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When the Tenant is a Minor
Under Maryland law, anyone under the age of 18 is a minor. Anyone 18 years of age or older is an adult. There are exceptions under certain state laws to this general definition of who is a minor but none of these apply to the landlord-tenant relationship. For a rental lease, a minor is anyone under the age of eighteen (18). Read the law: MD Rules of Interpretation § 24
Can a minor sign a lease?
Anyone can sign a lease. The question is whether the person can be held accountable to follow the requirements of the lease, such as paying rent. A lease is a contract. A minor is generally not bound by his or her contracts. This means that, if a minor enters into a contract, the law will allow the minor to "void" the contract. The law gives the minor the power to choose whether s/he wants to honor the contract or avoid the obligation.
However, there is an exception. If a minor receives any of the "basic necessities of life" under a contract, s/he is bound to pay for them at a reasonable price. Lodging is considered a basic necessity (Corpus Juris Secundum, Infants, § 240).
If a tenant is a minor at the beginning of his or her tenancy and continues to live in the premises after reaching age 18, s/he can then be held to the terms of the lease as an adult. (See Maryland Law Encyclopedia, Infants and Minors, §§ 43 & 48).
How can a landlord protect him/herself if a minor wants to rent an apartment?
If a landlord is reluctant to rent to a minor, s/he can protect himself by asking the minor to find an adult to co-sign the lease. If any problems occur, the landlord can pursue the adult for the unpaid rent or other problems.
Source:Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI)
Is this legal advice?
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”