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.
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.
What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Maryland?
Maryland tenants are generally responsible for the cost of repairingany damage they cause to the propertywhich 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 bygiving 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 awritten notice delivered by certified mail.The second is anotice 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 over30 daysis 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 usuallycannot 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 arenot required to pay for alternative accommodationwhile they conduct repairs.
Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Maryland
Maryland tenants canfile a rent escrow actionwhen 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 tenantscan withhold rentif 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 arenot allowed to arrange for repairs and deductfrom the rent.
Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Maryland?
Maryland tenants can only break the lease and move out in cases ofconstructive evictionwhere 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 tenantscan sue for rent escrowwhen the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs.
Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Maryland?
Maryland tenantscan report landlordsto 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.
It’s illegal for Maryland landlords to retaliate withraised rent,reduced services,orthreatened evictionagainst 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.
“(g) In order to employ the remedies provided by this section, the tenant shall notify the landlord of the existence of the defects or conditions. Notice shall be given by (1) a written communication sent by certified mail listing the asserted conditions or defects, or (2) actual notice of the defects or conditions, or (3) a written violation, condemnation or other notice from an appropriate State, county, municipal or local government agency stating the asserted conditions or defects.
“(h) The landlord has a reasonable time after receipt of notice in which to make the repairs or correct the conditions. The length of time deemed to be reasonable is a question of fact for the court, taking into account the severity of the defects or conditions and the danger which they present to the occupants. There is a rebuttable presumption that a period in excess of 30 days from receipt of notice is unreasonable.”
“This section provides a remedy and imposes an obligation upon landlords to repair and eliminate conditions and defects which constitute, or if not promptly corrected will constitute, a fire hazard or a serious and substantial threat to the life, health or safety of occupants, including, but not limited to: (1) Lack of heat, light, electricity, or hot or cold running water, except where the tenant is responsible for the payment of the utilities and the lack thereof is the direct result of the tenant’s failure to pay the charges; (2) Lack of adequate sewage disposal facilities; (3) Infestation of rodents in two or more dwelling units; (4) The existence of any structural defect which presents a serious and substantial threat to the physical safety of the occupants; or (5) The existence of any condition which presents a health or fire hazard to the dwelling unit.”
“It is a sufficient defense to the allegations of the tenant that the tenant, the tenant’s family, agent, employees, or assignees or social guests have caused the asserted defects or conditions, or that the landlord or the landlord’s agents were denied reasonable and appropriate entry for the purpose of correcting or repairing the asserted conditions or defects.”
“This section does not provide a remedy for the landlord’s failure to repair and eliminate minor defects or, in those locations governed by such codes, housing code violations of a nondangerous nature. There is a rebuttable presumption that the following conditions, when they do not present a serious and substantial threat to the life, health and safety of the occupants, are not covered by this section: (1) Any defect which merely reduces the aesthetic value of the leased premises, such as the lack of fresh paint, rugs, carpets, paneling or other decorative amenities; (2) Small cracks in the walls, floors or ceilings; (3) The absence of linoleum or tile upon the floors, provided that they are otherwise safe and structurally sound; or (4) The absence of air conditioning.”
“Relief under this section is conditioned upon… [in] the case of tenancies measured by a period of one month or more, the court having not entered against the tenant 3 prior judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid in the 12-month period immediately prior to the initiation of the action by the tenant or by the landlord. In the case of periodic tenancies measured by the weekly payment of rent, the court having not entered against the tenant more than 5 judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid in the 12-month period immediately prior to the initiation of the action by the tenant or by the landlord, or, if the tenant has lived on the premises six months or less, the court having not entered against the tenant 3 judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid.”
“In addition to any other relief sought, if within 90 days after the court finds that the conditions complained of by the tenant exist the landlord has not made the repairs or corrected the conditions complained of, the tenant may file a petition of injunction in the District Court requesting the court to order the landlord to make the repairs or correct the conditions.”
“If the landlord refuses to make the repairs or correct the conditions, or if after a reasonable time the landlord has failed to do so, the tenant may bring an action of rent escrow to pay rent into court because of the asserted defects or conditions, or the tenant may refuse to pay rent and raise the existence of the asserted defects or conditions as an affirmative defense to an action for distress for rent or to any complaint proceeding brought by the landlord to recover rent or the possession of the leased premises.”
“A constructive eviction occurs when the acts of a landlord cause serious or substantial interference with the tenants’ enjoyment of the property which results in the tenant vacating the premises. These acts must be done by the landlord with the intent and effect of depriving the tenant of the latter’s use and enjoyment. But the requisite intent may be inferred from the nature and impact of the acts.
“Thus, failures to furnish heat, elevator service, and necessary electricity have been held adequate to support a claim of constructive eviction; as have the failure to furnish sanitary restroom facilities (along with other problems); and frequent flooding of the premises because of the landlord’s fault.
“Of course, every instance of nonperformance by a landlord does not necessarily support constructive eviction in fact or in law. Moreover, a tenant who claims constructive eviction may waive his rights if he waits an unreasonable length of time before vacating the premises. But a tenant generally may not claim constructive eviction until such time as he actually vacates the premises.”
“(1) For any reason listed in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a landlord of any residential property may not: (i) Bring or threaten to bring an action for possession against a tenant; (ii) Arbitrarily increase the rent or decrease the services to which a tenant has been entitled; or (iii) Terminate a periodic tenancy.
“(2) A landlord may not take an action that is listed under paragraph (1) of this subsection for any of the following reasons: (i) Because the tenant or the tenant’s agent has provided written or actual notice of a good faith complaint about an alleged violation of the lease, violation of law, or condition on the leased premises that is a substantial threat to the health or safety of occupants to: 1. The landlord; or 2. Any public agency against the landlord; (ii) Because the tenant or the tenant’s agent has: 1. Filed a lawsuit against the landlord; or 2. Testified or participated in a lawsuit involving the landlord; or (iii) Because the tenant has participated in any tenants’ organization.”
“The relief provided under this section is conditioned on the tenant being current on the rent due and owing to the landlord at the time of the alleged retaliatory action, unless the tenant withholds rent in accordance with the lease, § 8-211 of this subtitle, or a comparable local ordinance.”