Recognizing Rights as a Tenant
This guide provides basic information on tenants’ rights regarding disputes with landlords, mainly based on lease agreements and security deposits.
Getting StartedRegardless if you are a tenant in good standing or facing eviction or legal action filed by a landlord, always ensure to have a copy of your lease agreement and a receipt of the security deposit. The parties* rights are usually unclear and complicated. In case of a dispute, retain counsel as soon as possible.
Duties of the LandlordLandlords must provide tenants with a receipt of the security deposit, which must be included in the lease agreement. Landlords must return the security deposit at the end of the tenancy, except for the costs covering damages due to breach of lease or for damages by the tenant. Lastly, landlords are prohibited from bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession against a tenant, arbitrarily increasing the rent or decreasing the services tenants* entitled services, or terminating a periodic tenancy. Such actions are only allowed when the landlord has provided notice of a good faith complaint about an alleged violation.
These duties are paramount. Maryland Courts require landlords to strictly abide to the statutory duties and typically allow tenants to recover threefold the amount charged for security deposits in excess of two months* rent and in cases in which the landlord fails to return the security deposit.