When it comes to renting an apartment in Howard County, it is important to understand the legal obligations of both the landlord and tenant. This includes the due date for rent payments, late payment charges, procedures for providing notice at the end of the lease, and the return of the security deposit. It is essential to read and understand all conditions before signing a lease agreement. In Maryland, landlords must provide a receipt for payment of rent if requested, or one that is paid in cash.
In Anne Arundel County, a receipt must be provided unless payment is made by check or for commercial purposes. If a tenant breaks their lease, the landlord can only keep that part of the fee which is legally allowed. This means that if a tenant moves out three days after signing a lease, but the landlord is able to rent to a new tenant immediately, then no damage has been incurred and the landlord cannot keep any part of the security deposit. If a tenant has lived in an apartment for five years and moves out, the landlord may use part of the security deposit to cover costs such as repainting and replacing carpets due to normal wear and tear.
However, if there is damage to the apartment beyond normal wear and tear, such as large burns in the carpet or holes in walls, then the landlord may keep an amount equal to the cost of repairs. If a tenant needs to break their lease due to circumstances such as marriage or job relocation, they must notify their landlord in writing. The landlord must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the apartment in order to limit losses. If they are able to re-rent it, then the tenant will only be responsible for rent until that date.
The tenant may also be responsible for costs associated with re-renting such as advertising fees. If a tenant stops paying rent, their landlord could evict them. However, tenants have certain rights such as having adequate heating in their apartment and being able to deposit their rent money into an escrow account established in District Court instead of paying rent to their landlord. This can only be done if certain steps are followed and if there is an escrow law adopted for rentals in their county. If a tenant chooses to withhold rent without opening an escrow account, they must still notify their landlord by certified mail of any problems with their unit and their refusal to pay rent.
The landlord could take them to court and try to evict them; however, they can defend themselves by explaining their reasons for withholding rent.