A residential lease agreement in Baltimore is a binding document between a landlord and a tenant. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions surrounding the use of a rental property in exchange for payment.
Residential Lease Agreement Requirements in Baltimore
Baltimore currently has several mandatory notices or disclosures that landlords must provide to tenants. These disclosures are either in addition to or modify requirements for Maryland’s lease agreement requirements.
Tenant’s Rights Brochure
As of April 2021, landlords must give tenants a copy of the tenant’s rights brochure. This brochure contains information regarding legal resources that are available to tenants. Landlords must also provide this brochure if they have started a lawsuit against the tenant.
Baltimore lease agreements must contain a provision stating that the landlord cannot charge a late fee unless the tenant is 10 days late in paying rent. If the lease already includes a late fee provision, it must specify that the landlord cannot charge the tenant until after 10 days.
Notice Period for Changes
The landlord must provide tenants with 10 days’ written notice for the following scenarios:
- Changes in contact information
- Payment for water/wastewater services
- Late fees
Landlords in Baltimore must include a floodplain disclosure if their rental property is located within a flood zone. This disclosure must include the following language:
NOTICE TO PROSPECTIVE TENANT
The rental unit you are to occupy or the motor vehicle parking area or separate storage facility you are to use (as the case may be) is situated in an area prone to flooding during unusually heavy or prolonged steady periods of rain. Such flooding may damage personal belongings and motor vehicles. Because of this possible loss, you may be eligible for U.S. Government subsidized flood insurance on the personal belongings in your unit. In any event, because of this danger of loss of your personal belongings due to flooding, you may wish to consider acquiring flood insurance which may be purchased from some insurance agents.
Damage to motor vehicles may not be covered by such insurance; therefore you may also wish to determine whether or not you have sufficient motor vehicle insurance to cover loss due to damage of your motor vehicle resulting from flooding in this area.
The Baltimore City Department of Planning can provide information pertaining to the susceptibility of this area to flooding. You may wish to contact that Department, at (telephone number), before signing either this acknowledgment or the lease agreement for this rental unit.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT BY PROSPECTIVE TENANT
I acknowledge reading and understanding the foregoing warning concerning flooding. I have been provided time, prior to signing either this acknowledgment or a lease, to contact the Baltimore City Department of Planning concerning the susceptibility of the area around my rental unit to flooding.
Landlord-Tenant Rights and Regulations in Baltimore
When it comes to landlord-tenant rights, Baltimore landlords should be aware of the following:
Termination of Tenancy by the Tenant
After both parties have agreed to terminate the tenancy, the tenant must give the landlord 72 hours’ notice before moving out of the unit. Additionally, the tenant must return the keys to the landlord within 24 hours of moving out.
Termination of Tenancy by the Landlord
For leases that are for one year or less, landlords in Baltimore must give tenants 60 days’ notice to terminate the lease agreement. However, in the following circumstances, landlords are only required to provide 30 days’ notice:
- The tenant is violating the lease agreement
- The tenant is causing a nuisance or engaging in illegal activity
- The tenant’s occupancy is 5 months or less
- The tenant’s lease has expired and they are subletting their unit/not personally using the unit
- The unit is a non-housekeeping furnished room/does not have cooking utilities
Regardless of the length of the lease term, the landlord is required to give 60 days’ notice under the following circumstances:
- Owner/immediate family move-in
- Construction or renovations
- The unit is being converted for non-residential purposes
In Baltimore, tenants who stay beyond the end of their lease term (known as holdover tenants) are liable for up to double the rent amount for the period after the end of the lease. If the landlord wishes to evict the tenant and the court is in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be responsible for up to twice the rent plus the landlord’s court costs.
Misrepresentation, Diminishing of Essential Services, and Lockouts
In Baltimore, landlords who take the following actions may be fined up to $500 and imprisoned for a maximum of 10 days:
- Make false statements about the tenant’s rights
- Prevent the tenant from entering or leaving the property
- Decrease essential services such as gas electricity, water, or heat
In Baltimore, if a housing violation occurs, landlords are prohibited from increasing the rent until the violation has been fixed. For serious violations (e.g., no running/hot water, light, electricity, or other safety hazards), the landlord must correct the violation within 30 days. For non-serious violations, the landlord has 60 days to correct the violation.
Optional Lease Agreement Disclosures and Addendums in Baltimore
While not mandatory, landlords can add specific disclosures and addendums to their leases. This helps outline the responsibilities of the tenant and can prevent future liability issues.
Crime and Drug-Free Addendum
Due to Baltimore’s high crime rate, it would be in the landlord’s best interest to include an addendum stating that engaging in criminal activity, including drug-related activity, is prohibited on or near the property.
Baltimore’s humid climate increases the risk of mold, and landlords may want to include a mold addendum. This will prevent landlords from being liable for future mold-related damage.
Bed Bug Addendum
Baltimore has frequently been ranked as one of the top cities for bed bugs—which is why landlords may want to include a bed bug addendum in their rental agreements. This addendum provides information about preventing infestations and the proper protocol if one arises.
Summary of Required Lease Disclosures for the State of Maryland
- Landlord’s Name and Address – Oregon leases must contain the name and address of the landlord or authorized agent.
- Security Deposit Receipt – Maryland landlords collecting a security deposit must give a receipt to the tenant.
- Water and Sewage Utility Obligation Disclosure – Maryland landlords must provide a disclosure when charging tenants directly for water or sewage service.
- Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) Disclosure – Maryland rentals using a ratio utility billing system (RUBS) for utilities must provide certain information to all prospective tenants, in writing.
- Statement of Habitation Disclosure – Maryland law requires, in all leases, a statement concerning the property’s health and safety.
- Lead-Based Paint – It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints.