Being a landlord in Baltimore isn’t easy if you don’t have professional guidance. There are a lot of rules and laws to follow, and even if you’re a seasoned landlord, you can easily do something wrong if you don’t know about certain regulations or about laws that may have changed somewhere along the way. This is one reason it’s important to team up with a professional property management company when you own rental property. Most of the larger management companies in Baltimore only follow this set of processes and procedures when managing apartment buildings and single-family homes. But at Bay Management Group, we make sure to not only follow the rules and regulations, but go above and beyond to always make improvements at our clients’ properties.
Consistency is Key
If anyone has ever told you, “if I do that for you, I’d have to do that for everyone,” you’ll relate to this element. Consistency is key anytime you’re in the position of authority—that includes being a landlord. If you do something for one tenant, you have to do it that way for all tenants.
The following are some common pitfalls landlords encounter when they’re faced with the possibility of being inconsistent with the rules:
Waiving Late Fees
It can be tempting to waive a late fee because someone is facing financial hardship, but if you do so without giving other tenants the opportunities to waive their late fees, you could get into trouble with discrimination. Of course, if you let everybody waive late fees, you’re setting a bad example in a completely different way (and losing money while you’re at it).
Disregarding Background, Employment, and Credit Checks
If it’s within your policy to thoroughly screen every tenant, you need to make sure you run checks on everyone—even if one of your applicants is a friend. You’re setting yourself up for legal issues if someone feels you showed favoritism and you don’t have the background information to show why you made the decision to choose one applicant over another.
Waiving the Security Deposit
We get it; coming up with first and last months’ rent plus a security deposit can be a daunting task for many applicants. Someone may pull at your heartstrings and try to win you over with a story that seems fit for a security deposit waiver, but you can’t do it. You need to protect your investment property from any future damage that may occur. That security deposit may be the thing that keeps you in the black if the renter damages your space.
Allowing one tenant—or a small handful of renters—to bend the rules shows favoritism, which is never good for business. As a Baltimore landlord, the best thing you can do for your investment is to be consistent.
Bending Your Pet Policy
If your pet policy says no one can have pets, that means no one can have pets (properly registered service pets excluded, of course). If you only allow cats, none of your renters should have a dog. If you only allow one dog, you’re asking for trouble if one of your other tenants knows you let someone have two.
Your pet policy is important. Bending the rules on this can cause trouble down the road.
Putting off Repairs
Maybe you have a tenant who has a bad attitude. Those people are never fun to work with, but as their landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure he or she has proper living conditions. If the toilet isn’t working, or the lock on the front door has jammed, you don’t have the luxury of avoiding that unpleasant person simply because they have a rotten demeanor. You have to push through the nastiness and deliver exceptional customer service that keeps your tenant safe and as happy as possible.
Repairs can be especially difficult if they happen in the middle of the night or if you’re located too far from the property to get there at a reasonable time. Even if you’re not putting your tenants’ needs off on purpose, it can look that way if you’re not able to respond to critical matters in a timely manner. To avoid 3 a.m. mishaps that you can’t get to, it’s best to have a professional property management team on your side. Bay Management Group offers 24/7 on-call professionals who can take care of any challenge, no matter the time or urgency of the situation.
Putting off essential repairs for one tenant, while simultaneously taking care of others’ needs, is a surefire way to find yourself in a sticky situation that may end in a trip to the courtroom.
Forgiving a Month’s Rent
Maybe your bank account is doing well, and you’ve got a tenant who simply can’t swing this month’s rent. It’s a heartbreaking story, but this people-oriented business is still that—a business. Forgiving someone’s rent will certainly show favoritism and set you up for lengthy battles with other tenants when they discover someone got to skate payment-free on an entire month’s rent.
Ignoring Tenants’ Complaints
There will always be that one person in the crowd who has to complain about everything, even when there’s nothing to complain about. When that person is your tenant, your job as a landlord can be even more tedious, but you have to treat each complaint as a valid problem until you know otherwise.
Some people just want to be heard, even if they don’t have much to say. By acknowledging each of your tenants’ complaints, and treating them with respect and professionalism, your renters will respect you in return.
Maintaining and Repairing Your Property
Good property management companies know it’s critically important to reinvest in your property to keep it running at its best. Maintenance might include minor things that get inspected regularly, or it could mean fixing unexpected problems that occur without warning. Ensuring your space is attractive to new tenants when the current ones leave is important, so it doesn’t go vacant for an extended period of time.
Keep Up with Maintenance
You never want to neglect maintenance issues (small or large) because, as time goes on, your property will become unappealing to qualified renters. This will force you to either lower your rents or have someone in the property who is unqualified. Alternatively, you can fix up the property after it’s gone into disrepair so you can attract better tenants. But the amount of money you’ll need to spend after things have become rundown will be far more excessive than it would have been, had you taken the steps to incrementally make repairs and upkeep as needed. By setting budgets for repairs, maintenance, and capital expenditures each year it can be helpful in making sure your property is getting the attention it needs.
Stay Up-to-Date with Law Changes
Keeping up with the constant law changes and making sure you’re treating each tenant equally can be difficult at times. Showing favoritism is easier than you might think, and you can do it without even realize it’s happening. That’s why more and more individual investors are turning to professional property management companies in Baltimore to help manage their rental properties.
Invest in Property Management
At Bay Management Group, our team understands the importance of routine maintenance, and we’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those mishaps that weren’t on the schedule. Whether it’s fixing a running toilet, making a drywall patch, installing new smoke detectors, changing HVAC filters, or dealing with any of the other miscellaneous task’s that properties require, we’ve got you covered. Bay Management Group provides property management Baltimore landlords trust. Get your free Property Management Analysis from BMG today!