Working as a landlord can be difficult in some ways, particularly in ensuring that you take care of your tenants properly as well as the property they are living in. There are times that a landlord may do something actively illegal, but often, they may fall foul of the law entirely accidentally. In order to help Maryland landlords avoid this, we are going to look at the top 3 legal mistakes that Maryland landlords make.
Top 3 legal mistakes Maryland landlords make
There are a number of legal issues that Maryland landlords need to take into account; not merely to find ways to skirt around them but find ways to do their job responsibly and within the bounds of the laws of their state. Three legal mistakes Maryland landlords most commonly make, however, are discussed here.
First off, let us make it clear: when you are interviewing potential renters, you cannot ask any questions that may be discriminatory. For example, if you ask about someone’s sexuality, religion, national origin, or ethnicity, that could prove problematic if you wind up denying their application. In general, you also must avoid engaging in discriminatory actions, both before and during their renting period, of people for belonging to protected classes. You also cannot ask people about their disability, leading you to potentially receiving a fair housing complaint, which may result in the need for a landlord-tenant law attorney. A number of landlords may engage in discriminatory behavior to people with disabilities, mainly with the intention of not having to accommodate their disabilities. For example, if an apartment complex lacks adequate wheelchair access and a person with a wheelchair is unable to live there, that would put you at odds with the Fair Housing Act. All too many landlords look for ways to get out of these obligations, but it is the law that they must adhere to them for a good reason. In order to avoid that, make sure to engage with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights’ guidelines.
The next thing you need to prioritize in the privacy of your tenants. Much like you want to be able to have peace and quiet, so too do the people who pay you once a month. As such, if you intend to enter your tenant’s home for most reasons, you must either have permission to do so or, failing that, the tenant must be given a notice of at least 24 hours. At this point, you are entitled to enter the home in order to do any repairs needed, show the place off to prospective new tenants, and inspect the property in order to ensure that everything is up to snuff. These are rights and responsibilities that all landlords hold but do make sure that you do not use them in a way that may come off as harassing or abusive. Only do it as needed. There are, of course, exceptions to permission and notice, and that is in the event that there is an emergency situation. For example, if there is evidence of a fire or a water leak, you may enter without notice in order to address the issue before it can get any worse. If you fail to adhere to this, this may entitle your tenant to end the contract between you and them early due to your breach.
And perhaps one of the bigger issues is when a landlord tries to keep things from their tenants. This is typically done in order to charge a certain rate that would have to be lowered if that information was divulged, or to avoid having to fix the issue with the house, if possible. Some major issues that may be faced include the presence of mold or even lead paint, both of which can have adverse effects on the tenants, especially if they spend an extended period of time living there. Mold is notable for being a cause of respiratory issues. You also have an obligation to keep things up to certain standards, and ensure that the property is livable, both before and during. For instance, all too often does a landlord kick the can down the road on repairing things as they become damaged, which ultimately works to cause damage to build up for the next tenant that comes along.