6 Tips to Successfully Show a Rental Property

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Showing a client’s vacant rental property to prospective tenants is one of the principal roles of a property manager.

Though emphasis is often placed on appealing to the right tenant pool, as well as the importance of proper tenant screening, the truth is that the in-person showing of the home to potential renters is just as crucial.

Staging a vacant rental property can be done easily and without a great deal of time.  With a little bit of curb appeal and a nice looking interior, you will have more tenants wanting to lease your client’s rental home than you know what to do with.

But there is more to getting a tenant to sign a lease agreement than just a nice exterior and inviting interior.

Today we will look at the top tips for showing an unoccupied rental property.  If you follow these simple yet effective steps, you will find great success in your showings.

 

6 Tips for Wowing Tenants with Your Rental Property Showing

1. Remember The Basics

Every property manager knows that there are basic staging rules for showing a potential tenant their client’s rental home.  Let’s look at those basics:

  • Do not underestimate the power of curb appeal. Make sure the yard is well maintained, the property is freshly painted, and the all-around feeling is inviting as a tenant pulls up.
  • Clean, clean, clean. Nothing turns a potential tenant away faster than a dirty home interior.  Make sure to inspect the property beforehand to make sure its cleanliness meets you and your client’s standards.
  • Redecorate or upgrade. Install new carpet, paint the walls an appealing and neutral color, fix the window treatments, and make sure all appliances are updated and working.

In the end, these selling points will make a huge difference in whether a tenant is interested in leasing a property from your client.

 

2. Pre-Qualify

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As mentioned earlier, tenant screening plays a significant role in the leasing process.

Before you begin showing a property to interested tenants, pre-qualify them.  This will save you time, energy, and money and will ensure you are only showing the property to qualified tenants.

Here are some great topics to ask about when someone calls to set up a property showing:

  • Their credit score
  • Reason for moving
  • Estimated move-in date
  • Whether they have pets
  • Smoker or non-smoker
  • Number of people moving in
  • If they have references
  • Eviction history
  • Estimated income
  • If they have any questions

Keep in mind that pre-qualifying tenants for a property showing cannot violate any of the Fair Housing laws that are in place to protect prospective tenants.  In addition, make sure the pre-qualifying questions are the same for all prospective tenants to avoid discrimination allegations.

 

3. Be Safe

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Before showing a rental property, put your safety first.  Every year a number of realtors, property managers, and landlords are injured showing homes to prospective tenants.

If someone calls asking to see a rental home, get his or her full name and conduct a background check on your state’s public record website before agreeing to show the property.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself from potentially harmful situations while showing rental properties:

  • Always show properties during the daytime, never after dark
  • Call your office every hour to let them know where you are
  • Introduce yourself to neighbors so they are familiar with you and your vehicle
  • Have an “escape” plan in place for when something feels “off” (for instance, take an emergency phone call outside or inform the potential tenant another agent is on the way)
  • Always leave all doors unlocked and stand by the doorways while showing the property
  • Park on the curb rather than the driveway for a quick getaway, if necessary

Gathering information ahead of time about potential tenants and being aware of your surroundings will ensure your safety as well as a more successful property showing.

 

4. Make a Good First Impression

Small, seemingly insignificant (yet very effective) things you do before, during, and after a rental property showing will leave a lasting impression on potential tenants that view the home.

There are several ways to convince potential tenants that this property is perfect and that they need to sign a lease right away.  For instance:

  • Call and confirm scheduled showings a few hours beforehand
  • Set the temperatures in the rental to be comfortable upon arrival
  • Turn on all of the property’s lights
  • Dress professionally and check your personal hygiene
  • Smile when you greet tenants, shake their hands, and formally introduce yourself
  • Show them the grounds, both on and off the property (for example the pool, gym area, laundry facility, parking structures, BBQ areas, or roof decks)
  • Have general information about the property on hand so the tenant can remember you later. Include things such as pictures of the property, square footage, monthly rent and deposit amounts, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and any extra amenities
  • Have applications ready for tenants to fill out immediately following the showing

In short, making a tenant feel welcome, at ease, and well informed about the property can go a long way in securing a lease agreement.

 

5. Be Informed

In addition to knowing everything about the property you are showing, it is a good idea to be knowledgeable about the surrounding area.  People often move to certain locations because they like the neighborhood or have heard it is great.

Emphasize the area’s selling points – nearby restaurants, shopping, entertainment, attractions, schools, parks, and roads for commuting.

The more information you can give potential tenants on the spot, without them having to pry, the better equipped and more trustworthy you will seem.  Plus, this information will help them to make a quicker decision and possibly forgo viewing other properties.

 

6. Follow Up

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Property managers should base their entire showing process around customer service.  Doing so shows potential tenants that you are a reliable company that they can trust and easily contact to work out any issues that may arise with the property, should they decide to lease.

A day or two after showing the property, consider sending a follow-up email or making a call to the potential tenants who saw the property.

Make sure they have no further questions about the property or leasing process and wish them luck in finding their next home.

Although this seems trivial, a little kindness can go a long way when it comes to deciding which property to lease and call home.

In the end, the way you present yourself and your client’s property to potential tenants can make all the difference when it comes to getting a lease agreement signed.

By taking the proper steps before every showing, you ensure that your client will be satisfied with the amount of effort you put into filling their vacant rental.

On top of that, going above and beyond when showing rental properties can help motivate the most qualified tenants to lease your client’s property, making it a win-win situation for everyone.

 


The Lease Agreement Deconstructed

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If you have ever leased an apartment or home, you will likely be familiar with the lease agreement that was signed by both you and the landlord.

Yet, have you ever thought about the actual components that make up a lease agreement?

If you have not, and are thinking about using your Harford County home as a rental property in the near future, maybe you should start.

Drafting a solid lease agreement, even if completed by your Bel Air property management company, is a crucial step when it comes to leasing out your rental property.  It outlines important information, defines each party’s responsibilities, and becomes a legally binding document that can be relied upon if a landlord-tenant dispute ever arises.

Today we break down a traditional lease agreement into its most basic parts so that you will know what must be included should you decide to enter the rental property business.

Making sure that each of the following elements is clearly defined in your rental agreements will ensure that your lease agreement in legally compliant, that everyone is on the same page, and will hopefully prevent any problems from popping up unexpectedly after your tenant takes up occupancy in your Bel Air home.

 

The Main Elements in a Lease Agreement

Though every lease agreement that you draft will differ depending on the property, it is important to understand the basic framework that makes a lease agreement a legally binding contract.  This is why many landlords hire a high-quality property manager in Bel Air to handle all aspects of their income properties, including drafting lease agreements.

Having a team of experts knowledgeable about state and local laws related to your income property is the best way to protect both you personally and your rental business.

 

Tenant Names

Include the legal first and last names of all tenants that will be residing in your Bel Air rental property.  These tenants will be held accountable for the terms outlined in the lease agreement, including but not limited to, rent payment, property maintenance, and damages incurred.

This section should also include your legal name and your Bel Air property management company, if applicable.  This way, it is clear from the start who the contract binds together and which parties are involved.

 

Lease Term

It is important to include the length of time you would like the lease to be valid.  In other words, how long the tenant is allowed to occupy your property before a new lease agreement must be agreed upon. 

You should determine a start date (commencement date) and an end date (expiration date) so that both you and your tenants clearly understand when the occupancy of your property will begin and end.

It is not unusual to have your tenants agree to a one year lease.  This allows for a consistent supplemental income to flow into your bank account, while also allowing you to raise the monthly rent amount fairly easily after the year is up.

This section is also a good place to include basic identifying info about your Bel Air property including its official name, if it has one, as well as its full address including any unit numbers.

Don’t forget to add the city, state, and zip code either.  Although this may sound obvious, you want to be as thorough as possible to avoid any potential confusion.

 

Payment of Rent

collect-rent-tips-property-manager-harford-county-mdIt should already be agreed upon between you and your tenant how much the monthly rent will be.  However, you must also include this in writing in the signed lease agreement.  Include things such as:

  • The total amount of rent due
  • The exact date the rent is due (g. the first of every month)
  • The forms of payment accepted and how to make said rent payments
  • Where rent should be delivered if applicable
  • The consequences for a late or non-payment of rent

Having all of these details in your lease agreement will ensure you that your tenant has willingly acknowledged and understood their financial obligations.

It also protects you in the event that you have to evict your tenant for non-payment.

 

Deposit Amounts

If you are collecting any type of deposits from your tenant up front, you should outline this in the lease agreement.  This way at the end of the lease term, when most people forget how much they paid and when, it can easily be referred to in the signed agreement.

Deposits can include things such as:

If you do collect a security deposit, which is advisable, make sure you understand your state and local laws regarding that money so that you don’t land yourself in trouble later on.

 

Fees, Fines, and Charges

There should be a section in your drafted lease agreement that will detail any potential fees or fines the tenant may face.  For example:

  • Late rent charges
  • Bounced check fees
  • City fines
  • HOA fees and fines
  • Attorney and court fees

 

Tenant Responsibilities

Oftentimes a tenant is unaware of basic maintenance or utility duties they are responsible for.  And while providing your tenants with a tenant manual at the beginning of the lease term is definitely helpful, it is important that serious matters be included in the lease agreement too.

If you are paying for the properties water, sewer, and trash bill make sure that is included.

If you want your tenant to maintain the backyard pool maintenance, include that.

If you are prohibiting certain types of alterations to the property (such as painting the walls), you guessed it, include it.  This way, your tenant can never claim they didn’t know.

It is also important to add how a tenant can call in a maintenance request or repair.  After all, this is your Bel Air investment property.

The last thing you want is a tenant who has a pressing issue with your home’s plumbing and no way of contacting either you or your Bel Air property manager.

Include the process for making a maintenance request and include phone numbers that can directly connect your tenant with someone that can help.

 

Property Access Expectations

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Here, you can outline when your tenant can expect you to enter the premises (with proper notice of course).  This can be for inspections, to check on repair statuses, or even to show a rental property that is on the market to potential buyers.

Make sure you include what kind of notice will be given and what will happen if there is no response to said notices.

While you may not enter the premises whenever you want, especially with the intent to harass your tenant, your tenants are also prohibited from changing the locks on your property, denying you access.

 

Use of the Property

While most people have a general understanding that breaking the law is well, illegal, it is a good idea to state the intended use of your property as it applies to your tenants.

This may include provisions such as:

  • The property is to be used as a residence.
  • There is a limit on who can stay in the residence and for how long.
  • No business can operate out of the property.
  • No illegal activities will be permitted.
  • Peaceful enjoyment of the other tenants and neighbors is required.

In this section, add in the potential consequences for breaking the rules.

 

The Signatures

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After the lease has been drafted, discussed, and agreed upon by both parties, make sure everyone on the lease agreement signs their name.  This proves everyone is in agreeance and confirms that a formal understanding of the terms and conditions of the lease agreement has been met.

 

Final Thoughts

Leasing your Harford County rental property starts with a solid lease agreement and high quality tenants.  These two things will often lead the way, whether positive or negative, for the kind of lease term you and your tenants will experience.

If you are interested in hiring a property manager and have a rental home in the Bel Air area, contact Bay Management Group to help you.

Not only will we handle all things property management related throughout the lease term, we will also get you started on the right foot from the get-go with a thorough and legally compliant lease agreement.

Contact us today and see how we can help you draft your lease agreement, place quality tenants in your Bel Air home, and manage everything else that comes next, so you can have the peace of mind that you and your property are protected.

 


The Most Common Lease Clauses Explained

Once your Bethesda property management company has found a suitable tenant for your rental home, and you have agreed on the terms and conditions of the lease, it is time to place those terms on paper in the form of a legally binding contract.draft-lease-clauses-bethesda-montgomery-countyThis contract, also known as the lease agreement, is a formality that each party must agree to and sign so that both you and your tenants are protected.

While some lease agreements are short and sweet, sometimes they can be pages and pages long, outlining every single detail that is involved with leasing your rental property.  Further, as you gain experience as a landlord, you may choose to add additional provisions into your once simple lease agreement template.

Today we will look at some of the most common lease agreement clauses and riders that many landlords outline so that both landlord and tenant understand their legal responsibilities.

Having a basic understanding of each of these lease clauses will help you in the future when you are drafting a lease agreement for your Bethesda income property .

 

The Basic 5 Lease Clauses

All lease agreements must include some very basic personal information regarding the terms of occupancy.

Here are the basic 5 lease clauses that should be in every single lease agreement:

  • Involved Parties. Every lease agreement must clearly state in full who the lease agreement is between.  In the case of your Montgomery County property, this means outlining that the agreement is between you (the landlord) and the tenant.  It is a good idea to include somewhere in this provision whether you are employing a Bethesda property management company as well.
  • Identification of Property. Outline the name of your property and its full mailing address.
  • Terms of the Lease. This clause determines for how long the lease agreement will be valid.  This includes the start and end dates of occupancy.
  • Rent Payment Terms. This will show the tenant what financial responsibilities they have for leasing your Bethesda home.  It should include the rent amount and when it is due.  In addition, any grace periods, late fees, and all details regarding the submission of payment should be included.
  • Acknowledgement Clause. This is the end portion where each involved party signs and dates the lease agreement.  This makes it a legally binding contract that can be enforced in a court of law.  If either party does not sign and/or date the agreement, it may be found to be null and void.

 

Security Deposit Clause

security-deposit-lease-clause-bethesda-md-rentalWhenever you are leasing a rental home, it is a good idea to collect a security deposit from your tenants before they move into your property.

This deposit will protect you from several things including non-payment of rent, damage your tenant causes to your rental property, and any other expenses incurred due to a breach of the signed lease agreement.

It is also a good idea to spell out in your lease agreement the terms surrounding the security deposit so that your tenant is clear about what is required to receive a refund at the end of the lease term.

You should include things such as:

  • The amount collected
  • Terns regarding storage of the deposit (i.e. an escrow account)
  • The interest rate the deposit will collect during the lease term
  • Reasons for deducting from a refund at the end of the lease term
  • The process for returning the deposit

Not sure how to word a detailed security deposit lease clause? 

If you are not relying on a Bethesda property management team to draft you lease agreement, look here for some security deposit lease clause examples.

 

Security Deposit Acknowledgement Form

In addition to having a security deposit clause built into your lease agreement, you should attach a separate form that will serve as a rider to the original lease agreement.

This rider will acknowledge the receipt of your tenant’s security deposit amount.

Here are some reasons you may want to include this official rider into your lease agreement:

  • Formal acknowledgements serve as proof you collected a security deposit from your tenant and fulfills any state requirement that you notify the tenant in writing of the deposit terms.
  • Acknowledgement also serves as proof that a tenant did indeed provide a sum of money to the landlord to be used as a security deposit.

In Maryland, it is important that you follow the outlined state regulations when it comes to collecting and refunding a security deposit from your tenants.

Your Bethesda property management company will understand the state and local laws and can help you handle this in a legally compliant way.

 

Lead Paint Disclosure Clause

Lead poisoning is a very scary and serious situation.  And unfortunately, as many Bethesda properties are older, the risk of lead contamination is higher than in some newly renovated areas.

As required by Maryland state law, if your rental home was built before 1978, you must provide any new tenant with lead poisoning education materials and proof that your home has been professionally inspected and certified as being safe and habitable.

In addition, if your home was known to be affected by lead point at one time it is your legal duty to disclose this information to your tenant before they occupy your property and have them acknowledge that they have been properly informed and warned of the dangers that lead-based paint poses.

This can easily be done using a lease agreement rider labeled “Lead Paint Disclosure Statement.”

 

Pet Policy Clause

bethesda-md-rental-lease-petsBethesda tenants may want to bring their pet, whether that be a dog, a bird, a cat, or even a large hundred gallon fish tank to their new home.

If you prefer to prohibit pets from residing in your rental home, you must outline this in your lease agreement to avoid any trouble later.

If you decide to allow pets, again it must be outlined clearly in your lease agreement so your tenants understand whether they are allowed to have a pet or not.

You should also include any limitations on the pet policy, such as breed exemptions and size requirements, tank restrictions in upstairs locations, and what will happen if any of these terms are violated.

In addition, you should mention outright whether a pet deposit is required, refundable or not, and whether an additional monthly rent fee will be added as a result of having a pet.

 

 

Opt-Out Clause

Sometimes you may want to give your tenants the option to legally break the lease agreement and move out prior to the end of the lease term.

Called an “opt-out clause,” this clause will essentially let a tenant break a lease early for an agreed upon fee that must be paid when moving out.

This type of lease clause gives your tenants the assurance that if something happens and they must move, they will be okay so long as they pay the fee.  In addition, this protects you in the case your tenant leaves unexpectedly by covering most of the expenses required for placing a new tenant in your property.

This can also help prevent tenants from just up and leaving when circumstances change, leaving you short on rent and facing the difficult process of finding your tenants and taking them to court.

 

Final Thoughts

There is a lot that goes into leasing your Bethesda income property.  And, without proper experience in lease agreement drafting, you run the risk of failing to include some of the essential lease clauses that serve as protection to both you and your tenants.

If you have a rental property in Montgomery County and are looking for a quality property management group to help you with matters such as lease agreement drafting, call Bay Management Group.

We are up to date on all rental property federal, state, and local laws and are focused on every detail related to  property management.

The team at Bay Management Group will have every detail you wish to have included, plus those you never knew should be included, placed into your lease agreement so that you have the peace of mind that everything is protected.

 


The Many Faces of Lease Agreements

As a Washington, D.C. rental property owner, you agree to lease your rental home to tenants, for an agreed upon amount of time.  This lease agreement establishes the relationship between landlord and tenant and many times involves the help of a D.C. property management company.Washington DC Tenant Rental AgreementWith a signed lease agreement, the tenant receives legal possession of your rental property in exchange for a monthly rent payment that is agreed upon at the time the lease agreement is signed.  Lease agreements set the term limit and include any provisions necessary detailing both the landlord’s and tenant’s duties.

There are several types of lease agreements that you should be aware of before you hire property management in the D.C. area and start placing tenants in your investment property.  Today we will take a look at the most common types of tenancy leases so that when it comes time for you or your property management company to draft yours, you will have a full understanding of everything that is included.

 

Types of Washington, D.C. Tenancies

There are generally four distinct tenancy types you can have structured into your D.C. rental agreement.  Though typically all four remain consistent from location to location, before drafting and signing a lease agreement, it is important you check with your local jurisdiction to make sure you are not violating any local or state laws.

That being said, if you have a quality property management company on your side drafting legally compliant lease agreements, you should have no problems with the provisions included.

Before occupation of your D.C. rental property can occur, you must first initiate the right for a tenant to occupy the real estate that is your rental home.  You do this by establishing a tenancy type.

Most tenancy type lease agreements have these main characteristics in common:

  • An agreed upon lease term with a set termination date
  • Capability of termination via proper notice
  • Possibility of eviction due to non-payment or major lease agreement breaches
  • Built-in responsibilities of the landlord such as providing a safe and habitable place for tenants

Let’s now take a look at the different types of tenancies available:

 

1. Tenancy for Years

A tenancy for years, also known as a fixed-term tenancy, specifies in a written lease agreement a definitive start point of occupation (also called the commencement date) and involves a fixed term with an agreed upon end date (also called the expiration date).
Lease Renewal Washington DC Rental PropertyThese leases automatically terminate at the specified end date and do not require notice from either the landlord or tenant to vacate the property.  If, however, the tenant wishes to extend the lease agreement another term come the expiration date, the landlord and tenant must again contractually agree and include any provision changes, such a differing monthly rent rate, for it to be enforceable.

With a fixed-term tenancy lease, your D.C. tenant has the right to occupy your rental property for the entire fixed term. so long as the pre-determined rental amount is satisfied each month and no breaches of the signed contract occur.

However, with a fixed-term tenancy, there are also some stipulations the tenant must agree to that may be considered disadvantageous.  These include:

  • Liability for all rent due for the entire fixed term
  • Consequences for vacating the property prior to the expiration date including but not limited to rent amount due, damages caused to the landlord for early lease termination, and court costs should the matter be taken to court
  • Prohibitions on subletting to cover rent obligations should an early termination of the lease agreement be unavoidable

 

2. Periodic Tenancy

A periodic tenancy sets an initial commencement date, though, the term continues for successive amounts of time until the lease is terminated via a notice to vacate from either party.  Essentially, there is no definitive expiration date in a fixed-term tenancy.

Though typically these types of tenancies go from month-to-month, it is not unusual to sometimes see an annual rent payment indicating a year-to-year tenancy or even a week-to-week tenancy (such as in the case of a vacation rental property).

This lease type can be written or oral.  In addition, before occupation of the property, arrangements are made for rent payments to be made at certain intervals of time.  These payments usually coincide with the time interval set for the tenancy.

In order to terminate a periodic tenancy, prior notice must be given at least equal to the length of the period of the tenancy itself, unless you and your tenant agree to different terms for termination of the agreement.

 

3. Tenancy at Will

A tenancy at will can be seen as one of the most flexible tenancy types when it comes to lease agreements.  For your Washington, D.C. property to have a tenancy at will in place, it would have to have the following characteristics:

  • There is no contractual lease agreement in place.
  • Possession of your property is given to the tenant with your knowledge and consent.
  • Occupation of your property will extend for an indefinite and unspecified period of time.
  • No provision of rent payment is contractual laid out.

In a nutshell, this lease agreement does not have the typical written lease agreement contracting both parties into a defined tenancy type.  In addition, at any time, without any type of notice, either party can terminate the occupation of the rental property.  This makes for easy rental agreement changes without the hassle of worrying about breaking a written lease agreement.

Though minimal at their best, this is not to say there are no legal protections when it comes to tenancies at will.  You are still required to provide a safe and habitable place for your tenant to live.  Additionally, prior notice must be given to enter the premises as governed by local statutes.

Tenants, on the other hand, are still responsible for paying the orally agreed upon monthly rent amount and adhere to the rules set in place by you, the property owner.  They are also still responsible for damages beyond that of normal wear and tear.

 

4. Tenancy at Sufferance

Washington DC Property Management Legal RightsA tenancy at sufferance is not an intentionally created tenancy type and is never written into a lease agreement.  Rather, this type of tenancy is when your D.C. tenant remains in your rental property after the termination of the lease agreement or when the term has automatically expired.

In addition, this is all before you have officially given them notice to vacate.

The element setting this type of tenant apart from a trespasser is that at one point in time your tenant legally had the right to occupy your rental property, and now they do not.

There are many situations that arise when your tenant decides to unlawfully remain in your rental property after a lease termination or expiration date has passed:

  • Tenants are no longer liable for monthly rent payments since they are not lawfully allowed to be on the premises.
  • Tenants lose all legal renters rights.
  • There are typically holdover fines or daily rates in place for situations like this that may be awarded you in court after the tenant is evicted or vacates willfully.
  • Any rent you do accept after the lease has terminated or expiration date has passed will legally be considered a periodic tenancy type that allows the holdover tenant to now occupy your property lawfully.
  • You must follow your state’s legal eviction process to remove a holdover tenant to avoid any legal ramifications on your end.

Having a tenant overstay the lease agreement you set forth at the start of the lease term can be a tricky process.  And, while there are specific steps that can (and should) be taken immediately if this situation arises, it is best to employ an expert property management group to manage your properties to ward off problem tenants capable of such things.

Thorough tenant screening can do wonders when it comes to placing quality tenants in your D.C. rental home.  And, while there is never a guarantee that tenants will not cause you problems, having a D.C. property management company on your side to help can make your life a lot easier.

 

Final Thoughts

If you are unsure about what type of tenancy type you would like built into your Washington, D.C. rental property lease agreement, give Bay Management Group a call.

Dealing solely with property management, the team at Bay Management Group is knowledgeable in all lease agreement types and can help you decide which one is best suited for your individual needs.  So, contact us today and see how they can help you draft the perfect lease agreement for your D.C. rental properties.

 


10 Questions to Answer Before Your Tenant Asks

Prince George's County Tenant Frequently Asked Questions for Landlords to Answer

Entering into a lease agreement with a tenant is not something to take lightly.

Lease agreements are legally binding contracts, holding both tenant and landlord to any and all conditions of tenancy once signed, so as long as they do not conflict with any state or local laws.

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to make sure all conditions are expressly stated within the agreement to prevent future conflict.

One way to keep your Prince George County tenants happy is to stay proactive when it comes to creating the lease agreement.

Answering all potential questions a tenant may have in the actual agreement itself and before the tenant asks will help you avoid possible trouble in the future.

Let’s take a look at 10 of the most common questions a tenant may have before signing a lease agreement to rent your home that you could easily have your Prince George County property management team address in the agreement presented to the tenant.

 

Frequently Asked Questions by Tenants

  1. How is rent paid?

Every property management group employs different policies regarding rent collection.

It is important that your tenants understand the process behind paying their monthly rent so that you do not miss out on that regular flow of cash.

Here are some ideas for clarifying the rent collection process in your lease agreements:

  • Calculate the first month’s pro-rated rental rate should the tenant move in mid-month.
  • Determine if you will allow a grace period.
  • Explain the late rent policy and understand that your lease agreement may NOT provide for a penalty for the late payment of rent in excess of 5% of the amount of rent due for the rental period for which the payment was delinquent.
  • Provide different methods for rent payment so tenants know their available options.
  • Outline the consequences for not paying rent.

 

  1. What utilities are tenants responsible for?

Oftentimes some utility bill coverage will be made available to tenants as an incentive or special bonus for renting a particular home, though this is not always the case.

Make it clear to the tenant from the start which utilities are their responsibility. Some common utilities that may be covered by the landlord include:

  • Heat (electric, gas, oil)
  • Water/sewer/trash
  • Garbage collection
  • Parking permits
  • Cable and/or internet connections

Should Landlords include Utilities for Prince George's County Rental Properties

  1. Is renter’s insurance required?

Not all rental properties require tenants to have renters insurance in place in order to rent a home. However, this is something to be taken into consideration as renters insurance is usually largely undervalued.

Underestimating the importance of renters insurance and not requiring your tenants to have some can place a large burden on you and become very costly should anything happen to the home or people within the home.

Think this decision through and decide if this is a requirement you will include in your lease agreement.

 

  1. What if I want to break my lease?

No landlord wants their tenant to break a lease. Early terminations are a hassle to deal with whether they are for good cause or not.

It is best to outline the early termination process to your tenant from the start of the lease, including all consequences that may follow a broken lease agreement.

Here are some key things to include in this clause of the contract:

  • The notice required to vacate the property (including time-frame and form the notice must be given in).
  • Charges associated with early termination.
  • The cancellation process should you choose to allow certain instances of early lease termination.

 

  1. What are the rules regarding changes to the living space?

People renting properties want to feel comfortable. This means that they will want to decorate your house with their personal items to make the place feel like home.

It is crucial your lease agreement state which changes to the home, whether interior or exterior, require approval beforehand. More so, beyond normal wear and tear, it must be made clear what your tenant will financially be responsible for upon moving out.

Be careful not to wrongfully use your tenant’s security deposit and know the legal move out process to avoid excess fees.

  1. What are the parking rules?

Some neighborhoods or high traffic living areas have specific parking rules that must be adhered to. It is important your tenant understand the rules to avoid any unnecessary fines or towing expenses.

If this applies to the rental properties you rent out, think about including the following information in your lease agreement:

  • Explain how many parking spaces per home are provided (should your neighborhood have designated parking).
  • Give your tenant the parking permits required if applicable.
  • Include what the process is behind someone illegally parking in your tenant’s designated parking space.
  • Get information on all vehicles your tenant owns for identification purposes.
  • Provide visitor passes if required and make sure your tenant understands the vehicle limits if there are any.

Prince George's County Tenant Parking Signs

 

  1. How do I submit a maintenance request?

Try as they might, landlords cannot avoid maintenance issues altogether.

Although many maintenance problems can be prevented through quality upkeep of your rental property and by using a solid property management group, at one point or another your tenant will have a maintenance request.

The goal is to make sure the tenant knows exactly what to do when a maintenance issue arises. In order to avoid a headache for everyone involved, check out this information you should provide your tenant upon move in:

  • Outline who is to be contacted during and after office hours for both minor repairs and emergency situations. Make sure to include names and contact information.
  • Make a list of on-site maintenance staff to contact if applicable.
  • Give the tenant options for putting in a request (if available) such as online requests, phone requests, paperwork to fill out, etc.
  • If any maintenance requests are not to be covered by the landlord (such as specific appliances or lightbulb replacements), state that clearly in the lease agreement to avoid confusion later on.

 

  1. Are there any extra costs I am responsible for besides rent?

It is easy to assume that all neighborhood amenities are included in the price of rent but this is not always the case. For instance there may be HOA fees the tenant will be liable for paying.

In addition, the community gym, parking spaces, external storage access, and even laundry services may not be included and the tenant needs to be made aware of these stipulations before signing the lease.

 

  1. What is the inspection process like?

Sometimes your property management group needs to inspect your rental property. Whether for a specific purpose or just as a general checkup, there are rules regarding entry to your tenant’s home.

Make the tenant feel at ease by summarizing the inspection process. Include things such as:

  • How you will show your property to prospective tenants if the current tenant will not be renewing the lease.
  • The rules regarding maintenance staff entering the premises while the tenant is away from the property.

 

  1. What is your pet policy?

Allowing pets into your rental home is a personal decision that must be weighed carefully. It is your job to make that decision and inform your tenant accordingly.

If you are allowing pets make sure they know what deposit is required, if any, what type of animals are allowed and if there are any restricted breeds, how many pets are allowed in the home, and what kind of paperwork on each animal you require.

Further, make sure tenants are aware of any penalties that may be incurred should an unapproved pet be found in the rental.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Rental Property in Prince George's County

 

Final Thoughts

Renting your Prince George County home, whether in Bowie, Laurel, or even Takoma Park, is a lot to handle. However, it is important to place extra emphasis on the lease agreement as that is the foundation beneath your rental property venture.

Consider investing in the best Prince George County property management group there is.

With extensive experience in drafting fully compliant and thorough lease agreements, all of the above potential tenant questions (and more) are sure to be addressed within the agreement itself.

There will be no confusion regarding responsibilities and both landlord and tenant will enter the lease agreement fully understanding what is to be expected.