Misunderstandings between landlords and tenants in Maryland usually happen because they don't come to an agreement on their lease terms. Landlords who want a smoother rental process need to follow the Maryland landlord tenant laws so that they know what to do in specific cases of dispute or misunderstanding.
Keeping track of every aspect of the Maryland landlord-tenant law can be complicated, especially because lease agreements may vary slightly from one another. However, some general arrangements can be followed by most landlords to keep a good relationship with their tenants.
In this article, we're going to cover the general aspects of the Maryland landlord-tenant law. However, if you need more information tailored to your renting case, you may seek legal advice.
What is the Maryland Landlord-Tenant Law?
According to Maryland law, the landlord-tenant law specifies the details of a lease agreement between the landlord and tenant. These agreements need to follow local and state-wide laws to avoid any legal issues. However, the landlord can specify some specific rules tailored to their rental unit.
Generally, a lease agreement includes information on the lease conditions, which include information about the leased property, duration of the lease, rent payments, reparations for dangerous defects, and other miscellaneous details.
Are Written Rental Agreements Required in Maryland?
Maryland state law doesn't require many specifics for lease agreements; generally, most of the content inside the document is up to the landlord.
Leases can be oral or written, but there are two conditions in which the landlord may need to draft a written lease for the tenant:
- The landlord has five or more rental properties.
- The lease term is 12 months or longer.
Every tenant has the legal right to receive a copy of that lease if they ask for it. Most of these written agreements must include information about the rental property's current state and the obligations and rights of every party involved in the lease.
Is Maryland a Landlord-Friendly State?
Maryland is considered a landlord-friendly state since rental prices are usually high. Additionally, most Maryland areas don't enforce rent control policies, meaning that they may charge any amount of rent without any issues.
Last but not least, there aren't many specific requirements on notifications for landlord entries to the rental property.
What Are Landlords' Responsibilities and Rights in Maryland?
Maryland landlord-tenant laws require landlords to keep their rental property compliant with health or safety regulations. On the other hand, landlords must provide repairs for serious hazards in the property that may affect a tenant's life, health, or safety.
If the landlord fails to provide these repairs after receiving notice from the tenant, the tenant may be able to file a claim with the court. In these cases, the court can withhold rent payments until the landlord provides the necessary repairs.
As for landlord rights, they are legally allowed to:
- Collect rent payments from the tenant.
- Use security deposits for extreme damages to their property that exceed ordinary wear and tear.
- Can use security deposits to cover unpaid rent.
What Are Tenants' Responsibilities and Rights in Maryland?
Every Maryland tenant has the right to live in a safe and healthy rental unit and request repairs if that unit ever poses a safety or health hazard for them. If the tenant sends a notice for repairs, the landlord must give an answer and make repairs in a reasonable amount of time.
It's also the tenant's right to file a court claim in cases of retaliatory actions.
In return, the tenant must comply with the following obligations:
- Keep the rented property in good condition.
- Pay rent on time.
- Make small repairs or maintenance routines.
- Not do anything that may disturb other tenants or neighbors.
General Maryland Landlord-Tenant Law Clauses
Maryland landlord-tenant law may be flexible in most clauses, but there are some general guidelines that every tenant and landlord should know before drafting their agreement; following these guidelines can help maintain everything in check until the end of the lease.
A landlord may charge their tenant any amount of rent they consider appropriate for their property in Maryland. However, if the tenant pays in cash, the landlord must give the tenant a payment receipt to keep track of each payment.
Additionally, the landlord must have a payment record indicating that the rent was paid in cash.
The landlord can increase rent prices at any time they consider appropriate without having to give any type of notice to the tenant.
While Maryland landlord-tenant law allows local jurisdictions to create their control policies, the only city that does it is Takoma Park. This means that a landlord in Maryland may charge their tenant any amount of rent they want.
There are no laws about grace periods mentioned in the Maryland landlord-tenant laws, meaning that a landlord may charge their tenant late fees as soon as the rent payment goes past its due date.
Late fees are not required by the Maryland landlord-tenant laws. However, if the landlord decides to include them, they must create a small section about these fees in the lease document.
Fees in Maryland may not exceed five percent of one months' rent. If the lease is paid weekly, the fees may not be higher than $3 per week or $12 per month.
Security Deposit Clauses
According to landlord-tenant laws in Maryland, security deposits are not required, but they're recommended. Security deposits can protect the landlord from some issues with their tenant, such as unpaid rent or damages that exceed normal wear and tear. Deposits need to be deposited within 30 days of receiving them from the tenants.
A security deposit must not exceed the price of two months' rent. In case the Maryland tenant wants to buy a surety bond rather than paying a security deposit, the amount of the surety cannot be higher than the cost of two months' rent.
If the tenant decides to leave the property, the landlord must return the security deposits within 45 days of the tenant leaving. This includes security deposit interest rates, which can be calculated using the daily U.S. Treasury rate for one year or 1.5% per year. However, a tenant's security deposit interest can also be calculated by using a security deposit calculator.
If the landlord plans to withhold a security deposit partially, they must provide an itemized list of all the damages that are going to be covered with the money from the security deposit.
The landlord must send the tenant a receipt for their security deposit. In this receipt, landlords must specify that the tenant has the legal right to request a property inspection within 15 days of moving in. This inspection notice can be sent by certified mail.
If any of the terms mentioned above are violated by the landlord, they may be sued three times the amount of the security deposit, plus reasonable attorney fees.
Termination and Evictions
Tenants in Maryland who decide to terminate the lease at the end of the tenancy have to provide a written notice to their landlord. The amount of notice might vary depending on the type of lease, but the most common notification is 30 days before the lease ends:
- Weekly Leases - Seven day-notice.
- Monthly Leases - 30 day-notice.
- Yearly Leases - Three month-notice.
However, a tenant can also terminate a lease early for different reasons, such as landlord harassment, domestic violence, early termination clauses, or poor living conditions. In these cases, the tenant must notify the landlord about their intentions to leave.
Alternatively, landlords in Maryland can evict their tenant for breaches in the rental terms, nonpayment of rent, or criminal activity. Keep in mind that it's prohibited by Maryland laws to evict a tenant in retaliation.
See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for Maryland.
Additional Maryland Landlord-Tenant Laws
Retaliatory Actions in Maryland
If the tenant files a complaint about retaliatory behavior from their landlord and they're found guilty, the landlord could have to pay a fee of up to three months' rent plus reasonable attorney fees.
Following the landlord-tenant law is not as complicated as it seems. Generally, they are seen as a set of basic rules that every landlord and tenant must follow to ensure a great renting experience from start to end.
If you need any additional information regarding these laws, make sure to seek legal advice.
What are some obligatory disclosures that exitst in Maryland?
According to Maryland landlord-tenant laws, there are some obligatory disclosures that every landlord should give to their tenant. This is to prevent future legal problems between the parties involved.
These additional laws can be seen below:
- Right to Inspections.
- Right to Itemized Deductions.
- Disclosure of Lead Paint Concentrations.
Does the landlord have the right to enter the property in Maryland?
Landlord-tenant laws don't require the landlord or the tenant to specify any entry rules, meaning that landlords can enter without permission. However, most landlords come up with a notification agreement with their tenant to avoid issues.
How does harrassment or violence affect the lease agreement?
Victims of domestic violence or harassment can request their landlord to terminate the rental early without having to pay any fees. They can also request the landlord to change the property's locks as long as they provide a copy of the restraining order.
What are the protected groups in Maryland?
According to Maryland landlord-tenant law, the tenant is protected by the Fair Housing Act and the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. This means that each tenant in Maryland cannot be discriminated against for their marital or familial status, sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, etc.