Maryland Rental Application Form

Last Updated: December 4, 2023 by Roberto Valenzuela

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A Maryland rental application form helps a landlord choose a prospective tenant who is well suited to rent a particular property. The form requests personal and employment information plus consent for a credit check (sometimes called a consumer report). Applications often collect a non-refundable fee, commonly equal to the cost of getting the relevant screening reports.

Maryland Rental Application Laws

Maryland does not cap application fees, but unspent fees (the difference between actual costs and fee collected) totaling more than $25 must be returned within 15 days of receipt, unless the landlord is renting four or fewer dwellings, renting seasonally, or renting condominiums. A landlord who withholds more than $25 may be asked to provide a written, itemized explanation of costs.

Quick Guide To Process a Maryland Rental Application

After receiving a Maryland rental application, most landlords use the following process to evaluate the potential tenant:

  1. Verify Credit – Order a credit report for the potential tenant; a score of 600-650 is a common minimum requirement. A credit report can be as simple as a “pass/fail” result or can have comprehensive details, including criminal history. (NOTE: a credit report requires the tenant’s written and signed consent, on the application or separately)
  2. Verify Income – Check the potential tenant’s employment status and pay scale. This can be done through recent pay stubs and/or contacting the potential tenant’s employer.
  3. Check Rental History – Contact previous landlord(s) to confirm a potential tenant has in the past been a good renter and neighbor.
  4. Check Eviction History – Verify the potential tenant has honestly disclosed the details of any past evictions. An eviction check usually covers a longer period (previous 7 years) than a rental history check (previous 3 years).
  5. Check Criminal History – Confirm the potential tenant’s reporting of any criminal history, especially including a check of criminal databases like sex offender registries.
  6. Provide a Response – Approve the application if it’s a good fit, or, if rejecting the application, draft an appropriate adverse action notice to limit liability.

Checking Eviction History in Maryland

Maryland eviction cases are matters of public record which anyone can access. While third-party services often automatically check eviction history as part of a screening report, this also can be checked manually, with the following process:

  • Access Maryland’s Judiciary Case Search
  • Agree to the disclaimer
  • Enter the potential tenant’s name and other information you may have to view existing records
  • Select the case number to be taken to available details

Restrictions on Maryland Rental Application Questions

The sample rental application provided on this page complies with federal law restricting the information a landlord can request. In general, it’s illegal under the Federal Fair Housing Act to screen tenants by asking for information about the following, or using these as a basis for approving or denying an application:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin (nationality)
  • Religion
  • Sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)
  • Familial status (i.e., having or not having children)
  • Disability (whether physical or mental)

Many counties or communities within Maryland protect additional categories, like age, marital status, rental/public assistance status, and personal appearance. There are narrow exemptions for things like senior housing or certain very-small scale landlords, but other local regulations may still apply. Always consult an attorney before attempting to ignore state, local, or federal requirements.

Rejecting an Application: Adverse Action Notice

When taking an action which may disadvantage a potential tenant, a landlord may have to provide an adverse action notice informing the tenant about the decision (sometimes called a “conditional approval,” if the application is approved subject to meeting additional conditions). Federal regulations require an adverse action notice whenever a landlord collects a credit report and takes one of the following actions:

  • Rejecting the potential tenant’s application
  • Adding a requirement for someone to co-sign the potential tenant’s lease
  • Demanding a larger security deposit than before, as a condition for renting
  • Asking for higher rent after receiving the report

Important Features of an Adverse Action Notice

An adverse action notice must contain the following details:

  • Note that the landlord took adverse action based on information in a consumer credit report
  • Details of the consumer reporting agency
  • Note that the landlord decided the adverse action, not the agency
  • Declaration of the applicant’s right to a copy of the consumer credit report
  • Declaration of the application’s right to dispute the report within 60 calendar days

While not legally required, it also is expedient for a landlord to explain the reasons for the adverse action, since this establishes a written record of issues with the application.

For an example, see this tenant rejection letter template.

Fees in Maryland

Maryland has the following regulations on fees relating to a new rental:

  • Rental Application Limit: No cap, but unspent funds above $25 are refundable by default
  • Security Deposit Limit: Two months’ rent
  • Pet Fee Limit: No cap

Local jurisdictions may impose stricter regulations than the statewide standard. Always check local laws.