Landlord handing off keys to tenant

Landlord-tenant disputes are one of the most common complaints to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. As a renter, you have certain rights, obligations and remedies available under Maryland law. There may also be local protections available or slightly different processes for resolving a landlord dispute.

This Attorney General guide offers tips for avoiding common disputes such as application fees, leases, rent receipts, security deposits, the right to take possession, lease renewals, breaking a lease, rent escrow or when the landlord fails to make repairs, landlord retaliation, lead-based paint hazards and eviction.

The guide walks through common scenarios and offers potential ways to handle the situation.

Unsafe Housing And Rental Repairs 

For example, if there’s a serious or dangerous defect that needs repair, tenants have certain rights and landlords have certain obligations under the law. You may be able to deposit rent money into an escrow account established by the District Court instead of paying the landlord rent. However, there are specific conditions and notice requirements for which you can use the escrow account.

While the court will decide if a situation warrants an escrow account, it’s typically used for serious and dangerous defects. This may include but is not limited to a rodent infestation in two or more units, lead-based paint hazard or lack of adequate sewage disposal It also covers lack of heat, light, electricity or water, which the landlord is responsible for keeping turned on.

It does not cover lack of air conditioning, normal wear and tear or other non-dangerous housing code violations.

An injunction may be another option. That is a petition to have the court order the landlord to repair or fix the concerning conditions.

For more information, including the detailed process for giving notice and filing with the court, review the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service fact sheet.

Resolving Landlord-Tenant Issues

In general, put disputes in writing and take photographs whenever possible, so you have a paper trail.

The People’s Law Library of Maryland also has several landlord/tenant guides and information on security deposits, evictions and failure to pay rent, utilities, and housing protections for domestic violence victims.

You can also talk with a lawyer about your civil legal matter at no cost through the Maryland Court Help Center. Call 410-260-1392 during business hours. You can find more information about this resource from The People’s Law Library of Maryland.

If you’re having a dispute, you may be able to get assistance from the Mediation Unit of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. They will help resolve disputes between a landlord and tenant. You can file a landlord/tenant complaint online or call the Maryland Attorney General.

The aforementioned is not legal advice, and you should consult an attorney for help regarding your specific landlord/tenant dispute.

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