In Maryland, a rental agreement can be either oral or written. According to Maryland law (ACM Tit. 12 Subtit. 2 Sec. 12-203), tenants in a lease agreement are instantly granted certain rights, for example, the right to a safe and livable dwelling and the right to take some forms of alternative action.
Landlords also have certain rights, such as the right to collect rent on time and on a regular basis and the right to collect payment for damages to property that exceed normal wear and tear.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in Maryland
Maryland landlords are required to provide and maintain a habitable dwelling and make all requested repairs in a “reasonable” time frame, which is normally interpreted as 30 days. If they do not, then Maryland tenants may make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from future rent payments and withhold rent outright in some circumstances.
Here is a list of essential amenities that landlords in Maryland are or are not responsible for.
|Heating and cooling (if AC is provided)||Yes|
|Accessible fire exits||Yes|
|Electrical wiring and outlets||Yes|
Landlords are not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation for exercising their housing rights (e.g. filing a health and safety complaint).
Tenant Responsibilities in Maryland
Aside from paying rent on time, Maryland tenants must:
- Keep the unit in a safe and habitable condition
- Keep fixtures clean and sanitary
- Make small repairs and maintenance
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors
Evictions in Maryland
- Nonpayment of rent/lease violation – Maryland does not have separate notification procedures for late rental payments and lease violations. In both cases, the landlord may issue a 14-Day Notice with terms on how to cure the infraction. If the terms of the notice are not met, then the landlord may proceed with eviction.
- Illegal acts – If a tenant is engaging in behavior that presents a “clear and present” danger to the property at large, then the landlord may issue a 14-Day Unconditional Notice to Quit. The landlord does not have to give the tenant a chance to fix their behavior.
At-will tenants are entitled to receive at least 1 month’s advance notice if they rent on a month-to-month basis. It is illegal for Maryland landlords to evict a tenant in retaliation or for discriminatory reasons.
Security Deposits in Maryland
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – 2 months’ rent.
- Time Limit for Returns – 45 days.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – Maryland landlords who wrongfully withhold a security deposit may be required to forfeit the deposit and associated interest. The law does not specify who gains a claim on the deposit afterward.
- Allowable Deductions – Unpaid rent, repairs for damages that exceed normal wear and tear, offset other damages from a lease violation.
Lease Termination in Maryland
Notice requirements. If a Maryland tenant on a periodic lease decides to break a lease, then they must give the following amounts of notice.
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Early termination. Maryland tenants may break a lease early for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause
- Active military duty
- Landlord harassment
- Uninhabitable unit
- Domestic and sexual violence
Maryland tenants who break a lease early may still be required to pay the remainder of the lease agreement. Maryland landlords are required to help “mitigate damages” when the tenant moves out early and must help re-rent the unit.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Maryland
- Rent control. Maryland allows local jurisdictions to enact rent control policies. Currently, only one city does so (Takoma Park). Otherwise, landlords are free to charge what they wish for rent.
- Rental increases. Maryland landlords may raise the rent at any time for any reason and are not required to provide advance notice.
- Rent-related fees. The state caps late fees at 5% of the applicable late rent payment. The state does not put a limit on returned check fees.
Housing Discrimination in Maryland
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, or disability. These laws do not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. State law adds additional protection for individuals on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Discriminatory acts & penalties. Enforcement of housing discrimination laws is overseen by the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. They have highlighted the following actions as potentially discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected group:
- Refusing to rent or sell to a qualified buyer
- Using discriminatory terms of conditions in a lease
- Advertisements that indicate a preference for or against certain groups
- Falsely denying unit availability
- Steering prospective tenants into certain neighborhoods
- Inquiring about birth control or other family planning practices
- Refusing to make reasonable accommodations
Maryland state does not list specific penalties for housing discrimination. Those who feel they are the victim of housing discrimination may file a complaint and initiate the process here.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Maryland
Landlord Right to Entry in Maryland
There is no statewide standard on landlord entry notification. As such, Maryland landlords are free to enter without permission, unless lease provisions state the contrary. Both parties must agree to entry notification procedures in a lease agreement. Landlords are allowed to enter without permission in emergencies.
Small Claims Court in Maryland
Small claims court will hear rent-related cases valued up to $5,000, including eviction cases. Cases of higher value need to be brought up to the state’s district courts. Both oral and written contracts have a 3-year statute of limitations.
Mandatory Disclosures in Maryland
Maryland landlords are required to make the following mandatory disclosures:
- Lead-based paint. Landlords that own homes built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint used in the building.
- Right to Initial and Final Inspection. Landlords must inform tenants that they have the right to an in-person inspection before signing a lease. Tenants may request these inspections at least 5 days before their move-in date.
- Right to Receive Itemized Deductions. Maryland landlords must disclose a tenant’s right to receive an itemized list of deductions upon their moving out inspection.
Changing the Locks in Maryland
Tenants in Maryland may be able to change the locks on their own without prior permission as the state’s law lacks guidance on the matter. Landlords are explicitly forbidden from changing the locks as a form of eviction (i.e. “lockouts”).
Local Laws in Maryland
Baltimore Landlord-Tenant Rights
The city of Baltimore has regulations that require the installation of smoke detectors and that landlords must disclose whether the unit likes in a floodplain. More information on these and other local ordinances can be found here.
Takoma Park Landlord-Tenant Rights
Takoma Park, Maryland maintains its own rent stabilization program. It requires landlords to give at least 2 months’ notice before raising rent and rent hikes can not exceed the city’s annual rent allowance. More information about these policies can be read here.
Please check your local county and municipality for additional landlord-tenant regulations.