Latest Articles from Our Blog

New Insight for Women Entrepreneurs

New Insight for Women EntrepreneursIf you’re a woman thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. According to SCORE, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses, women-owned businesses currently make up 39 percent of the 28 million small businesses in the United States. And, SCORE notes, that number is rising. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned businesses rose 45 percent—five times the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. SCORE recently released the results of a wide-ranging survey of more than 12,000 female entrepreneurs. The report, “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship,” contains several key insights on the unique opportunities and challenges these business owners face. Why did these women start their businesses? They reported many different motivations, such as open opportunities, family considerations, job changes, and financial necessity. One interesting detail is how the reasons differed for each age demographic. Most of the women surveyed under age…

Landlords: Winter Is Coming

Landlords: Winter Is ComingWith snow, wind, and freezing temperatures, winter can be especially hard on houses and apartments. Before the chilly weather hits, it’s time to prepare your rental properties for the season. Here are some items that should be on every landlord’s winter checklist. Roofs Check all of your properties’ roofs for signs of damage, such as cracks, missing shingles, or loose flashing around chimneys. Pay close attention to high-wear areas. Windows and Doors Take a look at the caulking and weather-stripping surrounding doors and windows. Re-caulk any deteriorating caulk and consider adding door sweeps under entrance doors. Make sure all of the windows close properly on the top and the bottom. If there’s any cracked glass, replace it. If you have storm windows, now’s the time to install them. Walls Check the walls for cracks and openings, particularly ones big enough that animals can crawl inside. In cold weather, mice and…

When Can a Landlord Evict a Tenant?

When Can a Landlord Evict a Tenant?Although most landlords would agree that it’s far better to have a long-lasting, profitable relationship with a steady tenant, there may come a time when evicting a tenant is the most tenable option for your property, security, and profitability. But evicting a tenant is not as simple as changing the locks and putting furniture on the curb. As with most dealings between landlords and tenants, there are very specific laws governing evictions. Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent In Maryland, in order for a landlord to evict a tenant before the tenancy has expired (meaning before the lease or rental agreement is up), he must have a legal cause to do so. The most common legal reason is failure to pay rent—and when that is the case, the landlord does not have to give the tenant notice before beginning the eviction process. The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the…

Will You Be a Pet-Friendly Landlord?

Will You Be a Pet-Friendly Landlord?For many Americans, pets are considered a part of the family, and they would not consider living in any home without their fur-bearing companions. Chances are good that many of your potential tenants will also be pet lovers. More than half of all Americans own pets, and nearly all of the pet owners surveyed in a recent Apartments.com study said that pet policies played a major role in their decision of where to live. However, while the decision to share a home with an animal may be easy for a tenant, the landlord faces a harder decision when determining whether or not to allow pets in a rental property. The landlord must carefully weigh the pros and cons and come to a decision that he’s comfortable within his particular situation. Pros of Allowing Pets: You’ll have more potential tenants. With so many pet owners looking for housing, obviously the inability…

Maryland Association of Paralegals

On September 18, 2018, Lusk Law’s paralegal, Anne Wolf, was a featured presenter at the Maryland Association of Paralegal’s MAP U#5, held at the Community College for Baltimore County. Anne gave a presentation on working with MDEC, Maryland’s online court document filing system.  Other topics at the seminar included E-discovery, Ethics and Social media, Pro Bono opportunities as well as Commercial real estate tips and legal search with West Law. Maryland Association of Paralegals is affiliated with the National Association of Paralegals and is highly active in the state. Anne is currently on the ballot for the new Administrative Vice President of the Maryland Association of Paralegals and is excited to continue to grow her skills and network in order to better assist the firm.

Final Divorce Without the 12-Month Separation? It’s Possible Now

Final Divorce Without the 12-Month Separation? It’s Possible NowBig changes have come to the mutual consent divorce laws in Maryland. A new law, which takes effect October 1, 2018, will allow parents of minor children to file for a mutual consent divorce without the previously mandated one-year separation. Mutual consent divorce is not a brand-new concept in Maryland. In 2015, it became possible for couples without children to obtain an absolute (final) divorce without being separated for a year, as long as they had a written final separation agreement. The new rule makes it possible for couples with minor children to do the same. The new rules will make it much simpler for couples to obtain a “no-fault” divorce, removing the lengthy and costly year-long separation process that previously forced both parties to maintain completely separate residences and finances, while remaining in the State of Maryland. Couples now have much more flexibility to come to a mutual agreement…

Alimony Considerations with the New Tax Law

Alimony Considerations with the New Tax LawIf you are in the middle of divorce proceedings, the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) may give you a big incentive to move quickly and have your divorce agreement finalized and signed by December 31, 2018. Or it may give you a big incentive to do the exact opposite – wait until after January 1, 2019, to execute the agreement. It all depends on whether you’ll be making alimony payments, or receiving them. Alimony rules have been historically frustrating, mostly because every state has its own rules about the amount and length of payments. "There's not really a cohesive rationale for alimony," Mary Kay Kisthardt, a professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, told MSNBC. "In any given state, we're not sure what we're trying to do." One rule has been clear for all alimony arrangements, up until now. Currently, the payers of alimony can…

Client Spotlight – Angela Mays of Strategic Financial Solutions Group, LLC

Client Spotlight – Angela Mays of Strategic Financial Solutions Group, LLCAt Lusk Law, we have the privilege of working with incredible people, many of them entrepreneurs and business owners. We regularly take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on these clients to find out more about their businesses, achievements and relationship with our firm. For this installment of our Client Spotlight series, we talked to Angela Mays, Managing Director and Founder of Strategic Financial Solutions Group, LLC, which specializes in providing accounting and consulting services to the defense and real estate industries. Angela told us about her journey from part-time to full-time business owner, her ideal clients and her relationship with Lusk Law, LLC. Questions and responses have been lightly edited. When did you start your business and what achievements are you proud of? Angela Mays: I started my business 18 years ago as a part-time business providing accounting and tax services for small businesses. I officially started full-time in…

What Does Baltimore’s New Inspection Law Mean for Smaller Landlords?

What Does Baltimore’s New Inspection Law Mean for Smaller Landlords?A new law in Baltimore is requiring landlords of smaller rental properties to get their apartments inspected. The uncertainty of these inspections is concerning to some smaller landlords, although many still support it. The law is aimed at improving housing conditions in Baltimore’s lower-income areas, according to the Baltimore Sun. Owners of rental properties with one or two bedrooms have until Jan. 1, 2019, to pass a 20-point inspection before they can obtain a license to rent their properties. This is a new requirement for Baltimore’s smaller landlords—previously, only the owners of multifamily properties with three or more units were required to be registered, inspected, and licensed. However, the Sun reports that most of the city’s violations for problems such as rodents, mold, and lack of heat come from these one- and two-unit properties that make up half of Baltimore’s rental market. The inspection must be performed by a licensed third-party…

A Closer Look at Maryland’s Business Climate

A Closer Look at Maryland’s Business ClimateIn July 2018, CNBC released its list of America’s Top States for Business 2018. Overall, Maryland was ranked 31st out of all 50 states, an aggregate score that combined many metrics that CNBC considered as contributing to a state’s “business climate.” (Texas topped the list, and Alaska came in at the bottom.) Each state was ranked in “10 broad categories, weighted based on how frequently each is used as a selling point in state economic development marketing materials,” CNBC said. “That way, [the] study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.” The final ranking, therefore, may not tell the complete story of a state, which may not fare too well in one category while excelling in another. That’s certainly the case in Maryland. CNBC’s takeaway for Maryland, which fell six spots in the ranking since last year, was that “the workforce in the Old Line State is…