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Basic tenant’s rights in Maryland

Renting in Maryland can be tough when there is a downturn in the economy. Sometimes, tenants feel like they have to just accept landlord discrimination and retaliation in a tight housing market. In reality, you shouldn’t put up with these abuses, and landlords must respect your tenant’s rights at all times.

Freedom from discrimination

Federal and state fair housing laws protect you from being discriminated against while you are applying for a rental unit and while you are renting. Housing discrimination protects renters from discrimination that is based on:

• Race
• Color
• Sex
• Religion
• National origin
• Disability
• Family status

State fair housing laws specific to Maryland also protect renters from housing discrimination that is based on sexual orientation, marital status, or gender identity. If a landlord turns you down or harasses you for one of those reasons, it is against the law.

Freedom from retaliation

Landlords in Maryland are not allowed to retaliate against tenants when tenants voice concerns about their rental unit. For example, if a tenant provides their landlord with a written notice about a safety issue on the property, the landlord cannot evict the tenant over this action. Tenants are also protected from retaliation if they notify the government about a health violation on the property or sue their landlord over a violation of the lease. Some forms of landlord retaliation, other than eviction, could be:

• Verbally harassing a tenant
• Threatening to evict a tenant
• Changing the locks
• Raising the rent to force the tenant to move

Right to a fair security deposit

Maryland law regulates the amount that landlords are allowed to charge for security deposits. A landlord may not require a security deposit that is greater than two times the monthly rent. Landlords are also required to store the security deposit in a separate bank account and return the deposit within 45 days of the renter’s move-out date.

Money that is withheld from the security deposit must be used for repairs and cleaning and be documented. The move-out inspection of the rental unit should be done with the tenant present within five days of their move-out date.