Tenant Law in Maryland
Relations between tenants and landlords in Hagerstown, Maryland can occasionally be touchy. The fact is that it's not easy to be a landlord or a tenant, particularly because landlords and tenants often don't understand the legal rights and responsibilities that apply to them.
Landlords and tenants have to navigate a web of legal rights and commitments. It's essential that the parties to a landlord/tenant relationship know what obligations they have to one another.
Landlord's Rights in Hagerstown, MD
First and foremost, landlords have a right to timely payment of rent from their tenants, at the agreed-upon rate. This, of course, imposes on tenants a duty to pay their rent in whole, in a timely manner.
Moreover, landlords can bill the tenant for any damage they cause to the unit, whether it was intentional or negligent. The costs of repairs for such damage can be deducted from a tenant's security deposit, but it should be noted that tenants aren't responsible for usual wear and tear, over which they have little control.
Tenant's Rights in Hagerstown, MD
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Consequently, landlords in Hagerstown, Maryland must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal criteria that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Moreover, tenants are entitled to common areas which are reasonably safe and clean, and free of physical obstacles. Areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes must comply with the building codes of Hagerstown, Maryland. Moreover, any other unreasonable safety hazard, even if it doesn't violate a specific provision of a building code, can create liability for the landlord if it injures a tenant.
Under federal and Maryland law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to grave civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords additionally cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For instance, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Lastly, the laws of most states safeguard tenants from unfair eviction. In general, as long as a tenant is paying rent on time, and is not damaging the unit, they cannot be evicted before the term of the lease expires, unless there is a very good reason to do so (such as excessive noise caused by the tenant, or illegal activities in the apartment).
Can a Hagerstown, Maryland Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants typically prefer to avoid getting into fights with one another, for noticeable reasons. A harmonious relationship is profitable for everyone involved. To that end, the advice of a good Hagerstown, Maryland landlord/tenant attorney can help defuse arguments before they become too serious.