5 Essential Baltimore Property Management Legal Tips

By Rentwell

If you own (or are getting ready to own) property in Baltimore, you want to be on top of your game regarding the legal ins and outs. Whether dealing with leasing issues or rental concerns, you want to know that you follow the law. With our Baltimore property management team weighing in, we have compiled five legal things a property owner needs to know.

Opened juridical books with gavel on wooden table, law concept

1. Follow Fair Housing Laws

The Fair Housing Act ensures that all categories of people are protected from discrimination when attempting to buy or rent a home. A property manager can tell you that during the application, tenant screening, and leasing process, owners can’t discriminate against anyone because of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status
  • Disability
  • National origin

This means real estate investment owners can’t refuse to rent to someone for any of these reasons. Real estate investors also can’t set different terms or conditions based on these factors that affect how they manage one renter versus another. Make sure you know these laws and work with Baltimore City property managers to avoid discriminatory practices while operating rental properties. 

2. Create a Legal Lease Agreement

A property manager can advise that lease agreements are binding documents, and ensuring they follow the law is critical. You may find a free lease agreement online, but rental owners must ensure the template complies with local, state, and federal laws. 

A legal lease agreement is a governing document between owners and the tenant. It will include details such as the rent amount, the lease term, and the rules tenants must follow to live on the property. The rental agreement also holds landlords accountable for their responsibilities, as the law requires. Working with a Baltimore, MD, property management company will ensure your lease follows the law and protects your property and income. With a stellar lease in place, rental owners have the protection they need to enforce the rules when tenants break them. 

3. Add a Pet Addendum to a Lease

Many people have pets or want to get a pet for their home. It’s up to rental property owners whether they allow pets on a property. When permitting pets, a property management team knows adding a pet addendum to the lease is important. This document includes the rules for having an animal in the rental, the pet deposit amount, and the penalties for violating the rules with a pet. 

However, without knowing the law when creating the document, a tenant might see the pet addendum as an unfair or discriminatory document. Property management companies in Baltimore can help you include everything you need in a pet addendum while following the law. 

4. Process Security Deposits the Right Way

Property owners collect a security deposit when a new tenant moves into your property. If any tenant-caused damage is done to the property, this refundable fee is held. A property owner must understand how much they can collect, how to hold the deposit during the lease term, and how to process it after a renter moves out. 

In Maryland, investors can charge up to two months' rent for the deposit. You must also provide the tenant with a written receipt that outlines the tenant's rights. Maryland’s law states that you must return the deposit within 45 days minus any costs for repairs. If you hold $50 or more for over six months, it begins to accrue interest. 

Understanding normal wear and tear versus damage during the move-out inspection can be tricky. If you're unsure how to categorize a rental's condition and process the security deposit, a Baltimore, MD, property management team can help! 

5. Know When You Can (and Can't) Enter a Rental Property 

Property owners need to enter a rental to conduct inspections or respond to emergencies. However, just showing up and walking into a tenant-occupant rental violates the law. Landlord-tenant laws state that tenants have the right to privacy, and property owners must follow privacy laws when entering a rental. 

Give adequate notice that you'll be onsite and work with residents to find a mutually agreed-upon time when workers can enter to make repairs or maintenance. Avoid surprising residents with a visit unless you know of an emergency requiring immediate attention. 


A Baltimore Property Management Company Helps Investors Follow the Law

A Baltimore property management company can provide that buffer between you and your tenants and help you meet all the legal requirements. Baltimore property managers stay on top of the various laws, allowing you to focus on other priorities without worrying about your rentals! Rentwell offers expert rental property management services to help real estate investors navigate the law and maximize returns. Contact us to learn how we help rental property owners comply with laws while building long-term relationships with tenants!

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Topics: Baltimore Property Management Landlord Tips Baltimore Property Manager