Before a property can be used as a rental it needs to be in a condition fit for human habitation, and throughout the tenancy both the landlord and the tenant have separate duties to keep the unit in this habitable condition. The property must be in a clean, habitable, and sanitary condition, and free of rodents and vermin, remaining in compliance with all applicable laws.

Landlord responsibilities

Maryland real property law contains a statute that details the obligations of the landlord, MD Code, Real Property, § 8-211(e). The landlord must repair and eliminate any conditions and defects which would constitute a fire hazard or a serious and substantial threat to the life, health or safety of occupants. More specifically:

  • Lack of heat, light, electricity, or hot or cold running water, except where the tenant is responsible for the payment of the utilities and tenant fails to pay charges.
  • Lack of adequate sewage disposal facilities.
  • Infestation of rodents in two or more dwelling units.
  • The existence of any structural defect which presents a serious and substantial threat to the physical safety of the occupants.
  • The existence of any condition which presents a health or fire hazard to the dwelling unit.

In addition to those specific guidelines, landlords in Montgomery County must also comply with several chapters of the Montgomery County Code, Chs. 8, 22, 26, and 59.

Tenant responsibilities

In general, the tenant must not destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or surrounding property, nor permit any person under their direction or control to do so. The tenant must do the following to remain in compliance with their maintenance obligations under the lease agreement:

  • Comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of all municipal, county, and state codes, statutes, ordinances, and regulations.
  • Keep the premises clean, sanitary, and in good condition.
  • Notify landlord immediately of any defects, maintenance issues, or dangerous conditions.
  • Perform cleaning and routine maintenance.
  • Dispose of all rubbish, garbage and other waste.
  • Properly use and operate any electrical, gas and plumbing fixtures and keep them as clean and sanitary as their conditions permit.

As a landlord it is wise to review these obligations with your tenants, establishing expectations for both the tenant’s and your own responsibilities for maintaining the premises.