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How the Shutdown Impacted Small Businesses

Impact of the Government ShutdownAlthough Congress and the President appear to have reached an agreement to fund the government for a brief period while they work on other issues, a great deal of damage has already been inflicted. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees went without pay or without work for over a month, and many key agencies slowed or stopped their activities altogether. The ripple effects of the shutdown spread throughout the economy in ways both large and small. One key group impacted by the shutdown is small businesses which rely on smooth government operations so they can continue to run. Here are some of the ways the shutdown impacted these companies: Support Businesses: Small businesses often spring up in areas where large numbers of federal workers will utilize their services, especially in Maryland, Virginia and the Washington, DC, areas. Everything from diners/restaurants and coffee shops to office supply stores and delivery services lost…

How a Proposed Bill in Baltimore Would Impact Landlords, Renters

Where you live can make a big difference in how you and your children get on in the world. Better neighborhoods don't just have less crime and less environmental pollution. They also afford their residents access to higher performing schools, better quality stores, and higher-quality apartment amenities. This can mean more long-term opportunities for your children and a significant reduction in stress, which can lead to a healthy and longer life. That's why the city of Baltimore's Council Bill 18-0308, which Councilmember Ryan Dorsey introduced in December, 2018, is so important. This legislation proposes to end housing discrimination based solely on source of income. While prospective tenants can still be refused housing based on other factors, like rental history or criminal background, they cannot be rejected because their income falls below a certain threshold without government subsidy. Which Tenants Are Most Affected by Council Bill 18-0308? The bill could potentially affect…

A New Year, a New Business Plan?

Maryland Busniess Planning AttorneyNew Year's is a time for personal reflection, for recommitting to old goals and making resolutions. But what about your business? Like you, it probably could use some fine-tuning. The first of the year is the perfect time to make a new business plan, one that sets new objectives and determines the goals most needed to move the company forward. Scheduling some time at the beginning of this year to create a new business plan will give you renewed faith in your enterprise and the motivation to implement some much-needed changes. Plan for the New Five (or Ten...or 15) Years The way people do business is changing all the time. That's why making a five-year plan is so important. The plan lets you ... take stock of where the business is right now develop a clear break-down of your goals and the steps needed to attain each goal consider how…

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…

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…

There’s Room for Negotiation Between Landlords and Tenants

There's Room for Negotiation Between Landlords and TenantsIt's been a decade since the housing bust of 2008, and according to the Pew Research Center, more households in the United States are headed by renters than at any time since 1965. In 2016, 36.6% of households rented their home, compared to 31.6% in 2006. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, gross rents have continued to rise in many metropolitan areas. The current rental climate – rising demand along with rising rent costs – may lead some renters to ask how much room there is for negotiation with a landlord. The answer is: More than you might think. A poll by the real estate website Zillow showed that 61 percent of landlords were willing to negotiate with a tenant if competition for a property was slim. “Negotiating rent may seem like an intimidating process, but it can be worth the effort,” Douglas Pope, co-founder of rental website HotPads,…

New Rules for Landlords in Howard County

New Rules for Landlords in Howard CountyOn June 4, 2018, the Howard County Council passed new landlord-tenant regulations as outlined out in Bill No. 20 -2018. The bill includes new regulations for landlords and tenants, including specifying the powers and duties of the Howard County Office of Consumer Protection. According to the law, the OCP now has jurisdiction over all complaints filed under the ordinance, and it may initiate its own investigations and enforce the ordinance as necessary. Furthermore, landlords must make available all rental housing for inspections and all rental housing records necessary for the OCP to enforce the ordinance or investigate a matter related to the ordinance. The OCP also has the power to issue a subpoena to compel a landlord or tenant to produce relevant documents, papers, books, records, or any other evidence it deems necessary. The regulations also specify that when a landlord receives a rental application, they must give the prospective…

Know Your Rights with the Right of First Refusal

Know Your Rights with the Right of First Refusal“Daunting,” “baffling,” and “headache-inducing” are just a few of the words used to describe the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) (also called Tenant’s Right of First Refusal), which covers the buying or selling of a single-family residential rental property in the City of Baltimore. Our clients can be concerned because they knew that the procedures required of landlords and tenants by TOPA can be daunting, especially considering that failure to follow the code can result in criminal charges (and invalidate sales). If a landlord decides to sell or transfer a property, TOPA gives tenants the right of first refusal at buying the home they live in. For landlords, any sale of a single-family residential rental property depends on compliance with procedures set out in TOPA. Tenant’s Right of First Refusal Procedures The steps a landlord and tenant must follow are laid out by the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act…