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Understanding Tenant Rights in Baltimore, Maryland

Tenant rights in Baltimore County are important for both landlords and tenants to understand. It is important for landlords to avoid receiving fines, bad reviews, or legal consequences (depending on the situation). There are four major tenant rights laws in Baltimore County and throughout Maryland. These include; MD tenant rights, federal tenant rights, security deposit laws/rights, and landlord retaliation laws. Learn more about these laws/rights and how to avoid breaking them as a Baltimore, MD landlord below.
Understanding Tenant Rights in Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland Tenant Rights

Each state may have its own set of laws when it comes to tenant rights. Find all Maryland tenant rights explained here. Maryland of course values all federal housing laws, and also has some of their own. It is important to read the link provided to understand each individual law. Maryland vows to provide tenants with safe and fair housing as well as protection when rights are violated. Some key points to remember include:
  • There is no deposit limit, but a landlord may only charge up to 2-months rent
  • Application fees can be up to $25 and held if the applicant cancels the application without legal reasoning
  • A landlord with 5 or more dwelling must include in each lease the fair housing statement regarding the dwellings are safe and habitable

 Federal Fair Housing Laws

State laws vary state to state of course, yet, there are Federal Housing Laws that have to be followed nationwide. Federal Housing Laws are in place to protect American renters from discrimination and provide them fair and equal housing. Below you will learn the highlights of the law and important things to keep in mind while dealing with tenants and prospective tenants.
Discrimination: Discrimination in housing is making any tenant or prospective tenant decisions based on personal opinions on the tenant. This includes racial, sex, disability, gender, age, political and sexual preference discrimination

Examples of Discrimination –

  1. Not allowing assisted service animals and/or emotional support animals on the property.
  2. Violating ADA laws by claiming to be accessible but have amenities that aren’t accessible or placing a disabled tenant in a non-accessible unit.
  3. Denying a prospective tenant based on any of the discrimination topics mentioned above.
  4. Retaliating against a tenant due to discrimination of any kind (we will discuss more below).
Learn about other federal housing violations on the US Housing and Urban Development website.

Security Deposit

Some states have laws on how much can be required as a security deposit for renters. Nationwide, the law states no matter what state laws are, a security deposit can not be based on discrimination or personal feelings about a tenant.
Under Maryland law, there is no number that is the “max” amount allowed to be charged for a security deposit. However, the state does allow for only two months of rent as a deposit. Most deposits vary between $500 up to one months rent on average. Additionally, it isn’t uncommon for a landlord to charge up to 2 months’ rent for newly upgraded or luxury properties.

Retaliation Laws

The definition of retaliation in the landlord/tenant world is when a landlord is angered with or discriminatory towards a tenant and uses it to retaliate. There are several ways a landlord can break this law discussed below.
Keep in mind a tenant will have to prove this occurred in court. So, as long as you don’t break the law your chances of being charged for it are basically non-existent (if a tenant is claiming it when it’s not true in other words). However, it is also important to keep in mind that if you do commit this crime, it will be easy for a tenant to prove it. This is why understanding the law and following it is so key.

Examples of Retaliation –

  • Self-help Eviction: This means that a landlord evicts a tenant without a court order. This is done by changing locks, putting their items outside of the unit, or using threats to do so.
  • Raising Rents due to Bias: Raising rent due to a persona bias against a tenant for any reason is considered retaliation and is not legal. A landlord that does so will be subject to fines and possible criminal charges depending on the extent of their violation.
  • Harassment of the Tenant: Harassing, bullying, threatening or physically harming a tenant is not only wrong but against the law. No matter what the tenant has done or if they start the fight, a landlord may never fight back with any of these tactics.
Do you need help learning, understanding, and upholding Maryland and Federal housing laws? Make sure you understand tenant rights in Baltimore County. A Baltimore County property manager can help! Bay Property Management Group Baltimore County offers full-service property management throughout Baltimore County including Perry Hall, White Marsh, Parkville, Towson and more!