OWN OR MANAGE RESIDENTIAL RENTAL PROPERTY IN MARYLAND? ASK AN ATTORNEY, NOT GOOGLE FOR YOUR LEASE
We get called frequently to assist residential landlords in dealing with tenants who haven't paid rent in months or moved out under cover of night while still owing money. What's worse, after the landlord tries to recover money from the tenant that is rightfully owed to the landlord, the tenants respond by claiming that the Landlord owes them because the residential lease was improperly drafted and the landlord wrongly withheld the security deposit to pay for damages to the property or unpaid back rent.
How did the landlord get into this situation? By not taking the time to consult with an experienced Maryland landlord-tenant attorney to obtain a Maryland-specific, residential lease prior to the tenants moving in. Just like every rental property is different, every state is different regarding residential landlord-tenant law. Maryland law is very specific about what is required to be in a residential lease. There are notices required to be given to the tenant at the beginning and end of the lease; there are requirements regarding the security deposit including permissible amounts and how the security deposit is to be maintained during the tenancy; and there are requirements regarding keeping the security deposit to pay for damages to the property and unpaid rent. Beyond the Maryland state requirements, counties and towns may have other rules that must be followed related to registration of landlords or lead paint certification. If the landlord doesn't follow all of these specific requirements, the landlord may not be able to recover costs incurred to repair damages to the property caused by tenants. Even worse, under certain circumstances, the tenant may be able to recover from the landlord triple damages and attorney's fees!
We have found that often, both new and experienced residential landlords turn to the internet to download the first generic lease they find as a way to help save money. By not using a residential lease drafted specifically to follow Maryland landlord-tenant law with the particulars of the specific property in mind, many months of rent may be lost, and a court may not allow you to retain the security deposit for damages, and order you to pay the tenants damages and attorneys' fees if the tenants hired an attorney to fight you in court. We can tell you from experience it's less expensive overall to invest in a solid lease at the start rather than have to rely on a generic internet lease at the end that doesn't address Maryland law. Most Landlords just want to get a return on their investment and provide housing to those who need it; most tenants want a nice, safe place to live. If for some reason issues arise, the best way to solve problems is by relying on a properly written lease that adequately addresses the situation at hand pursuant to Maryland law. If you have a landlord-tenant problem now, or want to avoid problems in the future call us today at 410-749-6052. We can help!