How Often Should You Schedule Rental Property Inspections?

How Often You Should Schedule Rental Property Inspections

Conducting routine inspections of your rental property throughout your tenant’s lease term is an excellent way to ensure your property is being well maintained.

Plus, it offers you a chance to address small maintenance and repair issues before they become bigger, as well as the chance to make sure your tenants are satisfied.

It is important to know, however, how often you can inspect your rental property so that you don’t disrupt your tenant’s living experience and don’t risk violating any tenant-landlord laws.

 

When Can You Inspect Your Chevy Chase Rental Property?

In short, you are legally allowed to inspect your rental property whenever you want, so long as you don’t violate your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment.

In fact, landlords are allowed to drive by, walk by, or bike to their property anytime they want and inspect the exterior to make sure everything looks okay.

That said, your tenants are afforded certain rights when they move into your rental property that ensure you don’t intrude on their day-to-day living.

Tenants have the right to enjoy a peaceful and quiet living experience while leasing from you. This includes the right to a reasonable amount of privacy, freedom from disturbance, and the ability to use any common areas without any significant interference by you.

This means that, despite your pressing concerns about your rental property, you cannot intrude on your tenant’s right to enjoy the property throughout the lease term whenever you want.

And if you do, know that your tenant will then have the right to discontinue paying their monthly rent and leave the premises as they please, with no consequences for breaking the lease early.

 

The Best Times to Inspect Your Rental Property

Despite being able to inspect your rental property whenever you please with proper notice and a legitimate reason, it is best to so you do not become a bother to your tenants.

Below are some crucial times during a tenancy that you should make sure to inspect your property.

 

Move-in and Move-Out Time

Conduct Inspections During Move-In and Move-Out

Your Chevy Chase property management company will have you inspect your property at the time your tenants move in, as well as when they move out at the end of their lease term.

When your tenant moves in, your property manager will inspect the original condition of the property. This way, come the end of the lease term, you are able to determine what damages your tenant may have caused the property while residing there.

Looking beyond what is considered normal wear and tear, any damages found that can be attributed to tenant abuse or neglect are then covered by the tenant’s security deposit, which should have been collected at the time the tenant moved in.

It is important your tenant is aware these inspections will occur. This way they know you will be looking for instances where they may have damaged your property, and that their security deposit is on the line if damages are found.

Lastly, your tenants are likely to take better care of your property knowing you will be combing the property thoroughly at both the beginning and end of the lease term.

 

Check for Unauthorized Tenants

Sometimes you may feel there are unauthorized tenants living in your rental property.

This is common when a tenant begins to house a boyfriend or girlfriend, when a friend needs a new place to live, or when a family member overstays at your property.

Unfortunately, these instances easily turn into a roommate situation that, unless authorized by you, becomes a breach of the lease agreement.

You and your Chevy Chase property manager should have drafted the lease agreement to outline the rules regarding roommates. Some of those rules include:

  • Any roommate wanting to stay at your property must be screened and authorized by you and your property manager
  • The new tenant must sign the new lease agreement ensuring that they will pay their portion of the rent
  • The new lease agreement should have a joint and several liability clause protecting you and your investment property
  • Consequences for housing unauthorized tenants, including eviction, should be outlined so tenants know what can happen if they try to cheat the system

This is all assuming you even allow roommates, which you very well may not.

In any case, should you suspect that your tenants are housing unauthorized tenants, you might want to consider a quick inspection of the property to see if any extra rooms are being used, furniture has been added to the property, or additional people are actually present that are overstaying.

 

Check On Maintenance Needs

Check on Maintenance Needs in Your Rental Property Inspection

Checking your rental property regularly for small maintenance and repair issues is always a good idea.

Sometimes your tenants may fail to inform you about small issues such as leaky faucets. Other times, they may not even be aware there is an issue at all.

Either way, staying on top of small maintenance needs is a great way to keep your tenants satisfied and avoid large repairs costs for neglected repairs.

Conducting these types of inspections during the season changes is a great way to make sure they happen consistently, and do not bother your tenants too much.

When it comes time to winterize your property, do a quick run-through of the entire property, complete with a rental property safety checklist, and make sure everything is in pristine condition.

Do the same during spring when you want to spruce up the landscaping, during summer when it comes time to prepare your property for the colder months, and of course, during fall when things like rain gutters and pipes need checking.

While you’re at it, during these seasonal inspections you should take the time to make sure your tenants are following through on their obligations such as changing the air filters, maintaining major appliances, and keeping up on the landscaping, should these things be their responsibilities.

 

When a Tenant Misses Rent

When Your Tenant Misses Rent, Conduct a Property Inspection

When it comes to running a successful rental property business, you must make sure your lease agreement is drafted to ensure prompt rent collection procedures that your tenant understands from the very beginning.

If at any time your tenant misses a rent payment, you might consider stopping by to see what is going on.

This proactive approach may be able to solve a small issue, and help prevent a bigger issue such as an eviction and a vacant property in need of new tenants.

Find out why the tenant has missed their rent payment, issue proper notice that they need to pay up immediately, or enlist the help of your Chevy Chase property management company to start the eviction process if necessary.

No matter what steps you need to take, know that inspecting your property at a time like this may save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Whatever you do, however, do not take matters into your own hands after inspecting your property and noticing that your property is being poorly maintained or the rent is not being paid on time. This can lead to lots of legal trouble and make things much worse for you.

 

In Closing

It is your job as a landlord to inspect your rental property to make sure your tenants are fulfilling their roles, paying on time, and caring for your property. In addition, it is your job to maintain the property to the highest standards possible so your tenants are satisfied, and want to renew their lease with you come the end of the tenancy.

If you want help with regularly inspecting your investment property, contact Bay Management Group today to connect with our experienced property managers in Chevy Chase, MD.  We can help draft lease agreements that outline the inspection process and responsibilities of all parties involved.

In addition, we can conduct the actual inspections of your rental property so that you know everything is being handled properly, and that both you and your tenant’s rights are being honored.


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.


10 Words To Avoid Using In Your Rental Property Listing

Top Words to Avoid In Your Anne Arundel Rental Property Listing

Facing the fact that your Anne Arundel rental property has recently become vacant is never fun.

However, vacancies are a part of being in the rental property business, and must be dealt with swiftly.

We have previously discussed on our blog some of the best advertising tips for filling your vacant rental property.

First of all, you should always use catchy headlines that describe your property in a unique way. In addition, you should include clear images that portray your rental in its best light, and always make sure that you accurately describe your property so interested tenants know exactly what you are offering.

However, when it comes to advertising your vacant property, you should also pay close attention to the words you use to describe your vacancy.

You don’t want to use words that are overly dramatic, but you also don’t want to find your vacancy ad lumped together with all of the other ads using words like “charming” and “nice.”

That’s why today we are going to take look at the most common words to avoid in your Anne Arundel rental property listing, in hopes that you garner the right kind of attention from high quality tenants interested in leasing your rental.

 

Vacancy Ad Words and Shortcuts to Avoid

There is more to a vacancy ad than simply describing the general specifications of your rental – square footage, location, number of bedrooms, etc.

In fact, writing an advertisement takes some skill if you want to attract the right people.

Thus, taking care to avoid using this list of words in your vacancy ad is going to help you fill your vacant property that much quicker.

 

1. Quality

Whether good or bad, everything holds a measure of quality.

Ultimately, what type of quality your rental property has – no matter how you phrase it – all comes down to what the prospective tenant thinks.

For example, if you state your rental has “high quality appliances,” what exactly does that mean?

Perhaps you mean they are all matching, they are energy efficient, or maybe they are just new, regardless of how they operate.

Avoid this word to avoid confusion, and instead use more specific words to describe your rental.

 

2. Abbreviations

Avoid Using Abbreviations For Your Rental Property Listings

As tempting as it can be, try to avoid using any kind of abbreviations.

This can confuse someone that is unfamiliar with them, and cause them look elsewhere for a rental that interests them.

Here are some of the most common abbreviations that relate to the rental property business that should not find their way into your vacancy ad:

  • Util: Utilities
  • Appl: Appliances
  • Sec: Security Deposit
  • Nwly Ren: Newly renovated
  • D/W: Dish washer
  • Balc: Balcony
  • FMR: First month’s rent

 

As you can see, all of these abbreviations closely relate to descriptions you might include in your rental property’s vacancy ad.

However, for the average person not in the property management business, some of these might be downright confusing.

If potential tenants don’t understand the lingo you are using, and don’t know what they will be getting out of your rental property, chances are high they will move on to the next ad they do understand, no matter how great your rental is.

 

3. Clean

Of course, your rental property is clean.

Why wouldn’t it be?

If this is the strongest descriptive word you have for your vacant property, you need to take a step back and wonder why that is.

Find something unique to say that expresses how your property is well taken care of.

 

4. Needs Repair

Never Use "Needs Repair" In Rental Property Listing

It is never a good thing to lie to potential tenants about the true status of your rental property.

Nor is it a good thing to come right out and say your rental “needs work.”

Before advertising your rental property as available, you should invest in repairing anything that needs repair. No high quality tenant is going to agree to move into a rental that needs a lot of fixing.

And, if you have an experienced property management group on hand helping you with your vacancy ad, they are likely to advise you to fix everything before advertising.

 

5. Cheap

This word immediately downgrades the quality of your rental.

If you are aiming to make your Anne Arundel rental seem like something more than a money pit, avoid using the word “cheap.”

If you are looking to promote the fact that your rent rates fall below that of your competition, consider using a gentler word such as “affordable.”

 

6. Unique

Avoid Using The Word "Unique" In Your Rental Property Listings

There is nothing inherently wrong with your rental property being described as “unique.”

In fact, it very well may be the most unique rental on the block.

However, this word is overused, and leaves much to the imagination.

Rather than state that your rental is “unique,” explain using more concise terms what makes it unique.

Your prospective tenants will appreciate the detail, and will become more interested once they find out why your rental is different from all of the rest.

 

7. Modern

This term is also overused in modern day rental listings, and as a result has lost a lot of its meaning.

If you are using the word “modern” to describe newly renovated sections of your rental’s kitchen or bathroom, instead say your rental’s kitchen or bathroom has been recently renovated.

Then go on to explain what makes your rental modern, according to you.

Using the word “modern” and leaving the details out is subjective, and may turn some interested tenants away unintentionally – their idea of what “modern” is may not be what your idea of it is.

And, if they don’t like “modern” things, your vacancy ad will be quickly dismissed.

 

8. Original

Do Not Use Word "Original" in Rental Property Listing

Just as you shouldn’t use the term “modern” to explain that your rental has been recently upgraded or renovated, you should not use the term “original” either.

Using a word like “original” has the potential to make interested tenants think your rental has never been updated, is likely falling apart at the seams, and is just plain old.

 

9. Fair Housing Act Terms

This is a touchy subject and can land you in some hot water if someone, somewhere becomes angered by the terms you use in your rental property ad.

Many advertisement platforms, such as Craigslist, have specific rules about the types of terms you are allowed to use in listings of any kind. And, your vacancy ads are no different.

In order to steer clear of violating the Fair Housing Act, avoid using these terms in your advertisements:

  • Walking Distance. This can be considered discriminatory to those who are unable to walk. If you are describing popular hotspots that are within walking distance of your rental, consider using terms such as “nearby” or “close to.”
  • There are many different types of people looking to lease your rental property. Some are groups of friends, others are students that just met and are trying to save on housing costs. And yes, some consist of a mother, father, and two children. Don’t alienate an entire population of people (and possibly discriminate against them) by using the term “family home” when describing your available rental property.

 

When it comes to drafting up a vacancy ad for your Maryland investment property, it is critical you don’t break the law in doing so, even if unknowingly.

This is where a knowledgeable Anne Arundel property management company comes in handy. They will understand the Fair Housing Act as it relates to rental properties, and know how to avoid illegally discriminating against a protected class.

 

10. Cozy

Stay Away From Using the Word "Cozy" In Your Rental Property Listing

“Cozy” emits a feeling of tiny and small, which many tenants are not interested in when it comes to their home.

This is especially true if the rent rate for your “cozy” rental property is not small.

Include the dimensions of your rental in square feet, and let interested tenants decide if the property is the right size for their needs.

In the meantime, come up with some other descriptive words to enhance your rental, not bring it down in size.

 

There is a lot that goes into drafting the perfect vacancy ad for your Anne Arundel rental property.

And, with a property management company like Bay Management Group helping you, your chances of placing a tenant in your property sooner rather than later increase dramatically.

We can help draw up an exciting vacancy ad that gets the right tenant pool interested in seeing your property. In addition, we advertise across multiple platforms – Craigslist, MLS, online classifieds, direct mail, and more – and boast an average tenant placement within 30 days or less of making your property available.

Contact Bay Management Group today and forget about the stress your vacant property has placed on you.

True, vacancies are a part of the rental property business, but at Bay Management Group, our aim is to lessen that stress as much as possible by promoting your vacant property and placing a good tenant in it as soon as possible.


What Are the Responsibilities of a Property Management Company?

What Are the Responsibilities of Your Gaithersburg Property Management Company?

If you own rental property in Gaithersburg and self-manage your rental property business, you may be finding that there is a lot more to being a landlord than you originally anticipated.

And with that in mind, you may be thinking it is time to enlist the help of one of Gaithersburg’s top property management companies.

You may also be wondering to yourself what exactly a property management company is responsible for when it comes to your investment property. 

For those that are unsure whether investing in a property management company is a good idea, or for those that simply don’t know what a property manager is responsible for, keep reading.

Today we are going to give you the rundown on what an experienced, highly qualified property management company should offer you in terms of services.

 

What a Qualified Gaithersburg Property Management Company Should Do

1. Property Advertising

Property Management Company Should Advertise Property

One of the most important responsibilities your property management company has is advertising your vacant property to a high-quality tenant pool.

They should utilize a diverse set of platforms such as Craigslist, MLS, online classifieds, and even direct mail to expose your property to a wide group of prospects. They should also be available for those reaching out with interest.

 

2. Tenant Screening

All potential tenants should be thoroughly screened by your property manager. This includes background and credit checks to make sure they have no criminal background, previous evictions, or outstanding debts.

Additionally, your property management company is responsible for avoiding any discrimination when it comes to fair housing laws and screening potential tenants.

This is a key reason to enlist the help of a property manager. The last thing you want to do is be sued for unintentionally discriminating against an interested tenant.

 

3. Tenant Move-In

Property Management Company Handles Tenant Move-in

Here are some of the things your Gaithersburg property management company will handle at the time your new tenant moves into your investment property:

  • Legally compliant lease drafting according to your specific needs
  • Evaluation of local rent rates so your rent will generate income
  • Lease term start and end dates
  • Detailed move-in inspection with all parties, complete with photographs
  • Collection of security deposit and first and last month’s rent

Lastly, your property manager will provide your tenants with the keys to your property, as well as a welcome tenant package, complete with pertinent contact information, maintenance responsibilities, local area information, and possibly a small gift welcoming your tenant to their new home.

 

4. Maintenance, Repairs, and Complaints

Anytime your tenant has a maintenance or repair request, your property management company is the one to handle it.

And, if you choose one of the top property management companies in Gaithersburg, your tenants will have access to an on-call maintenance crew that is available 24/7.

Not having to take after-hours calls from tenants is one of the best benefits of enlisting the help of a team of property managers. Not only do they have the resources to handle emergencies, they take the pressure off of you and having to be available all the time.

It is also a good idea to look into a property management company that has a 24-hour hotline for tenants that have complaints or non-emergency issues. Again, not having to field these calls all night long is something you’ll love.

 

5. Rent Collection

Property Management Company Should Collect Rent

Receiving rent payments, tracking down those that haven’t paid, sending out rent reminders, and disbursing payments to you are another huge responsibility you place in the hands of your property management team.

In addition to collecting your rent money and handing it over to you, your property manager is also tasked with the job of initiating eviction proceedings, should your tenant fail to pay rent on time.

This includes filing paperwork to start an eviction, sending out proper notices, representing you in court, and even aiding in the removal of tenants, should the need arise.

 

6. Property Inspections

Making sure your property is being well cared for throughout the lease term takes a lot of effort.

That’s why having a property manager to conduct seasonal inspections is so helpful. Not only can they check to make sure everything is okay with your tenants (which is a great customer service method), your property manager can make sure your tenant is fulfilling their lease obligations.

Finding small maintenance issues and fixing them before they turn into bigger issues, reminding tenants of their tenant responsibilities, and finding out what would make your tenants happier are all things that will ultimately aid you in your quest for success as a property owner.

 

7. Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping Handled by Property Management Company

Property management companies have a duty to maintain all financial documentation as it relates to your rental property business.

Here are some things your property manager will likely handle while managing your rental:

  • Proper accounting of all rent payments collected, including receipts
  • Annual reporting of all financial statements, including a 1099 form
  • Monthly income/expense reports
  • Documentation of any payments made on your behalf (utilities, HOA, insurance premiums)
  • All maintenance estimates, work orders, and invoice/payment receipts
  • Yearly tax information for the property itself and the rental property business

While it can be helpful to hire on a separate accountant to help you with your yearly financials as they relate to your rental property business, know that an experienced property management company can handle most, if not all, of that documentation for you.

In fact, some property managers will even help you file your annual taxes so that you don’t have to hire external services.

 

8. Tenant Move-Out

Just as your property manager helped move your tenant in, they are responsible for helping your tenant move out as well.

When a tenant gives their notice to move out of your property, you property manager will likely inspect the unit as a whole to determine what damages the tenant has incurred.

From there, the following will happen:

  • Provide tenant with a detailed list of estimated damages
  • Return the remaining balance of your tenant’s security deposit
  • Re-key all locks and make any repairs
  • Clean rental property for next tenant that will move in
  • Place vacant property back on the market

 

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of Gaithersburg property management responsibilities.

Rather, it gives you a good idea of the scope of tasks a high-quality property manager will gladly take on while managing your rental property.

If you own rental property in Gaithersburg and have realized that self-management of your investment property is not right for you, get in touch with Bay Management Group today. We take great pride in our customer service-oriented approach to property management, and strive to provide you and your tenants the best experience possible.


How Often Should You Paint Your Rental Property?

how-often-paint-rental-property-edgewood-maryland

The visual appeal of your Edgewood rental property’s interior is what makes your tenants feel at home in their place of temporary residence. A nice-looking rental also helps yield high rent rates and top-notch tenants that pay on time.

As a property owner, you will no doubt have to deal with painting your rental property at some point.

After all, you should want to keep up on the aesthetic appeal of your rental. Plus, you should also want to keep your rental property’s walls insulated and protected.

But, how often should you paint your rental property?

To answer this question, as well as other rental property paint-related questions, read on for some valuable information, starting with why fresh paint is important.

 

Why Do Your Edgewood Tenants Want Fresh Paint?

why-your-edgewood-maryland-tenants-want-fresh-paint

In short, a fresh coat of paint on your Edgewood rental property’s walls make your property stand out. The rental will appear brighter, cleaner, and newer, all with a few coats of nice paint.

Moreover, a few cans of paint have the potential to transform your rental’s entire interior. New paint can revive tired walls, showcase the architectural charm of your property, and even brighten dim hallways.

The bottom line is this: fresh paint appeals to prospective tenants looking to make your rental property their home because it makes them feel as if they’re the first, and only, people to live in your property.

 

What Tenants Look For in Paint Colors

It is easy to become overwhelmed with all the paint colors available at the local hardwood store. Luckily, there are people out there that are dedicated to unravelling the mystery of paint colors.

Here is a look at what NowSourcing, Inc. found out:

  • This cheerful and warm color is best suited for places like the kitchen. It brightens the area, and energizes those in it.
  • Preferred by men, this calming color is great for offices, as it is suggested to boost productivity, curb your appetite, and induce feelings of serenity.
  • Typically known to evoke strong emotions, you should consider painting your rental’s dining room red, if you wish to use such a bold color.

That said, when it comes to painting your rental property, it often best to remain neutral and avoid overly colorful paint.

Why is that?

Because you want to appeal to the largest population of tenants possible. And, even having just one bold accent wall that is not a neutral color (such as tan, beige, sage, or cream) can cause an unfavorable opinion among tenants viewing your property.

In summary, when painting your rental property, the point is to garner high quality tenants wanting to lease your property, not make an artistic statement.

 

Your Basic Guide to Paints

property-owners-basic-guide-to-paints-edgewood-rental-property

Before jumping into how often you should paint your rental, it is a good idea to become familiar with the different types of paint available, so that you can get the right one for your property’s needs. Plus, choosing the right paint type will make a big difference in how often you need to paint your rental.

Take a look at the various paint finishes:

High Gloss

Durable and easy to clean, high gloss paint will dry with lots of shine. It helps repel sticky fingers and oils. Use this finish on places such as:

  • Cabinets
  • Doors
  • Trims
  • Kitchen areas

Keep in mind that the shiny finish will show every lump and bump on your walls, so it is best to avoid using this type on large wall spaces.

Satin

Though not as shiny as the gloss finishes, satin paints can withstand a lot of traffic and still maintain a nice look. For your rental property, satin paints should be used for:

  • Family rooms
  • Hallways
  • Playrooms
  • Kid bedrooms

Be careful using this paint finish. If you do not apply it properly, you will be able to see every brush or roller stroke.

Flat or Matte

This paint type has the most pigment, no shine, provides the most coverage, and is great at hiding lumps, bumps, and more. In addition, it is one of the most affordable paint types. Here are some good places for flat or matte paints:

  • Adult bedrooms
  • Ceilings
  • Other low traffic rooms

This paint finish is not easy to clean, easily rubs off, and needs repainting often.

Eggshell

The sheen on this paint finish is between that of a satin finish and a matte finish. It is great for covering up small scratches, and should be used in low traffic areas such as:

  • Dining rooms
  • Living rooms
  • Offices or studies

Though it is forgiving on wall imperfections, because it has a partially matte-like finish, eggshell does not always last as long you might want it to.

Semigloss

Semigloss finishes are great for places that need a little shine, take a lot of abuse, and are areas in the home that attract a lot of moisture. Take for instance:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Trim
  • Laundry rooms

There is no real downside to this type of paint finish. It is extremely durable, easy to clean, and offers just enough shine to make your painted area look stunning.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the varying paint finishes, you are better equipped to make decisions regarding your rental property’s interior paint.

However, if you are at all unsure as to what type of paint finish to choose, which color is best suited for your property, or how to properly apply the paint to your walls, it is best to employ the help of a licensed and insured paint contractor.

 

So, How Often Should You Paint Your Edgewood Rental Property?

how-often-paint-rental-property-personal-choice-edgewood-rental

How often you paint your Edgewood rental property is a largely personal matter. However, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, you should aim to repaint your entire rental property every three years.

Whether you wish to paint your rental property yourself, or with the help of a professional, here are some things to consider before deciding if you should paint the interior:

  1. How Does the Property Appear? If a tenant has just moved out of your rental property, evaluate the property’s interior to see if there are any areas in need of repainting. Move-out time is ideal for evaluating your property and painting any areas looking worn, since it is empty at this time.
  2. What Does a Little Cleaning Do? Sometimes all your property’s walls need are a little TLC. If you have opted for highly durable and easy-to-clean paint finishes, maybe a little magic erasing is all your property needs to shine again.
  3. Take it Room By Room. Even if you have a set timeframe for how often you should paint your rental, evaluate each room separately. There is no sense repainting your entire property if only high trafficked walls need a touch up.

In the end, maintaining the visual appeal of your Edgewood rental property’s interior is crucial if you want tenants to lease from you, and become long-term tenants.

If you are need of help regarding the visual appeal of your rental property, and are looking for an experienced property management company that can provide sound advice on matters such as interior painting, contact Bay Management Group today.

With knowledge about all things rental property related, including how to best stage your property to get quality tenants, Bay Management Group can get you high returns on your Edgewood rentals.


6 Best Ways to Add Square Footage to Your Rental Property

best-ways-add-square-footage-rental-property-anne-arundel-county-maryland

Anne Arundel County’s competitive market and wide appeal makes it a prime place to rent.

As the heartland of Maryland, Anne Arundel County offers tenants wonderful things, such as close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, educational and employment opportunities, and plenty of outside activities to enjoy with friends and family alike.

With this in mind, it is no wonder why those with Anne Arundel County rental properties are trying to appeal to the highest paying tenants.

Further, since the competition is so stiff, and people looking to lease in this area know that, your investment property is expected come with plenty of curb appeal and amenities.

So why not add a few square feet to your property and make it stand out amongst the crowd?

If you’re not sure how to expand your rental property upwards and outwards by way of square footage, check out our below suggestions.

By adding square footage to your rental, you are sure to attract a high paying, high quality tenant.

 

How to Add Square Footage to Your Anne Arundel County Rental Property

Before trying to add square footage to your Anne Arundel County rental property, it is best to gather some of your ideas and present them to a licensed and insured contractor that specializes in structural additions to a home.

To inspire those ideas, let’s look at some of the best ways you can add square footage to your rental property.

 

1. Build into the Backyard

build-into-backyard-add-square-footage-anne-arundel-rental-property

Adding square footage to your rental property via the backyard is a popular choice. Typically, property owners extend the kitchen out (who doesn’t want a bigger kitchen?) or expand upon the already existing family room.

This addition not only adds some serious room to your rental that can now accommodate more people, it leads itself right out into the backyard, which can be a haven of entertainment for Anne Arundel County families.

 

2. Add a Greenhouse

Sometimes referred to as a “jewel box,” a greenhouse is an excellent way to add square footage to your rental as well as an element of surprise; not many homes come with their very own greenhouse addition. And, if your rental property does, you will likely have some serious competition amongst interested tenants wanting in on that special amenity.

Here are some things to remember when thinking about adding a greenhouse to your rental property:

  • Ensure the greenhouse’s placement will provide proper sunlight
  • Consider the landscaping of the backyard – will you need to trim any large trees or brushes that block sunlight or to maximize the overall appeal of the greenhouse?
  • Make sure the foundation is secure and that proper drainage from the greenhouse can occur
  • Watch for material use – the best materials are not always the cheapest nor the most expensive, rather, they are the ones that will provide the right climate for your greenhouse
  • Be sure you aren’t in violation of any homeowners’ association rules, if applicable

If done right, a greenhouse can add a lot of appeal and bring in some seriously high rent.

 

3. Think Small

building-small-patio-add-square-footage-anne-arundel-rental-property

Adding square footage is not always about adding a lot more space to an existing structure.

Sometimes, adding a small patio to the backend of the master bedroom or a front porch to accommodate a simple bench is enough to make a statement without overwhelming your rental. You can still get creative and not break the bank – or your rental property’s structure – by adding small accent statements to the exterior.

 

4. Or…Think Big

On the other hand, adding something large and bold, such as a pavilion, can make a huge statement when it comes to your rental property. Try adding a small pool house in your backyard where summertime visitors can change, shower, or cool off.

You have the option of making your pavilion freestanding or attaching it to the main structure.

Though atypical, a pavilion can also be used as a place of residence. Pavilions are so great because they’re versatile – they can offer the shade of a gazebo, the storage room of a backyard shed, and the feel of a cabana, all at the same time.

 

5. Make Your Rental Tall

make-rental-tall-add-square-footage-anne-arundel-rental-property

If your Anne Arundel County rental property is on a small lot, and there is not a lot of room to expand outwards, one unique way to expand your rental’s square footage is to raise the ceiling (and thus, the roof).

Though this strategy will not work on all rental properties due to certain restrictions you must adhere to, it can work for some. A higher ceiling gives the feeling of more space and a bigger home.

 

6. Add Another Level

This is an ambitious addition, and not one to be taken lightly in terms of completion time, stress, or cost. However, if you own the type of rental property that will benefit from adding an entirely new level, you will definitely gain some more square footage points with prospective tenants.

If you do opt for this addition, follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure to use only qualified architects and remodelers
  • Understand that your entire property may need moving and that the roof will be removed
  • A solid foundation is a must
  • Strong walls are necessary as well
  • Upgrades to electrical, heating, and cooling systems may be required
  • Staircase location is crucial and will affect your first floor square footage space

 

Tenants are always looking for bigger and better. And if they have the expendable income, they are sure to pay premium rent rates to lease your large property.

If you live in the Anne Arundel County region and have a rental property that has expanded upwards, outwards, or both, contact Bay Management Group to help you advertise your property appropriately.

With targeted techniques, a solid understanding of the market, and the resources to connect with the best pool of tenants, Bay Management Group is the property management company you want to employ.

Contact us today and see how our expertise of the rental property business can get your unique property leased to a high quality (and high paying) tenant within thirty days.


Top 3 Things to Ask Your Prospective Tenant’s References

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There is a lot of excitement that occurs when a prospective tenant wants to view your vacant Maryland rental property; the hope that this will be a quality tenant is strong. After all, a high tenant turnover rate can wreak havoc on your annual profit, which is why placing tenants in your property as quickly as possible is so important.

However, a bad tenant can cause even more problems than a vacant property when it comes to wasted time, headaches, and of course, lost money. Thus, one of the most common property management tips is to thoroughly screen all potential tenants. Every single time.

Today we are going to examine the reference check portion of tenant screening. Hopefully by learning some of the top things to ask your prospective tenant’s references, you will find high quality tenants that want to lease your property long term and with great care.

 

Top Reference Questions for Prospective Maryland Tenants

Just because a potential tenant seems great on their written application does not mean they are the type of high quality tenant you or your Maryland property management company are seeking.

That’s why consulting with your prospective tenant’s references is crucial. This way you can be sure the tenant you are about to place in your investment property is worth it.

1. Previous Landlords

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Speaking with your prospective tenant’s previous landlords is one of the most important things you can do when placing a tenant in your rental. And remember, if you only speak to the tenant’s current landlord, you may not get a true idea of what your tenant is like; they could be a bad tenant that the current landlord just wants to get rid of. It’s best to speak with references that no longer collect rent from your prospective tenant.

Here are some of the key things to ask any previous landlords:

  • Was rent paid on time and in full? This will help you determine how responsible your prospective tenant is. A tenant that pays rent on time and in full every time is someone you want to place in your property. This means very little hassle or risk of eviction proceedings.
  • How much was the monthly rent? Understanding how much your tenant was paying previously in comparison to what you are asking for now will help you better gauge their financial situation.
  • Did the tenant take care of the property? You do not want to place a careless tenant in your property that will not maintain things over the course of the lease term. After all, you spent a lot of money on your investment property and damage is the last thing you want to deal with.
  • How did the tenant communicate with you? Excellent communication is a great quality to have in a prospective tenant. Your property management company will need to be in contact at times when it comes to routine inspections and maintenance, and dealing with a tenant that refuses to discuss anything can be stressful.
  • Would you rent to this tenant again? This is the big one. If a previous landlord hesitates to recommend a tenant to you, you may want to rethink their application.

Other important questions to consider asking include:

  • Did the tenant have roommates that contributed to the monthly rent?
  • Are they or have they ever been evicted from the property?
  • Did they have any pets?
  • Did neighboring tenants ever make complaints against the tenant?

 

2. Employer References

previous-employer-reference-rental-property-maryland

If you want to ensure that your prospective tenant can pay your required monthly rent on time, another reference to speak to is the tenant’s employer(s). A conversation with his or her employer may also help you determine what kind of personality your tenant has and whether this is someone you or your Maryland property management company want to deal with. Moreover, it will help you verify the details your tenant puts on their application regarding employment.

Not sure what to ask?

Here are some good questions to have on hand when contacting your potential tenant’s employers:

  • What was the tenant’s original date of hire?
  • What is the tenant’s current salary or hourly rate?
  • How many hours per week does the tenant work (if paid hourly)?
  • Will the current employer continue to employ the tenant?
  • How does the tenant get along with co-workers?

Another point of contact you may want to get in touch with during this part of the screening process is the HR department of the tenant’s employer. You would hope that a supervisor would not embellish the truth for a “buddy,” but it does happen. This means your prospective tenant’s reference may not be entirely truthful when it comes to hours worked, personality, and even salary. However, speaking directly with those in charge of such matters can help corroborate what your tenant has placed on their application.

 

3. Personal References

questions-ask-tenant-personal-reference-rental-property-maryland

Talking to friends and family of a prospective tenant is another great way to get a better idea what kind of person your tenant may be once leasing your Maryland rental home. Those closest to the tenant can provide useful information despite the bias that may exist.

Here are some things to consider talking about with a tenant’s most personal references:

  • How long have you known the tenant? If the reference has known the tenant for years, they are apt to know a lot about the tenant’s overall character. This information can help you determine whether the tenant will pay your required rent amount on time, cause problems with neighbors, or even damage your property.
  • What is the tenant’s lifestyle like? Again, knowing the prospective tenant for some time, and in a more personal way, a friend or family may lend insight into what kind of person your tenant will be over the course of a lease term. Does the tenant travel a lot? Have lots of parties? Stay home alone? Drink, smoke, or have a ton of pets? These are all great things to know ahead of time.
  • Would you recommend this tenant to a landlord? This is the ultimate (although again, biased) question. Knowing whether a personal reference would actually recommend a friend or family member to a landlord can help solidify your decision to place them in your property.

Although not entirely foolproof (after all, who would put a poor reference on their rental application?), the truth is that you never know what people are going to say. Even though there is bound to be some untruth and bias at times, contacting your tenant’s personal references is still something we strongly encourage.

Thorough tenant screening is a very important aspect of the rental property business. Placing a bad tenant in your property can mean lots of stress, missed rental payments, and a possible trip to the courtroom. That’s why requiring multiple references, and actually looking into them, is so helpful for avoiding problem tenants.

 

If you are looking for a solid way to place tenants in your Maryland rental property, contact Bay Management Group today and see how we can help you with the process. Skilled in the tenant screening process, from applications to reference checks, background checks to income verifications, Bay Management Group can help you get the highest quality tenants in your property immediately.

Additionally, we can help with all things property related so that if something bad does pop up and a tenant ends up giving you trouble, you can feel confident that it will be handled swiftly and legally.


Dealing with a Tough Homeowners Association for Your Rental Property

 

What To Do if You Own Property in an HOA (homeowners association) That Is Tough To Deal WithHomeowners associations (HOAs) are gaining popularity all across the state of Maryland and property owners are flocking to purchase property that is part of an HOA.  Take a look at this list to get an idea of just how many HOAs there are in existence right now, with additions consistently being made.

So why the increase in HOAs?

Homeowners associations appeal to many property owners because their aim is to maintain property values, serve the best interests of those in the community, and keep some order amongst a diverse group of people.  And, as a property owner that leases a home, these are great benefits.

You want your home to maintain value.  You want your tenants to have their best interests served.  And of course, you want a peaceful neighborhood so your tenants want to stay.

 

However, HOAs have a reputation for being difficult to deal with.  And unfortunately, this difficulty trickles down to property owners, their property managers, and even their tenants.

Thankfully, we have some great tips for handling a tough HOA that you and your tenants can take advantage of to ensure the best possible leasing experience.  In addition, if you employ Montgomery County’s leading property managers to care for your property and tenants, these tips can pass from manager to tenant easily during the move-in period.

Today we will look at what exactly a homeowners association is and how best to handle one if they are tougher than the norm.

 

What is a Homeowners Association?

A homeowners association, or HOA, is a legal entity created to manage and maintain the common areas of a community.  These common areas include places such as pools, clubhouses, landscaping areas, parks, streets, and roads.

And, as mentioned earlier, they are quite popular.  As of 2012, nearly 60 million Americans live in a community that is regulated by a homeowners association.

HOAs are typically established in communities that include condominiums, single-family homes, or townhouses.  And, as the leaders of the community, HOAs provide rules, called the “Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions” (CC&Rs), regarding what can and cannot occur within the common areas of the community.

Here are some of the key traits of a typical HOA:

  • They are usually non-profit corporations
  • They have the authority to enforce the bylaws within the CC&Rs
  • Membership of the HOA is mandatory for all those living within the community
  • Mandatory dues are collected monthly from property owners
  • There is an elected board of members, most of which are volunteer homeowners of the community
  • Many HOAs hire a property management company to conduct things such as maintenance, bookkeeping, and dues collection

 

In addition, HOAs provide services such as maintenance of common area landscaping, neighborhood security, activity organization for residents, and approvals for exterior home improvements property owners want to make.

 

How to Handle Strict HOA Rules

The Do's and Don'ts of How To Deal With a Tough Homeowner's Association (HOA) in Montgomery County, Maryland

All HOAs expect residents, whether owners or tenants, to abide by the community’s CC&Rs.  However, as a Montgomery County rental property owner, it is your responsibility, or that of your property manager, to ensure your tenants follow the HOA’s regulations.  In fact, here are some things most HOAs will want property owners to provide any tenant that leases their home:

  • A copy of the HOA’s CC&Rs
  • HOA rules and regulations must be a condition in all lease agreements
  • Property owners or their property managers will be held responsible for tenant violations
  • Tenants must communicate with HOAs via the property management company
  • Multiple tenant violations can lead to termination of residency

As you can see, there is a lot of responsibility that falls onto property owners and their property managers when leasing a home that is a part of an HOA.

Here are some ways you can lessen that burden and ensure a smooth tenancy that satisfies both your community’s HOA board members and your tenants.

Know Your HOA Bylaws . . .

. . . and follow them.  It is a good idea as a property owner to read your HOA’s CC&Rs thoroughly.  Your Montgomery County property manager should do the same.  This prevents any unusual violations, such as parking in your driveway, from occurring.  After all, violations result in fines and possibly termination of your tenant’s stay.

Communicate with Your Neighbors

One of the benefits of owning property within an HOA community is that all of your neighbors are in the same HOA as well.  Everyone is following the same rules set forth by the HOA and everyone pays the same monthly dues.

In the case your HOA begins enforcing rules that you feel are unnecessary, or hiking monthly dues beyond that of what is reasonable, reaching out to neighbors you already know to voice your frustrations will be a lot easier.  Plus, you can all band together and make a common complaint against the HOA board.

 

Get Approval for All Changes

Yes, this can be tedious, and often seems unfair.  However, living in an HOA means you must have approval for all exterior changes to your home and landscaping, backyard included.

To make things easier with a tough HOA that enforces every single bylaw perfectly, just get approval first.

Getting approval will protect you from fines, complaints from neighbors, and legal trouble.  In addition, it is important that your property manager enforce this with your tenants as well.

Make sure your tenants are aware they cannot make any changes, even small ones such as adding a pet fence in their backyard, without gaining prior approval.

 

Pay Your Dues on Time

To Avoid Issues, Be Sure to Pay Your HOA (Homeowner's Association) Dues On Time

This seems obvious, but a quick way to get on the wrong side of a tough HOA is not paying your dues.  If you refuse to pay your HOA dues, or even just fall behind, your HOA may have the power to foreclose on your home.  Chances are very slim that late dues would result in the foreclosure of your home, but that hefty price for falling behind on dues is not worth the risk.

 

If You Get Fined, Pay Up

Maybe you have fallen victim to the toughest HOA in the country.  As unfortunate as that is, if you receive a fine and the HOA acted within their power to impose such a fine, the best option is to pay the fine.

However, there are three additional options for dealing with an HOA fine if you adamantly believe you shouldn’t have to pay it:

  • Ask for a variance. This means you or your property manager are requesting the HOA make an exception to the bylaw violation.  If the HOA does not initially agree, they may hold a hearing where other homeowners can come to hear your case and make a decision.
  • Take legal action. If the HOA was in violation of their power, with the help of your property management company, you can file a lawsuit against your HOA in response.
  • Don’t Pay. Although not recommended, you can refuse to pay the fine.  However, if you are dealing with a tough HOA, risking additional fines and a possible foreclosure is simply not worth it.

 

In the end, dealing with an HOA can be difficult at times. However, there are some wonderful benefits in owning property in a Montgomery County HOA that you may feel are worth the potential extra hassle.

If you are looking to take some of the work off your shoulders, and the stress of dealing with a tough HOA does not sit well with you, contact Bay Management Group today.  Working solely in property management and ready to take on the task of managing your property, tenants, and tough HOA, BMG will assure you peace of mind.

Bay Management Group is knowledgeable about how to draft solid lease agreements that include HOA regulation compliance and will protect you should any legal issues arise.

In addition, we are exceptional at taking care of tenant screening and placement, maintenance issues, rent collection, and everything in between that involves your property and tenants.

So, contact us today and start handling that tough HOA in a proactive and beneficial way.


Unusual, But Legal, Pets Your Tenant May Own

ask-your-property-manager-allowed-petsPets are a part of many people’s lives. For some, pets are just as much a part of their family as their own blood relatives. 

In today’s world, there certainly is no shortage in the number of tenants that own pets and want to lease your Montgomery County rental property.  And, should you be the type of landlord that wishes to allow pets in your investment property, there are some things you should be aware of.

Today we are going to discuss unusual, yet still legal, pets that your tenants may own.  Knowing some of the exotic pets your tenants may request to reside with them will help you decide whether to allow pets in your Montgomery County rental home.

 

Exotic Animals as Pets

For most people, owning a golden retriever to play catch with, an independent cat that comes around only to eat and sleep, or a tank full of colorful fish that float around without a care in the world will suffice when it comes to pet ownership.

However, there are other people who desire to step outside of the typical pet and opt for something a bit more unusual, possibly even exotic.

But what exactly is an exotic pet?

In general, exotic pets are those other than dogs, cats, farm animals, and common “pocket pets” like guinea pigs, rabbits, and small rodents such as rats, mice, and hamsters.  Small reptiles including turtles, lizards, and snakes are also exotic, though they are rarely banned in any state.  Parrots too are considered “exotic,” while other bird species are thought of as common household pets.

Each state has its own regulations regarding exotic pet ownership, and Maryland is no different.

Let’s look at the pets your Maryland tenants cannot legally own while residing in your rental property, or any other property for that matter.

  • Wild felines
  • Bears
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Foxes
  • Primates of any type

It is important to note here that each city, county, and even neighborhood may have ordinances in place further restricting particular exotic animals.

Your Montgomery County property management company should be well-versed in these laws before approving and placing a tenant with an exotic pet into your rental property.

Now that you’ve seen what pets are not legal, let’s take a deeper look into which unusual animals your tenant can legally own.

 

Capybara

capybara-pets-maryland-rental-propertiesAlthough small rodents are not exotic animals in America, and the capybara is indeed a rodent, there is one thing that sets this animal apart from your ordinary hamster or guinea pig, thus making it exotic.

That would be its size.

Weighing up to 140 pounds, the capybara is the world’s largest rodent.  Here are some other fun facts about capybaras:

  • They are semi-aquatic and love to spend time in the water
  • They have webbed feet
  • They eat mostly plants as well as their own droppings
  • They typically live 12 years in captivity

Though they get along well with most people, owning a capybara comes with challenges.  They require lots of time and attention, their teeth are extremely sharp, they require a pool to swim in, and their food can be quite expensive.  However, for the right person, a capybara can be a wonderful, unusual pet.

 

Chinchilla

ask-your-maryland-property-management-company-chincillasAnother rodent that is legal to own in the United States is the chinchilla.  This animal’s incredibly soft fur is what appeals to most pet owners.  In fact, they were driven to near extinction at one point because the demand for them as pets was so high.

Chinchillas eat both plants and meat and are known for being smarter than rabbits. In addition, they love to play.  However, they do not get along well with small children due to their hyperactivity and high-strung nature.

 

Axolotl

ask-property-management-company-maryland-which-pets-allowedRelated to the salamander, the axolotl is best known for its ability to regrow all of its body parts, including its jaw, spine, and even its brain.

Here are some more facts about this unusual pet:

  • Axolotl literally means “water dog”
  • The feathery branches that grow out of its head are actually its gills
  • Despite living in the water and having gills, axolotls grow lungs that they never use

For those that love to have exotic fish, the axolotl is a great choice.

 

Hedgehog

hedgehogs-allowed-some-maryland-property-managersMany people may not know that hedgehogs are actually exotic animals.  This is probably because many pets stores sell them as ordinary “pocket pets” like the ones discussed earlier – mice, rats, and hamsters.

Hedgehogs are have non-prickly quills and roll up into a ball, and away when threatened.  They spit on themselves when they encounter new smells and make squealing noises when exploring new environments. In addition, they love to socialize and bond with their owners.

The only downfall to owning a hedgehog is the fact that they are known to carry diseases, including the Salmonella bacteria.

 

Sugar Glider

some-maryland-property-managers-accept-sugar-glider-petsThis marsupial (meaning they have a pouch—just like a kangaroo) is a wonderful little pet that exhibits a very strange trait.  Sugar gliders fly through the air as though hang gliding, sometimes as far as 150 feet, using their “wings.”

Sugar gliders love to have a buddy and will socialize with their owners providing lots of entertainment.

Though they are typically clean pets, sugar gliders are not known for being easily house trained and have sharp claws that can scratch most surfaces.  In addition, they have very sharp teeth and tend to bite when threatened.

 

Pot-Bellied Pig

montgomery-county-property-manager-petsCharming and intelligent, though very large, pot-bellied pigs can be great exotic pets if in the right environment.  However, they are demanding and need a lot of one-on-one care, which many pet owners become frustrated with over time.

Pot-bellied pigs are extremely smart and mischievous, need tons of food on a daily basis, have a mean temper and can be aggressive. On top of that, they live for as long as 20 years, making them a difficult animal to handle.

Altogether, these exotic pets are a handful and require extreme commitment.

 

Tarantula

pet-spiders-allowed-montgomery-rental-propertiesThese big, tough looking spiders strike fear into the hearts of arachnophobes everywhere.  However, they are actually some of the least aggressive spiders in existence.

Here are some things you may not know about these hairy spiders:

  • They can live 20-30 years
  • Their leg span can sometimes reach nearly 10 inches
  • They have retractable claws, much like a cat
  • When threatened, they throw small barbs at their attacker
  • They do not spin webs

As a docile spider that is fun to look at, and even hold if you are brave enough, it is easy to see why they make a great exotic pet.

 

The Lease Agreement Pet Policy

Deciding whether to allow pets in your rental property can be difficult, especially knowing that exotic pets such as the ones mentioned above may be entering your investment property.  That’s why it is crucial that your Montgomery County property manager draft an airtight lease addressing all of your concerns regarding pets, particularly the exotic ones:

  • Include a detailed pet policy in your lease agreement
  • Ask prospective tenants about their pets and be sure to see the animals in person
  • Ensure that every animal has current vaccinations
  • Charge a pet fee, a deposit, or even a monthly rental add-on for owning a pet in your property
  • Specify the number of pets allowed and ban those you do not wish to allow
  • Encourage or even require tenants to get renter’s insurance

 

By defining the pet policy in the lease agreement from the beginning, your tenants will have a full understanding of their responsibilities regarding the pet and your property.  This also allows you to inform them of any consequences they may face for violating any portion of the lease agreement.

If you are considering allowing pets in your Montgomery County rental home, make sure you are knowledgeable about all types of pets your tenants may own.

Although you may not enjoy the thought of owning a 300-pound pot-bellied pig, or a flying sugar glider, your tenants might.  And since those pets are legal in most states, unless you state otherwise in the lease agreement, your tenants will be able to legally own those pets and lease your property.

 

Bay Management Group is Maryland’s leading property management company.  Our knowledgeable staff understands all state and local laws related to leasing rental homes.

In addition, we have the expertise to draft a solid lease agreement outlining all of your pet policy provisions in a legally compliant way that both you and your tenants can understand.

If you own rental property in the Montgomery County area, contact Bay Management Group today.  Pet policies can be a difficult thing to maneuver and no other property management company will meet your needs like Bay Management Group.

 


Landlords Beware: How to Avoid Rental Fraud

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Rental fraud: What is it and how can Maryland landlords avoid it?

For those of you who have yet to experience the horror of rental fraud, we are here to explain to you exactly what it is.

Rental fraud is when someone who is not you or your Maryland rental management company claims to own your rental property and proceeds to lease it out to unknowing tenants.

Scary, isn’t it?

Rental fraud can lead to several difficult situations:

  • Security deposit and first/last month rent is collected by the fraud. Then, come move in time, tenants have no way of accessing the actual property. Meanwhile, the fraudulent landlord is already on the run with money in hand.
  • Your property’s locks are changed and tenants actually move into your rental home having no idea that their “landlord” is a fake.
  • You are forced to remove the innocent, although illegally residing, tenants who have been scammed.
  • You are left with the mess of having to prove in a court of law that the property is actually yours.

Though avoiding rental fraud may not be entirely possible, there are some proven strategies that can help reduce the chances of you ever falling victim to this type of scam.

 

Rental Fraud Comes in Many Formsbeware-maryland-rental-fraud

As mentioned above, rental fraud is when someone poses as either the landlord or property management company to illegally lease out your Maryland rental property. However, there are other types of rental fraud as well.

Landlords are also vulnerable to the types of rental fraud outlined below, and should be aware of their susceptibilities at all times.

 

The Eviction Scam

This type of rental fraud is when a tenant moves into your property with no intention of ever paying rent. As a result, you are forced to evict them.

Unfortunately, the eviction process can sometimes take months to pan out, as well as cost a great deal of money. This leaves the tenant plenty of time to live in your property while lining up another place to scam.

Avoid this scenario: The best way to prevent a tenant who is consistently evicted from every place they occupy is to conduct thorough screenings of each and every tenant you consider placing in your property. This should include a background check, credit check, income verification, and reference follow-up.

Another great tip is to meet each prospective tenant face-to-face, even if your rental management company typically does all the work for you.

Sometimes a first impression will leave you with a gut feeling not to go with a particular tenant, which can be helpful in avoiding scams.

 

The Utility Scammaryland-property-managers-fight-utility-scams

Did you know that many states hold landlords responsible for the water bill despite what the outlined lease agreement states?

Sometimes a tenant will avoid paying the water utility bill because they know that after it goes unpaid for long periods of time, the water company will go after the owner of the property (you) to pay the bill.

To add to this, many tenants are aware that the water company typically does not shut off the water supply to any given residence. This means your tenant is using water on your dime.

Avoid this scenario: The best way to avoid this utility scam is to call your local water company from time to time to make sure your tenant is current on all of their bills.

In addition, it is best to have your property management company draft a detailed lease agreement outlining the responsibilities regarding utility payments. This way, should your tenant neglect their financial obligations, you have a way to prove in court who was responsible for what.

 

The International Scambeware-maryland-international-rental-property-management-scams

This highly popular scam is an unfortunate one that many landlords fall prey to. Also known as the Nigerian 419 scam, this type of fraud involves a prospective tenant from overseas looking to lease your rental property in the near future.

The fraudulent tenant will send you a check for the amount owed at move-in, plus extra “by accident.” This extra money is usually double what you asked for move-in costs.

The fraud will then ask you to wire back the excess money and before you know it, the original check that was sent to you turns out to be fraudulent while the money you have wired back to this person was your real, hard-earned cash.

Avoid this scenario: It is best to not deal with overseas tenants, unless you have a professional helping you with the background checks.

In addition, never accept a certified check from anyone overseas. These checks will usually clear and then bounce weeks later because they are fake.

If by chance you are accepting money from an overseas tenant, only accept money orders through a reputable company, such as Western Union.

 

Monitor Your Vacant Propertiesmonitor-vacant-maryland-rental-properties

In addition to the above-mentioned rental fraud scenarios, there are other ways to avoid getting scammed by sneaky people.

Your Maryland rental property is most vulnerable when it is vacant. The last thing you want is someone breaking into your property and taking up residence with a fake lease agreement.

Should you notice someone squatting in your vacant home, chances are high that the police will have very little authority if the “tenants” have what seems to be a legitimate lease agreement.

The heartbreaking thing is that sometimes these scammers will demand you pay a “ransom” for them to leave your property. This not only costs you money but allows the trespassers a free pass. They never have to take responsibility for their actions and actually make money off of their scam.

And, if you decide against paying the frauds off, this situation will still cost you countless hours and money as you wade through the courts attempting to prove the lease agreement is fake and the “tenants” are indeed trespassers.

Avoid this scenario: Monitor your vacant properties regularly to make sure no one has stepped in and taken up residence.

You may even consider adding an active security system to your Maryland property so that if someone does attempt to break in, the police will have authority to charge him or her appropriately.

 

Watermark Your Photographs

These days, advertising vacant properties online is the norm. And, if you utilize a reputable rental management company, such as Bay Management Group, your rental home is promoted across several platforms to expose your vacant property to the widest pool of prospective tenants.

With any professional rental property ad, images of the home are a necessity. Anyone looking to lease a home wants to have a clear idea what the property looks like before inquiring about it.

The problem is, if someone if posing as you or your rental management company and posting a vacancy online, innocent tenants interested in your property may get scammed or end up living in your home without permission from the true owner (you).

Avoid this scenario: Add a watermark to all images of your property as an extra layer of protection. A watermark makes it more difficult for a fraudulent landlord to steal photos of your property and will likely cause them give up on attempting to scam you.

 

In the end, rental fraud can be a scary situation no matter the type you are involved in. That is why being proactive about your Maryland income properties is absolutely critical to keeping your money out of the hands of scammers and keeping unwanted tenants our of your properties.

If you are looking to safeguard your Maryland rental properties to the fullest extent, contact Bay Management Group.

With knowledgeable staff working solely in property management, Bay Management Group can protect you, your rental property, and your tenants from all types of rental fraud.

Peace of mind is priceless when it comes to your rental property business.

Use Bay Management Group to conduct thorough background checks, draft airtight lease agreements, and inspect your home regularly to make sure everything is in its right place.