and Tenants: Tips on Avoiding Disputes
Attorney General's Office, Consumer Protection Division
provides you with information about Maryland landlord/tenant laws. It
covers topics dealing with applications, leases, security deposits, rent
escrow, lead paint hazards, eviction, and where to seek help if problems
reviewing this material, keep in mind that many Maryland counties and
Baltimore City have different landlord/tenant laws that may provide additional
protections or require that you follow different procedures.
A free, printed
copy of this booklet may be ordered by calling the Consumer Protection
Division at (410) 576-6500.
is also available in PDF format; click
Right to Take Possession at Beginning of Lease
Breaking a Lease
Rent Escrow: When the Landlord Fails to Make Repairs
Lead-Based Paint Hazards
Assistance With Rental Problems
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Renee applied for an apartment and paid a $25 application fee. The
next day she found another apartment she liked better. She asked the first
landlord if he would refund her application fee, but he said the fee was
nonrefundable. Did the landlord have the right to keep the fee?
A: Yes. A landlord may keep an application fee of $25 or less.
If a landlord rents more than four units on one piece of property, the
lease application must explain what your obligations and rights are if
an application fee is taken.
fee is any fee other than a security deposit paid to a landlord before
a lease is signed. You should never sign a lease until your application
has been accepted.
use application fees to cover the costs of processing an application,
such as running a credit check. A landlord is entitled to keep an application
fee of $25 or less. If the fee is more than $25, the landlord must refund
any amount that was not actually used to process your application. The
excess amount must be returned to you within 15 days after you've moved
in or after you or the landlord has given written notification that the
rental won't take place.
If the landlord
withholds more than $25 of an application fee from you, you should ask
the landlord to provide a written explanation of exactly what expenses
were incurred, and what the cost of each item was. If you are not satisfied
with the explanation, you may want to pursue the matter further.
If, at the
time you fill out an application, a landlord asks for money to hold an
apartment, it may not be clear to you that you are being asked for a security
deposit. It is not wise to pay a security deposit until your application
has been accepted and you are signing a lease. Before you pay any money,
you should confirm with the landlord whether it will be refunded if you
decide not to rent or if the landlord decides not to rent to you. Ask
the landlord to write that information on a receipt. This could save you
from having to fight to get the money refunded later.
Q. Larry made an oral agreement with a landlord that he would rent an
apartment on a month-to-month basis for $600 a month, that he would pay
the utilities, and move in on the 15th of the following month. Is this
a legal contract?
A. Yes. Oral leases are legal for lease terms of less than one year. However,
a written lease is strongly recommended to help landlords and tenants
is required to use a written lease if the tenancy is going to be for a
year or longer, or if the landlord owns five or more rental units in the
State. Otherwise the landlord and tenant may orally agree on what the
rent and other terms of the rental will be. If you enter into such an
oral contract, it is very important that you know your and your landlord's
legal rights and responsibilities. You should also have a clear understanding
with your landlord about all terms in the agreement. However, it would
be to your advantage to clarify things by having your agreement with the
landlord in a written lease.
use a standard lease for all their tenants. However, there is nothing
to prevent you from negotiating your own terms with the landlord. Additional
terms can be written on the agreement, and terms that are unacceptable
to you can be crossed out. Of course the landlord has to agree to these
terms as well. Be sure that all changes are dated and initialed by both
you and the landlord.
law requires that a landlord who offers five or more dwelling units for
rent in Maryland must include in each lease a statement that the premises
will be available in a reasonably safe, habitable condition; or, if that
is not the agreement, a statement concerning the condition of the premises.
The lease must also specify the landlord's and the tenant's obligations
as to heat, gas, electricity, water, and repair of the premises.
A lease may
not contain any provision that denies rights granted to tenants under
Maryland law. The lease may not:
· authorize a confessed judgment, whereby you waive all rights
to defend yourself;
· impose a late rent penalty higher than 5 percent of the amount
· impose a late rent penalty higher than $3 a week where rent is
paid weekly (not to exceed $12 a month);
· give the landlord the right to evict or take any of your personal
possessions without a court judgment;
· provide for less than 30 days' notice to terminate your lease.
Copy of the Lease
If you request it in writing, a landlord must give you a copy of a lease
before you decide whether to rent. It must include all terms agreed upon,
complete in every detail, but it does not have to state your name and
address, the date you are moving in, or identification and rental rate
of your unit.
It is a very
good idea that you get a copy of the lease to read in advance. Before
you sign a lease, you should be aware of all the terms it includes, including
when rent is due, late fees, procedures for giving notice at the end of
the lease, automatic renewal provisions and return of the security deposit.
You should also read and make sure you can live with the rules regarding
pets, parking, storage areas, noise, requirements to cover floors with
carpeting, trash, maximum number of occupants, and move-out procedures.
A landlord is required to give a tenant a receipt for a rent payment if
the tenant makes the payment in cash or if the tenant requests a receipt.
(In Anne Arundel County, a landlord is required to give a receipt unless
the payment is by check or unless the tenant rents the property for commercial
or business purposes.)
A security deposit is any money paid by a tenant to a landlord that protects
the landlord against damage to the rented property, failure to pay rent,
or expenses incurred due to a breach of the lease.
- The security
deposit may not be more than two months' rent. If you are overcharged,
you have the right to recover up to three times the extra amount charged,
plus reasonable attorney's fees.
- You must
receive a receipt for the security deposit. The receipt can be included
in the written lease. There is a $25 penalty if the landlord fails to
give you a receipt.
- The receipt
or lease should tell you of your right to receive from the landlord
a written list of all existing damages in the rental property, if you
make a written request for it within 15 days of taking occupancy. If
a list of the existing damages is not provided, the landlord may be
liable for three times the security deposit, less any damages or unpaid
- The landlord must put the security deposit in an escrow account. When returning security deposits of $50 or more, the landlord must include simple interest of 3 percent per year, ac-crued at six-month intervals from the date the security deposit was paid for all tenancies that were initiated prior to January 1, 2015. For tenancies that began January 1, 2015 or later, the interest rate is payable at 1.5% OR the simple interest rate accrued at the daily U.S. Treasury yield curve rate for one year, as of the first business day of each year, whichever is greater. The Department of Housing and Community Development has a Rental Security Deposit Calculator on its website at www.dhcd.maryland.gov to make calculation of this interest rate easier. A landlord must pay 4 percent on deposits held before Oct. 1, 2004.
of the Security Deposit
Security deposit disputes often involve misunderstandings about when the
landlord is entitled to keep the security deposit, and disagreements about
whether the tenant caused damage to the rental unit.
broke his lease when he bought a house. The landlord was able to rent
to a new tenant three days after Benny moved out. However, he said he
was keeping Benny's security deposit because Benny had broken the lease.
Was the landlord entitled to keep the money?
A. No, not the entire amount. A landlord may only withhold from the security
deposit an amount equal to actual damages suffered. The landlord didn't
incur any expenses in re-renting, and there was no damage to the apartment,
so his only loss was the three days of lost rent.
lived in an apartment for five years. When she moved out, the landlord
kept her security deposit to repaint the apartment and replace the living
room carpet. Was the landlord entitled to keep the money?
A. No. Unless Carrie damaged the carpet or the walls beyond ordinary wear,
the landlord could not keep any money from the security deposit. A landlord
may not keep a tenant's security deposit to pay for improvements needed
due to normal wear and tear.
must return a tenant's security deposit plus interest, less any damages
rightfully withheld, within 45 days after the tenancy ends. If the landlord
fails to do this without a good reason, you may sue for up to three times
the withheld amount, plus reasonable attorney's fees.
If the landlord
withholds any part of your security deposit, he or she must send you a
written list of damages, with a statement of what it actually cost to
repair the damages, by first-class mail to your last known address within
45 days after you move out. If the landlord fails do this, he or she loses
the right to withhold any part of the security deposit.
the right to be present when the landlord inspects your rental unit for
damages at the end of your lease, if you notify the landlord by certified
mail, at least 15 days prior to moving, of your intention to move, the
date of moving, and your new address. The landlord must then notify you
by certified mail of the time and date of the inspection. The inspection
must be held within five days before or five days after your move-out
date. The landlord must disclose these rights to you in writing at the
time you pay the security deposit. If the landlord does not, he or she
forfeits the right to withhold any part of the security deposit for damages.
Your rights and duties are different if you have been evicted for breach
of the lease, or have left the rented property before the lease expired.
Under these circumstances, in order for you to receive the security deposit
plus interest, you must send a written notice to the landlord by first
class mail within 45 days of being evicted or leaving the property. This
notice must advise the landlord of your new address and request the return
of your deposit. Once the written request is received, the landlord must
then take certain steps.
A list of damages to the rental unit and costs incurred to repair
them must be sent to you by first-class mail within 45 days. If the landlord
fails to send you a list of damages, the right to withhold the security
deposit is forfeited.
The security deposit, plus interest, but less any damages rightfully
withheld, must be returned within 45 days of your notice. If the landlord
fails to return the security deposit, you have the right to sue for up
to three times the deposit, plus reasonable attorney's fees.
or Normal Wear and Tear?
This is often the point on which landlords and tenants disagree. Unfortunately
there are no hard and fast rules that fit every situation. However, common
sense suggests that carpeting will need to be replaced periodically, and
walls will need repainting, due to normal wear and tear. A landlord must
expect to bear these costs as part of doing business. If, however, a tenant
scorched a large area of the carpeting, or dragged an appliance over it
and ripped it, that could reasonably be considered damage. Leaving small
holes from picture hooks in the wall would be wear and tear, while knocking
a hole in the wall that would require drywall or plaster repair could
RIGHT TO TAKE POSSESSION AT BEGINNING OF LEASE
Q. Zack was supposed to move into his new apartment on March 1st. However,
the previous tenant did not move out on time and the landlord said the
apartment would not be ready until the 6th. What could Zack do?
A: Zack had the right to cancel his lease and get back any prepaid rent
or security deposit he had paid to the landlord. If he chose to wait for
the apartment, he could find temporary lodging, put his furniture into
storage, and have the landlord pay for those expenses as well as additional
moving expenses. He would not owe rent for the days he was not able to
occupy the apartment.
If a landlord
fails to allow you to take possession of your rental unit at the beginning
of your lease, you have the right to cancel the lease with a written notice
to the landlord. Also, the landlord is liable to you for any damages you
suffer as a result of not being able to move in at the beginning of the
lease, whether or not you decide to cancel the lease. Unfortunately, while
the landlord may be legally responsible for the your expenses in this
situation, it may not be easy to obtain payment. You may have to take
the landlord to court and then undertake collection efforts.
Q. Linda knew she had to give her landlord 30 days' notice before moving
out. Six weeks before the end of her lease, Linda told a rental office
employee that she would move out at the end of the lease. Later, the rental
office notified her that her lease had automatically renewed, because
she hadn't given the notice in writing, as required by the lease. Was
the landlord allowed to do this?
A: Yes. To protect yourself, always give the landlord notice of your intention
to move out in writing, and keep a copy for yourself.
contain a provision that allows the lease to automatically renew for another
term, or to renew on a month-to-month basis, unless either the landlord
or the tenant gives prior notice that they will not renew. Note how many
days' notice you will have to give the landlord if you do not wish to
renew the lease. If you fail to give this notice in time, you could find
your lease automatically renewed.
give the notice in writing and be sure that the landlord receives it on
time. Send the notice by certified mail if you want to have proof that
it was received on time.
renewal provision in a lease must provide a space for the tenant to give
written acknowledgment agreeing to the provision. If the landlord cannot
show your signature, initials or witnessed mark acknowledging that provision,
the landlord cannot enforce an automatic renewal of the lease.
do not have automatic renewal provisions, so you must sign a new lease
if you wish to continue renting.
or Other Changes in Terms
If you wish to continue renting, be sure you know whether any of the terms
of the lease will change. If your lease has an automatic renewal clause,
the landlord must notify you of a rent increase or any other change with
enough notice for you to decide whether you want to renew or not. If your
lease does not automatically renew, be sure to thoroughly read the new
lease you will sign. It is a new contract between you and the landlord
and any of the terms may be different from the terms in your original
BREAKING A LEASE
Q. Janet notified her landlord that she had to break her lease, as she
was getting married. The landlord said she would be responsible for the
rent for the remaining four months of the lease if he did not find a new
tenant. Was the landlord correct?
A lease obligates
you to pay rent through the end of the lease. If you break your lease,
the landlord can hold you responsible for the rent due through the remainder
of the lease. However, a landlord is required to make a reasonable effort
to re-rent the apartment to limit losses. If the landlord is able to re-rent
the unit, you are only responsible for the rent until the date the new
tenant moves in. However, a landlord with multiple vacant units is not
required to put a new tenant into the unit you have vacated. Also, a landlord
can hold you responsible for costs of re-renting, such as advertising
for a new tenant.
leases have a clause that allows the tenant to cancel the lease with a
certain amount of notice, and perhaps the payment of a fee, such as two
month's rent. Some other leases contain a clause that allows a tenant
to cancel the lease if the tenant is transferred by an employer to a location
a certain number of miles away. Under Maryland law, military personnel
who have received orders for a permanent change of station (or temporary
duty for more than three months) may end a lease with proper notice.
to think ahead before signing a long-term lease. If you anticipate buying
a house, getting married or having to move for some other reason in the
near future, ask the landlord to give you a six-month lease or a month-to-month
lease. If you anticipate a job transfer, ask the landlord to add a job
transfer clause to the contract that would allow you to end the lease
early, with appropriate notice.
ESCROW: WHEN THE LANDLORD FAILS TO MAKE REPAIRS
Q. During the winter months there was very little heat in Sally's apartment.
After calling the landlord several times about the problem, she sent a
written complaint that was ignored. Sally then reported this condition
to the city housing inspector, who issued a notice of violation to the
landlord. Can Sally stop paying rent until the landlord fixes the problem?
A. No, if she stopped paying rent the landlord could evict her. However,
Sally has the right to have adequate heat in her apartment. By following
certain steps, she can deposit her rent money into an escrow account established
at the district court instead of paying rent to her landlord.
law, if a landlord fails to repair serious or dangerous defects in a rental
unit, you have the right to pay your rent into an escrow account established
at the local district court. But the law is very specific about the conditions
under which rent may be placed in escrow. You must give the landlord proper
notice and adequate time to make the repairs before you have the right
to place rent in escrow. The escrow account can only be set up by the
or dangerous conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Lack of
heat, light, electricity or water, unless you are responsible for the
utilities and the utilities were shut off because you didn't pay the
- Lack of
adequate sewage disposal; rodent infestation in two or more units.
- Lead paint
hazards that the landlord has failed to reduce.
- The existence
of any structural defect that presents a serious threat to your physical
- The existence
of any condition that presents a serious fire or health hazard.
is not provided for defects that just make the apartment or home less
attractive or comfortable, such as small cracks in the floors, walls or
to withhold rent for conditions that constitute a threat to life, health
or safety you must notify the landlord by providing actual notice or
by certified mail, or the landlord must receive notice of the violations
from an appropriate government agency such as the local housing department.
then has a reasonable amount of time after receipt of the notice in which
to correct the conditions. If the landlord fails to do this, you may go
to court to file a rent escrow action asking to pay the rent to the court.
escrow account can be established, the court will hold a hearing to listen
to both sides of the story. If the facts call for a rent escrow account
to be set up, the judge can take several actions, including returning
all or part of the money to you as compensation, returning all or part
of the money to you or the landlord in order to make repairs, or appointing
a special administrator to ensure that the repairs are made. Once the
escrow account is established, you must continue to regularly pay rent
into this account.
City has a rent escrow law that is very similar to the state law. Therefore,
Baltimore residents must exercise their rent escrow rights under city
law. If you reside in a county where such a rent escrow law has been adopted,
you must follow procedures required in the local law for setting up an
may withhold rent without establishing an escrow account, but you still
must notify the landlord by certified mail of the problems in the unit
and of your refusal to pay the rent. However, the landlord could take
you to court and try to evict you. You then may defend yourself by telling
the court your reasons for withholding rent. If the court agrees that
the condition of your home or apartment poses a serious threat to your
life, health or safety, you will be required at that time to put your
rent payments into an escrow account until the dispute is resolved.
rent escrow, what else can a tenant do if a landlord does not make repairs?
One thing a tenant can do is to report the landlord to local authorities.
Under a law that was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 1986,
every county in the state must adopt a housing code that meets minimum
statewide standards. Some counties and Baltimore City already have comprehensive
housing and building codes that are enforced by local authorities. The
local authorities will investigate your complaints and, if the landlord
is cited for violations, repairs will have to be made.
RETALIATION AGAINST TENANTS
Q. Julie and two other tenants in her apartment complex circulated a petition
to form a tenants' group to deal with the landlord's failure to make repairs.
The landlord's nephew, who is also a tenant in the complex, reported this
activity to the landlord. Julie was notified by the landlord that her
rent would increase by $100 a month. Does Julie have to pay the higher
rent or face eviction?
A landlord cannot evict you, increase your rent, or fail to provide services
because you organize or join a tenant's organization. Nor could the landlord
take any of these actions if you had complained to him, filed a complaint
against him with the housing inspection department or other agency, or
filed a lawsuit. However, you would have to prove that retaliation was
the only reason for the landlord's action.
Q. Carl and Sandra rented an older rowhome. Because they had young children,
they asked the landlord if the home had lead paint. The landlord said
she had recently painted the walls and woodwork and there was no chipping
paint, so they didn't need to worry. Should Carl and Sandra be satisfied
with that answer?
A. No. At the very least, both federal and Maryland law requires a landlord
renting an older home (built before 1978 for federal law, before 1950
for Maryland law) to give a tenant a specific pamphlet about lead paint
hazards. More importantly, Maryland law requires landlords renting homes
built before 1950 to give the tenant a Risk Reduction Certificate proving
the property has had lead risk reduction measures taken.
Lead-based paint found in older homes is extremely dangerous to young
children and pregnant women. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities,
hearing loss, attention deficit disorder, loss of IQ, speech development
delays, hyperactivity, and aggressive behavior in children. In pregnant
women, it can cause abnormal fetal development and miscarriage.
Maryland Law Provides:
A landlord renting a property built before 1950 in Maryland must meet
three requirements before renting a property to you:
the property and pay a $10 fee annually to the Maryland Department of
- give you
the pamphlets "Lead Poisoning Prevention: Notice of Tenant's Rights"
and "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home," and
Full Risk Reduction Measures (lead hazard treatments) in the property
and get a Risk Reduction Certificate, and give you a copy of the certificate
before you move in.
If a tenant
sends a written "Notice of Defect" to a landlord that there
is chipping, peeling paint or a child with elevated blood lead level in
the property, the landlord must respond by performing Modified Risk Reduction
Measures within 30 days after receiving the notice. Pregnant women and
children under 6 years old must not be in the house while Risk Reduction
Treatments are being performed. If you are required to leave your house
for more than 24 hours while treatments are performed, the property owner
must pay for reasonable expenses for overnight housing and meals for your
family to stay in temporary lead-safe housing.
It is illegal
in Maryland for a landlord to retaliate and evict a tenant primarily because
the tenant or a housing inspector sends a notice to the landlord informing
him or her that there are lead hazards in the property or that there is
a child with an elevated blood lead level in the property.
of Federal Law:
Federal law (Title X - The Federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard
Reduction Act of 1992) requires that a landlord renting a property built
before 1978 disclose any known lead-based paint hazards on the property
to the tenant before the lease is final. The landlord must also give the
tenant a "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home" pamphlet
explaining the dangers of lead-based paint hazards.
It may be illegal for a landlord to require that a family disclose the
blood lead levels of their children prior to the approval of their rental
application, or to discriminate by refusing to rent to families with children
or families with lead-poisoned children. Some landlords have been sued
for these actions.
For more information on the dangers associated with lead-based paint and
how to deal with it in your home, contact the Coalition to End Childhood
Lead Poisoning at (800) 370-LEAD or the Maryland Department of the Environment
(MDE) at (800) 776-2706. The MDE also has helpful information for tenants
and landlords, including copies of the mandated pamphlets, at its LeadLine
website (www.mde.state.md.us/health/lead/). If you suspect your child
has been exposed to lead-based paint, call your child's doctor immediately
to request a blood test.
Q. Joe and two fellow college students rented a house. The lease stated
that only three non-related adults could occupy the house, but Joe invited
two more students to move in to share costs. After neighbors complained
about loud parties, the landlord discovered the extra tenants. He told
the students he was evicting all of them for breach of lease and they
had to be out of the house by the weekend. Could the landlord do that?
A. No. The landlord can evict the students, but not immediately. State
law requires the landlord to first give the tenant one month's advance
notice that he is ending the lease and the reason why.(If the breach of
lease involves tenant behavior that constitutes a danger to other people
or property, the landlord must only give 14 days advance notice.) If the
tenant fails to move out, the landlord has to go to court to get an eviction
Eviction is a legal procedure. The landlord can't just tell you that you
have to move or throw out your belongings. To evict you, a landlord must
go to district court to get a judgment against you. If a landlord moves
your belongings out of the home, changes the locks, or cuts off utilities
without a court order, you should call the police and an attorney or legal
cannot evict you simply because you have filed a complaint or a lawsuit
against him or her or have joined a tenant's association. This is called
a "retaliatory eviction," and you may be able to stop an eviction
by showing the court that your landlord is evicting you solely for one
of these reasons.
can evict you for:
of rent. Your landlord can begin the eviction process as soon as your
rent due date has passed and you have not paid the rent. In most instances,
you can stop the eviction any time before the sheriff actually comes
to evict you by paying the rent that is owed.
over.' If you do not move out when your lease has ended, your landlord
may evict you for "holding over." The landlord must prove
that he or she gave you proper notice (at least one month's advance
written notice) of the ending of your lease.
of lease. A landlord may evict you for breaking some part of your lease
(for example, by having more people living in the home than the lease
permits). Before going to court, the landlord must give you one month's
advance written notice ending the lease (only 14 days' notice is required
when the tenant has exhibited behavior that constitutes a threat to
others'safety). The landlord will have to prove that you violated your
lease and that the violation was a serious one.
the state's attorney, the county attorney, or community associations may
bring an eviction action against tenants involved in illegal drug activities.If
your landlord begins an eviction proceeding, you will receive an official
summons to attend a hearing. The summons may be served on you in person,
but most often it is mailed and/or posted on the rental property. Don't
ignore it. Go to the hearing and be on time! If you don't show up
the landlord will probably win.
gives you the chance to tell your side of the story. For example, you
may be able to prove that you did pay the rent, or that you tried to pay
the rent but the landlord wouldn't accept it, or that the landlord didn't
give you a month's written notice that you had violated your lease and
had to move out.
If the judge
finds the landlord's case more convincing, he or she will rule in favor
of the landlord. Within five working days, the landlord can file for a
court order for the eviction, called a "warrant of restitution,"
and arrange for a sheriff to oversee the eviction.
appeal an eviction judgment. The appeal must be made within four days
of the date of judgment in non-payment of rent cases and 10 days in breach
of lease or holding over cases. You may have to post a bond to cover the
rent while waiting for the circuit court to decide the appeal.
On the date
of an eviction, the sheriff will come to the rental unit to order the
tenant and everyone inside to leave. The landlord or the landlord's employees
can then remove all property from the unit and put it on the public right-of-way
while the sheriff supervises. Once the property is moved from the unit,
it is the tenant's responsibility.
Tenants Facing Eviction
Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. offers information to tenants (and landlords)
statewide about their rights and responsibilities in eviction: toll-free
If an eviction
would leave you homeless, you may be eligible for help from an eviction
prevention program offered by a non-profit housing assistance group or
your local government. One such program is offered by Baltimore City's
Department of Social Services: (410) 878-8650.
WITH RENTAL PROBLEMS
The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division has a Mediation Unit
that can help you try to resolve a dispute with a landlord.
200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202-2021
(410) 528-8662 or
1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free
9 a.m. to 3 p.m., M-F
TDD for hearing impaired person: (410) 576-6372
(consumers can download a consumer complaint form)
Cumberland Telephone Assistance
9 a.m. to 12 p.m., 3rd Tuesday of each month
9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month
Prince George's Office
9200 Basil Court, Suite 301
Largo, MD 20774
Hagerstown, MD 21740
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Mon-Fri.
44 North Potomac Street, Suite 104
Hagerstown, MD 21740
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mon-Fri.
201 Baptist Street
Salisbury, MD 21801
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mon-Fri.
Maryland Branch Office
15045 Burnt Store Road
or toll-free 1-866-366-8343
9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.,Tuesdays
the Consumer Protection Division covers the entire state, some counties
also have their own consumer protection offices that could help you with
rental problems. Find out if your county has its own landlord-tenant laws
that might offer you extra protection. These two counties have a consumer
affairs division that can try to help you with your dispute:
Office of Consumer Affairs
6751 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia, Maryland 21046
County Division of Consumer Affairs
100 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330
Rockville, Maryland 20850
The Legal Aid Bureau, Inc. is a private non-profit law firm that offers
free legal services to people with limited incomes. If you require legal
help to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute, and are financially eligible
for the Bureau's services, you can go to one of the Legal Aid offices
located throughout the state.
- Central Legal Aid 500 E. Lexington Street Baltimore, MD 21202 (410)
539-5340; (800) 999-8904
- Anne Arundel County Office 229
Hanover Street Annapolis, MD 21401 (410) 269-0846 Baltimore/ (410)
263-8330 Anne Arundel Co./ (202)
261-1956 D.C. Metro area
- Baltimore County Office 29
West Susquehanna Avenue Suite 305 Towson, MD 21204 (410) 296-6705
- Cherry Hill Office 2490
Giles Road Baltimore, MD 21225 (410) 355-4223
- Harford/Cecil County Office 5
N. Main Street Suite 200 Bel Air, MD 21014 (410) 836-8202 Harford
Co. (410) 879-3755
Baltimore Co. (800) 444-9529
- Howard County Office District
Court, 2nd Floor 3451 Court House Drive Ellicott City, MD 21043 (410)
- Lower Eastern Shore Office 111
High Street Salisbury, MD 21801 (410) 546-5511
- Metropolitan Maryland (Montgomery, Prince George's and Howard
Counties) Office 6811 Kenilworth Avenue Calvert
Building, Suite 500 Riverdale, MD 20737 (301) 927-6800
- Midwestern Maryland Office (Frederick,
Washington and Carroll Counties) 203A Broadway Frederick, MD 21701
- Montgomery County Office 14015 New Hampshire Avenue Silver
Spring, MD 20904 (301) 879-8752
- Northeastern Maryland Office
(Harford and Cecil Counties) 5 North Main Street, Suite 200 Bel Air,
(410) 836-8282 Harford Co./(410) 879-3755 Baltimore
- Southern Maryland Office Route
#231, 15364 Prince Frederick Road, Hughesville, MD 20637 (301) 932-6661
Charles Co./ (301) 884-5935 St. Mary's Co./ (410) 535-3278 Calvert Co.
- Upper Eastern Shore Office 210
Marlboro Road Easton MD 21601 (410) 763-9676
- Western Maryland Office 110
Greene Street Cumberland, MD 21502 (301) 777-7474 Allegany Co./
(301) 334-8832 Garrett Co.
You may also
get help from these groups:
Justice Center's Tenant Advocacy Project. Assists low-income tenants in
Baltimore to improve substandard housing conditions and prevent unjust
500 E. Lexington St.
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Neighborhoods, Inc. A tenant rights organization.
2217 St. Paul Street Baltimore, MD 21218 (410) 243-6007
Enforcement Agencies (check your local directory)
Some Laws Concerning Landlord-Tenant Issues in Maryland
You can access these laws at many county libraries or look up specific
sections of Maryland laws through Lexis-Nexis at http://220.127.116.11/maryland/lpext.dll?f=templatesandfn=fs-main.htmand2.0
Annotated Code of Maryland
Real Property, Title 8: Landlord and Tenant
of landlord to give tenant receipt
8-203 Automatic renewal provisions
8-203.1 Security deposit receipt
8-204 Right of tenant to possession at beginning of lease
8-208.1 Retaliatory evictions
8-208.2 Retaliatory actions for informing landlord of lead poisoning hazards
8-211 Repair of dangerous defects; rent escrow
8-2121.1 Liability of military personnel receiving certain orders
8-213 Applications for leases; deposits
Title 8A: Mobile Home Parks
6-801-852 Lead paint hazards
Title X - The Federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act
Frequently Asked Questions
has not repaired my dishwasher. Can I hold back part of my rent until
he does? Not paying your full rent may put you at risk of being evicted.
See section on rent escrow for situations that might
qualify for rent escrow.
says I damaged the carpet, but the stains were there when I moved in.
What can I do? If you noted the stains on a move-in inspection form
that you submitted to the landlord, you have proof that you did not cause
the stains. If you didn't note the stains as pre-existing, you have no
proof and the landlord may have a right to hold back part of your security
Do I have
a grace period for late rent payments?
Your lease may give you a certain period of time (for example, five days)
before a late fee is assessed. However, a landlord may legally begin eviction
proceedings as soon as your rent is late.
landlord evict me just by telling me to leave or else he will put my things
on the street? No, a landlord must go to court to get a judgment against
supposed to move in on the first of the month. The other tenant hasn't
moved out. What are my rights? See section on Right
to Take Possession at Beginning of Lease.
wouldn't rent to me, and I think it is a case of discrimination.
I complain to? The Maryland Commission on Human Relations investigates
complaints of housing discrimination based on race, color, religion,
origin, sex, age, familial status, or physical or mental handicap. Call;
301-797-8521 in Hagerstown
301-880-2740 in Leonardtown or,
Do I have
to pay the last month's rent? I thought that was what the security deposit
was for. You are obligated to pay rent through the end of the lease,
including the last month. If you paid all your rent and didn't cause any
damages, the landlord will return your security deposit.
there any limit to how much my landlord can increase the rent for a new
lease term? Maryland state law has no rent control provisions, although
local jurisdictions may have rent control laws. See section on lease