Let’s be honest, most renters fail to read the lease on their new apartment before signing on the dotted line and handing over a big deposit and first month’s rent check. However, it’s imperative before making a huge commitment, that you understand what you are, and are not responsible for regarding the maintenance of your new Maryland rental home.
Depending on your unique situation, some landlords will demand renters to maintain the property while others provide common maintenance. To be safe, understanding the Maryland Landlord Tenant Law can offer some insight into remaining compliant with the stipulations in the lease and work to make sure you get that security deposit back when you move out.
According to Maryland law, it is the responsibility of the tenant to keep the apartment, housing unit, or home in the same condition as the point it was first rented out. However, what does that mean for tenants regarding home maintenance?
Who’s Responsible for Normal Wear and Tear
It’s inevitable that, just like everything else, a home will suffer general wear and tear over time. Those simple things like loosening of the carpet in some areas, the paint on the outside of the home or building beginning to chip, or the gutter system becoming loose after being hit by a large branch from the latest Maryland storm – are not the responsibility of the tenant.
As the law states, “A tenant is not liable for damage to the premises due to reasonable use or for damage caused by the elements.”
Safety for Marylander Renters
Depending on when the building’s permit was issued, it’s the responsibility of the landlord to provide and install working smoke detectors – one on every level of the home. If the detector is battery operated or is both battery operated and hard-wired in case of a power outage, the tenant must furnish the batteries to keep them in working order. If repair or replacement is necessary, that’s on the landlord.
Maryland Rental Lawn Maintenance
In a single-occupancy, or sometimes a double-occupancy dwelling, it is commonly the responsibility of the tenant to keep the lawn mowed and maintained throughout their residency – abiding by township ordinances. Typically with multi-unit households or complexes, the landlord may provide property maintenance but be sure to check your rental agreement to avoid dereliction of renter duties.
Gutter Maintenance on Rental Properties in Maryland
Concerning gutter maintenance, Maryland law requires tenants to hand over the keys at the end of their lease with the home or apartment in a similar condition to when they signed their lease. They may be required to maintain gutter systems as a part of the home maintenance to prevent neglectful water damage.
Gutters are designed to channel water away from the home but when they are clogged with debris, water can penetrate the roofing material, seep into the foundation, and destroy any landscaping around the property. Gutters are a part of the home and if damaged due to the elements, contact your landlord to have them repaired but be sure to report any malfunction promptly to avoid being held responsible for the repercussions of leaky, damaged gutters.
If you cannot safely and properly clean out your gutters semi-annually, as recommended, consider hiring a professional gutter cleaning company to take care of the maintenance on your behalf. Expertly trained and fully insured technicians will clean and inspect your gutters for signs of wear so you may notify your landlord of any issues and avoid being stuck with an extra charge.
While renting is a great option for those who aren’t ready to purchase a house of their own, or who are temporarily calling Maryland their home, know your rights and responsibilities before making the commitment to renting in “The Old Line” state.