Published November 12, 2020. Updated September 11, 2023.
Deciding to own and rent real estate is an enormous choice! You'll need to learn how to manage a business from the ground up. You'll also need to develop relationships with renters and industry professionals to ensure your success.
So, is becoming a real estate investor the right decision for you?
Instead of starting your real estate investing journey alone, working with a Maryland property management team can reduce some frustrations and concerns associated with becoming a Baltimore rental property owner. Even just knowing how to be successful can give you some peace of mind.
Our Rent Estate™ Advisors are always here to support you! Whether you're a new investor or a seasoned property owner, we're here to help you succeed and generate better profits from your rental properties. With that in mind, we've put our experience to work for this blog! Here are some of the best insights we think are crucial for every property owner to know when they decide to dive into the Baltimore rental market.
Keep Things Fair, Impartial, and Professional
Creating the right type of relationship with your renters is critical—and it's often overlooked. You want a positive relationship that instills trust (both ways). At the same time, you don't want to stray too far from professionalism and a working relationship.
Remember: No matter how well you get along, your renter isn't your friend.
Allowing your landlord-tenant relationships to get to the point of a friendship puts you at risk of being unable to enforce your lease agreement when something goes awry. It also makes it much harder to stay impartial regarding things like how you respond to maintenance and repairs.
Instead, keep things professional—especially if you have more than one renter.
Don't spend time with your renters outside of a formal landlord-tenant relationship.
Keep your working relationship with your renters positive, even if you aren't officially' friends.'
Stay approachable while keeping things professional. Your residents shouldn't fear seeing your car pull in if you respond personally to a maintenance request.
With good boundaries and a friendly approach to your renters, you'll build quality relationships that can lead to long-term renters, fewer disputes, and better returns!
Don't Use a Prefab Lease Agreement From the Internet
One of the most common mistakes property owners make is using a prefabricated lease found on a "lease agreement template" website. You may be lucky and stumble upon a decent one, but chances are good that it is not designed for Maryland's laws and local rules in the Baltimore area.
Instead, create a lease agreement specifically for your rental homes in the Baltimore rental market!
If you don't have an exceptional Maryland property management company like our Renters Warehouse Maryland team, a template can help you get started. However, we recommend working with an attorney to create, review, and finalize a lease for you.
By far, this is one of the most important steps to ensuring legal protections for you in the years to come. If you do rely on full-service property management, our legal team can create air-tight lease agreements for you.
Set the Right Price for Your Rental Property from the Start
Whether you are buying a rental property for the first time or you already own one, and whether your real estate investments are single-family homes or multi-family units, having an accurate, competitive price on your property is essential.
If the monthly rent amount is too high, you will not attract renters. Your property will sit empty, and lose money every month.
However, if the rental rate is too low, you'll lose profits monthly. Finding the sweet spot (or, as we call it, the 'bullseye price') in rental pricing isn't easy, though. That's another reason to work with our experienced rental management team!
Some residential property owners make the decision to price their condo, townhome, duplex, rowhome, or detached single-family home based on what they see others listed for in the area right now. That's not always fair to do: your property may be larger or have more desirable features!
Setting the ideal monthly rent price is critical but often hard to do. Through our residential property management services, we perform a competitive rental price analysis to determine your Maryland property rental's price point based on competition, conditions, features, and location.
Remember, setting a lower price to rent your property faster does not always bring in a high-quality renter. Good renters expect to pay what's fair for the property—and a 'too low' price point could push them in the wrong direction.
Screen Your Renters Thoroughly
If you're working with our Rent Estate™ Advisors, then the tenant screening process is easy (technically, the whole process is easy since we handle marketing and tenant placement for you!).
However, if you're conducting tenant screening on your own, it's essential to get the right information about your future renters legally.
There's always the risk of mishandling sensitive information by a solo property owner, leading to claims of housing discrimination. That's not what you ever want to have to deal with during your screening process as a beginner!
Rather, your tenant screening process should provide a way to learn about your prospective renter. That includes whether they have a reliable job, who will live in the home, and what type of credit history they have.
With this information, you can feel good about making decisions about who will live in your property.
Gather Critical Info for All Prospective Tenants
What information should you gather about a prospective renter? Property managers recommend that a fair and legal tenant screening service should include information to answer the following questions:
Do they make enough to afford your rental property?
Do they have steady employment that you can verify?
Do they have a good or acceptable credit report?
Do they have a clean eviction report?
Can they provide a list of references you can check?
Collecting this information through your rental application ensures that all potential renters must provide the same details for a thorough and fair screening process.
Additionally, rental property owners should answer these next questions and apply their preferences to their screening criteria before selecting their next tenant.
Do you want to allow pets into your rental property?
Is your Baltimore rental home smoking or non-smoking?
If you prefer not to allow pets or smoking, make sure that's clear during the application process and part of your criteria to avoid claims of discrimination against anyone with a pet or who would smoke in your property.
Having a good conversation with prospective renters and defining your own expectations in the lease and during the application process is the best way to remain within the law. However, to ensure you have a fair tenant screening process, run your application and your property considerations by your attorney or Maryland property management firm first.
Our Maryland Property Management Experts Are Here for Your Success!
Managing a rental property is a lot of work. Still, by following best practices and recommendations to screen tenants, prepare lease agreements, and keep up with property maintenance, you'll be on the road to success!
However, if you feel overwhelmed by everything a property owner must do for rental properties and tenants, full-service property management is just a phone call or email away! At Renters Warehouse BW Metro, we're always here for you. You never have to worry about being overwhelmed by the demands of a rental property: we can handle everything for you.
As always, browsing our other blog articles and free resources is a great place to get started as a property owner. You know that the correct care and maintenance of your rental property is part of what boosts your rental price—so why not get started with our Free Seasonal Maintenance Checklist?
It's got all the information you need to keep your rental property hopping with great curb appeal—no matter the time of year!
You can also reach out directly to our team to learn more about how we can help you operate successful rental properties.