Whether you’ve been a landlord for years or are just starting out, it’s important to know what your local laws require from you. Tenants expect to be treated fairly, and following the law gives you a great foundation to do so. Each state has different requirements, and below are some of the Maryland-specific laws that you should know about as a landlord.
Collecting Rent and Other Fees
Being a landlord anywhere requires that you collect rent and other fees from your tenants. However, each state has different rules and regulations regarding what you can charge for and what you can’t. You may have questions like, is there a legal grace period for rent? Or, is there rent control in Maryland?
There is no mandatory grace period in Maryland, so you can use your own discretion when deciding how long to wait before charging a late fee. As for rent control, there is no statewide rule, but there could be some rent control regulations in certain localities. Landlords can charge an application fee of up to $25, and late fees can only be 5% of monthly rent or less.
Maryland also upholds the tenant’s right to withhold rent payments when a landlord refuses to repair a condition that presents a serious threat to occupants. The tenant can either withhold rent or bring an action of rent escrow into court. The tenant must send a written notice to the landlord through the mail to notify them about the condition, and if the landlord does not repair it in a reasonable amount of time, they may go through with withholding rent.
Maryland landlord tenant laws outline that when demanding unpaid rent, Maryland landlords may file for eviction after providing a 10-day notice to pay or quit. If the tenant violates the lease for reasons besides nonpayment, the landlord must send a 30-day notice to quit. Finally, if the tenant engages in dangerous behavior that threatens the safety of the landlord, neighbors, or property, the landlord can send an unconditional notice to quit which gives the tenant 14 days to quit the unit. Maryland eviction laws ensure that the tenants and landlords are on the same page regarding the legal basis and procedures for eviction.
It’s also important to remember that there are seven federally protected classes: race, national origin, sex, disability, color, familial status, and religion. In Maryland, sexual orientation, gender identity, and source of income are added as protected classes. You cannot discriminate against tenants based on these characteristics, so make sure that you have a justifiable legal basis for all evictions (typically, a breach of the lease or the law).
Security deposits belong to your tenant unless they fail to maintain the terms of the lease agreement. Violations warranting deductions from the security deposit could include physical damage to the property, unpaid rent, or anything else that was previously specified in your rental agreement. Maryland security deposit laws set the deposit limit at two months’ rent, and landlords are also required to pay tenants interest on those deposits. Either the interest rate should be 1.5% a year or the amount accrued at the daily US Treasury yield curve rate for one-year, whichever amount is greater. However, there is no interest required for deposits that are being held for less than six months or that are less than $50.
There is certain information that landlords must disclose to their tenants prior to move in. These required disclosures ensure that the tenant is fully informed about their new home and any risks that may be associated with it. In Maryland, one required disclosure is a notice of receipt of the security deposit. Landlords must provide a receipt for the collected security deposit within the written lease agreement, and the receipt should let tenants know that they can be present during both the move in and move out inspections.
Another required disclosure is that if the landlord uses a ratio utility billing system, they must disclose exactly how they allocate utilities between all the tenants. This law should be referenced in the rental agreement.
Investing in real estate in Maryland can be a great idea if you do the proper research to make sure it’s the right state for you. Each state comes with its own laws regarding real estate. To ensure you’re staying within the confines of the law, take the time to study all the rules or hire an attorney if you’re unsure. Use this article as a guide for further research.