Tenants Rights in Maryland

It is not just the duty of the tenants but also the landlords to know about the tenant rights in Maryland. There are all rules and responsibilities of the landlord and the tenants that should be followed word by word. A set of four rights of tenant that every tenant in Maryland has been stated below. Under which you can find the tenants’ right to freedom from landlord retaliation, the right freedom from housing discrimination, right to be protected after domestic violence, and right to certain security deposit protections. Understand them to know your rights well

Right of the tenant after landlord retaliation

Specific rights have been identified by the Maryland state government in §§ 8-208.1, 8-208.2 of the State Code. As an escape whenever the tenant and landlord end up having a conflict, this particular right protects the tenants when a landlord tries to go against them.

Some common reasons why landlords retaliate against the tenant are as follows:

  • The tenant’s agent or the tenant himself has provided a written notice to the landlord or the government agency about the safety of tenant or health violation at the property.
  • The tenant’s agent or the tenant provided a written notice to the government agency or the landlord about violation of lease.
  • The tenant’s agency or the tenant provided written notice to the government or the landlord about violation of law.
  • If the tenant testifies against the landlord in a lawsuit.
  • If the tenant complains about the possibility of using lead-based paint hazard at the property.
  • In case the tenant organizes tenant’s, union or has participated in a union of tenants.

Landlord’s Acts that could be a retaliation

To increase the rent of the tenant or decreasing any of the services is seen as a retaliatory action in the Maryland state code. Other actions that come under this category are:

  • Threatening to evict the tenant
  • Termination of the tenants’ lease agreement
  • Harassing the tenant through different ways
  • Changing locks on the rental unit where the tenant still occupies.

When a tenant can claim for the retaliation?

By proving that the landlord has committed an act of retaliation by filing the eviction of the tenant, the tenant can try to claim for the retaliation. Any action that causes damage to the tenant can also be seen as a retaliation. In that case, the action must be presented in front of the court within six months of landlord committing any such actions. The tenant can file a complaint against the landlord.

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After the proceedings if the court concludes that a retaliatory action has been performed by the landlord, the court can take adequate action. Like for instance, awarding the tenant with three month’s rents, reasonable court expense, and the fees of your attorney.

In case, the court concludes that the tenants’ claims have no merit, then it will be the landlord, who is awarded with three month’s rents, attorney fees, and reasonable court costs.

Tenants’ right to fair housing

The fair housing practices are identified by the Maryland state government in §§ 20-101;20-704;20-705 of the State Code. Every tenant has the freedom from discrimination in any housing project or scheme. The government of Maryland provides extra layer of protect to its tenants. Here are the types of housing act:

Federal Fair Housing Act

The tenants staying in the properties in Maryland are firstly protected by the Federal Fair Housing Act. The Act was created in 1968, to protect the tenants from any kind of unfair treatment while dealing with different housing situations.

The seven different classes of people that are protected by the Federal Fair Housing Act are:

  • Family status
  • Disability
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Race, and
  • Sex

Fair Housing Act of Maryland

Apart from Federal Law, Maryland State has its own Housing rules. These rules are just like supplements to the Federal laws. The three additional classes of people protected by this law are:

  • Gender identity
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation

What are the rights protected by Fair Housing Act?

Landlords are prohibited to do some of the acts under the Fair Housing Law. They are as follows:

  • Refuse a tenant to rent a place on the basis of class.
  • Forcing the tenant to move out based on class difference.
  • Posting an ad that states people of different class are not allowed to apply;
  • Difference in lease terms for another class of people;
  • Charging high security deposit or higher rents because a person belongs to a certain class.
  • Refusing a tenant with disability to make reasonable accommodations;
  • Making false statements to the tenant that the unit has been rented because he belongs to a different class.

When can you be exempted from following Fair Housing Law?

There are certain exceptional cases in Maryland, under which the owner-occupant are exempt from following Fair Housing rules.

  • If the owner-occupant is renting a property, which they have currently occupied
  • When the landlord is renting a property that has five or lesser rental units that he has occupied to avoid state law.
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Under these two circumstances they are treated as exceptional cases in Fair Housing Law for following classes of people:

  • Marital status
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity

Even after that the landlord must follow Fair Housing rules according to federal guidelines that includes disability, color, family status, race, national origin and religion.

Security Deposit statutes in Maryland

The security deposits are addressed by the Maryland State Government in§§ 8-203; 8-203.1 of the State Code. The security deposit and the tenant are protected by the rights in Maryland. The renters are protected in the amount that they have put down, in a manner that the landlord stores the deposit, time frame for returning deposits, and required landlord walk-through.

Maximum limit for the deposit amount

Talking about the deposit legally, the landlords in Maryland only supposed to collect two times of the monthly rent as the security deposit. In case the property owner collects more than that, then that is illegal. If this case is forwarded in court, the court may award the tenant three times as much the amount of what was collected more than 2 month’s rents.

Storing of the deposit

Maryland law suggests that the landlord should store the security deposit of tenants in separate accounts. In case the deposit is more than 50 dollars, then the account earns interest as well.  The rate of interest should be at least 3% per annum.

Required landlord walk-through

The landlord-tenant law in Maryland states that the landlord should conduct a walk-through inspection. It should be done within 5 days the tenant moves out. This inspection is meant to document the condition in which the rental unit is. The tenant must be notified by the landlord before-hand about the date of inspection and the tenant should be present at the time of inspection.

Returning the security deposit

Certain rules have been laid down by Maryland State in returning the security deposits.

According to this right, the tenant is entitled to have his deposit returned within 45 days of moving out of the property. The deposit should be sent by the landlord through first class mail and should include portion of the deposit that is owed back to the tenant.

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The landlord has to provide a written itemized list when returning the security deposit if he has deducted any amount from it. The list must have the clear and exact deduction summary that has been used and amount of each deduction should be mentioned clearly.

Termination of lease after domestic violence

The domestic violence is addressed by the Maryland State Government §§ 8-402, 8-5A-01 to 8-5A-06 ​of the State Code. There are certain rights under Maryland law, for the tenants who have been victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The tenants, victims of sexual assault and domestic violence are fully protected by the law and have the right to terminate the lease or rental agreement earlier without any penalty. Before terminating the lease, the renter must give the landlord a written notice by hand delivery or mail with their intention of terminating the lease, stated clearly.

The tenant must also give proof of the claim of sexual assault and domestic violence in the written notice. A copy of the notice should be kept with the tenant for an order of protection. The tenant, victim of sexual assault should include a copy of a peace order that has been issued to them.

After giving the written notice, the tenant has 30 days to terminate the lease agreement and move out of the rental. In case the tenant fails to move out within 30 days, the landlord can take 2 steps:

  1. Assuming the tenant is no longer interested in terminating the lease and reinstate the original lease terms, or
  2. Classify the renter to be a holdover tenant and take steps to evict the tenant. In case of tenant holdover, the court can award the landlord damages.

In this case the renter is supposed to pay the rent of 30 days after giving the written notice of termination of lease to the landlord.