Under Maryland law, both tenants and landlords have certain rights. It is important when entering into a leasing agreement that tenants understand these rights so that they can protect their interest if a dispute arises. The attorneys at Snee, Lutche, Helmlinger & Spielberger, P.A. have provided the following information to assist in explaining tenants’ 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 his or her 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 rental property 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.
When reading through a leasing agreement, tenants should always look for a disclosure notice that describes their rights to a move-in and a move-out inspection. These inspections serve as a way for 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 tenants meticulously note any preexisting damage before moving in, so that they cannot be held responsible for such at the end of their lease.
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 he or she is responsible for paying utility bills and making repairs to the property, in addition to stating any repairs that were made to the property previously.
Lastly, a landlord must provide in writing, his or her 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.
Maryland laws specify tenants’ rights to rent property that is in accordance with fundamental safety and structural standards. When landlords fail to make safety related repairs or renovations to property, a tenant has the right to withhold rent payments until such has been done. However, before withholding rent a tenant is required to give a landlord ample notice of the issue, and allow for an appropriate amount of time wherein the landlord can make repairs. Maryland laws also specify how much rent a tenant is permitted to withhold.
If a landlord plans on raising the cost of rent, they must give he or she at least one month’s notice of this intent. If tenants enter into a long-term lease agreement, landlords are not permitted to raise the cost of rent until that agreement ends. Tenants are protected by Maryland laws that prohibit a landlord from raising the rent for discriminatory or retaliatory purposes. For instance, a landlord cannot raise the cost of a tenant’s rent because a complaint has been filed about safety or structural problems of the property.
Tenants have specific rights under Maryland law. If you feel as though your landlord or your leasing agreement has violated your rights, or you have questions regarding Maryland tenant rights Contact Laura Bechtel 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.