Previous SMLH website articles have focused on important language to include in commercial leases. Certainly, residential leases in Maryland should not be neglected and should be regularly reviewed to confirm their compliance with changing Maryland laws. In fact, residential leases are more highly regulated than commercial leases and are required to contain mandatory language addressing specific topics.
The two most significant provisions of Maryland law pertaining to residential leases involve security deposits and lead paint. In order to collect a security deposit in a residential lease in Maryland, a receipt must be given for the security deposit which may not exceed two times the monthly rent. The security deposit must be maintained in a separate, interest-bearing account and the lease is required to contain various notices regarding the application or refund of the security deposit. In particular, notices pertaining to both pre-tenancy and post-tenancy inspection rights of the tenant are required to be included in the lease. The lease also must detail the requirements that the landlord give notice to the tenant of their intention to retain some or all of the security deposit and the basis for that decision. Failure to include the necessary language in a residential lease can expose the landlord to the potential of a treble damages award.
For several years, Maryland has required certain disclosures pertaining to lead paint in residential leases. As of January 1, 2015, changes have been implemented in the Maryland lead-based paint registration process. An excellent article summarizing the requirements of the new lead-based paint regulations in Maryland and their applicability to residential rental properties has been prepared by Samuel Stevenson from Geo-Technology Associates Inc. Click here to view the article.
There is a tendency among residential landlords to either recycle a lease that they have used for years or “pull something off the internet”. Both of these practices are examples of a landlord being “penny wise and pound foolish.” A review of your lease by an experienced Maryland landlord/tenant attorney can identify issues and revisions and potentially head off costly litigation in the future. For additional information on residential leases in Maryland, please contact SMLH.