Every State, County, City and Municipality has a set of standardized laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship. However, sometimes there may be subtle differences and nuances to those laws, that aren’t obvious to rental property investors – especially first-time landlords, or those familiar with doing things “differently”. Working with experienced rental property management companies in Maryland is the best way to making sure you’re always on the right side of the law.
Understand the Laws
One aspect of owning rental property, that frequently has landlords and prospective landlords second-guessing themselves, relates to licensing requirements. These requirements are different at every level – State, County and City – and can often confuse out-of-jurisdiction landlords, who may be used to doing things differently. For instance, did you know that Howard County requires a Rental License agreement? While this is just one example of why you should work with a seasoned local rental management group in Columbia MD, understanding other aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship is equally important.
State laws also impact the landlord-tenant relationship – even if a tenant is just a “prospective” renter. For instance, across Maryland, including Columbia, if a landlord receives an application from a tenant, along with the requested application fee, the landlord is entitled to keep that fee – even if the prospect subsequently rescinds their application. As a landlord, however, you must be aware of stipulations around these laws:
- Landlords are entitled to keep an amount under $25 that’s paid to you for this purpose
- You may use the amount collected only towards activity for processing the application – such running credit checks, postage, photocopies etc., and not as an extension for a security deposit
- Any amounts, in excess of $25, or whatever excess amount you collect – which was not applied to processing the application – must be refunded to the applicant within 15-days of moving-in, or rescinding/rejecting the application
Experienced rental property management companies in Maryland, working on behalf of their landlord clients, also know the importance of good recordkeeping. Tenants, and those whose applications were rejected (or who rescinded their application requests) have the right to ask you for an account of how much you spent, and what you spent it on. If they aren’t satisfied with that explanation, they may choose other legal options to pursue the matter. Good recordkeeping can avoid that hassle!
Sometimes, everyone is in a hurry – eager to “seal a deal”, and help the tenant move in. It’s perfectly legal, in Maryland, to have a verbal conversation with a tenant, about renting an apartment on a month-to-months basis, for example. With so many other things going on in a busy landlord’s schedule, sometimes it’s tempting to just agree everything with a simple handshake! And because verbal agreements are legally-binding in the State – everything said and agreed to, albeit verbally, is legally binding.
However, if you work with a professional rental management group in Columbia MD, they’ll ensure their staff don’t just take verbal agreements as the final word. That practice leaves their landlord clients open to a series of legal challenges, a “who said what…when…and where” battle that’s extremely time-consuming and costly. By implementing industry best practices in every aspect of the landlord-tenant relationship, veteran rental property management companies can help clients avoid such pitfalls.