When agreements are made through leases, it is common for disputes to arise, and in many cases legal action is required. While real estate law can often be complicated under specific circumstances, here are 5 common misconceptions about leases in Maryland.
1. Everything Written in a Lease Is Legal
Leases in Maryland may be legal agreements, but when a landlord decides what is written in a lease without a lawyer’s review, it may not all be legal. If you are unsure about the legality of your lease, contact a real estate lawyer for answers to your legal questions.
2. A Landlord Can Charge Any Amount for a Security Deposit
While landlords have some discretion over how much to charge for a security deposit, it may not exceed the equivalent of two month’s rent. If a tenant’s security deposit costs more than two month’s rent per dwelling, the tenant is entitled to up to three times the extra amount charged, in addition to attorney’s fees.
3. Leases in Maryland Must Be Written in Order to Be Legal
If an oral agreement is made between a landlord and tenant, the terms of this agreement are legally valid, so long as the landlord offers less than five dwelling units for rent, and the agreement does not exceed one year. However, written agreements are strongly recommended in order to avoid disputes.
4. Landlords Are Responsible for Legal Fees if Tenants Violate a Lease
If tenants violate a lease and need to be evicted, a landlord must file a written complaint in the district court after giving notice to the tenant. Landlords are able to claim both the amount of rent due and any legal fees incurred in this process only if they state in the lease that any legal fees to enforce the lease are to be treated as additional rent to the tenant. Five days after the complaint is filed, if the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, the tenant will be ordered to evacuate the property within four days.
5. Tenants Must Continue to Pay Rent to Their Landlords as Agreed in Their Lease
In Maryland, tenants may file a rent escrow action in situations where the landlord refuses to meet his obligation to provide safe and sanitary living quarters. For example, if problems with mold or rodents cause unsanitary living conditions that go unresolved by the landlord after giving written notice, a rent escrow allows the tenant to withhold rent payments until the problem is fixed. Instead, the tenant makes monthly rent payments to an escrow account until the landlord complies. The tenant must have the funds for the rent available in their bank account and pay the rent into the court if ordered to do so. If the tenant does not have the rent money then the rent escrow case may get dismissed.
Helping Tenants and Landlords in Maryland
If you have questions about leases in Maryland, Lebovitz Law can help. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us today at (410) 828-0680.