Maryland Tenant Rights Laws

While renting a house or apartment might relieve you of certain responsibilities like property taxes and major repairs, you may still face a myriad of issues inherent in the landlord-tenant relationship. For this reason, there are many federal, state, and local laws designed to govern this relationship and provide both sides with certain protections. The article below discusses some important Maryland tenant rights laws.

Tenant Rights from Discrimination to Eviction

Before and after you sign a lease, Maryland law protects you against discrimination based on your race, religion, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics. For example, it's illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to you or to misrepresent the availability of a unit based on your familial status or national origin. Additionally, your landlord may not retaliate against you by raising the rent or evicting you simply because you exercise your tenant rights.

Maryland also limits the amount a landlord may charge for a security deposit to the equivalent of two months' rent. And during your tenancy, you have the right to live in a habitable unit which means the landlord must repair serious and dangerous defects such as a lack of heat, hot water, or sewage disposal. Under certain conditions, you may even be able to withhold rent by placing it in an escrow account until your rental issues are resolved. These and other laws are designed to protect you against unfair practices within the landlord-tenant relationship.

Maryland Tenant Rights Laws at a Glance

A summary of Maryland state laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship is provided in the chart below, including links to important code sections. However, it's also important to check your local city and county laws for additional rules and restrictions.

Statutes

Security Deposits

  • Limit: two months' rent per dwelling unit
  • Must return all or part of the security deposit within 45 days (with interest in many cases)
  • Part or all may be used for:
    • Unpaid rent
    • Damages to rental beyond normal wear and tear
    • Damage due to breach of lease

Paying Rent

  • May not raise rent during lease term (e.g. 1 year lease) unless lease allows; may raise rent upon lease renewal
  • May raise rent during periodic rental agreement (e.g. month-to-month) with one months' notice

Living Conditions

  • Landlord may enter for certain reasons including emergency, to make necessary/agreed-upon repairs, show unit to prospective buyers or tenants
  • Landlord must provide unit fit for human habitation (must be free from defects which present substantial and serious threat of danger to life, health, and safety of occupants)
  • Landlord must make repairs necessary for habitability within reasonable period of time unless defect was caused by tenant

Discrimination

  • No discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability

Ending or Renewing a Tenancy

  • Landlord must give notice to terminate the tenancy:
    • Yearly lease: three months
    • Monthly: one month
    • Weekly: one week
    • Eviction: 30 days for violating lease (14 days if clear and imminent danger to tenant or others); no notice required for failure to pay rent
  • Eviction: court order required

Retaliation

  • Landlord may not retaliate against tenant for exercising tenant rights

Note: State regulations are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Maryland Tenant Rights Laws: Related Resources

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