Landlords in Maryland must comply with the state’s landlord and tenant act, and some local county governments may require landlords to comply with additional residential real estate laws, according to their local ordinances. All Maryland landlords have legal duties to provide safe and clean housing to their tenants and make necessary repairs.
A landlord in Maryland has a right to charge his tenants nonrefundable application fees if they do not exceed $25. A landlord who rents buildings with more than four apartments must outline the respective legal rights and obligations between landlord and tenants if he retains application fees. The landlord must return any fee exceeding $25 within 15 days after a tenant notifies him of intent to reside elsewhere or after the tenant moves into the apartment. A landlord has the right to collect a security deposit not exceeding two months of rent payments. He must return all of the remaining security deposit and all accrued interest within 45 days of move-out.
Types of Leases
A landlord may enter into an oral and written lease agreement with a tenant for a lease not exceeding one year. For a tenancy exceeding one year, a landlord must use a written lease. Additionally, a landlord must always use a written lease if he rents at least five properties within Maryland. A landlord who rents more than five units in Maryland must notify his tenants of their duties to keep their premises reasonably safe and habitable by placing provisions outlining their duties in their written lease agreements. A landlord must also include a provision dealing with the respective obligations and duties between the landlord and tenant for providing repairs and utilities.
A tenant has the right to request one copy of his lease agreement if his request is in writing before deciding to move in. However, the lease agreement does not have to include the occupancy dates, rental rates or names and addresses but must contain all other information. A landlord may not use provisions that: 1) impose late rent fees exceeding 5 percent of the rental amount; 2) provide less than 30 days’ notice before terminating a lease agreement; or 3) require confession of judgments where a tenant waives his right to seek representation or defend himself against lawsuits.
Renewing Lease Agreements
Landlords have the right to request 30 days’ prior notice before a tenant moves out at the end of his lease agreement. A tenant who does not terminate his lease agreement automatically becomes a month-to-month tenant. However, when a landlord takes advantage of automatic lease renewal rights, he must have provided the tenant with notice of his right to renew when the tenant fails to terminate his lease agreement in advance. The tenant must have specifically agreed to his landlord's renewal rights by signing a special renewal provision or initialing a signature block next to the provision. A landlord does not have a right to renew a tenant's lease agreement if he did not give the tenant written acknowledgment of his right to renew.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.
Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.