Under Maryland law regarding residential properties, both landlords and tenants have certain rights. It is important that landlords understand these rights and their obligations so that they can protect their interests and their property if a dispute arises. The attorneys at Snee, Lutche, Helmlinger & Spielberger, P.A. have provided the following information to explain landlords’ rights under Maryland law.
A security deposit is a set amount of money that protects the interests of the landlord in the event that a tenant breaks their lease earlier than the set termination date or if there is damage to the property. Typically, the security deposit is due at the time of the lease signing.
Under Maryland law, a landlord is permitted to require a security deposit in an amount equivalent to the price of two months’ rent. However, it is more common for landlords to request a security deposit amount equal to that of one month’s rent. After the full term of the lease, a landlord is required to issue a document detailing any deductions from the deposit for damage to the property or dwelling outside of what can be considered usual wear and tear. The landlord then has 45 days to issue a refund of a tenant’s security deposit in the amount left after any deductions; or depending on any damage, may issue a notice that they are withholding the security deposit.
There are a number of required disclosures that a landlord must provide a tenant. First, when drafting a leasing agreement, landlords must make explicit note of a tenant’s rights to move-in and move-out inspections. These inspections are often beneficial to both parties as they allow tenants to identify and make note of any existing damage to the property prior to moving in, and for the landlord to make note of any damage that occurred during the tenant’s occupation of the property. It is important that landlords meticulously note any damage that has occurred prior to move out, and any issues that may have transpired between tenants.
A landlord is also required by law to provide a tenant with a statement regarding the current condition of the property, and describing the specific obligations of the landlord during the duration of the lease. For example, a proper disclosure document should make the tenant aware of whether they are responsible for paying utility bills and making repairs to the property, in addition to stating any repairs that were made to the property previously. Having signed documentation acknowledging tenant and landlord responsibilities can protect a landlord’s interests if their tenants attempt to withhold rent or break their lease.
Lastly, a landlord must provide in writing, their name and address, or the name and address of the leasing agency and the name of a representative who a tenant can contact with issues.
Landlords have the right to collect monthly rent payments on a date specified within the leasing agreement. When a tenant fails to submit their rent on time, a landlord has the right to charge late fees not exceeding 5% of the rent due. Maryland laws specify when and how much rent a tenant is permitted to withhold. Before a tenant is legally permitted to withhold rent, they are required to give a landlord ample notice of the issues that have given rise to the situation. A tenant must also allow for an appropriate amount of time wherein the landlord can make repairs.
A landlord may file for eviction immediately if a tenant fails to make rent payments on time. They then are required to give the delinquent tenant at least 5 days’ notice to appear in court. The tenant can pay the rent due and the court costs to avoid eviction, or must vacate the property within 96 hours.
Landlords have specific rights under Maryland law. If you feel as though your tenant has violated the terms of your leasing agreement or your rights; or if you have questions regarding Maryland landlord and tenant law, contact one of the experienced landlord-tenant law attorneys at Snee, Lutche, Helmlinger & Spielberger, P.A.
SLH assists clients with litigation services related to commercial and residential leases, including rent collection, eviction and breach of lease actions for both landlords and tenants.