Latest Articles from Our Blog

How Landlords Can Avoid a Bad Reputation

Maryland Landlord Law AttorneySome landlords don’t care about the condition of their properties, but most people who get into the property rental business don’t want to be known as “slumlords.” To avoid that label, landlords must be diligent about repairing defects on their properties and maintaining the exterior. Potential Consequences of Poor Maintenance Maryland law offers many protections for tenants, and when disputes arise, they are often settled in court. The Baltimore Sun recently reviewed numerous city rent court cases. It found that in one landlord-tenant dispute, the property owner was fined $25,000 for failure to disclose or remediate the presence of lead-based paint. So, in addition to being bad for one’s reputation, a lax approach to property maintenance can have serious financial consequences. Tenants aren’t the only ones who can file a complaint against landlords. Homeowners or business owners can file a complaint if they believe a property is so neglected that…

Short-term Home Rentals: What You Need to Know

Estate Planning AttorneyHome-sharing websites like Airbnb and HomeAway give property owners a way to make money from rentals, without the concerns of being a full-time landlord. In 2016, Maryland Airbnb hosts earned $25.3 million in rental income, so it seems likely that more people will want to open their homes to short-term renters. However, there are some issues homeowners should know about before listing their property on a home-sharing website. Regulatory Concerns The Montgomery County Council held a public hearing September 11, 2017 about proposed changes in regulations and licensing for owners of home-sharing properties. Technically, home-sharing is illegal in the county under existing zoning laws, but the county hasn’t enforced those laws. Earlier this year, the council revealed its final proposal that would make home-sharing rentals legal: For up to 30 days at a time For no more than 90 total days in a year If the property owner obtains a license from the county (which must…

Scope and Parameters of Animal Seizures by Private Entities under Maryland Code, Criminal Law Article Section 10-615

MD AttorneyIn January 2017, Attorney Rebekah Lusk, argued Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington County, in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals. A decision was issued in June 2017. Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington County, No. 32, September Term, 2016, is the first case in Maryland to interpret Maryland Code, Criminal Article, §10-615, which provides authority to “an officer, the humane society or public official” to seize and remove an animal to protect the animal from cruelty or if necessary for the health of the animal. Rohrer v. Humane Society involves the scope of the civil removal process within the criminal code, the interplay with a concurrent criminal prosecution, and ownership rights when animals have been removed by a private entity, such as the Humane Society. Rebekah Lusk started representing Mr. Rohrer in December 2014, after the Washington County State’s Attorney with assistance from the Humane Society, seized 95…

Is Your Business Losing Money? These May Be the Reasons.

MD Business Law LawyerWhen your business is losing money, sometimes the reasons are obvious. For example, extreme weather may dissuade shoppers from visiting your brick-and-mortar store. But some underlying problems may not be as easy to identify. Following are some common reasons businesses lose money: Failure to promote. A roadside sign and word-of-mouth referrals used to be enough to sustain and grow a customer base. Not anymore. Today, businesses must invest money in marketing and promotion. With few exceptions, businesses need a social media presence. And social media offers a big return for very little – if any – investment. Creating a simple Facebook page and sharing updates regularly can help businesses reach a wide audience. One caveat: If you have a Facebook page, make sure you have someone to monitor it and keep it updated, because if customers are trying to interact with you on Facebook, slow replies or a lack of…

How Small Business Owners Spend Their Time

If you own a small business, you’re probably working more hours than you’d like. According to The Alternative Board’s Small Business Pulse Productivity Survey, 84 percent of business owners are routinely logging more than 40 hours per week. And that excessive workload is largely the result of inefficiency. Email: A Virtual Black Hole The TAB survey revealed that entrepreneurs spend 25 percent of their time on email. In a 40-hour week, that’s 10 hours. Spending too much time on email isn’t a problem exclusive to entrepreneurs – one survey found that white-collar workers spend about 20.5 hours a week on email. Obviously, email is an enormous drag on productivity, and not just because of the time devoted to reading and writing messages. When interrupted in the middle of a task, it takes an average of 23 minutes to resume focus on that task. So if you’re stopping to check email throughout every hour of the workday,…

It’s Never Too Late to Start Your Own Business

MD Business Law AttorneyRetirement isn't for everyone. Some people have a hard time with the concept of "doing nothing," and as they reach their late 50s, they wonder how they will fill their time in the future. Increasingly, many people who are approaching retirement age or are already retired are deciding to start their own businesses. According to a Kaufman Foundation report, in 2016, 25 percent of entrepreneurs were age 55 to 64. In 1996, only 15 percent of entrepreneurs were in that age group. The nonprofit business assistance organization SCORE calls these first-time, over-50 business owners "encore entrepreneurs." This group of ambitious people launch businesses for a variety of reasons, including: Economic security - Owning a small business, even if only working part-time, can generate income to bolster savings accounts Control of their schedule - Some late-life entrepreneurs simply grow tired of the demands of their profession and decide to work for…

Are Businesses Headed for a Cashless Future?

Maryland Business AttorneyIn 2014, a TSYS survey found that only 9 percent of consumers listed cash as their preferred method of payment; 43 percent preferred to pay with a debit card, and 35 percent preferred to pay with a credit card. Some businesses have responded to these preferences by completely eliminating cash transactions. But some small businesses lack the resources to move to a cashless payment system. Visa is on a mission to help certain small businesses transition to a cashless payment system, through its Cashless Challenge contest. At this time, only small restaurants, cafes, and food trucks are eligible to apply for one of 50 $10,000 grants designated for upgrading point-of-sale systems. To enter the contest, entrepreneurs must explain what going cashless would do for their business. Contest winners may, after upgrading their POS systems, use any remaining funds for marketing and promotion. Pros and Cons of Cashless Transactions Visa may be giving away $500,000,…

Considerations for Getting Business Credit Cards

MD Business Credit Card Agreement LawyerWhen you own a business, you're going to need a business credit card at some point. You'll find numerous types of business credit cards, each of which has some advantages and disadvantages. To decide which card is best for you, think about how you plan to use it and what perks would make a difference for your business. Carrying a Balance vs. Paying in Full If you pay your balance in full each month, you'll never have to pay interest. So, if you plan to use your card for small purchases, you don't need to be too concerned about the interest rate. However, if you plan to use your credit card for major purchases and pay off your balance over time, you will be paying interest, and that can significantly increase the actual amount you end up paying for purchases. Some business credit cards offer a 0% APR for the…

Should You Change the Way Your Business Conducts Meetings?

MD Business Law AttorneyTime is money, so every business meeting has a dollar value. When meetings are frequent, overly long, and unfocused, businesses may be spending money without getting much in return. Harvard Business Review created a meeting cost calculator that lets business owners input meeting length, number of attendees, and salaries of attendees to see the actual cost of meetings. For example, a 45-minute meeting with three attendees who all earn $50,000 per year costs a business $79. Higher salaries can drive up the cost of meetings significantly - a study by Bain & Company found the annual dollar value of one company's weekly executive meeting was $15 million. Businesses can reduce the costs of meetings by adopting a new, more efficient approach. Set Expectations Every meeting should have a leader, and that leader should send a meeting agenda to all participants in advance. The agenda should specify what items will be…

Millennials: A Generation of Renters?

Maryland Landlord Law AttorneyThe "American Dream" used to mean following a certain life trajectory and that included buying a home. But by some accounts, today's young adults aren't buying homes like previous generations did. They're putting off other major life events, too, like marrying, or having children. According to the Pew Research Center, 2014 was the first time since 1880 that adults age 18 to 34 were more likely to be living with their parents than in their own home with a spouse or partner. Millennials, the generation between the ages of 25 and 34, may be planning to buy a home at some point, but for now, many of them are choosing to rent, or live with parents or other relatives. This trend may have several underlying causes, one of which is that Millennials who go to college are graduating with a lot more debt than their parents and grandparents, and they're…