Maryland Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Maryland Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Last Updated: January 19, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions
  • Unpaid rent
  • Costs of damage
  • Damages due to breach of lease
Return Deadline 45 Days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 4x Amount Due + Attorneys’ Fees

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Maryland, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Maryland

In Maryland, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Monetary damage as a result of a breach of the lease

Most states, such as Maryland, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage in Maryland?

Normal wear and tear is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way, such as gently worn carpets and faded walls. Damage is the destruction caused by abusive or negligent use of a rental unit, like ripped carpets and heavily stained walls.

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

“Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Maryland?

Yes, landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.

Some wear and tear on a rental unit’s carpet is expected after normal day-to-day use of the property. For example, carpets typically become discolored, indented, or gently worn, when used in a normal way. However, non-typical, abusive use of carpet results in rips, visible stains, or burns. Landlords have the right to charge the tenant for the replacement of the carpet in areas where serious damage has occurred.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Maryland?

Yes, landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures. However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Maryland?

Landlords in Maryland can make deductions from the security deposit for cleaning, but only if the tenant causes damage that requires cleaning (e.g. wine stains on the carpet).

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Maryland?

Yes, in Maryland, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes minor scrapes from daily use, fading due to sunlight, or minor cracks in the original paint. Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

note

In Takoma Park, landlords are required to repaint rental units every five years. Thus, a tenant cannot be charged for repainting if they move out after five years, despite the level of damage to the paint.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Maryland?

Maryland law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Returns in Maryland

Landlords must conduct a final inspection with a tenant if requested in writing by the tenant. Landlords must return any remaining portion of a security deposit plus interest (if due) by first-class mail to the tenant’s last known address within 45 days from the termination of the lease with an itemized list of damages (if any).

Landlords must honor a tenant’s request to attend a final inspection if the tenant makes a request in writing by certified mail at least 15 days prior to the move-out date. If requested by the tenant, the landlord must reply by certified mail with the date and time of the inspection, scheduled within 5 days of the move-out date (before or after).

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Maryland?

Maryland landlords have 45 days after the lease term ends to return any remaining portion of a security deposit.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Maryland?

Landlords in Maryland do owe interest except on security deposits less than $50 or held for less than six months. The interest calculator provided by the Department of Housing and Community Development can be used to determine the minimum interest due.

The minimum interest is the daily U.S. Treasury yield curve for one year or 1.5% per year, whichever is greater. Interest accrues at monthly intervals but is not compounded.

Landlords do not owe interest on any partial month. For example, if a landlord returns a security deposit after eight months and three weeks, the landlord only owes interest on eight months.

How Do Landlords Give Notice / What Information Do They Have to Provide in Maryland?

If deductions are to be made from the security deposit, an itemized statement of deductions must be sent by first-class mail to the tenant’s last known address. The itemized statement must include supporting documentation that identifies the materials or services provided.

If a landlord cannot identify actual costs within 45 days, they can provide an estimate instead. The landlord must notify the tenant in writing within 30 days after the repairs have been completed including invoices or receipts.

If the actual cost of the repairs is less than what was deducted from the security deposit, the written notice must include a refund for the difference.

note

Landlords are not required to provide an itemized statement of deductions if the tenant was evicted, abandoned the rental unit, or ejected due to a breach of the lease agreement. However, they must return any remaining portion of the security deposit if requested in writing by the tenant.

Security Deposit Disputes in Maryland

If landlords do not return the security deposit or provide a written statement of deductions, if any, within the required time period, tenants can file a lawsuit for return of the amount wrongfully withheld plus damages up to three times the amount of the deposit due to the tenant plus reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Failing to hold the security deposit in a financial account
  • Failing to provide interest on the security deposit
  • Failing to provide a receipt including the required disclosures
  • Requiring more than two months’ rent as a security deposit
  • Making unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Maryland?

If a landlord fails to perform their obligations regarding a security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in the small claims division of District Court if the amount of damages is less than $5,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in the District Court.

A small claims case regarding the return of a security deposit must be filed within 2 years.

Cases are filed in the District Court where the defendant lives, works, or does business, or, if the defendant is a corporation, where they have a main office. An attorney is not required but permitted. The filing fee is $34 plus the cost of service.

Our website provides more information about the process of filing a dispute in Small Claims Court.

Sources