Maryland Tenant Screening
Last Updated: January 29, 2015
The Great Baltimore Fire of February 8, 1904 was a momentous event for Maryland’s largest city and the state as a whole. More than 1,231 firefighters, some coming from cities as far away as New York, worked to bring the blaze under control. The fire burned over 30 hours, destroying 1,526 buildings and spanning 70 city blocks.
How to Screen a Tenant in Maryland
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Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, Maryland has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the current Maryland Housing Codes here. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
- Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Maryland
- Maryland Attorney General – Landlords And Tenants – Tips On Avoiding Disputes
Recent Law Changes
The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that undoes Tracey v. Solesky, a controversial 2012 ruling under which pit bulls and pit bull mixes were declared to be “inherently dangerous” by Maryland’s highest court, and which held that not only are these dogs’ owners “strictly liable” for any attacks, but, unusually, so are the owners’ landlords. News Article – MD Does Right By Pit Bulls , and the text of Bill 247
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
- Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF]
- Consumer Report Disclosure [PDF]
If you are ACCEPTING an applicant:
- Move-In Checklist [PDF]
- Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
- Owner/Agent Identity – this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
- Security Deposit – this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
- Non-refundable Fees – explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
- Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
- Move-In And Move-Out Inspections And Security Deposit Itemization: In Maryland, before collecting a deposit, landlords must supply a receipt with details on tenant’s rights to move-in and move-out inspections and right to receive itemization of deposit deductions and balance, if any, and penalties for landlord’s failure to comply. This receipt may be part of the lease. (Md. Code Ann., [Real Prop.] 8-203.1)
- Habitation: A Maryland lease must include a statement that the premises will be made available in a condition permitting habitation, with reasonable safety, if that is the agreement, or if that is not the agreement, a statement of the agreement concerning the condition of the premises; and the landlord’s and the tenant’s specific obligations as to heat, gas, electricity, water, and repair of the premises. (Md. Code Ann., [Real Prop.] 8-208)
- Owner Or Agent Identity: In Maryland, the landlord must include in a lease or post the name and address of the landlord; or the person, if any, authorized to accept notice or service of process on behalf of the landlord. (Md. Code Ann., [Real Prop.] 8-210)
- Security Deposit: Maryland landlords must provide a receipt that describes tenant’s rights to move-in and move-out inspections and right to receive itemization of deposit deductions and balance, if any; and penalties for landlord’s failure to comply. Landlords may include this information in the lease. (Md. Code Ann. [Real Prop.] 8-203, 8-203.1)
If you are DECLINING an applicant:
- Adverse Action Notice [PDF]
Step 3: Order a Tenant Screening Report
What You’ll Need
- A completed rental application signed by the applicant.
- Some details about your applicant:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Previous address
- Bank account number (optional)
- Bank routing number (optional)
What Will Be Covered
- Package Options
- Background Report Coverage for Maryland:
- Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records – A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in Maryland: MD Admin Office Of Courts Circuit Courts, MD Admin Office Of Courts District Courts, MD Department Of Corrections, Garrett County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County Inmates, MD Sex Offender Registry.
- Eviction Records – records are available from the following counties: Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Queen Annes, Somerset, St Marys, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, Worcester.
- Bankruptcies, Liens & Judgments – records are available from the following counties: Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Queen Annes, Saint Marys, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, Worcester.
- Social Security Number validation, Death Index, credit checks, previous addresses, alias names, and the Rent Check Advisor® include all information available regardless of location.
Resources for Maryland Landlords
- Maryland State Bar Association Lawyer Referral
- Maryland Courts Directory
- Law Enforcement Agencies in Maryland (Wikipedia)