Latest Articles from Our Blog

Why Landlords Should Be Proactive on Lead Paint in Properties

Why Landlords Should Be Proactive on Lead Paint in PropertiesIn March, the Maryland Senate was considering a bill that would require judges to dismiss eviction suits if landlords can’t prove their compliance with lead paint rules. Landlords with properties built prior to 1978 must provide tenants with information about the health risks of lead and take steps to minimize lead hazards. More than 4,900 children in the past decade have been diagnosed with lead poisoning, raising concerns that landlords are not adequately addressing lead hazards. Advocates for Reform By law, landlords who own properties built before 1978 must have a valid lead-paint inspection certificate before renting a home to tenants; but, according to the Public Justice Center, judges are not permitted to consider whether a landlord has such a certificate when presiding over an eviction case. Advocates for rental reform say that’s unfair to tenants. This year is not the first for a bill about lead-hazard reduction. In 2016, a bill was introduced that would…

Should You Hire an Employee or a Contractor? 

Should You Hire an Employee or a Contractor? Many small business owners will need to hire someone at some point. There’s no formula for determining when you’ll reach that point, but if you feel you’ve been working around the clock, or you can’t keep up with your current volume of business, now may be the time to bring someone on board. First, you’ll need to figure out whether you need an employee or an independent contractor. The following is an overview of the pros and cons of hiring employees or contractors. Hiring Employees: Factors to Consider If you hire an employee, you control how, when, and in what capacity they work. So if you need someone to work specific times, or at a specific location, you’ll need an employee. And if you need someone to fulfill an essential role – like management – you’ll definitely want an employee instead of a contractor. Before hiring an employee, you’ll have…

Are You Owed Money? When You Should Consider Hiring an Attorney to Help

Are You Owed Money? When You Should Consider Hiring an Attorney to HelpIn a perfect world, every client, tenant, member of the supply chain, or debtor would pay their bills on time. When they don’t, businesses often expend a lot of effort trying to collect on unpaid debts, and the longer a debt is unpaid, the harder it becomes to collect. You may not need an outside assistance with collection if you run a large company with the resources to pursue delinquent debtors. Most small businesses, however, can’t afford for their bookkeeper or small accounting staff to devote time to collections. If you’re struggling to collect unpaid debts, it may be time to hire an outside help. Debt Collection Agency or Attorney? Hiring a debt collector costs money, of course, but that’s a preferable alternative to collecting nothing on the outstanding debt. Collection agencies usually charge a flat fee on any debt they collect. So, if your debtor owes you $10,000, and…

Remember These Four Points When Buying a Home

Remember These Four Points When Buying a HomeBuying a home can be a long process. You may look at several houses before finding the right one, and even then there's no guarantee that the seller will accept your offer. In your home-buying journey, you may be able to avoid some of the common pitfalls for buyers by keeping the following four points in mind. 1. Hire your own inspector. If sellers know their home has a latent defect - one the buyer would not be able to detect just by looking – they must disclose this. In Maryland, sellers have the option to complete a disclosure or a disclaimer form. A disclosure form lists everything the seller knows about the property. A disclaimer form, says the seller has no knowledge of the property and is not disclosing any information, however, even with a disclaimer form, a seller must disclose latent defects. Regardless of whether the seller has…

Why Transparency Is Always the Best Policy When Selling a Home

Maryland Investment PropertyReal estate professionals usually recommend that homeowners make some changes before listing their home on the market. At a minimum, it’s wise to update fixtures, repaint the interior, and repair or replace broken appliances. Homeowners don’t have to repair every defect, but failing to disclose major defects that are not visible upon inspection, is illegal. Homeowners must sign either a disclosure or a disclaimer when selling their home. The disclosure informs buyers of known specific items in the property and any known defects; the disclaimer states that the seller is unaware of any defects and is selling the home “as-is.” Buyers may be wary about a home that’s not covered by a disclosure form. Avoiding Common Real Estate Problems Any buyer interested in purchasing a specific home will hire their own inspector to assess the property. Sellers that aren’t aware of their home’s defects may be unpleasantly surprised by the…

The Responsibilities of a Rental Property Owner

Rental PropertyOwning a commercial or residential rental property comes with responsibilities. The most basic responsibility is proper upkeep and maintenance, to ensure the tenants can use the property as intended. Additional responsibilities are defined by federal, state, and local laws. Following is a general overview of landlord responsibilities (landlords may wish to consult an attorney to make sure they’re up to date on specific laws in their city or county). Disclosures Required by Law Buildings constructed before 1978 may contain lead-based paint, which is known to cause serious health problems, especially for children. Federal law requires owners of buildings built before 1978 to give prospective tenants a lead-based paint disclosure before they sign a lease. Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing law also requires property owners to register applicable properties with the state and to have their property inspected for lead prior to every change in occupancy, unless the property has been…

New Maryland Carbon Monoxide Detector Law Effective in April

April 1 is the deadline for landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors in rental units. According to legislation that passed in 2016, in dwellings that rely on fossil fuel for heat, ventilation, hot water, or clothes dryer operation, carbon monoxide detectors must be installed on every level of a home, and in the immediate vicinity of sleeping areas. The law – Code of Maryland Article 12, Subtitle 1101 – requires carbon monoxide detectors to be hardwired, meaning they are connected via a circuit, so if one alarm is triggered, all alarms in the home will activate. But there are some exceptions. Hardwired detectors are required only in homes for which a construction permit was issued on or after Jan. 1, 2008 (because older homes might not easily accommodate hardwired systems). What’s New About This Law Maryland enacted a law in 2007 that, as of Jan. 1, 2008, required all newly…

Have You Tested Your Home for Radon? 

Why Transparency Is Always the Best Policy When Selling a HomeRadon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It’s a natural gas that occurs as radium in soil breaks down, and it can seep into homes and buildings through cracks in the foundation, drains, and other openings. The Environmental Protection Agency says home radon levels should not exceed 4 picocuries per liter. Levels above 4 pCi/L should be professionally treated with a radon mitigation system. For less than $30, you can find radon test kits that detect whether radon is present in your home and, if so, whether its levels pose a threat to your health. Radon Risk in Maryland Generally, in areas where the soil has a higher concentration of radium, radon risk is elevated. But indoor radon concentration can vary considerably from one home to the next. In Maryland, anecdotal data shows that buildings west of Chesapeake Bay have higher concentrations of radon than buildings…

Understanding the Maryland Disclosure/Disclaimer Form

Reviewing NotesIn a previous blog, we wrote about latent defects, and how they apply to buying and selling residential property. When sellers are aware of latent defects (such as termite damage or a sewer line clogged with tree roots), they must disclose those defects on a Maryland Residential Property Disclosure and Disclaimer Form. If a new homeowner discovers a serious defect that wasn’t disclosed before sale, that means either the seller didn’t know of the defect or the seller deliberately misled the buyer about the condition of the property. To determine what actually occurred, the homeowner will likely need the help of an attorney. Disclosure vs. Disclaimer Using the same form, a seller may choose the route of disclosure or disclaimer. A disclaimer means that the seller offers the property “without representations and warranties as to its condition,” so it absolves the seller of responsibility, should a defect be later discovered.…

Client Spotlight: Sassy Suburban

RSZ SassyLusk Law, LLC, serves a vast range of business clients. Each month, we highlight one of the communities promising businesses in our Client Spotlight. This month, we're focusing our attention on rising star design business Sassy Suburban. An up-and-coming interior design business, Sassy Suburban is based in Eldersburg, Maryland. The small business offers a variety of interior design services, all intended to help clients feel comfortable in the spaces they inhabit every day. Sassy Suburban owner and designer Kat Hajduk earned her FIDM Design Degree in Product Development and initially pursued a career in fashion design. After several years in the fashion industry, she shifted her focus to interior design. She strengthened her interior design knowledge through her extensive work in real estate and construction. Her pursuit of an interior design career was also influenced by her reupholstering hobby. Primarily, she was inspired by her newly-discovered passion for working with people…