances and Furnishings
Deciding which appliances and furnishings to include in your Baltimore County rental property is very much a personal decision. However, be aware that most tenants these days expect to have a washer and dryer in their units, working refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, and fixtures such as ceiling fans. Placing these valuable items in your rental property will increase your home’s value and allow you to boost the monthly rent.
Just remember, whatever you include in your rental you are responsible for keeping in working order. Having to make repairs or even replace old, broken down appliances early on in your tenant’s occupancy is not a sound financial situation. It is better to address these things before tenants view your place.
Inspections, Registration, and Licensing
In Baltimore County you must obtain a county rental license to legally rent out your home. What’s more, you must register your property with Baltimore County and pass a home inspection before you receive a license.
Here is a breakdown of some key points regarding your property’s inspection:
As of January 1, 2009, all Baltimore County rental properties must be inspected by a licensed home inspector. Preparing for this inspection can seem daunting but if you follow some very easy steps your property will surely pass.
- Hire a state licensed home inspector. This guarantees the right professional gets the job done so there are no problems with your rental registration or license in the future.
- Check your smoke detectors. Consider a hard-wired, battery backup, wireless, interconnected smoke detector system with a built-in carbon monoxide detector.
- Check for signs of electrical problems, making sure no wires are visible and there are no holes in any
- Make sure your HVAC and plumbing systems are in working order. Cold and hot water must be present in the home and there can be no water leaks below the sinks or when the toilets flush.
- Ensure that if there are sleeping areas in the basement you are in compliance with a secondary means of escape.
- Follow all railing requirements (steps with more than three risers require a railing; this applies to all interior, exterior, and basement steps).
- Make sure there is a working carbon monoxide detector outside every sleeping area (as mentioned above, consider a smoke/carbon monoxide detector combo).
- All combustion appliances (such as furnaces, hot water heaters, and dryers) must be properly ventilated.
- Have a licensed lead inspection done if your home was built before 1978 (Bay Management Group is well-versed in this law and can help you through the inspection process for your Baltimore County property).
If you have a favorite Baltimore County property management team by your side, passing these inspections will be a breeze. Bay Management Group is highly knowledgeable about the required inspections needed for renting Baltimore County properties and the processes behind securing a registered and licensed rental property.
Upon passing the required home inspections you will then be able to register your property with Baltimore County. Do this before any tenants move into your property to avoid fines.
There are severe financial penalties for not following the correct rental housing procedures, along with potential revocation and/or non-renewal of your rental license. Also, check to see if you qualify for a registration exemption.
After registration of your rental property is complete, obtaining your rental license is the last step before allowing tenant occupancy. Have your home re-inspected every three years to renew your license and avoid non-compliance.
There are several steps that need to be taken before placing your Baltimore County home on the market as a rental. From staging the physical living areas, to completing the necessary and oftentimes confusing paperwork, renting your home is no easy feat.
Consider hiring Baltimore’s top-rated property management company, Bay Management Group, to take all of these tasks off of you plate and put money into your pocket instead.