We Know Rental Properties

 

  • rental license inspections

  • lead paint inspections

  • water quality inspections

  • mold inspections

  • repair verification

  • move in and move out inspections

  • training for landlords

  • consultation services

 

I worked in property management for 15 years. I've managed rental properties, leased rental properties, renovated rental properties and inspected hundreds of rental properties. I've worked with hundreds of landlords and thousands of tenants.

The condition of your rental property is a determining factor in just how profitable the property is for you. Exposing your tenants to unsafe conditions, often without realizing it, can make you vulnerable to lawsuits and lost rent. 

If you are getting an investment property ready to market and lease, we can support you in every way.

  • We perform Visual Lead Paint Inspections that satisfy the State's requirement for renting a property built before 1978. 
  • We can test well water as required by Howard County when seeking a Rental License.
  • We are qualified to inspect your investment property in Baltimore County for a Rental License.

Our services can help you find the best tenant, and collect higher rent. When a prospective tenant learns that the property was inspected by a Licensed Home Inspector, they will understand that you are a very conscientious landlord.  Showing them a Radon Report and Mold Report will not only set your property apart from the competition, but will tell them you care about their comfort and safety. 

While some tenants are unreasonable, others may just have unreasonable expectations. Sometimes these expectations are created when the property is being leased by well meaning real estate agents or property managers. Regardless of how these expectations came into being, it is a mistake to ignore them or respond to them negatively. 

1st American Home Inspections can help you to determine whether the tenant has legitimate concerns that should be addressed. Sending a licensed Home Inspector to the property shows the tenant that you are trying to do the right thing. If the tenant complains to the municipality that issues the rental license or a health department when no license is required, using a Licensed Home Inspector will show the Judge or County Inspector that you are taking the tenant's concerns very seriously. 

Our consulting fees are very reasonable and will be discounted if you have used our Inspection Services prior to leasing the property. In other words, your tenants aren't the only ones who can rest a little easier at night!

This is especially true if you are living outside of the country while your property is being leased. We offer repair verification inspections to make sure that your property is being cared for properly in your absence. We are not Property Managers and Do Not Compete with them. We support landlords and compliment the services that a Property Manager provides. Your Property manager may inspect the property for you but will focus primarily on cosmetic damages to the home's finished surfaces. We can provide that kind of inspection report for you but our focus as Home Inspectors is on the function or condition of the home's systems and safety issues. Property Managers are concerned with a stain on the carpet but Home Inspectors are concerned with the condition of the roof or the safe operation of the electrical system. 

If you are hiring us to work in an occupied property, it is strongly recommended that pets are removed from the property prior to inspection. Not because we don't like animals, but a pets presence can adversely effect the outcome of the inspection or lab analysis of any samples. Any additional re inspection fees would be unfortunate and often very difficult to recover from a tenant. Please make sure to remind your tenant of the inspection prior to. We are sometimes turned away by a child or visiting relative simply because they were not told that we were coming.

Baltimore County Rental License Inspections

While some counties or cities in Maryland require a Rental License, others do not. Baltimore County requires that your rental property be licensed. To apply for a Rental License you must have the home inspected by a Licensed Home Inspector. If the home was built prior to 1978, it has to be registered with the Maryland Department of the Environment and Visually Inspected for Lead Paint. You will want to register the property immediately, as the inspector will need the MDE Tracking number for the lead certificate. 

How to Apply for a  Rental License:

1. Have property inspected by a Licensed Home Inspector

2. Collect the following documentation:

  • Inspection Sheet
  • Carbon Monoxide Alarm Verification
  • If the home was built before 1978, a Lead Inspection Certificate

3. You can complete the application online or through the mail. You will be required to create a user account to apply but that is very simple.

If you read the Inspection Sheet, you'll see this is an abbreviated version of a Home Inspection and our price will reflect that. 

What is inspected for a rental license?

  1. Hardwired & battery backed interconnected smoke detectors present and operational. Wireless remote interconnection is acceptable as long as the smoke detectors are hardwired and approved by a recognized testing lab such as UL and be listed and approved for sale, installation and use in Maryland by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. 
  2. Electrical wires are not visible in living areas. 
  3. There is hot and cold running water in kitchen and each bathroom with no leaks below sink area and all toilets flush. 
  4. There are no sleeping areas in the basement or if there is a sleeping area in the basement, there is a secondary means of escape as follows: basement window with minimum 5.5 ft opening with sill height 44 inches or less from floor OR basement door with thumb turn dead bolt. 
  5. The furnace is either operational or because of outside temperatures it is unable to be tested
  6. Railing is present for interior and exterior steps with more than 3 risers. 
  7. Carbon Monoxide Detectors are located in the common area out side of sleeping areas and are operational. 
  8. Are there any other readily observable problems that in the inspector’s opinion represent an immediate threat to the health or safety of occupant? If “yes” please describe below: 

This list was copied from the Inspection Sheet for the sake of accuracy and illustration purposes. You are responsible for compliance to any regulations listed here, or not. As you can see, number 8 is somewhat open ended and probably why a Licensed Home Inspector is required.  

ADDED value!

A Recall Check of any permanently installed appliances is included with your Baltimore County Rental License inspection for no additional charge. This is performed as an added value and is checked monthly for any new recall. You can add as many appliances as you like, from any home that you like, all for free. This is just one more reason to make 1st American Home Inspections your Home Inspector.

There is a great deal of added value when you have a Home Inspection performed at your investment property, whether it needs a rental license inspection or not. This includes a discount of over 20% for Consultation Services as well.


Lead Paint Inspections

Accredited Lead Paint Inspectors

We no longer offer lead paint inspections of any kind. Lead Probe is very affordable and specializes in all types of lead paint inspections.

Recommendations for Preparation

Preparation is the sole responsibility of the landlord or their agents. We provide these recommendations to assist you, but are not responsible for the results of the laboratory analysis. 

  • The building to be inspected must be completely free, inside and out of any peeling, flaking, chipped or otherwise deteriorated paint, varnish, shellac, stain or urethane. This includes (but is not limited to) wallpaper, cabinetry, flooring, trim and radiators that have been painted. If you have any doubt about the condition, you should probably have it repaired of resealed. We have no interest in being any more or less critical than the Maryland Department of the Environment, but the safety of children and pregnant women is the primary concern of this regulation, so lets be careful.
  • There can't be any paint chips around the foundation. I won't recommend a distance but if you can see it, clean it up. This is in the interest of helping you to pass the test on the first try. Keep in mind that some percentage of an inspectors work is double checked by agents of the state.

Cleaning for Lead Dust Sampling

  • Prior to the inspection clean window wells, window sills and floors with a detergent. Wipe the window sills and well in one direction while cleaning. 
  • Vacuum the floors and carpets with a vacuum that uses a HEPA filter. This is to avoid putting any dust picked up by the vacuum back into the air. Some recommend mopping a second time with a brand new mop head. Replace the water frequently either way. 

More Information from Government Agencies


Howard County rental license

While Howard County performs their own Rental License Inspections, there are a couple of areas that we can assist you.

  1. If your rental property was build before 1978, registration with the Maryland Department of the Environment is required and a Visual Lead Paint Inspection will be needed.
  2. If the property has well water, a water quality test with a specific set of testing parameters is required.

We are certified by the Maryland Department of the Environment to collect water samples and can have them analysed by an accredited laboratory. For more on Lead Paint Inspections, see the section above this one.

The steps for acquiring a Howard County Rental License are pretty straight forward and the people are very reasonable and fairly easy to work with. Having said that, they take the rules very seriously and tenant, or neighborhood complaints, even more so. I would suggest reading the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits Inspections and Enforcement Division New Rental Housing Inspections Checklist very carefully to begin with. The title is almost as long as the document. I would then read the  Howard County Owner/Landlord Handbook 2012 to familiarize yourself with some of the political realities of renting a property. If you feel that your property is ready for the inspection, complete the Rental License Application and send it back with a check. The county will contact you to schedule the inspection with one of their inspectors. They are friendly and professional to work with and will give you a list of "violations" to correct before you would receive your rental license. If you pass the inspection, your copy will acknowledge this and your license will come in the mail. You don't need a Licensed Home Inspector for this process apart from the water or lead testing.

While you may not need a Home Inspector for the Rental License process, we can assist you in making your rental property as attractive to a qualified prospect as possible. Advertising the home as "Inspected, Radon Tested and Mold Tested" can give the prospect a great deal of confidence that your property is safe and well cared for and that you are a conscientious landlord. Radon Testing can be added to any other service for a very reasonable fee.


Mold Testing and Inspection

Mold is a controvertial topic when it comes to Rental Properties but it really should not be. Mold is widely recognized as a potential threat to your health. The problem is what I have come to think of as the "Tenant / Landlord Disconnect". Simply stated, if you own the home that you live in, you may choose to tolerate a condition that you would rather not spend money on. If you rent the property that you live in, you will have very little tolerance for a condition that is corrected at someone else's expense. There it is, human nature in a nut shell. 

Is Mold Testing Really Needed?

Mold testing may not be necessary if you, the landlord are willing to quickly and carefully correct the problem. Many companies offer mold testing for free and then charge enough for the Mold Remediation to make up for it. The unwary consumer is taken in by this scheme on a daily basis. Their goal is to find mold and use it as leverage to sell their services. Our goal is to determine if the mold is present at levels that indicate a problem exists. If a problem does exist, make whatever repairs are needed to correct the problem that lead to elevated levels of mold in the first place and clean up the mold. This must be done safely and quickly when the property is rented and occupied. Once you have test results indicating a problem, your insurance company may pick up the cost of remediation.

Where landlords go wrong and end up in court, is when they reject the tenant's request for help and allow the problem to worsen. While some tenants will use litigation to enrich themselves, most won't if the landlord takes their concerns seriously and responds quickly to correct the problem. There may not be a problem at all. Some homes are rented with old water stains or other stains that suggest there might be a problem. Tenants discover the stains and fear the worst. This may even lead to panic if the tenant or their children have allergies or asthma. At this point, a mold test may even be purchased by the tenant. If the tenant orders a "Free Mold Test" the situation can take a turn for the worse very quickly indeed. The Mold Tester wants to sell a very expensive remediation job and the tenant wants to get the landlord to resolve the perceived health risk in their home. The landlord is better served by having the property Inspected prior to renting it and having anything that indicates or even suggests mold corrected.

So, regardless of how the concern arises, the Landlord is better off dealing with it immediately and having a mold test performed when the work is completed to demonstrate to the tenant that the problem has been solved.

Inspecting for Mold

Our Home Inspections are very thorough and we are always determined to find the kind of situations that are conducive to mold growth or other Wood Destroying Organisms. Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO) are often enabled by moisture intrusion. Mold and termites for instance, prefer moist wood to feed upon. If a water leak or moisture intrusion is observed during a home inspection, make whatever repairs are necessary and move on. A mold test can confirm that the problem is solved. If a landlord is asked about prior incidences that create conditions conducive to mold growth they can answer honestly and demonstrate that the problem was corrected with a mold test result. This lets the tenant know that you take care of problems and they can feel safe in your home.

A Mold Inspection is very similar to a Home Inspection in scope with a few exceptions. The inspector is focused on conditions that promote mold growth and use different instrumentation to measure the temperature and relative humidity in rooms or areas of the home where mold is suspected. This may include the whole home, attic, crawlspace and roof. The electrical system may not be inspected if there is no evidence of moisture intrusion in that system. We use our Thermal Imager or Infrared Camera as it is sometimes called, for Home Inspections and Mold Inspections. This is can be an incredibly valuable tool when searching for moisture related problems. That is why we refuse to omit it from the inspection process just to compete with low cost home inspectors.

There are several different methods used for taking samples:

  • Swab sampling
  • Tape sampling
  • Air sampling and
  • Carpet sampling

These methods allow the lab to determine if the sample is in fact mold, if the source of an airborne mold spore is present, and if mold levels are elevated compared to the outside at the time of sampling.