Anne Arundel County Rental and Housing Laws
Topics on this page:
- Housing Code Enforcement
- Fire Prevention Code
- Property Maintenance Code
- One and Two Family Dwellings
- Tenant's Right to Cable Service
- Rooming Houses and Multiple Dwellings
- Manufactured Mobile Homes
- City of Annapolis Laws
General Provisions and Right of Entry
Conflict of Laws
If a provision of the Housing Code conflicts with another law of the County, the provision that sets a higher standard for the protection of health and safety will prevail (Section 15-1-101).
Anne Arundel County’s Right of Entry
The County may come onto the property or into a building other than an inhabited private dwelling during reasonable hours in the discharge of official duties in order to make an inspection or test of an installation or equipment. No one is permitted to hinder, impede, or interfere with an official or employee in the discharge of official duties (Section 15-1-103).
Right of Entry by Health Department
The County Health Officer may enter and inspect dwellings, dwelling units, rooming houses, rooming units, dormitory rooms, and premises to determine if the property complies with the Property Maintenance Code of the County (Section 15-1-104(a)). If the Health Officer has reason to believe that an actual or potential health or safety hazard exists on private property, and it is essential to the public health and welfare that investigation and remedy be undertaken immediately, the Health Officer or the Health Officer's designee may enter the property to determine if a health or safety hazard exists and take action to fix the issue (§ 15-1-104(a)).
The owner, occupant, or other person in charge of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming house, rooming unit, or dormitory room may give the Health Officer entry and free access to the premises or to the surrounding premises after the Officer presents proper identification, a copy of the plan of inspection, and a schedule of the specific area and facilities to be inspected (§ 15-1-104(c)). The Health Officer must keep confidential all evidence discovered through an inspection not related to the purposes of the inspection (§ 15-1-104(e)).
If an owner, occupant, or other person in charge of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit, or a multiple dwelling or rooming house refuses, impedes, inhibits, interferes with, restricts, or obstructs entry and free access to a structure or premises when an inspection is authorized by the Code, the Health Officer may seek a cease and desist order from the court against the owner, occupant, or other person in charge (§ 15-1-104(d)).
Occupancy of Building Constructed Without Building Permit
There is a conclusive presumption that a building or structure constructed, enlarged, altered or moved without or in violation of a building permit required by the Building Code for the County is unsafe and constitutes an immediate hazard to life and property (§ 15-1-105, § 113.7.1 of Supplement). This does not apply if the work done without or in violation of a building permit is limited to interior renovations (§ 15-1-105, § 113.7.8 of Supplement).
A building or structure presumed unsafe, as defined above, must not be used or occupied until a building permit is issued, the building or structure passes all applicable inspections and, if necessary, a separate certificate of occupancy for the building or structure is issued (§ 15-1-105, § 113.7.2 of Supplement).
The Director of Inspections and Permits must give notice of intent to enforce these provisions to the owner, occupant, or other person in charge of the building or structure by posting a copy on the building or structure, and mailing a copy by first class mail to the owner or owners of the property on which the building or structure is located as recorded in the land records of the County. The notice must include a description of the requirements of this section, and specify a time for compliance with the requirements (§ 15-1-105, § 113.7.4 of Supplement). Upon notice, the owner, occupant, or other person in charge of a building or structure presumed unsafe must disconnect the building or structure from all utilities, including gas, electric, public water, and public sewer or from the private well or private sewage disposal system. The utilities, and the private well or private sewage disposal system, must not be reconnected until approved by the Director of Inspections and Permits (§ 15-1-105, § 113.7.3 of Supplement).
If the owner, occupant, or other person in charge of the building or structure does not comply with the requirements of this section within the time specified in the notice, the Director of Inspections and Permits must refer the matter to the County Attorney, who may enforce the requirements by seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary and permanent injunction, either as a separate count in a complaint seeking other remedial action or by separate complaint (§ 15-1-105, § 113.7.5 of Supplement).
Violations of a court order enforcing these requirements will be punished by a civil penalty in the amount of $500 per day for each day that the violation continues, or criminal penalties, or both. The court order must provide that, if the owner, occupant, or other person in charge of the building or structure fails to disconnect the utilities and a private well and private sewage disposal system as required by this section, the County may take the action necessary to do so, including directing utility companies to disconnect service to the building or structure (§ 15-1-105, § 113.7.6 of Supplement).
The County and any County agency or private company acting at the direction of the County is not liable for property damage necessary to abate an actual or potential health or safety hazard (§ 15-1-105, § 113.9 of Supplement).
Denial of Permits After Notice of Violation
The County may deny the issuance of permits under all Construction and Property Maintenance Codes if it determines that the applicant has been served with notice of any violation on the property for which the permit is sought and has not been resolved (§ 15-1-105, § 113.8.1 of Supplement). The Director of Inspections and Permits must give notice of intent to deny permits after notice of violation by including in any notice of violation a provision stating that the property may be subject to denial of additional permits under this section until the violation is corrected (§ 15-1-105, § 113.8.2 of Supplement.
The permit applicant may not appeal the denial of additional permits based on the enforcement of these provisions (§ 15-1-105, § 113.8.4 of Supplement).
- “Existing building, condition, or facility” means any building, plant, condition, or equipment that existed before December 12, 2013, or for which a building, electrical, mechanical, or plumbing permit was issued before December 12, 2013.
- “New building, condition, or facility” means any building, plant, condition, or equipment for which a building, electrical, mechanical, or plumbing permit was issued on or after December 12, 2013.
- “NFPA” means National Fire Protection Association.
Anne Arundel County has adopted the “NFPA 1, Uniform Fire Code, 2012 Edition” and the “NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2012 Edition” as published by the National Fire Protection Association and certain requirements of the International Building Code as the Fire Prevention Code of the County, with any additions, insertions, omissions, and changes noted below and in Anne Arundel County Code, Article 15, Construction and Property Maintenance Codes Supplement (§ 15-3-104(a)).
The Fire Prevention Code applies to new buildings, conditions, or facilities and does not apply to existing buildings, conditions, or facilities unless (§ 15-3-102(a)):
- The Fire Chief or the Fire Chief's designee has found that the continuation of an existing condition constitutes a hazard so adverse to life, property, public safety, or welfare as to require correction; or
- The building undergoes a change from one occupancy classification to another.
The Fire Prevention Code does not apply to one- and two-family dwellings, except for the installation and maintenance of smoke detectors and residential sprinklers as required by State or local law (§ 15-3-102(b)).
The Fire Chief or the Fire Chief’s designee is responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Fire Prevention Code (§ 15-3-103).
A fee of $100 will be charged for any re-inspections and a re-inspection may not be scheduled or conducted without payment of the fee; notice that a re-inspection fee is required must be provided in writing on a form prescribed by the County (§ 15-3-106).
Sign Required for Storage of Flammable and Hazardous Chemicals
All establishments storing or handling flammable or hazardous chemicals must be plainly marked with signs at entrances to storage or use areas and at other points that are recommended by the Chief Fire Marshal or the Fire Marshal’s designee. These signs must be in accordance with the “Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response,” 2001 Edition.
The Fire Chief, and other personnel as are designated in writing by the Fire Chief, have the same general police powers, including arrest powers, as sworn members of the County Police Department for the express purpose of enforcing any fire safety law in effect in the County, including the Code; this power extends to any arrest or other lawful action necessary to permit the peaceful completion of any lawful action by the Fire Department (§ 15-3-107).
- “Department” means the Health Department.
- “Garbage” means organic waste consisting of the residue of animal, fruit, or vegetable matter that results from the preparation, cooking, handling, or storage of food, but the term does not include feces.
- “Health Officer” means the Health Officer or the Health Officer’s designee.
- “Nuisance” means a menace to the public health, safety, or welfare arising from the accumulation of garbage, trash, or refuse or the presence of stagnant water or combustible material.
- “Refuse” means ashes, garbage, trash, junk, industrial waste, dead animals, or other solid waste materials, including salvageable waste.
An owner or other person may not occupy or lease to another person a dwelling or dwelling unit unless it is clean, sanitary, fit for human occupancy, and in compliance with the property maintenance code and other applicable State and County law (§ 15-4-103).
The Health Officer and the Health Department is responsible for enforcing the Property Maintenance Code (§ 15-4-102).
Modifications to the Property Maintenance Code
The Health Officer may approve an application for a modification to any provision the Property Maintenance Code if it is shown that (§ 15-4-104):
- Potential difficulties or unnecessary hardship will result from strict application of the Code;
- The purposes of the Code will be served by the alternate proposal; and
- The modification will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare and not be injurious to other properties.
Adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code
The “2003 International Property Maintenance Code” as published by the International Code Council, Inc., is adopted as the property maintenance code for the County, with the additions, insertions, omissions, and changes set forth below and in Article 15, Construction and Property Maintenance Codes Supplement, October 1, 2005 (§ 15-4-201).
Refuse and Trash
Unless expressly allowed by other law, a person may not store refuse or dispose of, deposit, or dump refuse on any vacant lot or tract of land or on any road, walkway, or parking lot, including a shopping center or drive-in parking lot (§ 15-4-301).
An owner or occupant of any premises may not permit the buildup of refuse or waste on the premises if it may create a health, accident, or safety hazard or the collection is in a manner that may cause or permit any part of the refuse or other waste to be blown or moved by nature onto any other property (§ 15-4-302(a)). The owners and occupants of any premises are both responsible for enough containers for storage of refuse and other waste matter to prevent overflow between times of collection (§ 15-4-302(b)).
Stored useable materials on any premises must be stacked or piled in an orderly manner that leaves at least a 12-inch space between the material and the ground level; no stored materials may be stacked or piled against an exterior wall (§ 15-4-302(d)).
Sewage Disposal Systems
Each sewage disposal system must be installed in accordance with the "2003 International Plumbing Code” (§ 15-4-303(a)). Each sewage disposal system must be maintained in a safe, sanitary, and functional condition, free from obstructions, leaks, and defects, so as to avoid creating a public health nuisance (§ 15-4-303(b)). The system must be maintained based on the original design and no property may be improved or expanded beyond the system’s capacity (§ 15-4-303(c)).
Abatement of Nuisance
If the Health Officer knows of any condition on the property that presents a clear and present health or safety hazard, the Health Officer may order the person responsible for creating, maintaining, or permitting the health or safety hazard to take immediate action to fix the problem, and may take direct action to fix the problem if the responsible person cannot be contacted or cannot or will not take immediate action to abate the problem (§ 15-4-401).
When the Health Officer determines that a structure is dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise unfit for human use, the Health Officer must order that the structure be repaired or otherwise made safe and sanitary; if the person fails to obey the order, the Health Officer may ask the court for a demolition order (§ 15-4-403).
Civil Fine for Violation of Property Maintenance Code
It is a Class D civil offense to violate any provision of the Property Maintenance Code, punishable by a civil fine of $125 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation, and $1,000 for the third or any subsequent violation; failure to comply with a notice and order resulting from a violation is a civil offense punishable by a civil fine of $25 per day (§ 15-5-102(i)).
Notice of Violation
When the Health Officer determines that there has been a violation of the Property Maintenance Code, written notice must be served on the violator in the manner provided by the Maryland Rules (§ 15-5-105(a)). If service cannot be effected as provided by the Maryland Rules, the notice must be posted in a conspicuous place in or about the structure or property designated in the notice. When the owner of a dwelling unit or structure has received a notice of violation, the owner must provide a copy of the notice of violation to a prospective purchaser or lessee (§ 15-5-105(b)). The Health Officer may record a notice of violation among the land records (§ 15-5-105(c)).
The following is a summary of the Code requirements for one- and two- family dwellings. The Anne Arundel County website also provides other information and specifications that may be of interest to tenants and landlords. Anne Arundel County Website
|Bedroom window||Minimum window required - 1
Minimum net clear opening - 5.7 sq. ft.
Minimum net clear opening height - 24 in.
Minimum net clear opening width - 20 in.
Maximum still height- 44 in.
|Hallways||Minimum width - 3 ft.|
|Stairways||Minimum clear width - 3 ft.
Minimum headroom - 6 ft. 8 in.
Minimum tread - 10 in.
Maximum riser - 7 ¾ in.
|Working space around
|Minimum width - 30 in.
Minimum in front - 36 in.
|Ceiling height||Habitable rooms - 7 ft.
Other areas - 6 ft. 8 in.
Under beams & ducts - 6 ft. 4 in.
|Bathrooms||Non-absorbent gypsum baseboard around shower & bath areas|
|Exit ways||Two independent exit ways required from finished basement|
|Fire stopping||All duct chases, bulkheads, laundry chutes, metal flues, tub traps, and all shafts at each floor|
|Fuse box||Do not locate fuse box in clothes closets|
|Smoke detectors||1 required on each level, plus 1 in each bedroom and one outside each sleeping area. Each shall have internal battery back-up plus being hardwired.|
|Stud walls||2x4 at 16-inches on center, P.T. sole plates, plates in contact w/masonry or concrete|
|Wall coverings||Drywall - ½ inch Paneling - (Maximum smoke density - 450 Maximum flame spread - 200)|
|Habitable rooms||Minimum area - 70 sq. ft.
Minimum horizontal dimension - 7 ft.
|Garage Separation||Attached garage separation from residence and attic: ½” “X” gypsum board. Habitable rooms above garage minimum 5/8 Type "X" gypsum board. Non-combustible floor sloped to overhead door with 4” minimum elevation to residence floor. 20 minute or 1-3/8” solid wood door w/self closer. No openings into sleeping areas.|
“Landlord” means a person who owns, leases, controls, or manages a multiple-dwelling unit (§ 10-9-101(1)). A “multiple-dwelling unit” is a dwelling containing more than two dwelling units or a non-owner-occupied dwelling containing two units, but does not include a structure or group of structures having living or sleeping accommodations used primarily for transient occupancy (§ 10-9-101(2)).
Access to PEG programming and other cable services is an important benefit for all residents of the County, and arbitrary denial of access to tenants by a landlord is contrary to the public interest (§ 10-9-102(a)). A landlord may not prohibit or otherwise prevent a franchisee from entering a multiple-dwelling unit for the purpose of constructing, installing, or servicing cable system equipment if a tenant or occupant of the unit has requested cable service, and an installation cannot occur at an individual dwelling unit unless the tenant occupying the unit gives permission (§ 10-9-102(b)).
The landlord cannot discriminate in rental or other charges on the basis of cable service subscription (§ 10-9-102(c)). The landlord can require compensation in exchange for permitting the installation of cable system equipment in accordance with the following provisions (§10-9-102(c) and 10-9-103):
- If a landlord wants to charge more than $1 per individual unit to allow the installation of cable system facilities or equipment, the landlord must give written notice to the franchisee within 20 days of being notified that a franchisee intends to construct or install facilities or equipment at the multiple-dwelling unit.
- Unless timely notice is given by the landlord to the franchisee, there is a presumption that the landlord does not claim or intend to require more than a one-time payment of $1 for permitting the installation of cable system facilities or equipment.
A landlord may require a franchisee to install cable system equipment in the multiple-dwelling unit at no cost to the landlord and indemnify the landlord for any damage that results from the installation or removal of cable system equipment (§ 10-9-102(d)).
A landlord's violation of this section constitutes grounds for suspension or revocation of an owner’s multiple-dwelling operating license (§ 10-9-102(e)).
Any person operating a multiple dwelling or rooming house must have an operating license issued by the Department of Inspections and Permits; a separate license is required for each multiple dwelling or rooming house (§ 11-10-102).
Fee for the license is generally determined by the number rooming units (§ 11-10-103).
|Number of Units||Fee|
|1 to 4||$30 per unit|
|5 to 50||$120, plus $25 per unit|
|51 and above||$1,370, plus $18 per unit|
Designation of Agent by Nonresident Applicant
If the owner of the multiple dwelling or rooming house is not a resident of Anne Arundel County, he must designate an agent and an alternate agent for the receipt of violation notices and for service of court process. Either the agent or the alternate must be a county resident; the non-resident applicant may fill the other position. The applicant must provide a notarized statement authorizing the agent and the alternate agent to act on the applicant's behalf for the purpose of receiving notices and for service of process (§ 11-10-104).
Approval by Health Officer Required
The Health Officer must approve an initial operating license before it is issued by the Department of Inspections and Permits. If an inspection of the multiple dwelling or rooming house shows compliance with all legal requirements, the Health Officer must approve the license (§ 11-10-105(a)). If a rooming house or multiple dwelling does not comply with the requirements of this title after an initial inspection and one re-inspection, the Health Officer may charge a fee of $80 for a second re-inspection and for any additional inspections needed until the multiple dwelling or rooming house complies with all requirements (§ 11-10-105(b)).
Term and Renewal of License
Each license expires on January 31 of the second year after the year of application, at which time it may be renewed for a period of up to 2 years (§ 11-10-106).
Display of License
The operating license must be displayed in a conspicuous place in the common area of the multiple dwelling or rooming house (§ 11-10-107).
The owner or other person in charge of a licensed multiple dwelling or rooming house must keep records of each request for repair and each complaint by a tenant that is related to the property and of each correction made in response (§ 11-10-108). The records must be made available by the owner or other person in charge to the Health Officer or the Director of Inspections and Permits, and the records are admissible in any administrative or judicial proceeding as prima facie evidence of the violation or the correction of the violation of the Code (§ 11-10-108).
Transfer of License
A license is not transferable to another person or to another multiple dwelling or rooming house (§ 11-10-109(a)). A licensee must give written notice to the Director of Inspections and Permits within one week after transferring or otherwise disposing of legal control of the licensed dwelling; the notice must include the name and address of the person with succeeding interest (§ 11-10-109(b)).
Notice of Violations in Licensed Premises
If, after an inspection of the premises or an inspection of the records of the premises, the Health Officer finds a violation of the Code, the Health Officer must serve the owner or other person in charge with notice of the violation. The notice must state that, if the violations cited are not corrected within a reasonable time, the license may be suspended (§ 11-10-110).
Suspension and Revocation of License
After notice of a violation, the Director of Inspections and Permits must re-inspect the premises after the time allotted to correct the problem. If the violation is not corrected, the Director must issue an order suspending the license (§ 11-10-111(a)). A person whose operating license has been suspended is entitled to reconsideration. If a request for reconsideration does not reach the Health Officer within 21 days after the order of suspension, the license will be revoked unless, before the revocation, a re-inspection shows that the violation has been corrected (§ 11-10-111(b)). After a re-inspection, if the Health Officer finds that the premise is in compliance with the Code, the Director of Inspections and Permits will reinstate the license (§ 11-10-111(c)).
A “manufactured home” is a structure that is (§ 11-9-101(1)):
- Transportable in one or more sections;
- 8 feet or more in width or 40 feet or more in length in traveling mode or that is 320 square feet or more when located onsite;
- Built on a permanent chassis; and
- Designed to be used as a dwelling with or without a permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities.
A structure that meets all the requirements above, other than the size requirements, is also considered a “manufactured home” if the manufacturer has filed the certification required by the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (§ 11-9-101(1)).
For mobile homes built prior to June 15, 1976 that meet all the requirements above, other than the size, a label certifying compliance to the Standard for Mobile Homes, NFPA501, in effect at the time of manufacture, is required to be considered a “manufactured home” (§ 11-9-101(1)).
A “mobile home park” is a plot of ground on which two or more manufactured homes occupied for dwelling or sleeping purposes are located, regardless of whether a charge is made for the accommodation (§ 11-9-101(2)).
A “mobile home space” means a plot of ground in a mobile home park designed for the accommodation of one manufactured home (§ 11-9-101(3)).
License Required to Sell Manufactured Homes
A person may not regularly engage in the sale of manufactured homes in Anne Arundel County without a license issued by the Department of Inspections and Permits (§ 11-9-102(a)). The license must be conspicuously displayed in the office or place of business of the licensee (§ 11-9-102(e)).
Mobile Home Park License
A person may not maintain or operate a mobile home park without a mobile home park license issued by the Department of Inspections and Permits (§ 11-9-103(a)). The mobile home park license certificate must be conspicuously posted in the office of or on the premises of the mobile home park (§ 11-9-103(f)).
A mobile home park license may not be renewed or transferred unless (§ 11-9-103(e)):
- The Department determines that mobile home spaces, premises, and buildings and fixtures in the mobile home park comply with the applicable Building, Electrical, and Plumbing Codes, applicable subdivision regulations, and other applicable provisions of law;
- A certificate from the Fire Chief is filed that mobile home spaces, premises, buildings, and fixtures in the mobile home park comply with the Fire Prevention Code of the County and this title of the Code;
- A certificate from the Health Department is filed that the mobile home spaces, premises, buildings, and fixtures in the mobile home park comply with the standards and regulations of the County Board of Health, the State Board of Health, and the State Department of Health.
License for Mobile Home Outside Mobile Home Park
If a manufactured home was lawfully located outside of a licensed mobile home park on or before April 13,1966, the owner of the property on which a manufactured home is located must annually apply for and obtain a manufactured home space license for the mobile home (§ 11-9-104).
Revocation, Denial, or Suspension of License
Any mobile home-related license may be denied, revoked, or suspended for a violation of this title of the Code or any provision of County law (§ 11-9-105(a)). However, prior to denying, suspending, or revoking a license, the Director of Inspections and Permits must give notice to the applicant or licensee citing a specific violation or reasons for the proposed action and a specific time for the applicant or licensee to appear before the Director to show cause why the license should not be denied, suspended or revoked (§ 11-9-105(b)). Orders or notices by the Director must be served on the applicant or licensee by certified mail at the address shown on the application or by personal delivery. If the applicant or licensee cannot be found, it is sufficient to serve the person in charge at the premises or to post a copy of the order or notice on the premises (§ 11-9-105(d)). On failure or refusal of the applicant or licensee to appear, or on findings at the hearing, the Director may deny, suspend, or revoke the license (§ 11-9-105(c)).
Immediate Revocation or Suspension of License
If the operation of a mobile home park is so detrimental to the public health, safety, and general welfare that it creates a public nuisance or immediate danger, the Director may order it corrected immediately (§ 11-9-106(a)). The license may be suspended or revoked on failure to comply with such an order, and may be done without another notice or hearing (§ 11-9-106(a)). Unless waived in writing by the licensee, the Director must conduct a special hearing with respect to the immediate order within 10 days, and notice of the hearing must be served as described above (§ 11-9-106(b)).
Annapolis Residential Housing Code (Annapolis City Code, Chapter 17.40)
The Housing Code provides minimum standards for kitchen and toilet facilities, hot water, heating, ventilation, lighting, fire safety, use of space, maintenance, etc., for all dwellings, whether owner-occupied or tenant-occupied. It outlines the responsibilities of landlords and tenants and the procedures for inspection and enforcement, and provides for licensing of all rental dwelling units, multiple dwellings and rooming houses. Sections 17.40.670-17.40.700 contain provisions applicable to rooming houses.
- Annapolis Fair Housing Law (Annapolis City Code, Chapter 11.32)
- Minimum Lease Terms (Annapolis City Code, Chapter 18.04)
- Rental units must comply with housing standards (Annapolis City Code, Chapter 18.20)
- Condemnation and Licenses Revocation: orders and penalties (Annapolis City Code, Section 17.44.140)