Maryland Habitability Laws

Maryland’s Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act governs landlord/tenant issues in the state. Read further to learn what landlords are responsible for providing and how long they have to make repairs. Learn how tenants should request maintenance and how habitability applies to damages and security deposits.

Quick Facts for Maryland

Who Does The Warranty of Habitability Apply To?

The Warranty of Habitability in Kentucky applies to short-term and long-term rental properties that are single-family or multi-family dwellings. It also applies to mobile home parks and condos.

How Long Do Tenants Have to Make Repairs?

N/A

What Are Tenants Responsible For?

Tenants are required to keep the rental reasonably clean; landlords can ask a tenant to clean up if they are not doing so. Tenants are allowed to deduct the costs of any repairs they make from their monthly rent.

What are Landlords Responsible For Providing?

Working HVAC equipment, plumbing, electrical, sanitation facilities, and elevators (in buildings that have them), as well as a trash can (for trash pickup services), and fire exits. Landlords are not liable for damage caused by the tenants. Tenants can live in temporary housing until the landlord fixes a habitability issue.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Something?

After tenants request repairs, landlords must make them within a “reasonable time” (no more than 30 days). Unless otherwise specified in the lease, landlords do not have the right to access a rental property in Maryland.

The following chart lays out which types of rental units the law applies to.

*Condos and mobile home parks have their own special rules and are not covered in this article.

Understanding the Law

For all residential properties, landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents.

They’re also required to perform any repairs necessary for the unit to be livable—unless those needed repairs have been caused by the tenant’s actions. 

Tenants are required to pay for any repairs caused by their own negligence or intentional acts, which may come out of the security deposit.

Rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence. 

Landlord Responsibilities

The following chart lists common landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Maryland, as indicated below.


Lead-based Paint

*Written leases in Maine 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.

Rodents

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.

Addressing Habitability Issues

For any repairs a landlord makes due to the tenant’s actions, a landlord can:

  • Use the tenant’s security deposit to pay for any damage to the property when the tenant moves out.
  • Pursue legal action.

Tenant Repair Requests

If tenants request repairs that affect habitability, they must put their request in writing to the landlord.

The landlord will then have a “reasonable” time period, but not more than 30 days, to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice from the tenant.

Landlord Access

Maryland law does not provide landlords the right to enter the rented premises.  It must be incorporated into a lease agreement; otherwise, the tenant is not required to allow the landlord entry.

Failure to Provide the “Essentials”

If a lease agreement requires the landlord to pay for utilities, and the landlord fails to do so, then tenants can pay the utilities themselves and deduct this amount from their monthly rent until the landlord begins paying for utilities again.

For all other issues, the tenant must pay rent into the court’s registry in order to receive damages or the tenant can withhold rent until the issue is corrected, but the tenant will not be eligible for damages.

Retaliation

Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is under Maryland law.  Landlords found guilty of retaliation could be ordered to pay the tenant an amount equal to three months’ rent.

Security Deposits and Repairs

Finally, the landlord is required to provide an itemized list of the costs for any repairs that will be withheld from the tenant’s security deposit within 45 days of the lease’s termination. 

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, they will be required to pay three times the amount withheld.

Sources

  1. LexisNexis, Maryland Revised Statutes, Real Property, Title 8 – Landlord and Tenant.
  2. Maryland Attorney General, “Landlords and Tenants: Tips on Avoiding Disputes.”
  3. Landlord.Com, “Landlord Legal Rights of Entry by State.”

Read About the Warranty of Habitability in Other States