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Navigating the Rental License Process for Your HOCO and MOCO Rental Properties

HOCO and MOCO Rental Properties License

Rental property ownership in Montgomery County (MOCO) and Howard County (HOCO), Maryland requires special rental licensing and registration. Each county has specific rental license requirements and processes according to the type of property you own (single family vs. multi-family). As the property owner, it’s your responsibility to successfully navigate the rental license process before welcoming tenants into your building. Here is the information you need to comply with requirements as the owner of a single-family rental property in MOCO or HOCO.

Why Do You Need a Rental License in Montgomery County?

Obtaining a rental license protects you from various types of liability as a rental property owner. Without a license, you risk receiving costly fines, rental license violations and related litigation from tenants, and an inability to carry out the eviction process. If you don’t have the correct Montgomery County rental license (MOCO has four different single-family rental licenses available), your tenants could essentially live on your property free of charge, without fear of eviction. It’s critical to do your research on MOCO rental licenses and acquire the correct one before setting up a tenant in your building.

Which MOCO Rental License Is Right for You?

Each Montgomery County zone has a different rental license. You must obtain the correct one for your specific county or your license will not be valid for your property. For example, you could obtain a “Montgomery County Single-Family/Garden style condo” license, only to discover you should have obtained the “City of Rockville” specific license. Don’t waste time or money carrying out the incorrect rental license process. Instead, take your time and be careful in choosing the correct license for your MOCO housing zone. The four zone-specific licenses and their basic processes in Montgomery County, Maryland are as follows:

  1. Montgomery County Single-Family and Garden Style Condo. To apply for a single-family rental property in MOCO, visit the Department of Housing and Community Affairs website. Review the procedures for your application. Sign up for an AccessMCG account to access the Rental Housing License Application.The application will ask for information about your rental property and ownership. Submit your completed application via mail or online with your payment of $101 for a single-family home, or $59 for Garden Style Condo to the Licensing and Registration Department. Your MOCO rental license requires an inspection of the property. It is up to the inspector’s discretion when to require re-inspection.You must renew your rental license every year by June 30th, complete with a payment of the fee. You will receive a notification of application approval, at which point you may print the application online or request a hard copy by mail. You must then follow up with the county for your inspection. Passing the inspection will result in the successful receipt of your MOCO rental license.
  2. City of Rockville. If you own a single-family rental property in Rockville, Maryland, your license process will be slightly different from the standard MOCO rental license. Visit the City of Rockville website. (Click the link to go directly to the Licenses page or go to Menu>Services>Permits & Inspections>Licenses from the home page.) Select “Rental Property License” from the list.This will lead you to a digital version of the application for a City of Rockville rental property license for a single-family rental property (including condos, townhouses, and detached single-family homes). Fill out the license application and submit it along with an application fee of $200, payable to the City of Rockville. Upon the counties receipt of your application, schedule your property inspection. You must renew your license every two years, with an inspection prior to renewal.
  3. City of Gaithersburg. Visit the City of Gaithersburg website’s licensing section to view the requirements and download the application for a rental license in this MOCO zone. Select the application for “Single Family Rental Housing License” to view, download, and print the license application. Fill out, and submit the completed license application to the city, along with an application fee of $150.Approval of your application will pass you to the inspection phase. Your rental property must meet the inspection requirements before you obtain your rental license in terms of health and safety. You will need to renew your City of Gaithersburg rental license every two years for the duration of ownership. The $150 application fee and property inspection will apply to every license renewal.
  4. City of Takoma Park. Renting out a property in the City of Takoma Park MOCO zone requires a visit to the city’s Rental Housing Licensing webpage. Here you’ll find links for three different types of rental licenses: annual, biennial, and temporary. The annual license is the most common. It requires renewal each year by December 31st.Complete and submit the Rental Housing License Application prior to renting out your single-family unit. The application fee is $107. Before the city will approve your application, you must pass an online exam and obtain a certification as a Takoma Park landlord. This is an open-book exam designed to teach you about the laws governing the management and operation of rental properties in the area.The city will notify you of receipt of your application and schedule a property inspection. You must pass the inspection and correct any code violations before you will receive your rental license. You will need to schedule a re-inspection of your property every year prior to license renewal.

Find out which MOCO zone presides over your single-family rental property before beginning the rental license application process. Otherwise, you could pay for and receive the wrong license – which won’t protect your legal interests or permit you to lawfully rent out the home. Contact the city’s licensing department for assistance or with questions about your specific rental license process.

Why Do You Need a Rental License in Howard County?

Like Montgomery County, Howard County landlords must carry valid rental licenses to protect themselves from additional liability. Without a rental license, you’re breaking the law by permitting tenants to stay on your property or even by marketing your property. Howard County rental properties cannot have occupants until the landlord obtains a valid rental license.

Like in MOCO, renting without a license also gives tenants the ability to live rent-free without threat of eviction. It is unlawful to market your property or allow tenants to move in before you have a HOCO license. Start the licensing process long before you market your property for rent to avoid hefty fines and litigation from tenants for rental license violations.

How to Obtain the Correct Howard County Rental License

Access the HOCO single-family home rental license application through the Howard County website. Find the Forms and Fees subsection under Home>Departments>Inspections, Licenses, and Permits>Forms and Fees. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find “Rental Housing Licensing.” Under this subhead you will find a list of links to the information and applications you’ll need to obtain a HOCO rental license.

Start with the Rental Housing Inspection Checklist. This provides a guide for things you must have in order before the county will approve your rental license application. It covers topics such as smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installation, fireplace masonry, well/septic systems, occupancy limitations, appliances, electrical components, windows, stairways, home exterior, locks, lead paint, and more. Follow the guidelines and prepare your single-family home for inspection, making any necessary repairs to comply with standards.

Next, fill out and submit your Rental License Application. Make sure you’re applying for the correct license. For example, don’t submit a Howard County license application if your home is actually in Montgomery County or Anne Arundel County. Fill out the form completely, sign it, and submit it by mail to the Department of Inspections in Ellicott City with the $93.50 application fee. The Department will send a letter once it receives your application with instructions for contacting the inspector for an appointment. Appointments are often available within a week of filing the application.

Remember, Howard County prohibits occupancy of the unit until after you pass an inspection and the county approves your rental license. You cannot allow tenants to move into the property until you have a valid rental license, and you must renew your HOCO rental license once every two years for it to remain valid. In addition, you must pass a property re-inspection every time you renew your rental license.

Protect Your Rights as a Landlord: Obtain the Correct Rental License in HOCO/MOCO

Navigating the rental license process in Maryland requires determining what county your unit is in, understanding the application and inspection processes, and fulfilling all necessary requirements according to your county to obtain a valid license. You must then renew your license according to your county’s schedule to remain on the right side of rental property laws. Failure to obtain the correct rental license prior to letting tenants move in can expose you to nightmarish litigation scenarios, including:

  • Fees and penalties for breaking your county’s property rental laws
  • A tenant refusing to pay rent, without the option to evict that tenant
  • A tenant suing you for failure to obtain a valid rental license

Do not underestimate the importance of the rental license prior to accepting a tenant, or even prior to marketing the property in Howard and Montgomery County, Maryland. It is critically important for owners of HOCO and MOCO rental properties to obtain the correct rental licenses. Obtain additional information and assistance with Howard and Montgomery County rental licensure by contacting your local property management company. Bay Property Management Group can guide you through the correct rental license process in your county and zone. Contact us today to get started!