Maryland Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Maryland Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: May 4, 2023

Tenants in Maryland have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must give the landlord actual notice of the issue and allow 30 days for the repairs to be made.

Maryland Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

Maryland landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:

  • Hot and cold running water.
  • Electricity.
  • Heating.
  • Adequate lighting.
  • Sewage disposal.
  • Anything impacting health, safety, or habitability.

If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Maryland?

Maryland tenants are generally responsible for the cost of repairing any damage they cause to the property which affects health and safety, as well as for lesser repairs beyond wear and tear from careful use.

Requesting Repairs in Maryland

Maryland tenants can request repairs by giving the landlord actual notice of an issue that needs fixing, through any convenient method. However, if the landlord claims there wasn’t notice, the burden of proof is on the tenant.

There are two forms of notice for an issue which don’t let the landlord claim ignorance. The first is a written notice delivered by certified mail. The second is a notice of regulatory violation from a government agency.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Maryland?

Maryland landlords have a “reasonable time” to make repairs after getting proper notice. What’s reasonable depends on the specifics of the situation, but the law presumes that over 30 days is an unreasonable amount of time to wait for repairs.

If the tenant wins a rent escrow action in court, the landlord has 90 days to make repairs before the court can issue an injunction forcing him to do so.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Maryland?

Maryland landlords usually cannot refuse to make necessary repairs. Tenants can bring a rent escrow action for failure to repair, unless they’ve been found liable for three to five unpaid rent judgments over the past six or 12 months (depending on the specifics of the tenancy).

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Maryland?

Maryland landlords are not required to pay for alternative accommodation while they conduct repairs.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Maryland

Maryland tenants can file a rent escrow action when the landlord doesn’t repair. Rent escrow is paying rent into a supervised account until repairs are complete, deducting a percentage for lower property value during repairs. A tenant might also try to claim constructive eviction and move out, ending the lease.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Maryland?

Maryland tenants can withhold rent if the landlord hasn’t done repairs within a reasonable time after notice. The tenant can raise failure to repair as a defense, if the landlord sues. However, filing a rent escrow action is a legally safer way to withhold than simply waiting for a lawsuit.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Maryland?

Maryland tenants are not allowed to arrange for repairs and deduct from the rent.

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Maryland?

Maryland tenants can only break the lease and move out in cases of constructive eviction where the landlord’s action or failure to act substantially deprives the tenant of the intended use of the property.

Can the Tenant Sue in Maryland?

Maryland tenants can sue for rent escrow when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Maryland?

Maryland tenants can report landlords to the local inspections or code enforcement department, for violations that affect health or safety. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, this puts the landlord on notice to repair even if the tenant hasn’t said anything.

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Landlord Retaliation in Maryland

It’s illegal for Maryland landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the past six months:

  • Reporting violations of lease, health, or safety to the government or the landlord.
  • Participating in a suit against the landlord.
  • Participating in a tenant organization.

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.

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