Maryland Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Maryland landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Maryland Landlord Tenant Act.

MD Landlord Tenant Law:

  • Maryland Code, Real Property, Title 8 - Landlord and Tenant

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks.

The application fees should not exceed $25 - If it is more than $25, the landlord shall return the remaining amount within 15 days once the tenancy begins or once the applicant has been rejected. If the landlord fails to do so, he or she shall have to pay the tenant double the fee amount.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-213.(b)(1)

This application fee cannot be used as part of the security deposit.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, Maryland landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating someone as a renter because of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status (or change in marital status).

However if the dwelling has four or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  42 U.S.C. § 3603(b)

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

Maryland landlord tenant law requires landlords who are renting out five or more dwelling units to use written leases. If there is no written lease, the landlord shall have to rent the property to the tenant for at least one year AND the tenant can terminate the tenancy early by giving one month's notice in writing.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-208.(a)

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Maryland landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-210.(a)(1)(i)
  • Name and address or property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-210.(a)(1)(ii)
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-211.1.(a)
  • Landlord's and tenant's duties for heat, gas, electricity, water and repairs  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-208.(c)(2)
  • Statement that the rental unit is safe and habitable  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-208.(c)(1)
  • Statement in capital letters: THIS IS NOT A CONTRACT TO BUY. ; and a statement of its purpose and effect with respect to the ultimate purchase of the property subjected by the lease.

The landlord must give the tenant a copy of the written lease if he or she requests for it.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-208.(b)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Maryland landlord tenant law Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-208.(d), your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • permit the tenant to authorize another person to confess judgment (on a claim arising from the rental agreement)
  • make the landlord or tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the Maine Landlord and Tenant Act
  • allow late rent fees to be more than 5% of amount due
  • limit the tenant's right to a jury trial
  • allow the landlord a shorter notice to quit period (less than required by Maryland landlord tenant law)
  • allow the landlord to seize the tenant's belongings unless they were abandoned or the tenancy has been terminated
  • contain terms and conditions that goes against public policy
  • limit the tenant's liability when they have failed in their duties
  • allow the landlord to evict the tenant for organizing or joining a tenant association

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Security Deposit

Maryland landlord tenant law allows the landlord to ask for up to two month's rent as security deposit.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-203.(b)

If the landlord charged more than two month's rent as security deposit, the tenant can sue the landlord for three times the excess amount charged plus attorney fees.

The landlord has to give the tenant a receipt for the security deposit.

Holding Security Deposit

Maryland landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in an account of a federally insured financial institution. The landlord can only use the account to hold security deposits.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-203.(d)(1)

After the tenancy ends, the landlord has to return the security deposit plus 3% interest (after deductions) to the tenant.

If the deposit is less than $50 or the landlord hasn't held it for at least six months, the landlord won't have to pay any interest.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-203.(e)(3)

Deductions and Returns

Maryland landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
   
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Maryland landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-203.(f)(1)

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 45 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing. If the landlord did not send this list to the tenant, he or she has to return the full deposit amount.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-203.(h)(3)

In addition, the landlord has pay the tenant 3% interest on the security deposit amount.

The tenant can be present when the landlord or landlord's agent conducts a move out inspection. This inspection has to take place five days before or after the tenant moves out.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-203.(f)(1)(v)

If the landlord fails to follow Maryland landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit and the accrued interest, the tenant can sue the landlord for up three times the deposit amount withheld plus attorney fees.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-203.(e)(4)

If Property is Sold

Once the property ownership is transferred, the new owner will be responsible for refunding any security deposit or prepaid rent to the tenant (at the end of the tenancy). Therefore the new owner should make sure that the previous owner transfers all security deposits and prepaid rents along with the property.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-203.(d)(3)

The previous owner is no longer responsible for the tenancy once ALL three conditions are met:

  1.  The previous owner makes a proper transfer of all security deposits and prepaid rents to the new owner
  2. The previous owner informs the tenant in writing that the property is being sold
  3. The new owner and tenant enters into a new agreement on the condition and contents of the property

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Baltimore, Maryland MD

Maryland Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.

If a share of crops growing on the property shall be paid as rent, then a lien would be placed on these crops.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-115.(a)

The Maryland Landlord Tenant Act requires all landlords to maintain records of the following:

  • date that rent was paid
  • amount of rent paid
  • receipt was given for rent paid in cash

In Anne Arundel county, landlords have to give residential tenants receipts for all rent payments unless it is paid by check.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-205.(a)

Late Rent

If the landlord wants to impose fees for late rent payments, it cannot exceed 5% of the amount due. If the rent is paid weekly, the late fees cannot exceed $3 per week (or $12 per month).  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-208.(d)(3)

Raising Rent

According to the Maryland Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.

For a month to month tenancy, the landlord should inform the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance. The tenant can then choose to pay the higher rent or move out.
   
For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Minimum Livability Code Md. Code, Real Prop. § 12-203.11 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Fire safety: Install and maintain smoke detectors
  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety

If the landlord's property has two or more housing units, he or she is also required to do the following:

  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and sanitary
  • Pest Control: Exterminate any insect, rodent or pest infestation (unless it is caused by the tenant)

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

The Minimum Livability Code Md. Code, Real Prop. § 12-203.11 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and sanitary
  • Waste Disposal: Store and dispose all waste from the property in a clean and sanitary manner

If the landlord's property is a single housing unit, the tenant is also required to exterminate any insect, rodent or pest infestation.

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition, the tenant can withhold rent by paying rent to an escrow account at the local District Court (instead of giving it to the landlord).  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-118

Unsafe or unlivable conditions include the following:

  • No heat, light, electricity or water (if the landlord are responsible for them)
  • Inadequate sewerage disposal
  • Rodent infestation (in two or more units)
  • Lead paint hazard
  • Structural defect that poses a serious threat to safety
  • Serious fire or health hazard

Before filing for a rent escrow lawsuit, the tenant has to inform the landlord of the unsafe condition(s) and give him or her a reasonable amount of time to fix it.

If the landlord violates the Minimum Livability Code on purpose, he or she can be imprisoned for up to 3 months for each violation or fined up to $500 for each day of violation (or both).  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 12-203.06.(j)

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Property Access

There are no Maryland landlord tenant statutes on when and how the landlord can enter the property.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When does the landlord require the tenant's permission to enter the property?
    Examples: Making repairs, supplying essential services, inspecting for damages, showing property to prospective buyers or tenants
  • How long in advance should the landlord inform the tenant before entering the property?
  • When is the landlord allowed to enter the property without the tenant's permission?
    Examples: Handling emergencies (such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion), tenant has abandoned the property
  • What are the penalties if the tenant refuses the landlord's valid request to enter the property?
  • What are the penalties if the landlord enters the property without the tenant's permission or without a valid reason?

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Subletting

There are no specific Maryland landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Annapolis, Maryland MD

Annapolis, Maryland MD

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Maryland landlord tenant law Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-402.(b)(3) requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy. How long in advance you have to give this notice depends on the type of tenancy:

Week to week tenancy

7 days

Month to month tenancy

30 days

Year to year tenancy

3 months

Farm tenancy

6 months

For rental homes in Montgomery county that are NOT single family dwellings, you have to give two month's notice to quit for a month to month tenancy.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-402.(b)(3)(iii)

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant or occupant is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault

30 days

Tenant is deployed in the armed forces

30 days

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

Tenant or Occupant is a Victim of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault

If the tenant or occupant is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, he or she can terminate the tenancy by giving the landlord a written 30 day notice to quit plus a copy of protective order or peace order (proving that tenant or occupant is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault).  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-5A-02.(b)

The tenant has to deliver this notice to the landlord by first class mail or in person.

Tenant is Deployed in the Armed Forces

Maryland tenant law allows a service member to terminate the tenancy agreement if ONE of the following conditions is met:

  • Service member received orders for a permanent change of station
  • Service member received orders for a temporary change of station for more than 90 days
  • Service member received orders requiring him or her to move into quarters on a military installation
  • Service member is discharged, released or retires

The tenant may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written notice to quit AND a copy of the military orders or written verification signed by the service member's commanding officer. The tenant shall have to pay rent for the next 30 day plus all amounts owed to the landlord.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-212.1

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire or (unavoidable) accidents, the tenancy shall terminate immediately as long as the tenant hasn't rented the property for more than seven years. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or accident.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-112

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Eviction

According to Maryland landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

5 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement

30 days

Tenant or tenant's guest endangered others or themselves on property

14 days

Tenant or tenant's guest caused serious property damage

14 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a five day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out.

If the rent is paid within five days, the tenant may continue staying on the property.

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement, the landlord can send the tenant a 30 day written notice to terminate the tenancy.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-402.1.(a)(1)

If the tenant or tenant's guest endangered others (or themselves) on property, the landlord can send the tenant a 14 day written notice to terminate the tenancy.

If the tenant or tenant's guest caused serious property damage, the landlord can also send the tenant a 14 day written notice to terminate the tenancy.

Unlawful Eviction

According to Maryland landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with (the unlawful methods above) or shuts off utilities, the tenant can sue for the landlord for actual damages and attorney fees.  Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-216

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Abandonment

There are no specific Maryland landlord tenant laws on abandonment of property by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?
  • What will happen to the tenant's abandoned belongings? - Can the landlord dispose or sell them immediately OR does the landlord have to hold it for a period of time?
  • If the landlord is holding the abandoned belongings, how long does the tenant have to claim it back AND does the tenant have to pay the landlord any holding costs?

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Resources

Maryland Landlord Tenant Law: Maryland Code Real Property Title 8 - Landlord and Tenant

Maryland Landlord Tenant Handbook: Landlords and Tenants - Tips on Avoiding Disputes

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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