Most residential leases and rental agreements in Maryland require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of Maryland landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does Maryland law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under Maryland landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of two months' rent for the security deposit.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in Maryland for returning a security deposit?
Under Maryland law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 45 days after the tenant has moved out.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that Maryland landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in Maryland?
Yes. Landlords in Maryland must provide a receipt that describes the tenant's rights to move-in and move-out inspections (and to be present at each), the tenant's right to receive itemization of the deposit deductions and balance (if any), and penalties for the landlord's failure to comply. Landlords in Maryland must also pay interest on security deposits of $50 or more (at an annual noncompounded rate of 3%).
Where can I look up Maryland law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up Maryland law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Maryland Code Annotated (Real Property) §§ 8-203 and 8-203.1. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in Maryland, particularly if your rental is in a city with some form of rent stabilization. For tips on looking up Maryland state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information in the tenant's guide available at http://www.courts.state.md.us/district/forms/civil/dccv082tbr.html.