The Full Guide on Maryland Landlord Tenant Law [2023]

Learn everything you need to know about Maryland landlord tenant law with this full guide covering crucial topics like rent payments, evictions, and much more.

By
Rachel Robinson
|
Last Updated
September 20, 2023
The Full Guide on Maryland Landlord Tenant Law [2023]

Both Maryland landlords and tenants are required to adhere to local and state rental laws that directly impact their rights, responsibilities, and landlord-tenant relationships. These laws can be extensive, and at times, complicated, making it challenging to navigate and understand their nuances.

To help both parties unravel the intricacies of Maryland’s rental laws, we compiled this comprehensive guide. Covering everything from tenant screening and security deposit regulations to evictions and rental agreements, this guide will equip landlords and renters with a thorough understanding of the statutes outlined in the Code of Maryland Real Property Title 8.

Landlords will learn how to safeguard their real estate investments and create positive interactions with tenants. Simultaneously, renters will become informed about the fundamental rights granted to them throughout their tenancy.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

Is Maryland considered a landlord-friendly state?

Yes, Maryland is considered to be a relatively landlord-friendly state. This is because most of Maryland does not enforce rent control laws, meaning landlords can set and increase rent prices as they wish. Additionally, landlords are not required to provide specific notices before entering the rental property. However, Maryland also has laws that protect tenants, like strict security deposit and health and safety regulations. Maryland certainly takes a balanced approach to its landlord-tenant laws evident in its ranking as the 47th most landlord-friendly state.

Maryland landlord tenant law fast facts

  • Is a rental license required to be a landlord? State law does not require rental licenses, but some counties may
  • Are there any security deposit requirements? Yes
  • Is there rent control? No
  • Are there limits on late fees? Yes
  • Are there rent payment grace period laws? No
  • Is there a notice of entry law? No

Maryland landlord rights and responsibilities

Rights

Landlords in Maryland are provided rights that allow them to operate a successful rental business protected from legal issues. Some of those main rights include:

  • Collecting rent payments on the due date
  • Charging a security deposit to cover unforeseen costs like damage beyond wear and tear
  • Pursuing a formal eviction if the tenant breaches the rental agreement

Responsibilities

Maryland rental owners also have obligations to uphold that ensure a safe living environment and smooth tenancy for their renters. A few of their duties include:

  • Providing renters with a safe rental unit that complies with health and safety regulations
  • Making repairs within a “reasonable time”, but no later than 30 days, after receiving notice from a tenant
  • Complying with laws governing security deposits and the eviction procedure

Maryland tenant rights and responsibilities

Rights

Maryland state law also grants renters fundamental rights that ensure both their safety and legal protection throughout their tenancy. Some of those rights are as follows:

  • Living in a safe and habitable rental unit that meets local health and safety codes
  • Having repairs made in a “reasonable time” (maximum of 30 days) after providing the landlord with written notice
  • Taking legal action against the landlord for failing to make repairs and other lease violations

Responsibilities

Like their landlords, Maryland tenants also have responsibilities to uphold while living in a rental unit. They must:

  • Pay rent on time
  • Keep the unit in a clean and habitable condition, including fixtures
  • Perform small repairs and maintenance when necessary
  • Not disturb neighbors or other renters

Maryland landlord tenant law through the rental cycle

Maryland tenant screening and rental application laws

In Maryland, landlords cannot charge more than $25 for a rental application fee. And, if not entirely used for application-related expenses like credit checks, it shall be returned to the prospective tenant within 15 days of occupancy or denial.

For tenant screening, landlords may run background checks including criminal history, rental history, and credit reports, but only if the potential renter has provided consent.

Maryland lease agreement laws

Maryland requires lease agreements or rental agreements to be written if the lease period is 12 months or longer and if a landlord has five or more rental units. In the written agreement, landlords are required to disclose:

  • The condition of the property in regard to habitation and safety
  • A receipt for the security deposit
  • The landlord and tenant’s specific obligations regarding major utilities like heat, gas, and water

Learn what other information you should include in your lease agreement.

Maryland security deposit laws

Maryland law allows landlords to collect a security deposit to cover unforeseen costs like damage beyond normal wear and tear at the end of a lease period. However, landlords cannot charge more than two months’ rent for the deposit. Before collecting the deposit, landlords must complete an initial inspection and allow tenants to attend upon request.

Here are a few additional key Maryland security deposit laws to note:

  • Landlords must provide the tenant with a written receipt of the security deposit that includes specific disclosures like the tenant’s right to an initial inspection.
  • Landlords must pay interest on security deposits held longer than six months.
  • Security deposits must be held in a separate interest-bearing bank account, a certificate of deposit, or in securities.

In Maryland, landlords have 45 days to return a tenant’s security deposit after a lease ends. If deductions were made, the landlord should provide a written list of the damages and a statement of the cost actually incurred. Allowable deductions include unpaid rent, damage exceeding normal wear and tear, and additional costs due to a breach of the lease agreement.

If the landlord fails to return the security deposit within 45 days, tenants can sue for four times the amount wrongfully withheld, plus attorney’s fees.

Maryland rent laws

While Maryland does not have state rent control laws, it does allow cities and towns to set their own rent control policies like Mount Ranier has. This means landlords in cities without rent control may charge any amount for rent and increase the price as often as they like, except during the lease term unless the lease agreement allows for it. Certain notice periods, dependent on the lease length, are required before raising the rent.

If tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords do not have to provide a grace period before charging a late fee. However, this may vary from city to city so landlords should check their local laws. 

The fee itself should not be more than 5% of the rent due. But for rent paid weekly, the fee should not be more than $3 per week or a total of $12 per month. Additionally, late fees cannot be charged unless specifically disclosed in the lease agreement.

Under the rent escrow law, Maryland renters can withhold rent payments if the landlord has failed to make necessary repairs in a reasonable time. The rent is instead paid into an escrow account, which is held by the court until the landlord makes the repairs. If they still do not make the repairs in a certain timeframe, the court may order the rent to be used for the repairs or returned to the tenant in full.

Maryland repair and maintenance laws

Maryland rental property owners are required by law to provide habitable rental properties that comply with health and safety regulations. This involves making repairs within a “reasonable time” but no greater than 30 days after receiving notice from tenants.

If the landlord fails to make repairs within that time frame, renters can take a few actions: sue for costs, file a court order to force the landlord to make repairs, or use the rental escrow law.

Maryland notice of entry laws

Maryland rental law states that landlords have the right to enter their rental units for reasonable purposes related to the tenancy such as maintenance and inspections. Outside of this, Maryland does not cover statutes related to advance notice of entry into a rental property. However, it’s generally a good practice to follow to maintain a healthy landlord-tenant relationship.

The notice can range from 24 hours to two days depending on what is agreed upon in the lease agreement. Landlords may enter the property without notice in cases of emergency.

Maryland eviction and lease termination laws

There are certain reasons landlords can evict tenants in Maryland, and depending on the reason, Maryland law requires landlords to provide a specific notice period before initiating the eviction process. The reasons and notice periods for Maryland evictions include:

  • Unpaid rent: If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, the landlord may start the eviction process immediately.
  • Lease violation: For lease violations or illegal activity, landlords are required to issue a 30-day notice to quit. If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period, landlords may move forward with the eviction procedure.
  • No lease/end of lease: If tenants holdover or stay past the end of the tenancy, the landlord must provide them notice. The notice period depends on the length of the lease. Week-to-week leases must provide a 7-day notice to quit and month-to-month leases must provide a 30-day notice to quit. Year-long leases or longer require a 90-day notice to quit.

Like in other states, self-help evictions are illegal in Maryland. This includes locking a tenant out of the rental property or reducing services such as major utilities.

Mryland tenants can also terminate a lease agreement early for the following reasons:

  • Active military duty
  • Domestic violence or sexual violence
  • Landlord harassment
  • Early termination clause
  • Uninhabitable unit

Tenants who break their lease early may still be held responsible for paying the remainder of rent payments on the lease. However, landlords are required to make reasonable efforts to re-rent the property.

Additional Maryland landlord tenant laws

On top of addressing rental statutes on topics like evictions and security deposits, Maryland state law covers additional topics like landlord retaliation and housing discrimination. We cover some of those matters below.

Housing discrimination

State and federal laws protect Maryland tenants from housing discrimination. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against potential renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

Maryland state laws further protect renters from discrimination based on characteristics including marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

If a landlord violates these laws, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights.

Landlord retaliation

Similar to other states, it’s illegal for Maryland landlords to retaliate against their tenants for taking protected actions like reporting the landlord for safety and health violations. 

Raising rent, reducing services, and threatening evictions are all considered versions of retaliation in Maryland.

Mandatory disclosures

Maryland rental owners are required to provide tenants with certain disclosures at the beginning of the lease period. The disclosures include:

  • Lead-based paint: Landlords with rentals built before 1978 must provide information about lead paint concentrations.
  • Authorized authorities: Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
  • Security deposit receipt: Landlords who charge security deposits must provide a receipt of the deposit that includes specific disclosures like the tenant’s right to attend the initial inspection.
  • Water & sewage utility obligation: For leases where the tenant pays utilities directly to the landlord, the landlord should disclose the utility obligations.

Summing up: Understanding Maryland’s landlord tenant laws

Maryland’s rental laws were created to protect the rights and duties of both parties, ensuring renting is fair and just. At the heart of these laws is the key to building strong landlord-tenant relationships that benefit everyone.

For landlords in Maryland, understanding and following these laws protects their property investments and promotes positive relationships with tenants. On the other hand, these laws assist tenants in understanding their responsibilities in a rental agreement and provide guidance through legal issues.

Both landlords and tenants should do their due diligence to grasp Maryland’s rental laws as they stand now and well into the future.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson has 6 years of experience in writing, editing, and SEO, specializing in rental property and real estate. She excels in market trends and landlord-tenant dynamics, producing content that drives traffic and informs. Outside of work, she enjoys climbing Colorado's granite boulders.

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