How Do I Find a Good Property Management Company Near Me?

How to Find a Good Property Management Company Near Me

Hiring a property management company for your Philadelphia rental property is a big decision.

A good property manager has the potential to ensure your tenants are satisfied, that you receive a monthly positive cash flow, and that your property is properly cared for.

In a property management company, you are going to need qualities like:

  • Solid tenant screening procedures
  • Secure rent payment collection
  • Routine inspections of your rental property
  • Maintenance and repair policy that satisfies tenants at all hours of the day and night

As a property owner, you will also need competitive management fees, superior communication between your tenants, property managers, and yourself, and of course, will need to rely on your property management company to properly document all of your rental property’s paperwork.

If you are looking to hire a high quality property management company near you, keep reading to learn how to find one nearby that will meet all of your of your property management needs.

 

Finding a Property Management Company Near You

1. Search Online

Search Online to Find Good Property Management Company in Philadelphia

One of the best places to get started in your search for an experienced Philadelphia property management company is online.

Start with a simple Google search. After you have narrowed down prospective property management companies near you in your search results, you should further your investigation.

 

Online Reviews

To start, Google the exact property management company’s name and see what pops up. Generally, any reviews that have been left about the company will appear on the first page of the search results. Make sure to look closely at highly reputable review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Zillow.

In addition, you might want to give Glassdoor.com a look as well. This website offers insight into what it is like to work for a specific company. If the property management company you are interested in is listed on Glassdoor.com, check out what previous and current employees are saying about the interviewing process, overall experience, salary, and work environment. If the company treats their employees poorly, chances are they’d do the same to their property owners.

Disgruntled property managers are not the type you or your Philadelphia tenants want to deal with. Based on the company reviews left on Glassdoor.com, you will be able to better gauge which property management companies to move forward with and which to cross off your list.

 

Company Websites

In addition to seeing what other people have to say about a property management company you are considering hiring, take a look at the company’s own website.

Here are some things to look for while exploring the property management company’s website:

  • A comprehensive list of services they provide including, but not limited to: tenant screening, vacancy advertising, rent collection, maintenance procedures, financial reports, and property inspections
  • Management fees and fee schedule
  • Warranties or guarantees provided to property owners
  • Information regarding the owner/president, property managers, and administrative staff
  • Areas the property managers serve
  • A property owner and tenant portal
  • Testimonials from satisfied property owners
  • Contact information

 

Although some of this information may seem obvious to have on a business website, the truth is not all Philadelphia property management companies are the same.

The way a company represents itself online can lend insight into what type of company they are. A good property management company will provide as much information as possible online for property owners to see.

Not only does this transparency help establish the company as reliable, it helps property owners make educated decisions when it comes to choosing the property management company they feel comfortable entrusting their investment properties to.

Lastly, you can check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure the property managers you are interested in are in good standing. Here you will find any issues or complaints filed against the property management company you are interested in, and help you weed out the ones that seem problematic before you even hire them.

 

2. Get a Local Referral

Word of Mouth Great Way to Find Good Property Management Company in Philly

Many experienced property management companies in Philadelphia have strong relationships with industry professionals in the nearby region.

If you are not sure which property management company to go with, and have ties to a local real estate agency, title company, or investor, consider asking them for their professional opinion.

Another idea is to ask your friends or acquaintances that also lease rental property in the Philadelphia area. Perhaps they use a property management company they love and have convincing reasons you too should entrust your investment property to that company. Nothing is better than receiving a referral from someone you know personally.

Word of mouth is very powerful when it comes to home services, especially when it comes to income properties. If a property management company has a bad reputation, you can bet word of it has spread amongst other property owners and industry professionals.

The same can also be said for exceptional property managers: Those with a good reputation will find referrals being sent their way regularly by those who have had good experiences.

 

3. Check Out Local Ads

Find Good Property Management Company in Philly Using Local Ads

Property management companies do a great deal of advertising when it comes to finding tenants for their clients’ vacant rental properties.

This is also a great way to find local property managers.

Simply check out the local newspaper, online classifieds, and hotspots like Craigslist. These resources are often utilized by local property management companies as a way to share that a rental property they manage is available for rent.

Following the advertisement trail may lead you to some exceptional property management companies near you. Just be sure you conduct further research about each company you find to know whether they are the right fit for you.

In addition to finding out which property management companies are near you, doing this affords you the opportunity to check out how they advertise vacancies, what their ads look like, and whether you would feel comfortable advertising your rental property in the way that they advertise their clients’ rentals.

You want to make sure their advertisements are free of discriminatory statements, include detailed descriptions of the available property, and have high-quality images of the available rental.

It’s a good idea to also see whether they advertise across a variety of channels, giving the vacant property a chance to be seen by a wide tenant pool.

 

4. Talk to Current Renters

Talk to Current Renters to Find Good Property Management Company in Philly

Currently, renters occupy 37% of United States households.

This means that there is a good chance you know someone that currently rents a home.

Try asking tenants that they know personally about their landlord, and whether a property management company is used to manage the property.

Again, word of mouth is very powerful in these situations. There is no way a tenant is going to sugarcoat any experience they have had with a property manager. This is especially true if they know you are looking to employ one for your own rental property.

Finding a local property management company is not the hard part – it’s finding one that has high standards, competitive management fees, and a good reputation in the community that can be challenging.

Do your research before you jump in and hire the first local property manager you find. There are plenty of options out there designed to meet a variety of needs.

For those who own rental property in Philadelphia, Bay Management Group has all the qualities of an exceptional property management company.

With strong community ties, a far-reaching network of professional relationships, and a dedication to managing your rental property at competitive rates, we at Bay Management Group work to provide you with everything you need – from advertising your property to managing the move-out process – and more, beyond what you would expect from a standard property management company.

So, get in touch with Bay Management Group today and let us manage your rental property, keep your tenants satisfied, and generate you the consistent rental property income you’re looking for.


How Does Your Property Management Company Stack Up?

how-choose-property-management-company-abingdon

Property management companies in the Harford County area are a specialized section of the rental property business.

Offering property owners years of experience and specialized knowledge in managing multiple rentals, property management companies have the potential to add real value to your rental homes as well as boost your positive cash flow.

Unfortunately, not all property management companies run their businesses in a way that best benefits their clients.

So, how do you know if the property managers you enlist to help you manage your Abingdon properties are up to par?

Keep reading to find out the many qualities your property management company should possess.

By the end of this article, you will be able to see just how your property management company stacks up against the rest.

You may find that it’s time to switch to one that takes their business [and yours] a little more seriously.

 

Does Your Property Management Company Stack Up?

It should come as no surprise that all property management companies claim that they are the best.

However, there are several stages that each property management company must master before being able to truly claim they are a success.

Let’s look at what those stages are before determining whether your property management team hits the mark.

Stage 1: Business Buildingabingdon-property-management-companies-should-have-multiple-vendors

In the beginning, a new property management company will focus on building a solid clientele. There will be a great deal of learning and even more reliance upon the education acquired before entering the property management business.

Here are some of the main challenges a new property management team faces:

  • Networking and negotiating with new contractors
  • Determining which vendors to build long-lasting relationships with and which cannot be trusted
  • Managing cost-benefit factors as they relate to advertising
  • Building relationships with local Maryland home inspectors
  • Dealing with property management competition
  • Outlining which services to offer clients

Altogether, every business experiences some level of growing pains in the beginning. However, handling these challenges appropriately will ultimately determine a company’s future success.

 

Stage 2: Clients and Their Properties

After the foundation of the business is established, property management companies will then focus on their Abingdon clients and the rental properties that are available for management.

This is where property managers with a real estate background can prove to be extremely beneficial.

Property managers that can make recommendations to improve a property’s visual appeal, make cost-effective renovations, and provide insight on competitive rental rates can help their clients boost their own rental rates, and ultimately, revenue.

 

Stage 3: Tenants

Next, it’s time to focus on all things tenant-related.

A crucial piece of this tenant stage is learning the importance of proper tenant screening procedures. Local and state laws regarding background checks, proper lease agreement drafting, and the process regarding non-payment or an eviction are all learned in this phase.

 

Stage 4: Making a Profitfind-profitable-property-management-company-abingdon-maryland

As time goes on and the property management team has experienced many of the commonplace issues in the rental property industry, the concentration then turns to increasing your profit.

Here are some ways a property management company may attempt to build a better profit margin:

  • Seek new vendors for better cost-benefit margins
  • Outsource advertisement for better rates of return
  • Manage problem tenants
  • Fine-tune small details that may prove costly over time

These are just some of the things a growing property management company will focus on once becoming established Abingdon property managers.

 

What to Look for in an A+ Property Management Company

Now that you have a clear idea of the main stages most property management companies in Abingdon and surrounding areas go through as they build a positive reputation in the Harford County region, it is time you decide whether your own management company makes the cut.

Here are some of the crucial qualities that define an exceptional property management company.

 

Education and Experiencewhat-look-property-manager-abingdon-md

Sure, education typically comes before business building (as it should). However, in life, there is always room to learn more and this certainly applies to businesses as well. The learning never stops—you can always expand your knowledge of business.

In addition, the longer a property management company is in business, the more experience they gain. This leads to a more thorough understanding of

  • Local properties available in and around Abingdon
  • Developing more efficient processes for tenant screening and maintenance requests
  • Better relationships with high-quality contractors
  • And more

Having a well-established property management company, such as Bay Management Group, can have a positive effect on how your rental property business operates.

Our experience and education is top notch and trickles down to all employees, making us a great option as your property management company.

 

Detail-Oriented

When a property management company is just starting out, it can be difficult to organize every policy and procedure regarding property owners and tenants.

It takes hard work to focus on both property owners and tenants, all state and federal laws related to rental properties, and potential safety hazards that can lead to costly lawsuits. And, this is just the beginning.

Your property management group should have a knowledgeable staff when it comes to serious legal issues such as lead paint hazards, housing inspections, eviction procedures, and fair housing laws.

In addition, there should be:

  • A strict rent collection policy in place that applies to every tenant placed in your rental property
  • A professional and timely maintenance and repair service
  • Detailed documentation of your property taken both on move-in and move-out dates

Being detail-oriented helps property management companies build their business and establish a reputation as one that focuses on both property owners and tenants.

In addition, attention to detail helps increase your revenue, which in turn helps the property management company make more money off the rentals they manage.

Luckily, a solid property management company, such as Bay Management Group, does all of this and more. This proves our commitment to details in everything we do from tenant placement and rent collection, to routine property inspections and maintenance service calls.

Connections
abingdon-rental-property-managers-have-connections

A property management company must have great networking skills if they want to make it in the competitive business of managing rental properties.

One of the best ways to do this is to build solid and long-lasting relationships with local contractors and vendors. This way, each side benefits—the property management company gets great deals and quality service and the contractors/vendors receive consistent business.

For example, Bay Management Group secures relationships with only the best contractors in town that offer quick turnarounds, quality work, and affordable pricing. Knowing this assures you that your property is well cared for at all times. Further, we also maintain close ties with those in the real estate industry to ensure you get the best rental rates possible, without overextending yourself and turning potential tenants away.

 

In the end, your property management company has a lot to answer for when it comes to managing rental properties in Harford County.

And, while new businesses have the potential to really “wow” new customers, oftentimes opting to work with the well-established and experienced company is a better choice.

If you own rental properties around Abingdon and are looking for a trusted and experienced property management company that exceeds every step of the business growth model mentioned above, contact Bay Management Group today.

Working solely in property management for years, Bay Management Group has mastered what it takes to care for your property. Maintaining legal compliance, handling all issues without a hitch, and giving you the peace of mind that your property is in good hands is what Bay Management Group proudly guarantees Abingdon investment property owners.

 


Tips for Reducing Vacancy Rates

Rental-Property-Advertisements-in-Baltimore

No Baltimore landlord likes a vacant property. Worries about loss of income, damage to the property, and theft can cause many sleepless nights.  And while vacancies are an unwelcome downside to being a landlord, there are steps you can take to reduce the possibility of an unoccupied property.

Let’s jump right in and take a look at how you can reduce your property’s vacancy rates.

Understand the Market

Your Owings Mills tenants are sure to know what a fair monthly rent is.  If you price your rental property too high, chances are you will experience a higher turnover rate (when your current tenants realize they can find a better deal elsewhere) and a longer vacancy period (because potential tenants will know beforehand that your asking rent is too high).

The key is to calculate the perfect balance.  You do not want to price your rent too low and appear cheap, or worse make no income off of your property, so it is important that you offer a fair and competitive rate.  Tenants that feel they are getting a good deal are less likely to leave.  Also, a competitively priced property will sit vacant for a shorter period of time.

Best-Place-to_advertise-Rental-Property

Advertise Your Vacant Property

So your Catonsville rental property was just vacated and you had been counting on that supplemental income.  Well, there is no reason to worry if you have good advertising practices in place for times like these.  Especially if you have enlisted Baltimore County’s best property management company to help you.

Understanding the best places to advertise your rental property is crucial to keeping vacancy rates low.  At Bay Management Group, your property will be advertised aggressively.  Using search engines, online classifieds, MLS, Craigslist, and direct mail, potential tenants will be made aware that your property is available.  The advertisements will be detailed and informative to attract serious tenants.

Even if you are on your own, there are some really great resources, such as this one, for advertising your rental property that getting results.
Advertise-Your-Rental-Property-in-Baltimore

Elevate Your Tenant Screening Process

Tenant screening is another part of the process that you and your property management company can fine tune to keep vacancy rates lower.  After all, the better tenants you place in your Essex home, the more likely they are to renew at the end of the lease term.

The screening process that each potential tenant must go through should be strict and thorough.  It should include a full background check for things such as prior evictions, bankruptcies, income, and credit worthiness—all things that can affect a turnover rate.  Think long term when choosing to place a tenant in your property.  This will help to alleviate many of your concerns about vacancies at the end of every lease term.

Market Your Property as the Best

It’s one thing to have a Pikesville rental home available for lease.  It’s another to have a beautiful Pikesville rental home available for lease.

Highlight the unique amenities of your property to potential tenants – location, surrounding shops and restaurants, the newly carpeted flooring, the superior customer service your property management company will provide. These are the types of things that will get your potential tenant excited at the thought of calling your property home.

Make them want it.  Don’t make them question why it is vacant in the first place.

Reward Current Tenants

The easiest way to reduce vacancy rates in your Towson rental home is to never let it become vacant in the first place!  A great way to do this is by rewarding quality tenants by not raising their rent.

Rent increases are a major turnoff to tenants and may cause them to leave to find a better deal elsewhere.  Though increasing rent is sometimes necessary, try holding off for as long as possible.  A rent that is being paid monthly at a slightly lower price is better than no rent coming in at all.

Offer Incentives

Offering incentives is another way to keep tenants around for another lease term.  For instance, you could offer to pay for the monthly water bill or the weekly trash bill.  Something as small as $25 a month can mean a lot to your Parkville tenant.

The great thing about this tactic is it can work wonders on existing tenants and is a great strategy for attracting new tenants quickly should your property become vacant.

Get to Know Your Tenants

You don’t have to have Sunday dinner with them every week, but being nice to your tenants can go a long way in convincing them to stay on for another lease term, thus lowering your vacancy rates.

Include a welcome package once tenants move in, communicate openly with them, keep your property great condition, and most importantly, be professional.

You don’t have to be their best friends, but stay connected and let them know you care.  They are your customers so let them know how grateful you are that they chose to rent from you.

Other Quick Tips

There is a lot you can do to reduce your Dundalk or White Marsh rental property vacancy rates.  Here are some extra tips to keep in mind:

  • Once your property becomes vacant, start prepping for the next tenants right away
  • Consider longer lease terms
  • Make your property more secure by adding alarms and security lights
  • Provide the amenities many tenants look for such as updated appliances or new carpeting
  • Be timely with your repairs during their tenancy so they know you care about them
  • Reduce long term rental rates, lower the security deposit, or consider a rent-to-buy option

Advertise-Property-to-Rent-in-Baltimore

Final Thoughts

One of the best ways to help reduce your Baltimore County’s overall vacancy rates is to enlist the help of a professional and trusted property management company such as Bay Management Group.  Dedicated solely to property management, Bay Management Group has the means for filling vacancies quickly and efficiently.

Offering advertising services, thorough screening processes, and airtight lease agreements, Bay Management Group helps to lessen the impact of a potential vacancy.  In addition, understanding that vacant properties can wreak havoc on your cash flow, Bay Management Group does not charge monthly management fees while your property is vacant, unlike many other companies out there.

If you own a vacant rental property in the Baltimore area, or you are worried about a possible vacancy in one of your properties and want help in reducing that risk, call Bay Management Group today and talk to one of their friendly staff.  They can help you with all of your property management needs and make sure a tenant is placed in your property as often as possible.


Property Management vs Rental Property Maintenance

Property-Management-VS-Rental-Property-Maintenance

Owning rental property in the Baltimore County area is not without challenges and complications.  That is why many landlords choose to hire a property management company to handle such tasks as finding quality tenants, collecting rent, and scheduling routine maintenance and repairs.

But what exactly do we mean when we talk about “property management”?  

It is more than cleaning, responding to maintenance calls, collecting rent, and managing tenants.  Property management can typically be divided into two separate entities—property management and rental property maintenance.  These entities, though different, work together to efficiently and effectively manage your property.

It is important to know exactly what to expect when you hire a property management company to manage your investment.  Today, we will examine the key differences between property management and rental property maintenance of your Towson rental home.

Property-Management-in-Baltimore

What is Property Management?

Property management companies manage your rental property.  They operate, control, and oversee your investment in numerous ways.  These tasks, when done properly, add vitality to your rental property and facilitate positive cash flow each year.

Let’s take a look at the primary responsibilities of a property management company:

Tenant Screening

Finding great tenants is crucial to being a successful landlord.  This is why hiring a good property management company to screen potential tenants for your valuable Essex rental home is so important.

There is a lot that goes into finding the perfect tenant for your Dundalk property.  Background checks should be performed for all potential tenants.  You should screen for prior evictions, liens, bankruptcies, criminal history, and credit worthiness.  You should also follow all federal, state, and local laws regarding tenant screening.

Lease Agreement Drafting

A legally compliant lease agreement should outline all of the important things a prospective tenant should be aware of.  This is where a property management company is especially helpful.  Understanding all landlord-tenant laws and the importance of a thorough lease agreement, your property management company will be able to take care of everything effortlessly.

Rent Collection

It is vital to your bottom line be able to collect and distribute rent payments on time each month. A hired property management company will be able to efficiently collect rent from your tenants and get the payments back to you quickly.

Collecting late rent payments is the responsibility of your property management company as well.  A quality property management company will also be responsible for starting the eviction process, handling lawsuits, and defending you as a landlord.

Property management companies are also responsible for many of the administrative tasks involved in the management of a rental home in the Parkville area of Baltimore.

Here are a few other important things that to look for in a good property management company:

  • Rental property registrations
  • Monthly and yearly financial statements
  • Routine inspections
  • Move in and move out reports
  • Low management fees
  • Advertisement of vacant rental properties

Rental-property-maintenance-in-Baltimore

What About Rental Property Maintenance?

Though they seem like one and the same, property management and rental property maintenance are actually two separate entities.

When you own a rental property, even in the mature and wealthy area of Pikesville, you will eventually have to deal with maintenance issues on your property.  And while property management companies are responsible for facilitating maintenance requests, that is typically where their responsibility ends.

Most property management companies have their own separate maintenance group.  These  licensed contractors are equipped to handle routine rental home upkeep, emergency repairs, and major damage that can result from accidents or an irresponsible tenant.

Tasks handled by rental property maintenance staff include:

  • Lawn and yard maintenance
  • Plumbing
  • Heating and Air Conditioning
  • Painting
  • Electrical work
  • Locksmith issues
  • Common area upkeep
  • Flooding emergencies

A responsible property management company will have a maintenance crew on hand 24/7 should your tenants encounter any issues— big or small.

In addition to the maintenance staff a property management company contacts when an issue of maintenance or repair pops up in one of your Catonsville property investments, your property management company should have relationships with professional licensed vendors that can handle  being tasked with the difficult problems that are beyond the scope of expertise of most general maintenance workers.

It is the responsibility of  the property management company to contact and schedule the repairs. From there the maintenance staff is responsible for resolving the issue, invoicing the landlord or tenant—according to the lease agreement—and taking care of any concerns that may arise during the course of work.

Rental-property-maintenance-and-management-in-Baltimore

So, Aren’t They Really One and the Same?

It may seem that property management companies and rental property maintenance staff are actually one and the same—and some are.  The problem is, not all property management groups provide their customers a rental property maintenance staff.  This means that as a landlord all administrative tasks related to your property will be handled but the maintenance issues will be your responsibility.

Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of a hiring a property management company?

This is why it is so important to research your property management company beforehand and compile a list of questions to ask each company you are considering prior to bringing them in for an interview.

Property-management-in-Baltimore

Bay Management Group

Luckily for you, if you own a rental property in the Owings Mills or the surrounding Baltimore areas you have access to one of Maryland’s premier property management companies, Bay Management Group.

Not only does Bay Management Group thoroughly handle all property management tasks related to your rental property, they have an experienced, licensed maintenance staff and vendors on hand to resolve any maintenance issues you or your tenants might encounter.

Bay Management Group is dedicated to the job of property management, and they take pride in a job well done.  Bay Management Group is the ideal property management company for you and your Baltimore County rental property.

 

Final Thoughts

Whether you are new to the rental property business, or you have multiple properties, it is important to understand the benefits of hiring a reputable property management company.  Take time to make sure that you and your property management company are in agreement about the tasks outlined in the contract as well as monthly management fees.

If you’re in need of a full-service property management company in Baltimore County, give Bay Management Group a call.  Their knowledgeable and friendly staff is here to answer all of your questions and I bet by the end of the conversation, you will be convinced they are the right choice for your property management needs.

 

 


Tracking Rental Property Income and Expenses

6 Financial Considerations for Baltimore Property Managementbaltimore-rental-property-income

The key to receiving a return on your investment property is accurately recording income and expenses.

From reporting incoming rental funds to calculating total expenses, the entire process can quickly become overwhelming for busy investment owners and/or those with multiple rental properties throughout the Baltimore area.

With an understanding of what needs to be tracked and recorded, however, you can ensure you receive the optimal ROI for each property you own.

 

Income Sources and Expenses to Track

Understanding the net operating income (NOI) equation is important for any property investor. Without a firm grasp of this concept, you’ll find yourself making mistakes and missing out on potential profits.

The formula is simple enough: your net operating income is equal to your gross operating income minus operating expenses. But each of these variables has multiple inputs and expenses tied to it.

Your gross operating income is determined by taking your potential rental income, subtracting vacancy and credit losses, and adding other income.

If you are not currently working with a property management team, your operating expenses in Baltimore may include the following:

  • Advertising and marketing. This is the total amount you spend on Internet marketing, paid advertisements, signage throughout Baltimore, listing fees, and more.
  • Auto and travel. This refers to how much money you spend on traveling to and from your various properties for routine maintenance and inspections or to show the property to potential tenants.
  • Cleaning and maintenance. Whether it’s as simple as having the floors scrubbed and countertops wiped off or as time intensive as laying new flooring and installing new appliances, there are always cleaning and maintenance expenses incurred prior to welcoming a new tenant.
  • Legal fees. 78463454-001A lease isn’t anything to cut corners on. A high quality, accurate lease that protects your interests requires the attention of an experienced attorney.
  • Utilities and taxes. Unless your tenant pays for all utilities and taxes, you will incur some of these expenses. They should be accounted for.
  • Insurance. Rental property insurance is often overlooked by many landlords, but is crucial to protecting yourself and your property.

 

Other Expenses

It’s also worth noting that there are some additional expenses that are not figured into the NOI equation. These include debt service, depreciation, income taxes, tenant improvements, capital expenditures, and more.

 

Your Easy Button: Baltimore Property Management

Thankfully, as an investor, you don’t have to worry about all the finer details that go into turning a profit on a rental investment. By hiring a local Baltimore property management company, you can focus on the big picture while letting somebody else take care of the particulars.

From screening tenants, facilitating maintenance and repairs, and setting rental rates, to handing contracts and tracking expenses, a property management company can save you lots of time.

 

Bay Management Group

bay-management-maryland-logo-2
At the Bay Management Group, we offer premier property management services in Baltimore.

Whether you have a large portfolio or a single property, we can help you by relieving the burden of tracking expenses and handling tenants. It is always our goal to reduce your expenses and increase your net operating income.

For more information, contact us today. We would be happy to discuss our services in further detail.

 


5 Things to Include in Your Tenant Manual

5 Things to Include in Your Tenant Manual

tenant-manual-property-management-baltimore

Finding a good tenant is only half of a landlord’s job. The other half is managing the property with the tenant in it, which can be a demanding task. To make it a bit easier, many property managers create a “tenant manual.” Even though the rental contract outlines most of the tenants’ responsibilities, a tenant manual can be a great additional resource for the new tenants. Below are a few main sections you should consider including in your tenant manual.

Payment and Fees

Outline all the ways you accept the rent, as well as the dates when it’s due. In case your tenants lose your bank account number or are unsure which name to put on a check, have this information available in your tenant manual. Mention what happens if the rent is past due and if you allow exceptions in special circumstances.

List any other fees and charges your tenant may expect to incur, such as a fee for a missed maintenance appointment or a check processing fee. If you offer reimbursement for certain types of maintenance performed by the tenant, be sure to describe the conditions of this offer.

Changes in the tenant’s lifestyle

The conditions and circumstances under which your tenant originally signed the lease may change over time. They may want to get a second pet, may be expecting a baby or growing tired of their roommate. Use the tenant manual to explain which lifestyle or other changes should be reported to the landlord and what are the proper procedures.

Basic property features and diagnosis of problems

There are many things that can go wrong in a house, but not all are equally serious. Some simple problems can be fixed within five minutes, while others can be stopped before they turn into a big mess. Dedicate a section in your tenant manual to listing common household problems and solutions, covering plumbing, electrical, appliances and HVAC. They may seem like a common sense to you, but your tenants might not have the same knowledge and experience in home maintenance.

Describe where the main circuit breaker, gas and water shut-off valves are located. Include information about the common issues, such as resetting a tripped circuit breaker or dealing with frozen pipes. If you know that your home or property is prone to certain problems, make sure to specifically address them.

…and what your tenant should do about it

Outline the procedure for notifying you when something happens. Even if it can be fixed by the tenant without your assistance, you might still want to know what went wrong. A circuit breaker that trips all the time might indicate an electrical issue. And don’t forget to set the boundaries for your handy MacGyver tenants – they may do the troubleshooting, but most repairs should be left to a professional.

Home care and maintenance responsibilities

Help your tenants understand what is expected of them when it comes to maintaining your rental property. For example, such things as changing batteries in smoke alarms or closing A/C vents before winter can be done by the tenant. However, what about cleaning a pool or unclogging a backed up toilet? It’s often difficult to draw a line where your tenant’s responsibilities end and yours begin.

Regardless, your tenant has at least one responsibility – to keep your property in a good shape. To help them do it, list a few best practices and reminders on how to use the fireplace, dishwasher, HVAC system and other home features and appliances, especially if appliance manuals are not available.

Referral bonuses and other offers

If you own several properties, especially within the same area or apartment complex, encourage your tenant to refer their friends or family members. Besides the benefit of proximity, you can offer them a bonus in a form of a gift card to a local restaurant or discount on their rent. Don’t forget to mention any other special offers or loyalty programs you use to reward and retain good tenants.

This tenant manual answers many questions your new tenants might have, and it can greatly reduce the number of calls you’ll be getting from them. However, it’s still important for your tenant to know that he can talk to a human, too. Make sure you include number(s) your tenants can call for different questions, including emergencies. You can also make a table showing how fast you handle different requests. For example, missed phone calls will be returned within 24 hours, appliance repair technician will visit the same day, etc. This will give your tenant a frame of reference and help manage their expectations.

 

What are some of the items you find helpful to include in your Tenant Manual?


Landlords: 5 Steps to Get Prepared for an Emergency

Being a landlord is both rewarding and stressful. Finding responsible tenants is only one of the hardships you have to go through. If you want your undertaking to succeed, you have to be prepared for various emergency situations that may occur on your property. A slow or inadequate response during an emergency situation can cost you time, money, efforts, and even make you liable for negligence.

So what kind of emergency situations are we talking about?

Natural disasters: earthquake, flood, hurricane, fire, etc.

Security breaches: break-in, burglary, vandalism, etc.

Tenant emergency: health issues, involvement in crime, death on your property, etc.

Utility failure: no water, gas, electricity, AC, etc.

Life-threatening conditions: gas leak, mold, insect infestation, etc.

The main challenge is that you are not there when an emergency happens. This means your tenants will be taking the first step of notifying appropriate emergency services and you. Your role is to help your tenants protect their lives and possessions, as well as to help authorities and emergency responders do their job.

Bay Management Group is here to help property managers get prepared for any emergency situation. Here are a few steps to take.

1)  Educate your tenants.

Because most likely they will be the ones dealing with the emergency first-hand, it’s a good idea to provide your tenants with the key knowledge and tools. Create and distribute an emergency plan that should include:

–   A phone number to reach you 24/7

–   Emergency exits on the property and the location of closest shelters.

–   Phone numbers of emergency responders (medics, firefighters, police, etc.). Make sure your tenants know when to call you and when to dial 911.

–   Definition of an emergency, as well as situations that don’t constitute emergency, such as slow drains or minor drips. You still need to be notified about those, but not in the middle of the night.

–   Helpful information about how to detect problems on early stages.

2)  Know your tenants.

It’s easy if you only have one property, but if you own several apartments or the entire apartment building, things get complicated (our Baltimore property management pros know this from experience.) No matter how busy you are, it’s important to keep and update the list of your tenants. Emergency responders might ask you to provide it to make sure everyone is accounted for.

3)  Keep your keys and codes organized.

Medics or firefighters might need access to your locked basement, shed, garage or other facility. Make sure you have all the keys organized by property and accurately labeled – this could save someone’s life!

4)  Make an emergency calling list.

A flooded basement is not a reason to dial 911, but it’s still an emergency, because the water causes inconvenience to your tenants and damages your property. How fast you respond matters a lot, which is why having a list of reliable contractors who can fix different problems is essential.

Create a calling list to include names, numbers, emails, reliability and availability of different contractors. Make sure that you have at least one contractor per category (plumber, electrician, waterproofer, mason, etc.) who provides 24/7 services. Make copies of this list, so that you can access it anywhere: in your car, at home, at work and even on the go.

5)  Advise tenants to get renter’s insurance.

It’s a common misunderstanding among tenants that in case their possessions get damaged, they will be covered under the landlord’s policy. This is not true, and it’s a good idea to inform your tenants about renter’s insurance. It will cost anywhere between $15 and $30 a month and will be useful in case of property damage by fire, flood, storm or theft.

As you can see, the preparation might take some time, but at the end it’s worth it. It leaves no room for panic and lets you respond to any crisis situation in a timely and effective manner. Does it feel like too much? Our Maryland property managers can take care of everything for you. We have emergency plans set up for each of our clients and being on call 24/7 is a part of our job. Let us know if you need help taking care of your rental property.


3 Important Reasons to Hire a Property Manager

baltimore-rental-property-advertising-signIncome property is a great way to sustain a steady money flow and provide you with a supplemental income. However, being a landlord is not as easy as it seems and is sure enough not for everyone.

When it comes to choosing whether or not to pass control over to a property manager (Bay Management Group is here at your service) there are three important factors to consider:

3 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Property Management Group

1. Save Time

Spend your time wisely. If you have another job besides being a landlord, calculate how much time every day you’ll have left to manage your property, specifically:

  • To be physically present at the property whenever needed, for example, to inspect it, do repairs, show it to the renter, handle a problem, etc. And the more properties you have and the more spread out they are – the more time it’ll take you.
  • To do the research: evaluate average asking price in your area, find contractors to perform necessary repairs or updates, check background and references of potential renters, create multiple online listings for your property, etc.
  • To answer the phone when it rings: take care of the problem, make an appointment with the tenant, answer the questions about the property.

Not doing all these things on time leads to loosing profits while your property is sitting there without a tenant. And a property management company understands it like no one else, because it directly benefits from getting your property rented out or leased as soon as possible. They will be handling all those time-consuming issues on your behalf full-time, so that you can spend these hours with your family, doing your main job, or plain relaxing.

2. Specialized Skills

Ask yourself this question: Do I have a skill set needed to successfully manage my property?

The skills to keep in mind include:

  • Fluent talker and a good salesman: know how to highlight the best features of your property and convince potential renters
  • Resourcefulness:  be able to find a quick (at least temporary) solution to any problem
  • People skills: handling issues and inquiries professionally and being nice to customers
  • Marketing knowledge: understand how to market your property online and offline to reach the desired customer
  • Knowledge of property laws and regulations
  • Adequate character judgment
  • Understanding of the real estate market
  • Basic accounting and record keeping skills

Do you have all or any of these skills? Or, going back to point one, do you have time to acquire them? If your answer is “No” then a property management company would probably be a good solution for you.

3. Willingness

So you might have the time and the skills, but do you really want to get into property management? Are you willing to be on call 24/7? Are you comfortable asking, requesting, or sometimes demanding rent from your tenants?

With a property management company, like your local Baltimore property management company here, you don’t have to worry about any of this. We take care of all the aspects and provide you with reports about the state of your property so that you can devote that precious time to something more important.