(Annotated Code of Maryland, Real Property Article, Section 8-203)
Security deposit laws in Maryland outline the rights of both landlords and tenants with respect to the collection, holding, and return or witholding of this amount.
A security deposit is defined as: Any money paid by a tenant to a landlord that protects the landlord against damage to the rented property, failure to pay rent, or expenses incurred due to a breach of the lease.
Legal Amounts for a Security Deposit in Maryland
The security deposit may not be more than two (2) months' rent.
Receipts for a Security Deposit
Maryland security deposit laws state that the landlord must give the tenant a receipt for the security deposit; however, the receipt can be included in the written lease. The receipt must contain written notice of the tenant’s rights in regards to the security deposit, and the landlord may lose his right to withhold any portion of the deposit if proper notice is not given.
Holding Security Deposits
Please note that landlords may be liable for damages up to three (3) times the amount of the security deposit plus attorney's fees in certain cases where a security deposit is wrongfully withheld. Therefore, it is recommended that landlords consult this office or the pertinent statute when handling deposits.
Escrow Accounts and Interest on Security Deposits
The landlord must put the security deposit in an escrow account, and when returning a deposit of $50.00 or more must include statutory interest. The landlord must give the tenant, within the statutory period, a written list of his actual expenses to repair damage beyond normal wear and tear in order to withhold deposit monies.
Return of Security Deposit after Eviction Based on Breach of Lease
Maryland security deposit laws state that a tenant’s rights and duties are different if the tenant has been evicted for a breach of the lease, or has left the rented property before the lease expired. Under these circumstances, in order for the tenant to receive the security deposit plus interest, the tenant must send a written notice to the landlord by first class mail within 45 days of being evicted or leaving the property. This notice must advise the landlord of the tenant's new address and request the return of the deposit. Once the written request is received, the landlord must then take certain steps outlined in the statute.
For more information about security deposit laws in Maryland, please contact Baltimore landlord-tenant attorney Edward J. Maher, P.C. Our law offices offer a complimentary, no-obligation consultation and have substantial experience in this area as well as cases involving application fees, rent escrow, and more.