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Maryland Property Management Laws

A comprehensive understanding of property management laws is crucial for property owners who want to easily and effectively oversee their rental units. Laws in the State of Maryland are clear on the obligations for both landlords and tenants, and municipal and county laws also offer specific provisions for residents of those areas. Property management in Maryland includes a combination of real estate law, family law and environmental law, so it is important to have a firm understanding of how these laws interact.

This general overview guide offers information on the main state laws that apply to property managers and their tenants in the state of Maryland. Those who need further information can consult the additional resources included in this guide that specify the exact law codes in question and direct readers to useful agencies and official literature regarding property management. The information included in this guide will help you better understand your rights and obligations as a property manager or landlord in Maryland and what you can expect from your tenants when renting a dwelling.

Key Points

  • 1 A real estate broker’s license is not required to manage properties in Maryland.
  • 2 Maryland law obliges property owners to register any properties that are affected by lead paint and obtain a full risk-reduction lead inspection certificate for those properties (Real Property, Title 8A).
  • 3 Maryland provides a double layer of discrimination protection that works together with federal law to ensure protected classes of citizens are treated fairly by property managers (20-101).
  • 4 Certain obligations for property managers may change depending on whether they live in a unit at their property or if they lease dwellings in properties with five or more units.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.

Property Management Laws Overview in Maryland

Code Description
8-203 Security Deposit Laws
8-204 Right of Tenant to Possess Dwelling
8-208 Provisions for Automatically-Renewing Leases
8-208.1 Retaliatory Eviction Law
8-211 Repair of Dangerous Defects Law
8-212 Service Personnel Provisions
8-401-403 Eviction Law
8-5A-02 Termination of Lease for Victims of Domestic Violence
Real Property, Title 8A Lead Paint Hazard Reduction Law
12-203 ​Minimum Livability Code
20-702 Fair Housing Laws

Property Management Licensing Laws

While property managers in Maryland needn’t obtain a specific property management license (17–301(b)(4)), real estate agents who also provide property management must always follow real estate licensing law. Property managers who are not real estate agents may use a real estate broker to oversee their dwellings, but must first obtain explicit permission from their broker to use their information while managing properties. 

Who can obtain a real estate license in Maryland?

The Maryland Department of Labor oversees real estate licensure within the state and includes a number of rules and provisions citizens must follow to be licensed as a real estate broker. These provisions are as follows:

  1. The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  2. The applicant must be of good character and reputation.
  3. Before being licensed, the applicant must complete a 60-hour, preapproved real estate course.
  4. The applicant must be able to pass the Maryland real estate licensing exam. 

Rental Application Laws

What application fees are allowed? 

Landlords who manage buildings with five or more units can request application fees to cover credit checks and other requirements of processing an application. They may request any reasonable amount but are only entitled to keep $25 or less. The difference must be paid back to the prospective tenant within 15 days of signing the lease or within 15 days of receiving a written notice of refusal to rent (8-213).

Can a landlord discriminate against prospective tenants?

Prospective tenants are protected from certain types of discrimination thanks to the Federal Fair Housing Act and Maryland’s Fair Housing laws. Landlords are forbidden to enact restrictions, such as increased security deposits and higher rents, or refuse to rent to people because of their marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation. Like all American citizens, Maryland tenants are further protected by the Federal Fair Housing Act which prevents discrimination based on color, disability, family status, national origin, race, religion and sex (20-702).

However, Maryland landlords who rent out units in a building in which they themselves live or who rent out unites in a building with five or fewer units are exempt from following Maryland’s Fair Housing laws as they relate to discrimination. 

Security Deposit Laws

Is there a limit on the security deposit amount that can be charged?

Landlords may not charge more than the cost of two months of rent as a security deposit. Anyone found in violation of this rule may be required by a court to pay up to three times the amount of the security deposit back to the tenant (8-203).

Does the landlord have to hold the security deposit in a specific way during occupancy? 

Security deposits must be kept in a separate bank account that is exclusively dedicated to holding security deposits. This account must accrue interest at a rate of 3% or higher if the deposit amount exceeds $50. 

How long does the landlord have to return the security deposit after move out? 

The grace period for returning a security deposit once a tenant moves out is 45 days.

What are the reasons why a landlord can withhold part or all of the security deposit?

A landlord has the right to retain part or all of the security deposit if:

  • The tenant leaves and still owes rent
  • The tenant has damaged the unit beyond everyday wear and tear
  • The tenant has breached his or her lease in a way that leaves the landlord financially responsible

If the landlord makes any deductions from the deposit, he or she must include a list that itemizes the reason for each deduction and its exact dollar amount.

Additionally, tenants may request to have the locks changed if they have been a victim of violence or assault. If they do not reimburse their landlord for the cost within 45 days of the lock change, the landlord may deduct the amount from the security deposit.

What is the penalty if the landlord doesn’t return the security deposit? 

If a landlord does not return the security deposit, he or she may be required to repay the tenant up to three times the amount of the deposit, plus attorney fees, up to a total of $5,000.

Laws About Leases and Lease Termination

What types of lease terms are allowed? 

Both oral and written agreements are considered equally valid under the law for lease terms of one year or less, except in those cases where a landlord manages a building with five or more units. In that case, a written lease is mandatory.

All leases for longer than one year must be concluded in writing. Tenants have the right to assume occupancy of their leased dwelling as of the first indicated date of tenancy.

What happens in the tenant violates the lease? 

If a tenant violates his or her lease, the landlord can evict them with 30 days’ notice, unless the lease violation involves a serious threat of danger. In such case, the tenant may be evicted with 15 days’ notice (8-401).

How much notice is required for a month-to-month lease termination?

Either a landlord or a tenant may end a month-to-month lease arrangement by providing a notice in writing 30 days before the move-out date ( 8-402).

When can a tenant terminate a term lease without penalty? 

Victims of domestic violence or sexual assault are legally entitled to immediately end their leases without penalty (8-5A-02).

How much notice do service members have to supply before terminating the lease?

Active service members have the right to terminate their lease at any time after entering into military service or at the date when the tenant is ordered to deploy. The tenant must provide a written notice of termination and a copy of their military orders to the landlord (8-212).

Are there special lease termination rules for victims of domestic violence? 

Victims of domestic violence or sexual assault are legally entitled to immediately end their leases without penalty (8-5A-02). They must give their landlord written notice of their intent to terminate their lease and include a copy of an order of protection and, in the case of sexual assault survivors, a copy of a peace order. 

How and when can a landlord evict a tenant? 

A landlord can evict a tenant if they violate the terms of the lease, if their rent is paid more than five days late or if they remain in the dwelling after the term of their lease has ended (8-401).

Laws About Rent and Late Fees

When can a landlord increase rent?

A landlord can only increase the rent once a lease is renewed and must notify the tenant in writing at least 30 days before the rent increase will take effect.

Is there a maximum amount of rent that a landlord can charge tenants?

While Maryland does not have a statewide law that addresses rent control or the maximum amount of rent landlords may charge, municipal laws may apply.

Is there a state-mandated grace period that landlords must give tenants before charging a late fee? 

No. Many landlords assume a five-day grace period, and custom grace periods may be indicated in a lease, but Maryland does not specify a legally mandated amount of time a landlord must wait before charging a penalty on a late rent payment. Local laws, however, may specifically mandate the exact amount of time (8-208(d)(3)).

Is there a limit on how much of a late fee the landlord can charge tenants?

Yes. The penalty for late payment of rent cannot exceed 5% of the total cost of the monthly rent if the tenant has a month-to-month or year-long lease, and it cannot exceed $3 per week if the rent is paid weekly.

Legally Required Disclosures

What types of disclosures are landlords required to supply regarding ownership of the property?

Landlords should disclose a tenant’s right to move in, the beginning date of occupancy, the existence of and procedure for move-out inspections and the names of anyone who is authorized to represent the landlord.

Maryland law also specifies that landlords are not required to disclose he AIDS/HIV status of anyone who has lived in the dwelling and/or any deaths or felonies that have occurred on the property (2–120).

Can the owner designate an agent to serve and receive disclosures?

There aren’t any restrictions against agents serving and receiving disclosures under Maryland law.

What disclosures related to mold are landlords required to supply?

The state of Maryland does not legally require landlords to disclose anything to do with mold.

What disclosures related to lead paint are landlords required to supply?

Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Act regulates rental units that were built prior to 1978, except for owner-occupied rental properties, which are exempt. Tenants in pre-1978 rentals may request a lead paint risk reduction inspection certificate from the landlord. If he or she can’t provide one, the tenant may file a petition for a rent escrow until the situation is resolved (Real Property, Title 8A).

Laws About Landlord Responsibilities

How much notice does the landlord have to supply before entry? 

Maryland law does not specify the exact amount of notice a landlord must give before entry. The landlord and tenant should discuss a mutually agreeable time. Town or county laws may apply, however.

When can the tenant refuse to allow the landlord entry? 

Tenants in Maryland have the right to the quiet enjoyment of their rental property and may refuse entry to their dwelling if a landlord’s actions infringe on this statute (8-204).

What steps must the landlord take to keep the property habitable? 

A property should always have adequate sewage disposal facilities, should not be infested with rats or other rodents, should not have any structural defects that make it dangerous and should not be in a condition that presents a health or fire hazard (​12-203).

What utilities must the landlord supply and maintain? 

The landlord must make sure the dwelling receives heat, light, cold and hot running water and electricity, unless the lease specifies that these utilities are the sole responsibility of the tenant (7-309).

What amenities must the landlord supply and maintain?

Every unit must have a working smoke detector, and the landlord is required to install it and make sure it stays in working order. 

Does the landlord have to supply a certificate of inspection?

No, Maryland law does not obligate a property owner to supply a certificate of inspection to a lessee.

Is the landlord required to supply locks and keys?

If a domestic violence or sexual assault victim requests that the landlord change the unit’s locks, the landlord must supply the new key to the tenant within 48 hours of the lock change. Otherwise, Maryland does not have any legal provisions specific to keys and locks, but municipal and local laws often do.

Are retaliatory actions prohibited? 

Yes. Landlords are forbidden from enacting retaliatory measures against tenants for any reason, including filing a legal dispute. These measures include retaliatory rent increases, threats of eviction, unjustified termination of a lease and harassment (8-208.1).

Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

How long does the landlord have to make repairs? 

Maryland law specifies that landlord should fulfill requests for repairs within a reasonable timeframe, which is generally taken to mean 30 days after being notified of the defects (8-211).

What type of maintenance is the tenant responsible for? 

Tenants are obliged to keep the unit in a “clean and sanitary condition,” to dispose of their garbage appropriately and to take care of minor pest infestations. When their lease is over, tenants should be prepared to return the unit in substantially the same condition in which they first rented it. 

Is the landlord responsible to fix damage caused by tenants?

No, the tenant assumes responsibility for fixing any damages he or she causes that are beyond the scope of normal wear and tear. 

When can a tenant request an official inspection to determine substandard or dangerous living conditions?

Maryland law does not stipulate when a tenant can request an official inspection, but county and municipal laws often cover this issue. 

Under what circumstances can a tenant make a repair and deduct the cost from the rent paid to the landlord?

If the landlord does not respond to a request for repairs within a reasonable timeframe (usually 30 days) and those repairs are needed to keep the unit in a safe, habitable condition, the tenant may apply for a rent escrow until the repairs are undertaken.

Additional Rental Law Resources for the State of Maryland

Here are some more resources to investigate to learn about the specifics of property management laws, landlord obligations and tenant rights.

Name Phone Number Description
Landlords and Tenants Tips for Avoiding Disputes Handbook N/A An overview of common questions about tenant and landlord obligations published by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.
Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland N/A A resource center that helps ensure Maryland tenants live in safe, suitable housing.
The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (800) 637-6247 This state agency is charged with making sure laws against discrimination in housing (and other areas) are enforced equally for all Maryland citizens.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.