Legal Sources and Forms:
Getting an apartment off campus is a very serious step and it is important that you read everything thoroghly before you sign. Below are some places you can contact we well as legal forms and information for you should you find yourself in a situation or need any additional advice. Please know that we are here at the Off-Campus Housing Office to offer any additional help and/or support. Feel free to contact our office @ 410-516-7961or stop by.
Tenant Relations and Legal Organizations:
Baltimore Neighborhood Incorporated - BNI fights housing discrimination, supports integrated communities, works to improve tenant-landlord relations, provides community education and outreach, and advocates for persons with disabilities on accessible housing issues.
- Administration: (410) 243-4468
- Fair Housing: (410) 243-4400
- Tenant Landlord Hotline: (410) 243-6007
Housing Enforcement - To maintain safe and attractive neighborhoods throughout the city, Baltimore Housing's Code Enforcement Division enforces the city's housing, zoning, building and related codes. Recently the division was reorganized and restructured to increase efficiency while making it more accessible to Baltimore residents.
- Phone Number: (410) 396-4176
Baltimore Legal Aid - The Legal Aid Bureau has been providing free civil legal services in Maryland for low-income people, children and the elderly since 1911.
- Main Office: (410) 951-7777
Maryland Attorney General Office - The Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the State. The Attorney General's Office has general charge, supervision and direction of the legal business of the State, acting as legal advisors and representatives of the major departments, various boards, commissions, officials and institutions of State Government.
- Main Phone Number: (410) 576-6300
Legal Resources and Forms:
We urge all tenants AND landlords to read these important files:
Landlord and Tenants - A VERY important booklet from the Attorney's General Office. Please Read.
Points to Consider in the Tenant/Landlord Relationship - The following points to consider will give you an idea of the things to look for or avoid when renting property. Also consider how you are treated by the landlord when you are looking at the space - if the landlord is difficult up front it is likely he/she may be difficult to deal with in the event of a real problem. (Click file to continue reading)
Important Information About Leases - Frequently, tenants wish to break or end a lease prior to its termination date. However, leases are binding contracts between the landlord(s) and the tenant(s). A lease obligates you to pay rent through the end of the lease. (Click file to continue reading)
A Checklist for Prospective Renters - You can use the list of questions below to check an apartment before you move in. Some questions cannot be answered by simple observation and may require interviewing tenants of other apartments in the building. (Click file to continue reading)
Co-Signers - There are many situations in which a tenant may need a cosigner in order to sign a lease. Most professional landlords require that a tenant's yearly rent not exceed 30% of his/her gross income, i.e., salary before any deductions for taxes, etc. If a potential tenant is not in the financial situation to sign a lease on his/her own, the most feasible procedure to negotiate a lease agreement is for the tenant to seek a co-signer. (Click file to continue reading)
Evaluating the Safety of a Neighborhood - How can a tenant evaluate the safety of a neighborhood prior to moving into a property? Concerns often arise when a tenant asks to break a lease after learning an area is prone to crime. However, most tenants are unaware that their landlords can hold them responsible for lost rent if the lease is broken. (Click file to continue reading)
Essential Service/ Illegal Lock-Out - Maryland state law prohibits the landlord from taking possession of the premises or of the tenant's property without legal process. Should a lockout occur, the tenant has a right to hire a locksmith, change the locks, or re-enter the premises, and hold the landlord responsible for the cost involved. (Click file to continue reading)
When is Refusal to Rent Illegal Housing Discrimination? - People often assume that any discrimination by a landlord is illegal. However, to "discriminate" means simply to distinguish among available choices. Some of these distinctions are lawful; others are not. (Click file to continue reading)
Know What's in Your Lease - The state of Maryland has enacted legislation that prohibits certain provisions in a residential lease. The following are some clauses in residential leases that are now prohibited by Maryland law. If you encounter such provisions in your lease agreement, know that your lease is still valid; however, the prohibited provisions are not enforceable in a court of law. (Click file to continue reading)
Landlord's Right of Entry vs. Tenant's Right of Privacy - Rented property is no longer the exclusive domain of the landlord. The landlord has given possession to the tenant for the duration of the tenancy. The tenant has a reasonable right of privacy; that is, the landlord does not have the right to enter the premises anytime and for any reason. If the landlord insists on doing so, he/she may be guilty of trespassing. (Click file to continue reading)
Lease Agreements: Oral or Written - By Maryland law, a lease is any oral or written agreement, express or implied, that establishes a tenant-landlord relationship. The agreement extends to subleases (Real Property Article, Section 1-101 [h]). (Click file to continue reading)
Proper Notice - Many tenants and landlords, especially those involved in month-to-month oral tenancies, have no idea that a proper written notice is required in order to change the terms of the tenancy (to end the lease, raise the rent, etc.). Baltimore City law requires the landlord to give at least 60 days written notice before the end of the year, month, or week that the tenant is to leave. (Click file to continue reading)
Rent Court - The following points to consider will give you an idea of the things to look for or avoid when renting property. Also consider how you are treated by the landlord when you are looking at the space - if the landlord is difficult up front it is likely he/she may be difficult to deal with in the event of a real problem. (Click file to continue reading)
Rent Escrow - The prime complaint that most tenants have against their landlords concerns the lack of decent maintenance. When approaching their landlords about needed repairs, tenants are often treated with indifference approaching hostility. Therefore, many tenants feel that they have the right to withhold rent - to put it into "escrow", i.e. keep it in their own bank account until the repairs are made. This is not the legal way to establish rent escrow. (Click file to continue reading)
Renter's Insurance - Most tenants do not realize the importance of renters' insurance until it is too late. Many tenants believe that their landlord's insurance will cover their losses in the event of an emergency, such as flooding, fire, or burglary, but this is hardly ever the case. Landlord's insurance only covers structural damage, and provides protection against claims of negligence.(Click file to continue reading)
Retaliatory Actions Prohibited- A landlord may not bring an action to evict or threaten to evict, arbitrarily increase the rent or decrease services to which a tenant is entitled, or terminate a periodic tenancy, for any of the following reasons. (Click file to continue reading)
Roommates - Sharing an apartment with a friend or an acquaintance can be fun and economical. However, be aware that in a lease situation all parties have to agree to a change in the terms of the tenancy. For example, one tenant and the landlord cannot agree to remove the other tenant's name from the lease. (Click file to continue reading)
Security Deposits - This law applies to all residential tenancies, whether the lease is written or oral. (Click file to continue reading)
Small Claims Court - One of the prime causes of dispute between tenants and landlords involves the security deposit. If these disputes cannot be resolved, and the sum involved is $2,500 or less, the tenant can sue in Small Claims Court. This is a relatively informal and simple procedure in which most tenants are able to represent themselves without the aid of an attorney.(Click file to continue reading)