Maryland Apartment Management Law Attorneys

Managing an apartment – whether it’s a carriage house behind your home or a multi-family dwelling – comes with a certain degree of risk.

All businesses involve risk, and business-owners who anticipate and prepare for risk are generally more successful than those who don’t.

Lusk Law, LLC, has helped many landlords with their legal matters – creating lease documents, advising landlords how to respond to regulatory changes, and representing landlords in court when the need for litigation arises. If you need legal guidance about apartment management, contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Legal Documents for Property Managers

Landlords can probably find a simple lease agreement online, but it’s better to have a lease that’s created for your property. Maryland rental laws are highly specific, and a “standard” customizable lease may be invalid if it doesn’t include the proper language.

These are just a few of the reasons you need an attorney to create your lease:

  • Maryland security deposit laws – The state limits what landlords can charge for a security deposit, how they can use it, and how they return it (with interest) to tenants. Leases must be worded in a way that ensures they are compliant with state laws.
  • Foundation for legal actions – The lease is the document that gives you the right to sue a tenant for unpaid rent. But if a judge deems the lease to be invalid for any reason, you may be unable to recoup your losses.
  • Eviction procedures – Maryland’s laws regarding the eviction process are also highly specific. You must ensure that your lease explains when eviction proceedings will be initiated and ensure that the language complies with state laws.

Downloadable online leases may lack the clauses you need, and they may be outdated. State, federal, and local laws regarding rental housing change frequently, so you want to make sure your lease reflects the most recent laws.

Screening and Advertising

Federal fair housing laws prohibit landlords from asking certain questions of tenants, and landlords cannot express a “preference” about a type of tenant in advertising a rental property. What a landlord might see as an innocuous question could be legally classified as discriminatory. An attorney can advise you how to avoid potential violations of fair housing laws.

Expansion or Construction Concerns

Landlords who want to remodel or expand existing rental dwellings may need a number of permits. An attorney can provide some guidance on what steps to take before launching a major construction project.

Any substantial modification to a rental property with four or more units must be in compliance with the Maryland Accessibility Code. That code requires landlords to:

  • Make one of every 25 units (4 percent) fully accessible

-or-

  • Make all ground-floor units accessible for people who use wheelchairs.

Tenants who have a disability may also ask landlords to make a “reasonable accommodation,” such as installing a wheel chair ramp. Landlords cannot deny such a request, but they can file a waiver if a requested modification would be unreasonably expensive, or not feasible, structurally.

Transfer of Property

Like any business owner, landlords must think about what happens to their rental property in the event they are no longer able to manage it. Landlords who, in the event of death or disability, want the property to pass to an heir or relative need to create legal documents that specify that (as well as confirm that the person inheriting the property actually wants it).

Selling a rental property also comes with legal concerns. Leases remain in force even when a new owner buys the property. If a potential buyer doesn’t want tenants, you would need legal advice on what you can do to negotiate with tenants to end their leases (such as buying out their lease). But you cannot compel tenants to leave before their lease ends, if they’re not in violation of their lease.

Á la carte vs. Retainer

Landlords of small properties may find they need legal advice infrequently and only speak with an attorney once per year, to review their lease or other existing concerns. Owning and managing a large building with multiple tenants, however, may require landlords to pay a monthly retainer fee to an attorney, so they can get legal advice whenever an issue arises.

Lusk Law, LLC, has helped landlords of single-family and multi-family dwellings anticipate and prepare for all of the risks they may encounter along the way. If you need advice about your rental property enterprise, contact our office to set up a meeting.

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