Why ‘Going Green’ is Good for Landlords

At the Go Green Frederick event April 2, participating downtown businesses showcased their sustainable and recycled products, restaurants served up local and made-from-scratch foods, and visitors could enjoy live music and art exhibitions. The event was intended to raise awareness about the importance of environmental stewardship in Maryland.

Consumers are becoming more conscientious about how their choices affect the environment. Accordingly, businesses that “go green” may have an edge in a competitive marketplace. Landlords also have a lot to gain by making their properties more energy efficient.

Why efficiency matters

If tenants are paying for utilities and they receive a winter gas bill for several hundred dollars, they may be more likely to fall behind on rent. An efficient home with manageable heating costs is better for tenants and landlords.

Money-savvy renters may have no desire to rent a property that has drafty, single-pane windows and an old furnace, because they don’t want to spend a lot on utilities. New windows and a new furnace are expensive updates, but renters may be willing to pay more to live in a home with predictable and reasonable heating costs.

Manufacturer rebates

Rebate programs can offset some costs of energy efficient upgrades. For example, Washington Gas and Potomac Edison offer rebates and incentives to people who purchase and install some high-efficiency appliances, including:

  • Up to $4,500 for the installation of low-pressure steam boilers
  • Up to $500 for electric storage water heaters
  • $300 for high-efficiency gas furnaces.

Some programs and incentives may exclude landlords, such as the federal energy efficiency tax credit that applies only to owner-occupied homes. At least one program in Maryland, however, offers a service that benefits low-income renters and their landlords.

The EmPOWER Maryland Low Income Energy Efficiency Program allows tenants below a certain income level to apply for assistance, if the landlord agrees to participate in the program. Applicants who qualify will receive a free energy audit, where inspectors visit the rental property and make recommendations to improve energy efficiency. The program may also provide free insulation in the attic, floors and walls; hot water system upgrades; furnace cleaning, tune-ups, and repairs; and retrofitting of lighting or refrigerators to improve efficiency.

Easy upgrades

Landlords may be more motivated to improve efficiency when a tenant’s rent includes utility costs. In a six-unit building where water and sewer is included in rent, one tenant’s poor water usage habits or a few leaky faucets could have a big impact on a landlord’s costs over time – a single faucet leaking one drip per second wastes 1,661 gallons of water a year, at a cost of up to $35.

Outdated showerheads tend to output more water than anyone needs to get clean — about three or four gallons of water a minute, with some models dispensing 5.5 gallons per minute. A low-flow showerhead reduces the output to about two gallons per minute, and the lower output results in lower water-heating costs, as well. Savings from low-flow showerheads could be significant in a multi-family building.

Building a reputation

Going green helps landlords establish a good reputation among their peers and earns respect within the business community. Connections and mutually beneficial professional relationships are an integral part of success for any business owner, and demonstrating a commitment to environmental stewardship fosters trust and respect from tenants, too.

Lusk Law, LLC, specializes in assisting landlords, and our experienced attorneys have provided legal counsel and representation to landlords in Frederick County, Howard County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Carroll County, Washington County, Anne Arundel County, and other counties in Maryland.

If a conflict does arise concerning maintenance issues in rental properties, Lusk Law, LLC is ready to assist property owners facing formal complaints or litigation. Investment property owners in Frederick County, Howard County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Carroll County, Washington County, and Anne Arundel County, and throughout Maryland can rely on us to handle residential or commercial landlord-tenant cases. With over a decade of experience in representing landlords, we’re ready to offer a consultation concerning your rights. Please call us at 443-535-9715 or fill out our contact form if you have any questions about this topic.

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