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Maryland Landlord and Tenant Law

Maryland Landlord and Tenant Code defines the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants in Maryland; ensure that leases are clearly written; and apply to the rental of all real properties.  The statutory provisions  protect tenants from unreasonable provisions and provide a basis for Landlords to collect any unpaid rent due to them.

Advice for College and Graduate Students

It’s that time of year when college and graduate students are already looking for off-campus housing for the 2012-13 school year and such landlord-tenant leases shouldn’t be taken lightly.  These are exciting time but as is true with all contracts, be sure to read the leases from beginning to end prior to signing them.  A few caveats for the students and their parents/guardians:

1)      Do not sign or co-sign a lease until the amounts of the security deposit and rent are specifically provided in the lease.

2)      Most landlords will (understandably) require a student to have a parent, grandparent or guardian “co-sign” a lease.  As a co-signer, you are guaranteeing the payment of the rent and you will probably be liable for not just that student’s portion of the rent but for the rent of the entire residence. See #3.

3)      Most leases will require each of the tenants to be responsible for the full amount of the rent.   This is true for just about all residential leases, not just for student housing.

4)      Look to see whether your security deposit provides you interest on the security deposit.  In Maryland,  the Security Deposit may not be more than two months of rent and landlords must pay simple interest of 3 percent per year from the date that the security deposit was paid, accuring at six-month intervals, (1.5 percent every six month period).

5)      If utilities are not included as part of the rent, then it’s best to find out the average cost of utilities prior to agreeing to a rental amount.

6)      Read the lease for any possible additional charges; such as a municipality permit fee or condominium fee.

7)      Find out if whether internet service is provided; and if it isn’t provided, find out what is involved to obtain internet service for that residence.

8)      Review the lease carefully for any restrictions on sub-letting, overnight guests, and parties.

Advice for Landlords

As for being a landlord in Maryland ,  prior to proposing a lease with a prospective tenant (student or otherwise), be sure to be intimately familiar with Maryland’s landlord-tenant laws.   You want to have all tenants sign a lease and you probably want each of the tenants to be responsible for the full amount of the lease.  Also, be sure to follow the Maryland Code very carefully when you are returning a security deposit to a former tenant; you want to be sure that you do so timely and with full itemization of any damages that you are assessing against the security deposit.  Otherwise, a landlord could be subjected to substantial penalties if the security deposit is not returned or accurately applied to damages.

Recommended Resource

For an excellent booklet on Maryland landlord-tenant laws, see  http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/landlords.htm#deposits

If you are a tenant or a landlord and need advice or representation,  you can contact Mary Ellen Flynn at  301-536-6685 or meflynn@a-f.net.