A lot of do-it-yourself landlords don’t quite understand the Maryland landlord tenant law, especially as it pertains to maintenance. Today, we’re talking about what needs to be fixed when a tenant calls something in or requests a work order.
Cosmetic Repairs for a Rental Tenant
In the state of Maryland, the laws are generally in the landlord’s favor. Most leases say that the property is rented as-is. I recommend you include that language in your lease as well. This means that cosmetic items don’t need to be taken care of unless you want to take care of them. It’s a good idea to do these things for the tenants because it maintains goodwill with your renters and helps you preserve the condition of your property. But, by law you don’t have to take care of these things.
How Long Does a Landlord Have to Make Repairs?
There are some things you must take care of in a reasonable amount of time. These include anything making the house dangerous or uninhabitable. That would be no heat, no air conditioning, lead, mold, fire hazards, and anything else that isn’t functioning the way it should. Those things need to be taken care of right away.
Holding Rent in Escrow
If you don’t make the legally required repairs, your tenant can file a Rent Escrow case. You have to appear in district court and have an actual argument prepared. These cases are not called until the end of the docket, so you’ll spend half your day there. The judge hears both sides of the story and determines whether your tenant’s complaints demonstrate that the property is unsafe or uninhabitable. If the tenant wins the case, the judge may rule that the lease is broken or that you must repair the damages. You won’t receive rent until the repairs are made. There could be an inspection required before you are able to collect the rent that has been placed in escrow.
Communicate and Work with Tenants
Take these cases seriously. Many of them are not legitimate, but if your tenant does file one, you have to go to court, and that costs time. Make an effort to address maintenance issues and communicate with your tenant so you can avoid a court case like this. Complete any repairs that come in on a maintenance work form, otherwise you run the risk of tenants damaging your property, moving out early, or not paying rent. Those are bigger headaches than taking care of maintenance.
If you have any questions about holding rent in escrow or property maintenance, please contact us at Real Property Management Gold. We serve all of southern Maryland, and we’d be happy to tell you more.