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Recognizing the signs of a slumlord in Maryland

Renting a property in Maryland can sometimes lead to encounters with less-than-ideal landlords, commonly known as ‘slumlords’. These landlords often neglect their responsibilities, offering substandard living conditions to their tenants. Identifying a slumlord early in your rental experience is important for protecting your rights and ensuring a safe living environment. Unfortunately, many renters realize too late that their landlord fits this unpleasant description.

If you are renting in Maryland, it is important to know which red flags to watch out for that may indicate your landlord is a slumlord.

Poor maintenance and repairs

One of the most obvious signs of a slumlord is the neglect of property maintenance and repairs. If your landlord consistently ignores repair requests or the property is in a state of disrepair, it is a clear red flag.

Lack of communication

A landlord who is difficult to reach or unresponsive to communication can be a problem. A good landlord should be accessible and willing to address concerns or emergencies.

Unsanitary conditions

Slumlords often fail to keep properties clean and sanitary. Look out for issues like pest infestations, garbage accumulation or unsafe common areas.

Unsafe living conditions

Safety hazards like faulty wiring, broken smoke detectors or unsafe heating systems are serious concerns. A responsible landlord should address these issues promptly.


Renting out properties to more tenants than legally allowed can lead to overcrowding. This not only violates housing codes but also creates uncomfortable living conditions. State law says that for the first person, there must be 150 square feet of space available, and 100 sq ft for each additional person.

Illegal lease terms or lack of a lease

Be wary of landlords who do not provide a lease or include illegal terms in the lease agreement. A lease should protect both the landlord and tenant and comply with Maryland rental laws.

Recognizing these issues early can help you take action, whether it is seeking a resolution or finding a new place to live. Remember, as a tenant, you have rights, and living in a safe and well-maintained property is one of them. Being aware of the signs of a slumlord is the first step in ensuring your rental experience is a positive one.