In today's wildly gyrating stock markets, investment analysts and pundits often counsel their clients: Don't watch your investments too closely...or you'll go mad! Well, the experienced professionals working for Baltimore rental management companies will beg to differ. If you own rental property in Baltimore - or anywhere in Maryland - it behooves you to pay close attention to the goings-on in, on, and around your property. But if you are an absentee landlord, doing so is much more of a challenge.
Getting Leasing Done Right
The first thing that rental property owners, who also plan to manage their rental properties themselves, must understand, pertains to leasing agreements. While verbal agreements are legal in Maryland, a professional rental management company in Baltimore will tell you that it is always a good idea to provide a written agreement. Verbal agreements are often a challenge to enforce.
A copy of the lease document, signed by both parties, must be given to the tenant, and must have the name and contact coordinates (address, phone number, email, texting details etc.) of the landlord or his/her designated agent. The owner may provide his/her residential coordinates, or a commercial/professional one.
And there lies the challenge for most "absentee" landlords: Either appoint a local Baltimore resident or company to represent you in legal matters pertaining to your rental property; or coordinate with the courts (and other legal authorities) to meet in-person when required.
Thinking of "absentee land lordship"? Think Again!
One shock that prospective out of town Baltimore rental property owners receive, is when they prepare to sign that first lease agreement with a tenant. Baltimore requires that any property owner, who is not customarily present at the contacting coordinates provided, must provide additional contact details of a designated managing agent.
This designation is necessary so the agent may receive court documentation and notices, and participate in processes on the landlord's behalf. One way that absentee landlords deal with this requirement, is by choosing to work through Baltimore rental management companies, to help operate and manage their properties.
A related operational challenge, for absentee landlords in Baltimore, is how to deal with tenant emergencies or distress calls. Without local representation to respond to a crisis immediately, absentee landlord's risk being non-compliant with any terms dealing with emergency responses to tenant needs.
As a non-Baltimore-resident landlord, it's important to also note that, commencing April 1, 2021, the Baltimore City Housing Commissioner requires you to provide each new lessee a copy of the Commission's Tenant Rights brochure. The brochure must also be provided to the tenant in the event of lawsuits, eviction proceedings or other action notifications initiated by the Baltimore City Housing Authority (such as termination of a tenant's subsidy or tenancy). Claiming "absentee" status does not absolve one of the responsibilities to comply with such local requirements.
Local Representation Matters
Being a landlord isn't simply about ensuring the landscaping is done regularly, or the lights in hallways are working. Meeting prospective tenants; assessing them; talking to renters about their issues; defusing potentially volatile situations; working with city inspectors and Council staff - these are aspects an absentee landlord can't easily handle.
That's why most out-of-state/city landlords work with a local rental management company in Baltimore to represent them. It pays off by making your ownership a financial success, while also keeping you on the right side of the law, and in good standing with your tenants.