In Maryland, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by Maryland Code §8-211. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
Applicable Dwelling Types in Maryland
The implied warranty of habitability in Maryland does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs||Not specifically addressed|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Condos||Not specifically addressed|
Landlord Responsibilities in Maryland
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Maryland, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Not addressed|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Not addressed|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes*|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Yes* (AC not required)|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes*|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Not addressed|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Not addressed|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Not addressed|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Not addressed|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Yes|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Not addressed|
|Provide a mailbox.||Not addressed|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||Not addressed|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Not addressed|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||Not addressed|
This section does not apply to farm tenancies.
*Written leases in Maryland address whether the landlord or tenant is responsible for supplying heat, gas, electricity, water, and performing minor repairs. Carefully review the lease provisions in these areas.
Maryland landlords are required to mitigate lead-based paint in any rental properties they own, including exterior paint. Failure to do so can result in legal action, and paying for a tenant’s temporary housing while the lead paint hazard is mitigated.
In addition, for all rental properties built prior to 1978, landlords must provide tenants with a booklet titled “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home” prior to signing the lease.
The landlord may be required to pay up to $2,500 in permanent relocation expenses for a tenant if the issue is not mitigated or cannot be resolved, and the tenant is free to terminate the lease.
If rodents are found in at least two units of a multi-family rental property, the landlord must take action to remove the rodents, and failure to do so is considered to be a habitability issue.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Maryland
If tenants request repairs that affect habitability, they must put their request in writing to the landlord.
- Sending Notice – The tenant must notify the landlord of the breach; the notice can be sent using the following methods: sending a letter via certified mail or delivering the notice in person. The amount of time the landlord has to complete repairs depends on the severity of the defect and the danger it poses to the tenant but should not take more than 30 days to complete.
- Landlord Access – Landlord may enter the property for certain reasons including emergency or to make necessary repairs. A reasonable, 24 hours’ notice should be given, and landlords should only enter the premises during normal business hours (Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm), unless it is an emergency.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Maryland
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – If a landlord refuses to make the repairs after a reasonable amount of time, the tenant may bring an action of rent escrow to pay rent into court.
- Repair and Deduct – Maryland law does not outright state that a tenant can repair and deduct for any necessary repairs.
- Lawsuit – If a landlord fails to make serious repairs within a reasonable amount of time, tenants can pursue legal action against their landlords by filing a complaint through the local District Court. The tenant can then deposit rent money into an escrow account established at the District Court. A hearing will then be held, and the judge will make a decision that could include a reducing rent for the tenant, terminating the tenants’ lease, or ordering the landlord to make necessary repairs. It is important to note that in this case, the conditions of the repairs must be serious or dangerous which may include the lack of heat, electricity or water, rodent infestation, lead-based paint exposure, structural defect, and conditions that present health or fire hazards.
- Reporting to Public Officials – A tenant can report the landlord to local authorities such as a housing or building inspector. The inspectors will investigate the complaint and, if the landlord is cited for violations, repairs must be made.
Minor problems or non-dangerous violations of a local housing code are not covered by this law.
Landlord Retaliation in Maryland
It is illegal for a landlord to evict, increase rent, or fail to provide services in retaliation within a six-month period to the following tenant’s actions:
- Organizing or joining a tenants’ organization.
- Complaining to the landlord.
- Filing a good-faith complaint against the landlord with the housing inspection department or other governmental agency.
- Filing a lawsuit.