The Ultimate Safety Checklist for Your Bethesda Rental Property

Ultimate Safety Checklist For Your Bethesda Rental Property

Tenants expect, and have a legal right to, a safe, secure, and healthy place of living when they lease from you.

This means you have an obligation to keep your tenants safe inside your investment property, secure from outside intrusions, and protected against any health concerns.

Unfortunately, if you don’t take the time to thoroughly inspect your Bethesda rental property regularly, issues tend to creep up and accidents happen.

However, a lot of that is preventable with routine property inspections, and a little bit of knowledge about how to keep your property safe for your tenants.

Enlisting the help of Bethesda property management is one great way to tackle rental property safety.

However, there are things you can do on your own to ensure your tenants feel safe while leasing your property.

 

Rental Property Safety Checklist

In the past, we have discussed extensively how to keep your tenants safe while residing in your rental property.

In fact, we even suggested that using the knowledge, experience, and maintenance crew a high quality property management company provides is the best way to keep your tenants safe, secure, and happy.

That said, empowering yourself with the details can be helpful when it comes to rental property safety.

And, while your property manager is well equipped with information regarding Maryland rules and regulations as they pertain to rental property safety, brushing up on your knowledge using this helpful rental property safety checklist is highly recommended.

 

1. Exterior

Check the Safety Of The Exterior of Your Bethesda Rental Property

The exterior of your rental property is not normally the first place that pops into mind when you think about tenant safety.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the safety of this part of your rental.

Here are some of the most crucial safety issues you and your property manager should concern yourselves with when it comes to the exterior of your rental:

  • The entire framework of your property should be sound and secure
  • All exterior portions of your property – the roof, foundation, and other exterior surfaces – must keep rodents and pests out at all times
  • Walls should have no visible holes, breaks, or rotting timber that would allow dampness to enter the property during rainy seasons
  • Roofs must have adequate drainage of rainwater to prevent structure wall deterioration
  • Any exterior surfaces made of metal or wood must be painted, weatherproofed, and sealed to prevent deterioration
  • Awnings, stairways, and overhangs must be secure at all times to keep them from falling, and also to protect them from decay and rust
  • Stairs, porches, balconies, and fire escapes must be able to handle their anticipated loads without collapsing
  • Windows, doors, and frames must prevent wind from entering the property, as well as rainwater and rodents, or other pests
  • Any windows used for ventilation and/or emergency escapes must easily open from the inside and be held in place using proper hardware
  • All exterior stairways and exits must be illuminated to discourage intrusion
  • Lighted pathway to the house for your tenants
  • All exterior door locks must be tightly secure and in good repair
  • From April 1 to December 1, it is your duty to provide tight-fitting screens for all doors, windows, or other openings used for ventilation

 

In addition, your Bethesda rental property may undergo inspection by the County Building Engineer.

If that happens, inspectors will require you to fix the following issues if anything is missing or deteriorating:

  • Any exterior features that create an unsafe condition for your tenants
  • Rotting of exterior walls or vertical supports that hold the property together
  • Deterioration of roofs or other horizontal features, such as balconies
  • Issues with exterior chimneys
  • Plaster or masonry that is crumbling, falling off, or otherwise deteriorating
  • Degraded weatherproofing on any exterior walls, roofs, or foundations
  • Any broken windows or doors

 

As you can see, Maryland does a good job of ensuring that your tenants will be safe from both the obvious safety and health issues that threaten the exterior of your rental property, as well as the lesser-known issues landlords may not know to look for during property inspections.

 

2. Interior

Check the Safety of the Interior of Your Rental Property

It can sometimes be easier to spot safety and health issues on the interior of your rental property.

However, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the things the authorities are going to look for during property inspections, to make sure everything is safe and secure.

While there are many places to check on the interior of your rental, today we are going to focus on the plumbing, as there are plenty of rules and regulations concerning the plumbing:

  • Kitchen, bathroom, and toilet floors must be significantly waterproof, for sanitation reasons
  • All interior structures found with rodent or pest infestations must be treated in a way that is not harmful to your tenant’s health
  • There must be a separate room with a toilet and cold running water that affords your tenants privacy
  • Nearby each toilet there must be a sink with hot and cold running water
  • Each property must have at least one room equipped with a bathtub or shower that has hot and cold water running water that affords your tenants privacy
  • All fixtures, vents, drains, and water supply lines must work properly and be free of any leaks or defects
  • Plumbing fixtures must not only work properly, but must avoid inviting rodents or pests in, as well as never emit dangerous or offensive gases and odors
  • Hot water must run from each faucet at a temperature of at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit

 

Although this may seem tedious, it is important to know what is expected in your rental property when it comes to plumbing issues.

3. Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Check the Safety of Your Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors In Your Rental Property

There is sometimes confusion over whether maintenance of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are the responsibility of the landlord or the tenant.

 

Smoke Detectors

Property owners in Bethesda must install at least one electronic smoke detector in each residential property or unit.

Additionally, properties built before 1976 must include a battery-powered backup.

Every three years, property owners must submit written verification by a licensed electrician or the County Fire Department and Licenses that the smoke detector has been installed as required by law.

This verification will also certify that the detector is in good working order.

 

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

When it comes to carbon monoxide alarms, Maryland takes a hard stance.

To start, all rental properties that have fuel-burning equipment installed must have a working carbon monoxide alarm.

Each alarm must be installed in the common area of the property.

In addition, your tenants must be able to hear the alarm that is installed in the bedroom areas.

It is important to note that the carbon monoxide alarm sound must be easy to distinguish from the smoke detector’s sound.

Lastly, upon installing and testing each carbon monoxide alarm in your rental property, you are required to provide written documentation to at least one adult tenant in your rental instructing them how to maintain and test the alarm.

Have this tenant read and sign the document and keep it for your records.

Tenants leasing from you must do the following:

  • Test and maintain carbon monoxide alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Replace batteries when needed
  • Notify you, via written certified mail, of any malfunctions

 

If you receive written notification that the carbon monoxide alarm is malfunctioning, you are then responsible for the repairing or replacing it.

 

Ensuring the safety and health of your Bethesda rental property and, more importantly, your tenants is serious.

It is your legal responsibility to make sure that your investment property is up to code and does not present any safety issues to those leasing from you.

And, one of the best ways to do this is to educate yourself about the state and local laws.

In addition, by regularly inspecting your rental property, you will be able to make sure that any maintenance, safety, or health concerns are addressed quickly, and do not affect your rental property business.

Better yet, by contacting a property management company such as Bay Management Group, you will have access to knowledgeable property managers and a reliable maintenance crew that can help you prevent any major safety issues, and can repair any minor maintenance issues that pop up during your tenant’s lease term.


5 Aberdeen Rental Property Repairs That You Should Not DIY

Rental Property Repairs Do Not DIY

These days it may feel like any do-it-yourself projects is possible to undertake.

With internet videos showing you step-by-step how to complete even the most complicated home repairs, it all looks so easy, not to mention more affordable than enlisting the help of a professional.

While the thought of saving money is definitely tempting, the truth is, there are certain DIY rental property repair jobs that are too complicated, too dangerous, and oftentimes just as pricey (if not more) to do yourself.

And, while you are responsible for most of your Aberdeen rental property’s maintenance repairs, that doesn’t mean you actually have to do the work yourself.

Let’s take a look at some common do-it-yourself home repairs that should not be handled by inexperienced DIY-ers.

Rather, the below projects should be left to those that, without a doubt, know what they are doing.

 

5 DIY Projects Better Left to Professionals

DIY Projects to Leave to Professionals

Your Aberdeen property manager is sure to tell you there are some DIY repairs that any successful rental property owner should know how to do.

For example, repairing a hole in the wall, being able to fix your property’s gutters, and even being able to handle common toilet issues are all good skills to have as a landlord.

That said, there are some property repairs that are better left to the professionals because they are typically more than you can handle, and dangerous to both you and your tenants if done incorrectly.

1. Electrical Issues

Small DIY projects, such as installing a ceiling fan and changing out a light switch, are typically okay for the average DIY-er.

Just make sure to always turn the power off before starting an electrical repair to avoid shocking yourself.

However, when you get into electrical repairs that require extending circuits, or running new electrical cables, you face some serious issues if you don’t know what you are doing.

With electrical projects, the safety risks heighten.

You can easily start a fire instantly, create a fire hazard that may spark later and threaten the safety of your tenants, or even electrocute yourself in the process of completing the work.

You may also be performing electrical work that requires a permit. Without the proper permit, not only do you face severe penalties and fines that will affect your rental property business, you become liable for performing work not completed by a professional.

Lastly, trying to carry out electrical work in your Aberdeen rental without truly knowing what you are doing can be trickier than you might expect.

You can easily overload your power outlets and create more electrical issues throughout the property, or even wire something incorrectly, adding to the fire and safety concerns.

The Electrical Safety Foundation reports that 140,000 electrical fires happen each year, with 400 deaths resulting from electrical issues.

Therefore, as tempting as those do-it-yourself YouTube videos can be, it is not recommended you attempt to handle any major electrical repairs in your rental property without the help of a certified electrician.

 

2. Roof Repairs

Roof Repairs Are Better Left to Professionals

In the past, we have discussed the necessary steps to take, should your rental property need roofing repairs.

And if you recall, we recommended enlisting the help of your property manager and professional roofing contractor when it comes to dealing with significant roof damage.

Repairing your rental’s roof takes a lot of experience and knowledge that the average person just doesn’t have.

In fact, what seems like a simple roof leak may actually be more serious than you originally thought.

You need to identify the source of the roof leak; repair the shingles, flashing, and vents; match materials to your existing roof; and utilize expensive equipment to get the job done.

In addition, you need to avoid creating more damage in the process, which will lead to more repairs, more expenses, and more time to get the roof repaired.

And don’t forget the danger that working on the roof of your rental property poses, especially to a novice DIY-er.

One small misstep or slip, and you might come tumbling down off your roof, with roofing materials and tools following.

The injuries you can expect to sustain from a roof fall are just not worth the risk.

 

3. Floor Refinishing

Leave The Floor Refinishing To The Professionals

Improving your Aberdeen rental property’s existing hardwood flooring is always a good idea, especially if it has been a while since you gave your property’s flooring some TLC.

Plus, tenants love the thought of having beautiful, sturdy, and long-lasting hardwood flooring in the property they are leasing.

You may think that sanding your property’s wood flooring is a simple process: Rent the sanding machine, get to sanding, and voila, good as new, right?

Wrong.

There are licensed carpenters that won’t go near even their own home’s hardwood floors with a sander, preferring to leave it to the flooring professionals.

All it takes is a little extra sanding on one spot to create a severe divot in your stunning hardwood flooring.

These divots are nearly impossible to fill, and if you do this in several spots across the floor, you are looking at having to re-do the entire space with new flooring.

 

4. Wall Removal

It may seem like a fun weekend project to knock out an existing wall in your rental property in order to open up the living space, combine two rooms to create one bigger one, or even get rid of an awkwardly placed wall that makes your rental seemed cramped.

However, removing a wall in your rental property is anything but a simple DIY weekend project.

If you don’t know what you are doing, and you attempt to take out a wall in your rental property, you could bring your entire rental property down instantly.

Worse yet, you may unknowingly create an unstable foundation that can come crashing down later, perhaps on your tenants.

Not only can removing a wall on your own ruin the framework of your property, but you also risk tapping into a water or gas line, which adds to the danger – and expensive renovation bill – you will face.

 

5. Tree Cutting and Trimming

Tree Cutting and Trimming Is Better for Professionals To Do

Do-it-yourself home repairs are not limited to the interior of your rental property.

In fact, tree cutting and trimming is something that many DIY-ers attempt to master themselves.

Although it is tempting to forgo hiring a professional landscaper to handle your rental property’s tree growth, there are several reasons to rethink this DIY project before even getting started.

To start, the equipment needed to bring down large trees and branches is expensive to rent if you don’t already own it.

And then there’s the element of danger.

The fact that you will need to climb up a large ladder to reach the areas that need pruning poses a serious fall risk.

A small misstep, slip, or branch firing back at you with a vengeance can land you in the hospital with serious injuries.

A professional landscaper experienced in tree pruning should handle any tree that requires cutting or trimming. This is especially true if the trees exceed 20’, or are near roads, other properties, or electrical wires.

 

If you have a repair that seems like too much to handle, even for an experienced DIY-er, it probably is.

That’s why it is best to enlist the help of an experienced professional.

Professionals are liable for their work and any additional damage they cause, and are prepared to make the end result look flawless, so your Aberdeen rental property only benefits from the repairs.

It is also a good idea to receive help from a property management company, such as Bay Management Group, for all your maintenance needs.

We handle issues ranging from minor property repairs to serious emergencies, such as floods or electrical issues. And, we do so using our 24/7 maintenance crew.

Benefiting from our licensed and insured contractors, you can rest assured any rental property repairs you need performed will be done safely, timely, and affordably.

Contact Bay Management Group today so you and your tenants don’t have to worry about costly maintenance problems, safety, or health issues.


Top 7 Costly Mistakes New Philadelphia Landlords Make

Costly Mistakes New Philly Landlords Make

There are many different moving parts to conquer in order to be a successful rental property owner.

Enlisting the help of property management in Philadelphia will take a great deal off your plate, and help you avoid making too many mistakes.

Though making mistakes is often part of the learning process in the rental property business, there are things all property owners should avoid, as they are some of the most costly mistakes that can be made, especially when just starting out.

Not sure what those mistakes are?

Don’t worry.

Today we are going to cover some of the biggest mistakes new landlords make that cost a lot of money in the long run, in the hopes that you learn from the mistakes of others, and avoid making them yourself as you build and grow your investment property portfolio.

 

7 Expensive Mistakes New Philadelphia Landlords Make

People don’t enter the rental property business to lose money – that much is obvious.

However, if you make any of the following mistakes while starting out as a new landlord, you may risk losing money rather than making it.

 

1. Not Having Insurance

Not Having Insurance Is a Mistake New Landlords Make

There are two types of insurance that must be in place at the beginning of your tenant’s lease term to ensure you don’t become the victim of a legal dispute that empties your pockets in more ways than one.

  • Homeowners Insurance. This insurance policy is under your name and protects the structure of your rental property, should anything happen to it, such as a fire, flood, or natural disaster. Homeowners insurance will cover the cost of the property damages so you don’t have to pay out of pocket.
  • Renters Insurance. This insurance policy is under your tenant’s name and should be required of all tenants that lease your rental properties. Renters insurance covers the costs of your tenant’s personal belongings in the case of an emergency, any medical costs incurred should anyone become injured while on your property, and any other damage that is the fault of your tenant.

 

Making sure you and your tenants have enough insurance coverage will save you the headache of arguing in court over who is responsible for damages.

It will also save you a great deal of money, should an emergency happen and cause great damage to your rental property.

 

2. Overpricing Your Philadelphia Rental Property

It is important you understand the market when entering the rental property business.

As mentioned earlier, no one gets into leasing properties to lose money. However, overpricing your rental in hopes of garnering a huge profit may backfire on you as well.

Knowing what similar rentals in the area are charging for rent will help you gauge whether your rent rate is appropriate.

If you overprice your rental in an area with many available rentals, chances are your property is going to remain vacant for a long time. Prospective tenants do their research too, and will not pay over market value, if possible.

This is where having an experienced property management company is helpful.

A good Philadelphia property manager will know what price to set your rental at to garner a positive cash flow without squeezing your tenant too much (and risking an early lease termination).

 

3. Not Collecting a Security Deposit

Not Collecting Security Deposit Is a Mistake New Landlords Make

The security deposit you collect from your tenants prior to move-in is a way to protect yourself come the end of the lease term.

This money serves as a replacement for any lost rent or damages to your property.

Without it, you will have to front the money for your monthly mortgage, should your tenant not pay their monthly rent. Worse yet, you will have to pay out of your own pocket for any damages beyond normal wear and tear that your tenants incur in your investment property.

Without a security deposit in place to help lessen the financial burden a bad tenant leaves on you at the end of a lease term, you may end up breaking your own bank account and hurting your positive cash flow.

 

4. Not Periodically Checking Your Property

A reliable property management company in Philadelphia such as Bay Management Group always stresses the importance of seasonal inspections of rental properties they manage.

Regular inspections provide the perfect opportunity to check in on your tenants to ensure they are fulfilling their responsibilities as your tenants

They also help reveal maintenance issues that, when taken care of right away, do not cost nearly as much as they would if they were neglected and handled down the line, once the small issue becomes a big one.

 

5. Discriminating During the Tenant Screening Process

Discriminating During Tenant Process Is a New Landlord Mistake

If your property manager is not aware of the Fair Housing Act and how it relates to the tenant screening process, this is a sign you have enlisted the help of a bad property management company.

There is a federal law that prohibits discriminating against protected classes during the tenant screening process that must be adhered to every single time you or your property manager interview a tenant to lease your rental.

You could face a serious legal battle (that you will likely lose) if found to be violating this law.

Not only will a landlord-tenant dispute that lands in court cost you money in legal fees, your property will remain vacant, and you may even earn a poor reputation as a landlord that might affect your future in the rental property business.

 

6. Not Enforcing the Lease Agreement

There is a reason your property manager meticulously puts together a lease agreement to meet your specific needs, and goes over it line by line with your tenant come move-in time.

This protects you, your investment property, and your tenant.

If you fail to enforce the lease agreement from the beginning, your tenant will not view you as a professional to take seriously.

And, in the end, this will cost you money. 

If your tenant fails to pay the rent on time, and you let it slide, without starting the eviction process as is outlined in the lease agreement, or not charging the late fee that both you and your tenant agreed to at the start of the tenancy, your tenant may begin to feel as though they can be late every time.

If you set a rule, such as a late rent payment charge, enforce it. Every single time.

This way you aren’t taken advantage of, and won’t lose out on money in the long run.

 

7. Not Using Reliable Philadelphia Property Management

New Landlord Mistake is Not Using a Property Management Company

Employing a bad property management company can lose you just as much money as trying to self-manage your rental property without having a clue what you are doing.

If you want to use a property manager to help enforce lease terms, collect rent, handle maintenance and repair requests, and even conduct seasonal inspections of your rental property, make sure you research the property management company before hiring them.

For instance, Bay Management Group has years of experience in managing rental properties. The property managers we employ are knowledgeable about all rental property laws, rules, and regulations.

In addition, we understand what it takes to make it in the rental property business, including how to find high quality tenants that will care for your property, and when to enforce lease provisions against bad tenants.

Plus, we know how you should market your vacant rental when you are ready to jump into the rental property business and place a tenant in your property, how much your rent rate should be, and how to draft a legally compliant lease agreement that caters to you and your tenant, ensuring that everyone is satisfied.

If you are looking to avoid making costly mistakes that many new landlords make, as well as recruit help managing your Philadelphia rental property, call Bay Management Group today.


How Can a Catonsville Landlord Break a Tenant’s Lease?

How Can a Cantonsville Landlord Break a Lease?

In the past, we have discussed the various reasons why your Maryland tenants maybe able to legally break their lease agreement with you.

Things such as being called to active military duty, being a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, and even things you do such as harassing your tenant, or failing to provide a safe and habitable place of living, are all legitimate reasons your tenant may initiate an early lease termination.

But have you ever thought about it the other way around, with landlords as the ones to break the lease agreement?

Today we are going to discuss the legal reasons a Catonsville landlord may break the binding contract they agreed to with their tenants at the start of their tenancy.

 

3 Legal Reasons a Catonsville Landlord May Break a Lease

Catonsville landlords should seek advisement from their property management company if they want to terminate a lease agreement early.

Since every state has their own set of rules and regulations, in addition to the federal landlord-tenant laws all property owners must abide by, it is important to consult with your property manager before quitting a lease agreement early, in order to avoid legal troubles.

That said, there are some general reasons why you may be able to initiate an early lease termination in Maryland that apply whether you own property in Catonsville or not.

 

1. Violations of the Lease Agreement

If your tenant repeatedly violates any terms of their lease agreement, you may legally terminate the lease with proper notice.

Here are the major violations that tend to force landlords to initiate an early lease termination:

 

Failure to Pay Rent

Failure to Pay Rent Allows Landlord to Break The Lease

If you use an experienced Maryland property management company, you should know by now that failure to pay rent on time, every time, is a major breach of the lease agreement.

And, if your property manager cares about the status of your rental property business, they will begin the eviction process as soon as your tenant fails to pay on time.

This not only reminds your tenants that you are serious when it comes to paying rent; it also protects you from losing too much rent income.

In addition, the minute a tenant feels you will not enforce the rules, they will begin to take advantage of you. That’s why administering the consequences, regardless of the reason rent is late, is so crucial to your success as a rental property owner.

 

Lease Provision Violation

There is a reason you and your property manager go through every line of the lease agreement with your tenant prior to move-in day.

This way, all involved parties fully understand what is expected of them throughout the lease term.

Lease provisions include things such as:

  • Rent collection
  • Pet policies
  • Maintenance and repair responsibilities
  • Rules regarding a tenant’s ability to alter the interior of the property
  • And more

If your tenant signs the lease agreement understanding the rules, and breaches that agreement, you have grounds to terminate the lease early.

 

Breaking the Law

Another common reason you may feel the need to terminate your Catonsville tenant’s lease agreement early is if they break the law on the property they lease from you.

Though your property manager should have included terms in the lease agreement addressing your zero-tolerance policy for things such as illegal drug use or any other criminal activity, you can still consider early termination without those provisions.

Again, consult with your property manager to ensure state and local laws support your reason for wanting to break the lease.

 

2. Property Damage

Tenant Damaging Property Allows Landlord to Break Lease

If your tenant damages your rental property, you may have the right to break the lease agreement with them early. However, be sure that the type of damage inflicted is grounds for an early lease break.

You cannot terminate a lease agreement for just any type of property damage.

Tenants are not responsible for damage to your property that is a result of normal wear and tear.

However, whether by accident or on purpose, any excessive damage, such as broken windows or flooded flooring due to negligence, is the responsibility of your tenant.

And, depending on the circumstances surrounding the damage, you might want to break the lease early with your tenant if the damage is serious enough.

 

3. To Sell the Property or Move-in

The Landlord Can Break the Lease to Sell or Move In

There are times when a landlord feels they need to sell their rental property, or move back into it and make it their primary residence.

But what if these feelings happen halfway through a tenant’s lease term? 

The only way you can break a lease early with your Catonsville tenant to sell your property or move back in, is to have this outlined in the lease agreement you both signed.

So long as your tenants agree to all of the lease provisions, and sign on the dotted line, you are legally able to enforce those provisions throughout the lease term.

This can apply to your wanting to sell the property mid-tenancy.

However, as mentioned before, it is important you know exactly what you are doing before initiating this process. The last thing you want to do is illegally break the lease term and reap the consequences of it.

 

Breaking the Lease the Legal Way

If you run into a situation where you want to initiate an early lease termination with your Catonsville tenant, make sure you have the help of your Maryland property management company so it is done properly.

Breaking a lease with your tenants is a process. And, it typically begins with proper notice of termination:

  • Pay Rent or Quit. For those times when your tenant refuses to pay rent on time, you can send them notice to pay rent within a certain period of time, (usually 3-5 days) or ask them to vacate the premises.
  • Cure or Quit. When your tenant is breaking a lease provision outlined in the lease agreement, and you want to break the lease early, you must first send them a notice with the option to cure the problem, or vacate the premises.
  • Unconditional Quit. This means there are no options for your tenant to pay up or fix the problem they are causing. Instead, they simply must vacate the premises within a certain period of time.

If you are a Catonsville landlord looking to break a lease early, chances are you will want to use an Unconditional Quit notice. That way, you can break the lease immediately, and move forward with finding new tenants to lease your rental.

In Maryland, the following amount of notice is required when delivering an Unconditional Quit notice to your tenants:

  • 14 days’ notice is required for tenants that breach the lease in a way that is dangerous to themselves, others, the landlord, or the property
  • 30 days’ notice is required for tenants that pay rent late 3 times in a 12-month period (though you must have won an eviction lawsuit for each instance of nonpayment)

 

As you can see, breaking the lease with your Catonsville tenants is possible, but there are things to consider before initiating the process.

If you own a rental property in the Catonsville region, and need help drafting a legally compliant lease agreement that addresses things such as early lease termination, both on the part of your tenants, and yourself, contact Bay Management Group today.

We can help you create a lease agreement that touches on all of the policies you want in place, help guide your tenants through the lease during the signing, and even offer tenant welcome packages to remind tenants of what they are responsible for while leasing your investment property.

When hiring Bay Management Group, you will know that your property is being well cared for, and that you have the legal backing to end a lease early, just in case.


What You Need to Know About Security Cameras For Your Rental

What You Need to Know About Installing Security Cameras in Your Rental Property

Being the owner of a rental property comes with many challenges. You’re not always sure if your tenants are going to pay their rent every time, if they are going to treat your investment property right, and if they are going to conduct illegal activities in your residence.

And, while thorough tenant screening does a lot to reduce these risks, nothing is guaranteed.

One concrete way of better protecting your Baltimore County rental property from things like theft and vandalism is to install security cameras on the property.

Many retail stores use security cameras on their properties as a way of protecting their business.

And, we always suggest you look to your rental property as a business.

However, there is some growing concern from tenants over the presence of security cameras, both outside and inside of your property.

That’s why today we are going to look at some of the most important things to consider before installing a security system, complete with cameras, on your Baltimore County rental property.

 

Can You Install Security Cameras on Your Baltimore Rental?

You Can Install Security Cameras on Your Baltimore Rental

In short, yes you can install security cameras on your Baltimore rental property.

However, this does not come without its limitations.

In Baltimore County, you are not allowed to install a visual surveillance camera in any areas considered private places without a person’s consent. This may include places such as dressing rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The same rules also apply to still shots being captured via a camera.

In addition, you are prohibited from using a camera to spy on people inside of a private property. The only exception to this is if the area is being used to conduct business.

That said, you are allowed to legally install visible security cameras that monitor places such as your rental’s driveway, front and back doors, backyard areas, and garages. Any place that is considered a public place, where a reasonable expectation of privacy is not expected, you can monitor via video surveillance.

However, if you are secretly recording your tenants in any area, you may find yourself in some legal hot water.

Not only does Baltimore law forbid recording anyone without their consent within a private residence, most tenants have a reasonable expectation of privacy while in the home they are leasing from you.

As a result, most states have strict privacy laws in place to protect tenants from video surveillance within a property.

That’s why it is important to discuss surveillance laws with an experienced attorney before installing surveillance cameras on the inside of your rental.

In addition, it is important you discuss these things with your potential tenants before they sign a lease agreement with you.

Although you may have sufficient justifications for wanting to install security cameras on the inside of your rental home, outside security cameras should be enough when it comes to protecting your Baltimore County rental property.

 

What About Audio Recording?

Audio Recording is Illegal Inside Your Baltimore Rental Property

Many security cameras come with audio recording as well.

However, most states have strict wiretapping laws in place preventing the secret audio recording of private conversations, such as the ones you would expect to take place within a rental property residence.

In addition, Baltimore County takes it one step further, and states that it is illegal to record conversations, regardless of where they are taking place, unless you have the consent of all involved parties.

Even if you decide to install security cameras on the outside of your rental property, which is legal to do, it is best you do so without capturing any audio.

 

Why Use Security Cameras?

Reasons to Use Security Cameras In Your Baltimore Rental Property

There are plenty of benefits to using security cameras on your rental property, whether it is occupied or not.

Take a look at some of the best reasons why, despite the complex legalities you must familiarize yourself with, using a surveillance system is helpful:

  • Monitor Nuisances. Loud parties, over-staying guests, and other disturbances on your property are easily caught on security camera footage. Since these activities can wreak havoc on your rental property business, or can be considered a breach of the signed lease agreement, having the proof it is happening can help protect you and your property.
  • Unauthorized Maintenance Workers. There are plenty of stories floating around about suspicious maintenance workers spying on rentals so they can later burglarize them. If you use a Baltimore County property management company that has their own maintenance crew, there should be no other contractors entering your property without your consent. This is something video surveillance can capture as it happens.
  • Vacancy Protection. When your property is vacant, it is vulnerable to theft and vandalism. Taking surveillance of your rental property can help deter or prosecute these activities. In addition, it helps reduce the costs associated with vacant property issues, such as property damage, theft, or illegal use of the residence.

 

Altogether, using security cameras in your Baltimore rental property can be a good idea.

If you are looking to add security cameras to your rental property, and need some help in dealing with the legal issues surrounding both visual and audio surveillance, enlist the help of Bay Management Group.

 

Experienced and knowledgeable about all rental property housing laws, including those related to video surveillance, we can help ensure you are not breaking any Baltimore County laws with your security camera system.

 

In addition, we help protect your property in other ways by conducting thorough tenant screening, routine inspections, and drafting airtight lease agreements strictly outlining what is, and is not, allowed during your tenant’s stay.

 

Let us help you keep the peace of mind that your investment property is safe from things such as theft, vandalism, and structural damage so that you can enjoy the better parts of being a Baltimore County property owner.


End Of Summer Maintenance For Your Philadelphia Rental Property

End of Summer Maintenance Tips for Philadelphia Rental Property

If you are a successful Philadelphia property owner, chances are you have been preparing for your annual end of summer property inspection.

Routine inspections of your rental property are a great way to ward off major maintenance expenses, ensure your tenant is fulfilling their lease obligations, and ease your mind that your investment property is intact.

And, what better way to remember to perform these inspections, than to conduct them every time the season changes?

Keeping your rental property in tip-top shape year round is not an easy task if you don’t take a proactive approach.

Many property owners focus on the transition between fall and winter (especially in Philadelphia where freezing cold temps and snow can wreak havoc on your property), but fail to focus on the switch between summer and fall.

If you have not been gearing up for your end of summer inspection, or are not quite sure what to add to the property inspection checklist, keep reading.

Today, we will look at some of the most common end of summer maintenance tasks you or your Philadelphia property manager should do to guarantee a smooth transition into the upcoming cold months.

 

End of Summer Maintenance for Your Philadelphia Rental Property

1. Furnace Inspections

If your Philadelphia rental property has a furnace, now is the best time to get it inspected. This way, anything that is wrong with it can be repaired right away so it is ready to go once the colder months hit.

HVAC experts agree that 75% of no-heat calls during the winter are a direct result of the furnaces not being cleaned or serviced properly.

If you want to avoid a midnight call from your tenant, keep the utility and repair costs down, and make sure your property’s furnace is working efficiently, be sure to get it inspected for the following:

  • Ignition failure
  • Gas line trouble
  • Failure to heat
  • Broken bearings, belts, or motor
  • Debris in the filters
  • Strange noises

Having a properly functioning furnace will also help maintain the quality of air within your property, which is important for the tenants residing there.

 

2. Clean the Vents

Clean the Air Conditioning Vents During Your End of Summer Rental Property Maintenance

Vents are known to build up with dust and debris over time. Not only does this affect your property’s air quality, but it also makes your heating and air conditioning units work double time to provide average results.

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, and that of your tenant’s, as well as extend the lifespan of your HVAC units by reducing the strain that debris buildup causes, conduct annual cleanings of your property’s vents and air ducts come the end of summer.

You want your heating units to be fully prepared to keep your property, and your tenants, warm during the wintertime.

 

3. Check for Mold

If your property is located in an area that is prone to humidity during the summer, it’s a good idea to check for mold growth in your property.

Humidity provides mold spores the perfect breeding ground for expansive growth, especially if unchecked.

Here are some common places where mold can grow that should be added to your inspection checklist:

  • Bathrooms – showers, bathtubs, walls (especially tile grout), sinks, and toilets
  • Kitchen – underneath the sink, around the refrigerator, window sills
  • Fireplace – porous bricks can grow mold when fireplace is not in use
  • Attic/Basement – due to lack of ventilation and possible water leaks
  • Ceiling/Walls – any leaking from the roof or piping throughout the property

 

It is always better to spot mold growth before it gets out of control.

Mold contamination is an expensive and potentially hazardous situation that you and your tenants do not want to contend with.

 

4. Clean the Gutters

Clean Gutters for End of the Summer Maintenance in Your Philadelphia Rental Property

If you have been performing seasonal inspections, it is likely the gutters were cleaned and repaired before summer hit.

However, as an added precaution (or to make up for failing to inspect them this year), check to make sure your rental property’s gutters are clear, and in good working order.

As the fall and winter seasons approach, so do rainy, snowy days. Having clear gutters will help offset the debris that is likely to come your way, and help reduce any issues with breakage, clogging, or leaking.

 

5. Check Detectors

Now is a great time to make sure your rental’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. This is especially important for those with rental properties that have furnaces.

 

6. Check for Drafting Issues

Check Windows and Doors For Draft Issues in Your Philadelphia Rental Property

There are two specific places in your rental property that you can inspect for draft issues:

  • Check for worn and cracked weatherstripping on all doorways leading to the exterior of your property. In addition, consider adding door sweeps to further prevent cold, drafty air from entering, and cozy warm air from leaving your property.
  • Windows are prone to letting cold air seep in if the seals are worn and cracked. In addition, window panes that are old may let excess moisture in from the rain and snow, become hard to close all the way, and even crack. These are all things you do not want to deal with in the dead of winter.

Checking minor issues such as these before it gets too cold will not only prevent you from having to make major repairs down the line, it will reduce the inconvenience of having to fix such issues when it is freezing outside.

 

As you can see, there are several things to check during your end of summer property inspection that will help make the transition from hot to cold seasons run smoothly.

If you are looking for an experienced property management company in Philadelphia to help with things such as seasonal inspections, get in touch with Bay Management Group today. Not only can we help conduct seasonal and move-in/out inspections of your rental property, we can also help repair and maintain your property.

With a 24/7/365 maintenance crew comprised of high-quality, timely, and affordable contractors, we take the burden of repairing your rental property off you.

After hour calls, middle of the night emergencies, and even minor fixes are taken care of quickly and efficiently by our crew.

In the end, you will save time and money using our property management services, and rest easy knowing that your property is in tip-top shape year round.


Top Tips for Avoiding Rental Property Scams in Chevy Chase, MD

Tips for Avoiding Rental Property Scams in Montgomery County

Rental scams have been around for decades. And, as the number of people looking to rent increases nationwide, more tenants than ever are on the lookout for these scams, so they don’t fall victim them.

Criminals that are responsible for these scams are aware of the heightened demand for rentals, and the increasing rent rates that property owners can demand, and they want in on whatever they can get.

However, when all is said and done, rental scams affect not only tenants, but property owners as well.

Though rental scams are not something many Chevy Chase property owners probably think about, they should definitely be on your radar. Learning about the different types of rental scams out there may help you prevent getting mixed up in a rental scam of your own.

 

What is a Rental Scam?

In short, a rental scam is a situation where a scammer attempts to secure funds from an interested tenant for a rental property that is not legally their own to rent.

The rental property in question may be physically real and just not theirs, or completely made up and non-existent.

Typically, a scammer will advertise a rental as available, hook a potential tenant by collecting application fees and security deposits, and at the time of move-in, simply disappear with money in hand.

By the time the prospective tenant realizes what has happened, the scammer is long gone and untraceable.

However, rental scams have evolved over time, and have become more complex than simply swindling prospective tenants out of their money.

 

Rental Scams That Can Involve Your Chevy Chase Rental Property

Here is the breakdown of three of the most common rental scams that happen today. Most people are generally very trusting, thus making these seemingly obvious scams extremely effective.

Keep reading to learn about the various ways a scammer may try to take advantage of you, the property owner.

 

1. Online Advertisements

Online Advertisements Are Risky For Rental Property Scams

Advertising your vacant rental online is one of the best ways to expose your vacancy to a wide tenant pool. Plus, it doesn’t take a great deal of effort or money to advertise online.

However, online advertisements are one of the easiest ways for people to scam your Chevy Chase rental property. All someone has to do is cut and paste your real online ad, and then lower the asking rent price.

This generates a lot of interest amongst interested tenants, especially those in a hurry to pay whatever fees are required to move in right away.

The scammer then gathers several application fees, security deposits, and whatever other fees he can get from multiple potential tenants, and runs away with all of that cash before anyone is the wiser.

This will affect you because if people find out your property has been involved in a shady scam such as this, the real advertisement displaying your property as available will not go over well with interested tenants.

This can ultimately ruin your reputation as a good property owner, and take your rental property business down.

 

2. The Fake Landlord

If, by chance, a scammer can access your vacant property, you are in a lot of trouble. The way this particular scam works is a fraudulent landlord pretends to be working on behalf of you, the real landlord, and sets out to get your property leased.

If you have not done your due diligence in routinely inspecting, securing, or making it seem as though your vacant property is occupied, the scammer might even show the property as though they are the actual landlord.

From there, a prospective tenant then decides they like your place, pays the required security deposits, first and last month’s rents, and application fees.

Then, one of two things happens:

  1. The scammer takes off with all of the collected funds, and the tenant never hears from him again.
  2. The tenant actually moves in to your property, and the scammer collects rent from them for as long as possible before being discovered. The scammer then disappears into thin air, leaving you with a property that has tenants living in it illegally, unbeknownst to you this entire time.

This creates a mess of legal problems that is going to cost everyone, save for the scammer, a lot of time and money.

 

3. Accepting Overpayments

As a Chevy Chase rental property owner, you should know that accepting overpayments for fees or rent from an approved tenant is never a good idea.

Typically, when this scam happens, your “tenant” overpays, and asks you to forward the extra money to a close friend or family member. They will have some well thought-out excuse as to why they cannot do it themselves, and oftentimes can be very convincing.

Unfortunately, what happens in this scam is that you send the extra payment to someone else, and then find out the check you received was actually bogus.

But by now, it’s too late for you to recover the funds you already sent out to your tenant’s sick grandma. You are now on the hook for that missing money.

Although this usually will not happen with tenants that you have already leased your rental to, the truth is, this happens a lot when it comes to security deposits at the beginning of a lease term.

And, it is not uncommon to see this happen with tenants that are out of town looking to lease your rental.

One surefire way to help avoid these types of issues with current tenants is to accept rent payments via a secure online portal. This way, when you receive rent payments, regardless of whether it is an overpayment or not, you will know the funds are legitimate once they hit your bank account.

 

Landlords Tips for Avoiding Rental Scams

Though most rental scams are aimed at getting money from tenants looking to rent a home, it is important, as a Chevy Chase property owner, to protect your investment property in any way you can.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself:

  • Always perform routine inspections of your rental, especially when it is vacant
  • Make sure to change the locks in between tenants, so previous tenants don’t have access to your property after they have moved out
  • Thoroughly screen all tenants before placement into your rental – income verification, clean backgrounds, and reliable rental history are all important
  • Check popular online advertisement listings regularly to make sure your rental is not fraudulently being listed as available
  • Avoid dealing with prospective tenants who contact you from outside of the country, or at least be careful if you choose to
  • Never rush a tenant placement – this is when scams are most likely to occur

 

Lastly, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from being scammed, or having a rental property mixed up in a scam outside of your knowledge, is to enlist the help of a Chevy Chase property management company such as Bay Management Group.

At Bay Management Group, we pride ourselves in taking every precaution to protect our rental property owners and their investment properties.

This means we do things like perform strict tenant screening, airtight lease drafting, routine inspections, and online rent collection. In addition, we help our clients keep their properties secure using a variety of security measures.

If you own rental property in the Chevy Chase region, contact Bay Management Group today and see how we can help you avoid getting caught up in a rental property scam.


4 Ways to Market Your Philly Rental Property to Millennials

Ways to Market Your Philly Rental Property to Millennials

If you own a rental property in Philly, you might know that over a quarter of your state’s population is comprised of millennials.

And if you didn’t, now you do.

That means marketing your vacant rental properties specifically to millennials should be a priority.

In the past, we have discussed how to go about leasing your rental property to millennials. We explained that they prefer leasing their homes to owning, for a variety of reasons such as school debt, flexible careers leading to multiple moves, and the fact that renting is no longer as taboo as it once was, even for adults.

In addition, we discussed how millennials prefer technology, such as paying rent online, having fast Wi-Fi speeds, and being located in the hub of the city, where everything is accessible within a few square miles.

And today, we are going to talk marketing.

If you are looking to capitalize on the millennial population in Philly, you are going to need to know much more than just what millennials want on the surface when it comes to leasing a rental home from you.

We are going to dig deeper, and provide ways you can market to this special demographic.

 

What is a Millennial?

In broad terms, a millennial is anyone born between the years of 1981-2000, though there is some flexibility in that definition.

Often children of Baby Boomers, those born between 1946-1964, millennials are generally defined as the generation that is in tune with the world’s advanced communication, media, and digital technologies.

Here are some of the key traits experts believe millennials, as a whole, have:

  • They are part of the largest generation Western society has ever seen
  • Millennials are on track to become the most educated generation
  • Those born as millennials grew up in the digital age, and are very technologically savvy
  • Prior to millennials, no other generation, save for those born in the early 1930s and 1940s, have had such a strong sense of community
  • They are conscious of things such as environmental, social, health, and economical issues and want change
  • This generation is marked by a lessened sense of patriotism, and a heightened sense of globalism
  • They are entrepreneurial, thanks to the Great Recession

 

Marketing Your Philly Rental Property to Millennials

Now that you have a basic understanding of what it means to be a millennial in America, let’s look at some keys ways you can market your Philly rental property to this unique generation.

 

1. Highlight Space

Highlight the Space for Millennials in Your Philly Rental Property

Since millennials are so community driven, it is safe to assume they love to have friends, family, and co-workers over to enjoy the holidays, summer barbeques, and everything in between.

If your Philly rental property has a large living room space, make sure to highlight that fact in your online advertisement (remember, millennials are more likely to search for a rental online).

In addition, boast your spacious kitchen, oasis backyard, and spare bedrooms, where guests can stay over for the weekend.

Also, know that it’s not enough to mention your property’s square footage. Make something exciting out of that square footage, and watch the millennial interest grow.

 

2. Inform Them about Transportation

Millennials leasing your rental may still be in school. And, they probably work as well.

Being able to navigate the city easily from where they live is a key trait millennials look for in a rental property.

Mention things such as nearby restaurants, shopping, entertainment hot spots, colleges, business areas, and close access to all major highways and SEPTA stops when advertising to the millennial generation.

These location specifics are just what they are looking for in a quality Philly rental home.

 

3. If You Own a Philly Vacation Home or Short-Term Rental

Owning Philly Short Term and Rental Vacation Properties

We know that owning a vacation rental property can be a challenging feat. However, with the right marketing techniques, you are bound to find the perfect tenants year-round for your vacation rental if need be.

Here is a list of key options your short-term rental should market:

  • Full service kitchen area
  • A good value that is worth the money being spent
  • Outside sitting area for relaxation or hanging with friends
  • Views of the city skyline
  • Close proximity to tourist attractions, like the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Museum of Art, or the Franklin Museum
  • Email, web browsing, television, and music access (including a strong Wi-Fi signal)
  • Recycling options, energy efficiency, and green cleaning supplies

 

4. Watch Your Keywords

Unless you have the help of an experienced property management team in Philadelphia, like Bay Management Group, chances are you are not up to speed on what it means to watch your keyword placement when advertising online.

Because rentals in Philly are competitive, it is important you put as much effort as possible into your vacancy ads. You want to attract high-quality tenants that will not waste your time, are genuinely interested in your property, and meet all the application requirements.

One great way of doing this is to manage the keywords you place in your ads.

The more specific and detailed your keywords are, the more likely your rental ad is to show up in search results for millennials looking for a rental just like yours.

Use descriptive keywords to explain all aspects of your rental.

For example, don’t just list your place as an “available two-story house.” Instead, take it a step further and describe it as an “available, two-story, four bedroom, three bath rental with a large backyard and a spacious kitchen.”

This way, for anyone that is looking for those types of amenities (think millennials!), your ad will pop up in their search, and they will be able to get in contact right away.

 

In the end, catering to what millennials need and want in a Philly rental property is not that hard, once you have a grasp on your target audience and what they want in a rental property.

They want affordable, eco-friendly, technologically advanced rentals near the action of the city. And, if you have a property that sounds something like that, you will definitely find a millennial tenant by implementing the above-mentioned tips.

If you own a Philly rental property and want a property management company to help you with advertisements, tenants screenings, placement, and online rent collections, contact Bay Management Group today. We understand not only the rental property market in the Philadelphia region, but the demographics that are seeking rentals just like yours.

With our help, you can target the perfect tenant pool, such as millennials, and have a high-quality tenant in your rental property generating you positive cash flow in no time.


4 Ways to Minimize Philadelphia Rental Property Vacancies

Ways to Minimize Your Philadelphia Rental Property Vacancies

Vacancies present quite a challenge to property owners.

They dip into whatever positive cash flow you have accrued for the year, require extra time thanks to new tenant placement, and can be just plain frustrating.

In the past, we have discussed plenty of ways to reduce your vacancy rates, as well as how to improve your vacancy advertisements to entice new tenants to lease out your property.

Despite the fact that Philadelphia vacancy rates are still maintaining a relatively steady decline, there are always more ways to minimize property vacancies.

Today, we are going to discuss additional ways you can keep tenants leasing your property, as well as ways to minimize downtime in between lease terms.

 

The Cost of a Philadelphia Rental Property Vacancy

Understanding the true price of a vacancy can be enough to encourage you to avoid them at all costs.

Take a look at how much a vacant rental property is going to cost you in terms of money, time, and effort:

 

Administrative Costs

Administrative Costs for Your Rental Property Vacancy

If you currently utilize a property management company in Philadelphia, chances are you are facing a fee to re-lease your property.

And while this fee covers the exceptional services your property management company is providing you, – advertisement, tenant screening, generating the lease, and moving the tenants in – when all is said and done, it is something you have to pay for.

In addition, any costs associated with the thorough background check you will do on any potential tenant is likely to cost you some money as well.

This is especially true because there are limits on how much you can charge a prospective tenant when it comes to application fees.

 

Advertisement Costs

Though some online businesses offer free advertisements of your rental property, you still need to invest time and effort into creating these advertisements.

This includes drafting up a solid and detailed ad, taking high-quality photographs of your property, and advertising across as many platforms as possible.

 

Cleaning and Repairs

Cleaning And Repairs Are Costs of a Vacant Rental Property

Every successful landlord knows that in between tenants you are going to need to conduct a thorough cleaning, and make repairs before placing a new tenant in the property.

The monetary costs of doing either of these things will largely depend on how well your previous tenants cared for your investment property.

However, no matter how minor the mess is, or how small the repairs are, you will need to invest some time and money.

 

As you can see, there is a lot to understand about the actual costs of a vacancy. Knowing the breakdown of costs in terms of money, time, and effort, may motivate you to take your Kensington property vacancies much more seriously.

 

4 Ways to Reduce Rental Property Vacancies in Philadelphia

1. Market Your Property Early

Successful property businesses make sure to give their tenants plenty of time to decide whether to renew their lease or not. This way, when a tenant decides not to renew, you have a heads up.

Utilize this time to prepare for the end of your tenant’s lease term, so that you can reduce the impact an inevitable vacancy will have on your bottom line.

For instance, start gathering advertisement details and photographs. In addition, as the lease term nears an end, consider showing your property to interested tenants before your current tenant moves out.

You may even secure a new tenant before your existing tenants leave.

 

2. Utilize Word of Mouth Marketing

Use Word of Mouth Marketing to Minimize Vacancies in Your Philadelphia Rental Property

If you own more than one rental property in the Kensington area, you might consider mentioning to your existing tenants that a property is opening up soon.

If your tenants are the high-quality type that you should be placing in your investment properties, chances are they know someone of the same caliber that may be a good fit for your upcoming vacancy.

In addition, sharing with friends and family that you are about to have a vacant property can be helpful as well.

Never underestimate the effects word of mouth can have on your success. And, as an added bonus, why not include a referral’s fee for anyone that refers a good tenant to you?

 

3. Prorate the Lease

Another great way to minimize vacancy is to offer a prorated lease agreement.

Although most tenants typically move in to new homes on the first of the month, there is no reason you can’t move a new tenant in mid-month, and prorate the rent.

And, even if the tenant doesn’t want to physically move in mid-month, there is a good chance they will be willing to spend a few weeks’ worth of rent to ensure no one else nabs the place.

Keep in mind that doing this means you’ll need to whip your rental into shape quickly between tenants.

This is where having a property management company on hand is helpful. With a reliable maintenance and cleaning crew available at all times, your Philadelphia property manager will have your property rent ready in no time.

 

4. Use a Property Manager

Use a Property Manager to Reduce Vacancies in Your Philadelphia Rental Property

As mentioned above, using a property manager can significantly help you reduce your chances of having a vacant rental in Philadelphia.

In fact, a competent and reliable property management company can help you with things such as:

  • Recommending improvements or upgrades that will garner better quality tenants who are more likely to renew their lease agreements
  • Advising you when it comes to rent rates based on their extensive knowledge about the current market, specifically in your rental’s region
  • Marketing your property across multiple platforms, so your upcoming vacancy gets as much exposure as possible
  • Thorough tenant screening and placement processes

 

In addition, a quality Philadelphia property management company, such as Bay Management Group, can help with things like lease drafting, rent collection, routine inspections, and 24/7 maintenance requests.

All of these things help increase tenant satisfaction, and the likelihood that a tenant will resign a lease agreement come renewal time, thus minimizing your chances of having a vacancy in the first place.

 

If you own rental properties in or near the Kensington region, contact our Philadelphia property managers at Bay Management Group today. We can help you minimize your vacancies, and also provide superior customer service to your tenants.


How to Interview Potential Tenants For Your Edgewood Rental

How to Interview Potential Tenants for Your Harford County Rental Property

We all know how important it is to interview tenant references when deciding whether to lease to a prospective tenant.

In the past, we have discussed how to do just that, as well as provided some tips for how to double check, and ensure a potential tenant’s references are even real.

But have you put much thought into interviewing the actual tenant?

With so much stress being placed on verifying a tenant’s references, property owners often forget to interview the actual tenant that will be living in their Edgewood rental property.

That’s why today we are going to look at some great ways to approach interviewing potential tenants, as well as some of the best questions to ask.

 

How to Interview Potential Edgewood Tenants

 

1. Follow a Consistent Tenant Screening Process

We always emphasize how important having a consistent tenant screening process is.

And, if you don’t currently enlist the help of property management services in Edgewood, the idea of having a strict tenant screening process in place may be foreign.

However, it is crucial you don’t wing the screening process.

You might unknowingly violate housing discrimination laws, and find yourself in a lot of trouble.

Or, you might place a terrible tenant in your rental.

Tenant interviewing is entwined in the screening process.

In fact, at every stage of the tenant screening process, there are perfect opportunities to conduct mini interview sessions along the way.

Look at Rentalutions’ five stages to a good screening process, to see what we mean:

  1. The Inquiry. An interested tenant calls you wanting to know more about your Harford County rental property. This is when you can run some quick screening questions by them to make sure they are serious about leasing your property.
  2. Property Showing. This is the first time you meet the tenant in person, and first impressions are a big deal. Your gut instinct will lead you in the right direction after meeting the tenant face-to-face.
  3. Rental Application. As your tenant prepares to fill out the required rental application, you can gauge their reaction as you explain what is required. For example, a security deposit, first and last month’s rent, employment and previous rental history verification, and even a background check are typical things to require during this stage. Tenants that are hesitant to provide the documentation and money upfront, aim to rush the process, or have a lot of “good excuses” as to why they can’t do one thing or another, may signal they are not a good fit for you.
  4. After deciding that the tenant is in fact a good fit, you can sit down and discuss their approval. Again, their willingness, or lack thereof, when it comes to actually handing over the funds to lease your property will reveal itself during this stage.
  5. Lease Signing. By now, the tenant should fully understand what is expected of them while leasing your property. However, if when you are going over the lease agreement in full (as any successful property owner will), the tenant starts to fuss over provisions in the lease agreement that you are not willing to budge on, you ought to back out and find a different tenant.

 

As you can see, every point during the screening process offers a prime chance to interview tenants to ensure they are a good fit.

 

2. Prepare for the Interview

Prepare For Your Tenant Interview in Harford County

Before diving into the interview, it is important to have a game plan.

Again, violating the Fair Housing Act is something you want to avoid at all costs.

You also want to appear professional, prepared, and serious about your rental property business.

It is a good idea to have a specific set of questions you want to ask while interviewing a tenant.

And, if you prefer to split the interview into parts, make sure you have specific questions for each stage of the tenant screening process.

If you are self-managing your Edgewood property, and are unsure about conducting actual tenant interviews, try practicing with a close friend.

This can help ease some of the nerves and help you stay on track during the real deal.

 

3. Be Strong

This is something almost all property managers will recommend.

Tenants are good at trying to convince property owners to lease to them. They know all the tricks in the book, can be smooth talkers, and may even straight out lie to get you to say “yes.”

Being aware of some of the most common red flags that appear during tenant screening will help you avoid falling victim to a problem tenant.

Also, try to remain consistent with all tenants that cross your path, and don’t rush a decision.

After all, placing a less than ideal tenant in your rental property is only going to lead to more problems down the road.

And, these problems are bound to turn into yet another vacancy that you will have to fill with a different tenant.

 

5 Common Questions to Ask Potential Harford County Tenants

Common Potential Questions to Ask Tenants During an Interview

Here are some of the most common tenant interview questions you should ask potential tenants:

 

1. Why Are You Moving?

We suggest learning the most common reasons why people move, and then catering to them so they stay in your rental for long periods of time.

However, sometimes a tenant’s reason for moving so much in the past, or so quickly in the moment, may raise some concerns with you.

Be aware of this and make your decision whether to move forward based on the tenant’s answer.

 

2. Do You Have Pets?

Depending on your rental property’s pet policy, this question is an important one.

It is crucial to get an honest answer from your prospective tenants in the beginning, in hopes that they will not sneak a pet into a no-pet rental, or violate the pet policies that are in place.

 

3. How Many People Will Be Residing With You?

This is important because you should thoroughly screen all adult tenants that will be living in your rental property for the duration of the lease term.

Knowing how many people will be living in your rental from the start will ensure there is enough room for everyone, without exceeding the legal limits.

Just make sure you do not violate any of fair housing regulations, and do not discriminate against potential tenants.

 

4. Can You Pay the Move-in Costs Upfront?

Can Your Tenant Pay Move in Costs Up Front For Your Harford Rental Property?

This is a big one.

Informing a prospective tenant what you require in terms of first and/or last month’s rent, application fees, and security deposits is a good way to weed those out who simply don’t have enough income to cover the move-in costs.

Those who have issues coming up with your requirements at the start of a lease term are bound to give you trouble at one point or another during the lease term when it comes to paying rent.

And this is not something you want to deal with. Ever.

 

5. Can You Pass a Background Check?

Many potential tenants may not be aware that you require a passing background check to lease your Maryland rental property.

Kindly explain to the tenant that you are more than willing to show the property, and discuss the lease terms, but that one of the conditions upon move-in is passing a background check.

Again, this question will effectively weed out anyone that fears they will not pass.

No tenant wants to pay the non-refundable application fee if they know chances of their application being approved are very slim.

 

The key to tenant screening and interviewing is consistency – consistency in the process, consistency in the questions, and consistency in your standards.

Do not let the fear of your property sitting vacant cause you to make a rushed decision.

 

For those that own rental property in Edgewood, and do not want to worry about violating fair housing rules, interviewing tenants on the phone or in person, or having to make the decision to approve or deny a potential tenant, contact Bay Management Group now to help.

At Bay Management Group, we have strict tenant screening processes in place that are not only legally compliant, but also effective.

In fact, on average, we lease most rental properties in 30 days or less.

And, the tenants placed in the properties we lease are high quality, meet all of your standards, and are guaranteed to pay rent on time for at least the first year of the lease term, or else we re-rent your property for free.

So get in touch with us today, and see how we can reduce your vacancy and tenant turnover rates, and get you the annual income you’re aiming for.