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How to Navigate Inspections and Rental Compliance Requirements

Laws at the federal, state, and local levels govern landlords and all aspects of the rental industry. That said, the goal of these regulations is to ensure tenants have a safe and habitable rental home. For landlords, navigating inspections and rental compliance requirements is a vital yet daunting process. Additionally, each jurisdiction may have different requirements for landlords to follow before legally renting their property to tenants. Keep in mind, failing to meet your legal obligations as a landlord can result in fines, legal action, or loss of rental license. Therefore, owners must thoroughly research applicable laws or work with a qualified property management team. Join us below as we discuss the necessary rental compliance requirements in Maryland.

Rental Compliance Requirements and Inspections in Maryland

Rental compliance requirements vary but typically include property-specific inspections that verify the safety and habitability of a home. So, landlords must allow enough time to schedule necessary work and submit required applications before securing a new tenant. Let’s review some of these rental compliance requirements for Maryland below.

Rental Licensing

In Maryland, landlords must obtain a rental license before legally renting their property to a tenant. This is essential because, without it, landlords cannot pursue actions to enforce the lease or evict a tenant for nonpayment. In fact, without a valid license, landlords could themselves be sued for failing to meet their legal obligations. Luckily, the process of obtaining a license involves a few simple steps.
Rental Compliance Requirements and Inspections in MarylandSo, along with paying any applicable fees, landlords will need to complete the following steps –
  1. Complete the Application – A standard application includes basic details about the owner as well as property specifics. For example, some of the particulars owners must provide include – Owner’s name, management company information (if applicable), property address, unit type, date of construction, type of emergency alert equipment, water source, and heating source. 
  2. HOA Compliance – If the property is part of an HOA community, the application will need to specify those details. In addition, the owner must show proof that any related HOA fees are not more than 30 days overdue.
  3. Property Inspection – Once officials process the application, the licensing agency will schedule a property inspection. This is one of the most critical rental compliance requirements as it verifies the home’s habitability. Although the inspection process is quite detailed, officials will focus mainly on tenant safety. This includes compliance with all building codes, fire codes, and safety standards. That said, if anything is found to be a miss, owners must make necessary repairs before renting the property to a tenant.

Lead Inspection and Certification

Lead paint is a potentially dangerous health risk to tenants and a financial liability for landlords. In Maryland, the Reduction of Lead Risk is a housing law that requires landlords with rentals built before 1978 to register their units with the MDE or Maryland Department of the Environment. In addition, landlords must provide tenants with a Lead-Safe brochure and inspection certificate. That said, let’s dive deeper into these rental compliance requirements below –
  1. Registration – All landlords must register their rental units with the MDE within 30 days of acquisition. In addition, owners must renew this registration and pay the fee annually before December 31.
  2. Lead Inspection – If the property was built before 1978, lead might be present in the home. To verify this risk, landlords must hire a qualified MDE accredited lead inspector to complete a risk assessment. Afterward, the lead inspector will issue a Lead Paint Risk Reduction Certificate along with any supporting reports based on their findings. One copy should remain on file at all times, and the other copy can go to the tenant upon moving in. That said, keep in mind that a new inspection must take place each time the property turns over to a new tenant.
  3. Informative Materials – Landlords must provide incoming tenants with lead safety information, known as “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home,” along with their lease documents. Generally, this is accompanied by a lead addendum to verify that these materials, along with the inspection certificate, were provided to the occupants before move-in.
If lead material is present in the rental property, remediation may be necessary. If so, rental owners must use accredited and trained contractors to remove the affected materials. For more information, check out the Maryland lead compliance page for additional answers to some of landlord’s most pressing questions.

Home Inspections vs. Rental Compliance Inspections

When purchasing property, conducting a home inspection is standard practice. Home inspections serve to root out hidden damage such as plumbing, structural, and electrical issues. Thus, allowing buyers or investors critical insight into what renovations the unit needs and how much investment that may require. Investors must carefully consider these inspections even more than buyers intending to occupy the home themselves. If the property needs repair, owners must take care of these issues before pursuing a rental licensing inspection. That said, rental compliance inspections cover many of the same criteria a buyer could expect in a home inspection.

Additional Rental Property Inspections

Once landlords obtain a rental license and lead certificate, the inspections do not end there. In fact, they are just beginning. Rental owners or representatives must perform checks throughout the lease term to ensure the tenant complies with all lease terms. These vital inspections help ensure the property remains legally compliant with habitability standards and does not fall into disrepair. Let’s review the standard rental checks below –
Additional Rental Property Inspections
  1. Pre-Leasing Inspections – Like home inspections or other rental compliance requirements, pre-leasing inspections help identify potential issues. After all, anytime investors can identify potential safety health hazards early, the better off they will be. In addition, a pre-leasing inspection helps owners prioritize tasks and provide a realistic availability date.
  2. Move-In Inspections – The importance of a detailed move-in inspection cannot be overstated. This inspection is essential to determining what is and is not tenant damage at the end of the lease. If damage above and beyond normal wear and tear is found, landlords can deduct these repairs from the security deposit.
  3. Move Out Inspections – A move-out inspection is almost identical to a move-in inspection. This requires a very detailed checklist that goes room by room, assessing the condition of the home. In addition to a written assessment, be sure to use photos or video to document further any damage found.
  4. Semi-Annual Inspections – In addition to the inspections listed above, it is a good idea to check in at the property at least once every six months. Thus allowing landlords to address preventative maintenance as well as ensure the tenant is adhering to all lease terms.

Types of Inspectors Every Landlord Needs

As a rental owner, the relationships you develop can drastically influence your success – or failure. Although rental compliance requirements can become complex, partnering with a few key professionals can help. To make the most of investment opportunities, rental owners need these professional connections to make informed and efficient decisions in their business. That said, some of these partnerships include –
Types of Inspectors Every Landlord Needs
  1. Home Inspectors – Home inspectors, along with obtain a rental license, can provide an upfront and honest opinion about the actual state of an investment opportunity. This critical information can help distinguish between which deals to pursue and which to pass on. So, building a connection with reputable and knowledgeable inspectors is essential.
  2. Lead Inspectors – State websites often offer a list of qualified lead inspectors or inspection companies. That said, not all are created equal, and landlords need someone they can rely on to complete inspections and process results quickly. After all, a landlord must obtain the lead certificate before allowing a new tenant to move in, which can sometimes create a time crunch.
  3. Property Management – Keeping up with rental compliance requirements along with all other landlord duties is an unwelcome challenge for many investors. However, partnering with a property management firm means owners can relax knowing that experts are looking out for their best interest.

Making the Most of Property Management Services

At Bay Property Management Group, our team efficiently handles all daily operations of your rental business. This includes everything from initial inspection to marketing, leasing, maintenance, rent collection, accounting, customer service, and so much more. Thanks to a wealth of local knowledge, the property managers at BMG can ensure landlords adhere to all rental compliance requirements. That, along with our targeted marketing efforts and thorough tenant screening processes, helps owners find qualified tenants and rent their homes in an average of 30 days. If you are struggling to keep up with legal compliance or want to find new ways to maximize profits, give us a call today.