As a landlord in Howard County and throughout Maryland, your job is rarely hands-off. You have to interact with your tenants for a variety of reasons.
Luckily, there’s an efficient and legal way to do this: notices.
Notices are legal forms used by landlords and property managers to communicate intentions for the property or to notify tenants of an ongoing issue.
Because notices function as legal documents, you might feel a bit overwhelmed when trying to figure out how to correctly handle them. So, whether your property is in Columbia, Elkridge, or a surrounding area, here’s a rundown of some of the more common notices you might use as a Maryland landlord.
Common Notices Landlords Use
1. Eviction Notices
As a landlord, you might eventually come across a tenant who simply must go. Maybe they didn’t exhibit any of the red flags you look out for in potential tenants when they moved in, but since then, your relationship with them soured.
In Maryland, this means you’ll have to go to a district court to get a judgment against the tenant. You can’t simply change the locks and throw out the tenant’s belongings!
You’ll have to be able to prove to the court that the tenant has done something to violate the terms of the lease or provide a just cause for the eviction, such as:
- The tenant is not paying rent.
- The tenant or an occupant has violated the law within the property.
- The tenant or an occupant violated another part of the lease (like not keeping it clean or keeping pets when the lease didn’t allow it).
- You intend to demolish or substantially renovate the property.
- The property will no longer be used for rental housing.
The eviction notice you create will have to meet certain standards. It must be in writing and:
- State the full name of the tenant(s)
- State the address of the property
- Declare the reasoning for the eviction
It’s never fun to evict someone. But when it has to be done, using an eviction notice is a somewhat simple way to handle it without immediate confrontation.
2. Lease Renewals
Sometimes, you might encounter a tenant who exceeds your expectations so much that you don’t want them to move out!
If this happens to you and you want to keep them around your property after the lease terms expire, you’ll need to create a lease renewal notice. This notice will inform the tenant that they have the option to sign the Lease Renewal Agreement.
It’s best to use this sort of notice 60 days before your tenant’s lease is up. That way, you’ll be giving them 30 days to consider it, and in accordance with Maryland law, they’ll be able to notify you of their intentions at least 30 days before they move out.
3. Non-Renewal Notice
At or near the end of a tenant’s lease, you can use a non-renewal notice if you want to make it known to your tenant that you don’t wish to continue the current contract or contract any further lease with them.
It’s a good idea to verify that the notice was received by the tenant. According to Maryland attorney Brandy Ann Peoples, you may want to send a written notice by a mailing service like FedEx, which will track the notice and give proof of receipt if it were to come into question.
Instead of dealing with a potentially tricky situation, using this form can provide you with a direct way of accomplishing the task. It lets the tenant know you don’t want them around anymore while appearing friendly and professional.
However, if your tenant has to break the lease before it ends, that’s a different story altogether. You should always be aware of your responsibilities and options in such a situation.
4. Notice to Enter
There are a handful of reasons why you may need to enter a tenant’s residence. Maybe you need to show the property to a prospective tenant or to make repairs. Whatever the reason, you simply cannot barge into the property whenever you choose. You have to give the tenants a proper notice.
In Howard County, this means you’ll have to provide a Notice to Enter at least 24 hours in advance of when you want to enter the property.
While this may seem like a simple courtesy, it’s very important that you give this notice before showing up on your tenant’s doorstep so you don’t run into any legal issues later on.
5. Increase/Decrease in Rent
If you need to change the price of rent, you are required by Howard County housing regulations to notify all of your tenants of these changes while allowing them enough time to decide whether or not they want to renew.
Your notice should include a few items:
- Why the rent is increasing or decreasing
- How much the new rent amount will be
- When the changes will take place
- A statement referring to the option provided to the tenant of whether to renew or vacate at the end of their lease term
- A checkbox where the tenant can confirm or deny the rent increase
Using this kind of notification allows you to clearly set the change in amount and ward off any possible confusion or disputes that could be caused between you and your tenants.
6. Rent Reminder
These notices remind your tenants that they actually have to pay rent to live in your rental property! Reasons why you might have to send a rent reminder include:
- A new tenant does not know when the rent is due.
- An existing tenant has been late in the past, blaming it on uncertainty of when rent was due.
- A tenant has not yet paid rent, and it is either close to past due or already incurring late fees.
Sending this notice to your tenants is a gentle way to state that timeliness in paying rent is important and motivate them to make a payment. You may also want to include reminders of the late fees stated in the lease agreement, the rent due date, and the date that the rent became late.
7. Change of Ownership/Management Notice
You don’t want your tenants to be upset or confused whenever change inevitably comes along. When it’s time for the ownership or management of a rental property to change, a notice detailing the changes is a useful way of preventing conflict.
Using this sort of notice can allow you to:
- Provide extensive detail about the changes that will take place
- Create a personal message to individual tenants
- Establish an optimistic tone for the transition to ease concerns
- Offer an efficient form of communication to tenants about the process
- Reassure tenants that their lease agreements will remain the same
- Inform of possible changes to future lease agreements
If you’re reading this, you are probably already interested in being a fair landlord to your tenants. You may have even cultivated relationships with some of them. Using this sort of notice can give both you and your tenants the necessary closure needed to complete such a transition.
If you have more questions about how you can get the most out of your job as a landlord in Howard County, we’re happy to help! Contact us today.