Signing a lease for a rental property means that you have entered into a legally binding agreement. In Maryland, as well as other states, the provisions of the lease commit you to live in the rental for a specific period of time -- also known as the term of the contract. Therefore, if you have to move in the middle of the term, it may be difficult to release yourself from paying the rent until the expiration of the lease.
In Maryland a lease contains standard provisions such as the rental rate, term, security deposit amount, late fee and other clauses such upkeep and property rules. When you pay the security deposit, landlords in Maryland are required to give you a receipt or incur a $25 fine, as of 2011. Also, a rental agreement in Maryland may not include clauses such has excessively late payment procedures.
Breaking a Lease
Although the terms of most leases in Maryland are strictly enforced, you may be able to negotiate a clause allowing you to terminate the lease at any time with a 60-day notice. Maryland law allows members of the military to break a lease if they receive orders to relocate for a period of three months or more. Also, some landlords will allow you to move for a new job in another location. Alternatively, your landlord may include a provision that allows you to break the lease by paying a penalty amount. If your landlord fails to make needed repairs that make your home uninhabitable, in Maryland you can't just move without having your lease voided by a judge. File a complaint with the housing inspector's office first, so that a letter can be sent to your landlord that formally requests the repairs. Regardless of why you must move, write a letter to your landlord specifying your reason and giving the date that you will vacate. Ask to be released from the remainder of your lease -- no matter what clauses are stipulated in your lease.
In your letter, ask the landlord to refund your security deposit when you move. It is illegal in Maryland for a provision that allows the landlord to keep the security deposit if you break the lease. However, the landlord can use your security deposit as compensation for losses incurred by not having tenants during the remainder of your lease term. However, if the unit is re-rented after a short period of time, the landlord must refund you the amount of any left-over deposit.
Part of the procedure to follow when breaking your lease in Maryland is to sublet your unit, so that you continue to hold the lease but rent it out to someone else. Check your agreement for provisions that allow you to do this. A better option may be to find a tenant who will sign a new lease with the landlord. New occupants must be approved by the landlord prior to moving into the unit. The least favorable option is to pay the remainder of your lease when you vacate and ask the landlord to refund you a prorated amount after finding a new tenant. In Maryland, the landlord is allowed to charge you re-renting expenses, such as advertising for a new tenant.
- Maryland Attorney General: Landlords and Tenants: Tips on Avoiding Disputes
- The People's Law Library of Maryland: Breaking a Lease
- Georgia Consumer Protection Division. "If I Terminate My Lease Early, Can My Landlord Keep My Security Deposit and Charge Me a Fee?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Oregon State Bar. "Fees and Deposits." Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Wisconsin State Legislature. "704.29 Recovery of Rent and Damages by Landlord; Mitigation." Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Realtor.com®. "Beyond the Security Deposit: When Can Your Landlord Sue You for Property Damage?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- The Judicial Branch of California. "Security Deposits." Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Updater. "Breaking a Lease: Everything to Know." Accessed April 6, 2020.
- New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. "Lease Information Bulletin," Page 3. Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Could Late Rent Payments or Problems With a Landlord Be in My Credit Report?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Experian. "Does Breaking a Lease Affect Your Credit?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Experian. "How Long Does It Take for Information to Come Off Your Credit Reports?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. "Lease Information Bulletin," Page 2. Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Michigan Department of Attorney General. "Other Legal Protections and Rights Provided By State And Federal Law." Accessed Apr. 23, 2020.
Carol Deeb has been an editor and writer since 1988. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers and online publications, as well as a book on education. Deeb is a real-estate investor and business owner with professional experience in human resources. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University.