How to Find Good Tenants

Finding the right tenants in the Maryland location, Virginia location, or Washington DC location is essential to having a good renting experience.  Your property is an asset and you need to be able to trust your tenants to take good care of it.  Approaching the search for tenants in a businesslike way is the key to finding the right people. Here are some tips to help you fill your rental with good tenants.

Know the Law

Every state, town, and county has its own rental laws.  Make sure you understand the laws for the location your property is in.  This will help you create a lease document that is lawful and fair for both you as the landlord, and your tenants.

Select Advertising

Advertising your open property is a must to finding the right tenants, but be selective where you post your listing.  There are sites such as rentals.com or zillow.com that may charge you a fee for your post, but will bring you better results than free sites such as Craigslist.  Put up a sign in the window or lawn of the property, and advertise locally in stores or newspapers. Provide details and the rent to get responses from people who are actually interested.

Application

Always have a rental application asking for names, social security numbers, income, and previous landlord references.  Run a background check on potential tenants. Many renters expect to pay for this, so you can charge a one time fee to do so.

Strong Lease Agreement

Spend the time before you look for tenants drawing up a strong lease agreement that clearly details the responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenants, late rent fees, occupants, and terms for evictions.  Even if something seems obvious, spell it out in the lease.

Set the Bar High

Just because ten people have applied doesn’t mean you have to choose one of them.  Don’t lower your standards for a tenant just to get your property rented. Keep looking until you find a tenant you feel good about.

Landlord and Tenant Laws in Maryland

When it comes to renting a house in the Maryland location, every state has its own laws laid out for both landlords and tenants.  These laws protect both parties in various situations and provide the framework for rental agreements. If you’re looking to rent a house in Maryland, here are a few of the most important laws you need to know.

Security Deposits

Maryland law puts a limit on how much money a landlord can require for a security deposit.  A landlord cannot hold more than two months’ rent as a deposit and is required to return money owed within 45 days of the tenant vacating the property.  A landlord who asks for more than the total of two months’ rent is breaking the law.

Withholding Rent

Did you know that in some cases, it is within your rights to withhold your rent?  A rental agreement between a tenant and landlord lays out all the responsibilities of both parties.  If the landlord does not uphold their end of the bargain, you can hold your rent money until they do.  For instance, if a landlord refuses to take care of an imperative repair, such as a broken water heater, you can keep your rent until they do.

Tenant Protections

A number of laws are specifically geared toward protecting the tenant.  One example a law that protect tenants from retaliation of the landlord when practicing their legal rights.  If a tenant complains to the authorities about unsafe living conditions, landlords are not allowed to take action against them.  Evictions, handling abandoned property, and fair housing rights are also all covered through Maryland laws.

In addition to state and federal laws, Maryland cities or counties could have their own laws as well.  When looking for property to rent in Maryland, take the time to read tenant/landlord laws for the state as well as the county and town you’re looking to move to.  

What to Look for When Choosing a Rental Property

Are you interested in purchasing property to rent to others in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, or Baltimore? Whether this is your first time investing in rental property or if you have some experience, there are a few characteristics you should take into account when considering a property to make sure that you are getting the most for your investment.

Location

The area and neighborhood where the property is should play a crucial role in your decision process. The area will significantly affect the rent prices, the type of tenants that you will attract, and potentially your vacancy rate.

Development Opportunities

Referencing the location, what changes will the area experience in the coming years? If there is significant development planned around the property including shopping centers, apartment complexes, and business parks, it is a good sign and can have positive impacts on the property’s value over time.

Nearby Schools

If you are in the market for family-sized rental properties, the quality of the local schools should play a significant role in your decision-making process. Having quality schools close to your property will significantly improve its value in many ways besides price. For instance, families will be willing to stay longer if their kids are enrolled in a school they like which helps you reduce your vacancy rates.

Work that Needs to Be Done

When looking at rental properties, you should perform an adequate evaluation of the condition of the home. If you aren’t very experienced, you can hire someone to take a look at the property to make sure that you know what you are buying. If the home needs extensive work and you don’t have the skills or desire to fix it, it’s best to pass and find a property that is in better condition.

Property Taxes

Property taxes will vary from area to area, and because you are hoping to generate income from the rental property, you need to know how much you’ll be losing to taxes. Visit the local assessment office to see the property tax rates for the area so you can accurately include it in your revenue estimates.

Airbnb vs. Traditional Rental. What Makes Sense for Your Property?

So you have a decision to make on your empty property: are you going to try and make money from renting it out to tenants on a contracted rental basis (traditional rental property), or can you put it on Airbnb and make more money that way? There are benefits to both, but which is better?

Your Time

Firstly with Airbnb, you or someone representing you will have to constantly be back and forth between the property. Whether it is letting new tenants in or clearing up once they have left. If you are not doing this you will need to oversee it so the condition of the property is always left in a good condition for the next visitors. There is also the fact that you will have to constantly check Airbnb and may need to answer questions, you could find yourself at the mercy of the app. With traditional renting you have the chance to speak to your potential tenants, sign a contract and once they are in you will only need to visit the property when a problem arises; you may even do it through an agency, although this can cost you it will also save you time. You will only have to visit the rental property or speak to tenants in the event of something that needs addressing.

Money

Airbnb is a good way of making more money from your property. You might get $1000 a month from renting your property to tenants as a traditional rental property. But if you were able to charge $100 a night for your home on Airbnb, your property would only need to be used for more than 10 nights to make more money, and if you managed to fill near on 3 weeks of the 4 in a month you would make around $2000. With traditional rental properties however, your $1000 is steady income every month, whereas you don’t know if anyone is guaranteed to book through Airbnb, unless you are in a desirable location. The money you make on Airbnb also has to be spent on the utility bills, whereas in traditional renting this is covered. You need to weigh which is the most profitable option depending on the cost of utilities in your area.

Flexibility

With Airbnb you are flexible not only on the rate that you charge but also on the amount your rent your place out. If it is in a location you like to visit, you can use your property at the times it is not rented. You can also change your terms and conditions at any point to suit you.

Occupancy

It will be appealing for most to know that their property is occupied, and they do not have to constantly find tenants. That is why a traditional rental property is the favorable option for many. The competition on Airbnb alone can make it challenging for many to make the money they desire. The problem with tenants in a traditional rental property is the fact that if you have difficult tenants, you might be stuck with them for a long time. The other side of this is Airbnb might leave you with some good, some bad every month.

These are all the elements you will need to weigh up when deciding what to do. It depends on the sort of person you are, if you want to leave the property alone and know your income is constant then traditional might be the way for you to rent your property. Maybe you’re more of a people person, or will be ok with the demands of renting your property out on Airbnb, the pros and cons are there for all to see.

Free Lease Agreement Template

So you’ve bought your first rental property. You spent months of researching homes, crunching numbers for positive cash flow, visiting homes on the market, calling realtors, negotiating with loan officers, considering property management companies, reading countless rental property tips blogs, etc. The process was tough, but you’ve made it to the next phase: landing your first tenants.

After positing rental listings on Craigslist and Zillow, you’ve found some potential rental property tenants. You then realize: I don’t have a lease agreement! Real estate laws are complicated and vary from state to state and county to county. You don’t have the money to hire an expensive contract lawyer.

Don’t fret! 8 Day Home Sale has put together a Lease Agreement template. While this lease agreement template is tailored for Maryland, it is generic enough to apply to most states/counties. In addition to establishing a standard rental contract based on monthly payments between the landlord and seller, the lease agreement:

  • Enables the landlord to require a security deposit
  • Protects the landlord from liabilities i.e. breaking of local laws
  • Prohibits unsafe activities i.e. smoking
  • Absolves the landlord of appliance maintenance responsibilities

The lease agreement can be easily modified and clearly marks where details need to be filled in. The rental agreement template is available for download as a docx and pdf.

Download: .docx or .pdf