Maryland Landlord Tenant Laws

Maryland landlord-tenant laws

As a landlord or tenant, you do not have to pay a lawyer every time, for a consultation on matters related to renting residential property; this is especially when you are conversant with the fundamental Maryland landlord-tenant laws. If you have never thought about looking at these essential rules, then here is your chance! Below is a look at some of the essential landlord-tenant laws you should be conversant with as a landlord or tenant in Maryland:

Maryland Law on Security Deposit

•    Most of the leases or rental agreements will require a tenant to part with a security deposit. According to Maryland landlord-tenant laws (Md Real Property Code, 8-203(b)(1)) a tenant can only pay a deposit of up to an equivalent of 2 month’s rent.

•    Security deposit of $50 or more shall accrue interests of up to 3% per year (Md Real Property Code, 8-203(e).  According to the law, this interest (not compounded interest) should accrue after every six months.

•    Under Md Real Property Code, 8-203, the security deposit shall be remitted in a separate bank account; this account should be in a state financial institution

•    The deadline in which the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit is set at 45 days; after which the tenant has the right to sue the landlord for up to 3 times the deposit amount. The tenant may also sue for a reimbursement of the attorney fees used; but this should be a reasonable amount (Md Real Property Code, 8-203(e).

•    An itemized list of damages and deductions made on the security deposit should be provided to the tenant by the landlord.

Disclosures and other miscellaneous laws in Maryland

Maryland landlord-tenant laws require the landlord to make some disclosures to a tenant before he/she signs the rental agreement. These disclosures will usually be contained in the lease or rental agreement, hence, the need for a tenant to carefully read their agreement before signing it. Here are some of these disclosures under (Md Real Property Code 8-203.1):

• The landlord is required by the law to make a list of all the damages that existed before the commencement of the tenancy.

  • The inspection of the rental unit (in order to come up with a list) must be conducted in the presence of the tenant. However, the tenant may request this list to be mailed to him/her.

•    The tenant has the right to receive a list of all the damages that occurred to the rental unit during his/her tenancy. This inspection should be conducted in the presence of the tenant, but the tenant may opt to receive a certified mail containing this list.

•    The landlord-tenant agreement must contain a statement of the legal penalties a landlord will incur as a result of failure to comply with the security deposit law. This penalty is a refund to the tenant of up to 3 times the security deposit withheld, and the landlord is also required to pay the attorney’s fees.

•    The lease must include a statement which states that the premise will be made available to the tenant in a condition that allows habitation and safety.  The lease must also contain the tenant’s obligations such as to water, heat, electricity and gas. (Md. Code Ann. [Real Prop.]8-208)

•    The agent or owner identity must be disclosed in the lease agreement; and if the landlord has handed his/her responsibilities (for instance, receiving and issuing notices) to another party, then their identity must be disclosed in the agreement.  (Md. Code Ann. [Real Prop.]8-210)

In addition, Under Md Real Property Code, 8-203), a landlord is required to give a receipt for the security deposit received. This receipt does not have to be a separate document; it can be included in the landlord-tenant agreement.

Rent & Other Fees

•    No statute in Maryland landlord-tenant law dictates the conditions for rent increase; however these rules do exist in some counties in Maryland.

•    If a landlord is renting out five or more residential units, then he/she must draw up a written lease agreement under Md Real Property Code, 8-208).

•    Maryland landlord-tenant laws specify a maximum of 5% late fee penalty of the rent due.  If the rent is remitted on a weekly basis, then a maximum of $3 per week should be charged as late fees (Md Real Property Code, 8-208(d).

•   Under Md Real Property Code, 8-401 the tenant has a right to pay the owed rent, so long as the eviction process or trial has not ended.

Tenant Right to Withhold Rent in Maryland

Maryland tenants have the legal right to withhold rent or ‘repair and deduct’ rent but only under justifiable conditions. For instance, in the event the landlord fails to take action to repair or maintain the property. (Md Real Property Code, 8-211).

Maryland landlord-tenant laws on Small Claims Lawsuits

Under Maryland laws, a tenant has the right to sue his/her landlord for the return of their security deposit, up to an amount of $5,000. The small claims court usually hears these cases.

Notices and Entry laws in Maryland

Maryland landlord-tenant laws do not give a guideline on the landlord’s right to enter or access his/her tenant’s rental unit. For instance, there is no instruction whether or not the landlord may access the property with or without notice for maintenance and repairs. However, the law in this state is clear on the notices to be issued, including:

•    The required notice to terminate a yearly lease is set by law at three months, but for farm tenancies, the notice is six months. However, this is not the standard rule across all counties in Maryland, as two months notice is required in Montgomery County (expect in single-family homes) (Md Real Property Code, 8-402(b)(3)

•    A one month notice is required (giving the intention of the landlord to terminate a lease), in a month to month tenancy. While a one week notice is required in a week to week tenancy. (Md Real Property Code, 8-402(b)(3) and (Md Real Property Code, Real Property, 8-402(b)(3)).

•    A landlord is required to issue a notice of the day and time he/she will conduct the move-out inspection; this is to allow the tenant the opportunity to be present during the inspection.

•    A five days eviction notice can be issued under law, to a tenant for non-payment of rent.

•  A 30 days eviction notice can be issued out by the landlord for a lease violation. However, if this violation can cause danger to other people or tenants, then a 14 days eviction notice may be issued( Md Real Property Code 402.1)

Maryland landlord-tenant laws are meant to offer a legal guideline on the landlord-tenant relationship. It is important to be aware of your rights as a tenant and as a landlord, so as to be able to act according to the law in the event an issue arises. It is also important to note of the fact that there are local ordinances which are usually passed at the county level in Maryland, which may also dictate the landlord-tenant relationship such as health and safety standards and noise control in a residential rental unit.

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