Landlord and Tenant Code
These provisions apply to any building, or combination of related buildings operated as a single entity, with one or more rental dwelling units. They do not apply to transient facilities such as boarding houses, tourist homes, hotels, school dormitories, or facilities operated for religious or charitable purposes.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-137
Other Prince George's County articles: Human Relations Commission; Housing Code Laws
If you have to go to court for non-payment of rent, skip to the "Where to Go for Help" section
Topics on this page:
- Maintenance: landlord's responsibility
- Tenant's right to enter at beginning of term
- Landlord's right to access
- Tenant's right to read meters
- Tenant's duties
- Report of condition of the premises
- Late fees
- Security deposits
- Required lease provisions
- Prohibited lease provisions
- Drug activities prohibited
- Prostitution prohibited
- Rental facilities in flood areas; notice to tenants
- Evictions; Placement of Abandoned Property
- Consumer Protection
- Rental Licenses: license required
- Laws of Incorporated Towns in Prince George's County
- Where to Go for Help
Maintenance: landlord's responsibility
Landlord must expressly warrant that during the tenancy he will comply with all applicable Federal, State, County, or municipal laws and regulations relating to the construction, maintenance, use, or appearance of the dwelling unit and the premises.
Landlord must maintain all facilities supplied with the dwelling unit and/or as provided in the lease.
Landlord may promulgate reasonable rules for use of the leased premises, consistent with the lease and the laws. Tenant must be notified in writing of any changes in the rules.
Any landlord operating three or more rental units must have a 24-hour telephone number and/or answering service so that tenant may contact landlord in case of an emergency affecting the health, safety, or welfare of a tenant or property. Landlord must notify all tenants of the telephone number in writing, by posting in a conspicuous place and also in the lease. All tenants must be notified promptly of any change in the emergency telephone number.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-153
Tenant's right to enter at beginning of term
Landlord must assure tenant of peaceable entry at the beginning of the lease term. Landlord is responsible for removing a holdover tenant.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-154
Landlord's right to access
Tenant may not unreasonably withhold consent for landlord to enter the unit to inspect, make necessary repairs, decorations, alterations, etc., or to show the unit to prospective purchasers, tenants, or mortgagees.
Landlord must not abuse the right to access or use it to harass the tenant. Except in an emergency affecting health, safety, or welfare, tenant must be given at least 24 hours' written or oral notice and landlord's entry must be during normal business hours or at another time mutually agreed to by tenant and landlord.
If tenant is absent from the unit at the time of entry, landlord must give tenant, within 24 hours after entry, a written report stating the purpose of the entry and the details of any repair, decoration, alteration, etc.
Abuse of access rights by either tenant or landlord can be a basis for termination of the lease.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-155
Tenant's right to read meters
For units with individual meters for water, gas, electricity, or other services billed to the tenant, tenant has the right of access to the meters. Where meters are in secured areas, access can be arranged by appointment. The appointment must be requested by tenant at least 3 days in advance and must be scheduled during normal business hours.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-155.01
In addition to complying with obligations imposed by the lease and by all applicable laws, tenant must:
- Keep his part of the premises clean and sanitary;
- Dispose of rubbish, garbage, and other waste in a clean and sanitary manner;
- Keep all plumbing fixtures as clean and sanitary as their condition permits;
- Properly use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures;
- Prevent anyone whom tenant has permitted on the premises from damaging or removing any part of the unit or its equipment, and refrain from doing any such thing himself;
- Comply with all lawful agreements and rules which the landlord can show are reasonably necessary for the preservation of persons and property;
- Refrain from interfering with the right of other tenants to enjoy their occupancies; and
- If locks have been added or changed by tenant, give to the landlord a copy of the key to enter the premises.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-156
Report of condition of the premises
If landlord imposes a security deposit, he must promptly give to tenant, upon tenant's written request, a report describing all existing damage in the unit, as required by the Real Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
Read the law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-203
Equipment provided by landlord must be properly installed, connected, maintained, and capable of adequately performing the use for which it was designed.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-162.02
Tenant's request must be made within 15 days of the start of tenant's occupancy. If tenant disagrees with the report, he should give his own statement to the landlord within 5 days after receiving landlord's report. Landlord is liable to tenant for three times the amount of the security deposit if he fails to give tenant this report. Landlord is presumed responsible for the conditions noted in the report.
If tenant notices a defective condition in the unit which the landlord may not know about, tenant must report it to landlord within 48 hours. If the defect may cause serious damage to person or property, tenant must report it immediately.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-157
Beginning on the 6th day of the period for which rent is due, landlord may charge a late fee of not more than 1% of the total monthly rent payment per day for each day the rent payment is late, not to exceed a total of 5% of the total monthly rent payment. However, if tenant receives public assistance pursuant to Sections 48, 65A, 65B, and 65C of Article 88A of the Maryland Code, and the public assistance check was not mailed on or before the rent due date, the landlord must wait to charge the late fee beginning on the 6th day after the check was actually mailed. Tenant is responsible for informing landlord in writing that the check was mailed later than the rent due date, and for providing reasonable, satisfactory evidence. Where rent is paid weekly, the penalty for late payment may be $3, up to a maximum of $12 per month.
Where tenant seeks to redeem (remain in) the dwelling unit after the landlord has been awarded judgment in summary ejectment for non-payment of rent, tenant cannot be required to pay any charges other than rent, court filing fees, and court-awarded costs. Landlord is entitled to recover only costs and/or filing fees actually incurred. If tenant requests in writing, landlord must give tenant a written statement of charges actually incurred, together with the District Court (Landlord-Tenant) case number and a copy of the complaint form. Tenant's request must be made within 30 days after the costs were assessed.
The right to redeem is not available to a tenant who has had 3 or more judgments of restitution entered against him in the 12 months before the beginning of the court action in ejectment (eviction).
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-158
A security deposit is money given by tenant to landlord as security for tenant's compliance with the lease. A security deposit may not be more than two months' rent or $50, whichever is greater, per dwelling unit, regardless of the number of tenants. If landlord charges more, tenant may recover up to three times the extra amount charged, plus reasonable attorney's fees.
Legal action based on this security deposit section may be brought at any time during the tenancy or within two years after the lease is ended.
Landlord must keep the security deposit in an interest-bearing insured escrow account in a bank or savings and loan association in Maryland and must administer it for the benefit of the tenant. The money must be identified as security deposit escrow money and must not be commingled with any assets of the landlord. Failure to provide information about the escrow account will be cause for denial, suspension, or revocation of landlord's license to operate a multi-family rental facility.
Landlord must give to tenant a receipt for the security deposit. The receipt must be included as a provision in the lease. If landlord fails to provide the written receipt, he is liable to tenant in the amount of $50. The landlord must deposit the security deposit money within thirty days after its receipt.
In the event of sale or transfer of the dwelling unit, including but not limited to receivership or bankruptcy, the security deposit is binding on the successor in interest to the person to whom the deposit was given. Security deposits are free from attachment by creditors. The successor is liable to tenant for return of the deposit plus required interest.
Within 45 days after the lease ends, landlord must return the security deposit and interest, less any damages rightfully withheld.
If tenant notifies landlord by certified mail of tenant's intention to move, date of moving, and tenant's new address, tenant has the right to be present when landlord or landlord's agent inspects the unit to determine if damage was done during the tenancy. Tenant's notice must be mailed at least 15 days before the date of moving. On receipt of the notice, landlord must notify tenant by certified mail of the time and date of the inspection, which must be within 5 days before or 5 days after the date of moving. Tenant must be informed of his rights under this subsection when he pays the security deposit. If landlord fails to comply with this requirement, he has no right to withhold any part of the security deposit for damages.
Where tenant has committed a breach of the lease, landlord may withhold only the amount that he was actually damaged by the breach. Thus if tenant vacates before the end of the lease term and landlord seeks to withhold from the security deposit an amount for lost rent, landlord must deduct from the damages any rents received for the unit during the remainder of tenant's term.
Within 45 days after the lease is terminated, landlord must send to tenant's last known address by first class mail a detailed statement of any damages or violations of the lease. Security deposit funds may be withheld for unpaid rent, damage due to breach of the lease, or damage to the dwelling unit by tenant, his family, agents, employees, or social guests beyond ordinary wear and tear.
A landlord who fails to inspect the unit or mail the statement of damages within 45 days, as required above, forfeits the right to withhold any part of the security deposit for damages.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-159
Before a unit is leased in a multi-family rental facility, there must be either an oral lease or a written lease executed (signed) by both landlord and tenant. If the lease is written, it must be executed in duplicate and one copy given to tenant at the time of execution. The lease must be for a specified first term, and renewable for whatever additional term, if any, is specified. The renewal is at tenant's option. Terms and conditions of renewals must be the same as for the first term, except as agreed otherwise by landlord and tenant. Any restrictions on tenant's use of the unit and the common areas, and any rights such as use of a parking lot or swimming pool, must be specified in the lease.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-161
Required lease provisions
Each written lease must contain the following:
- Acknowledgment of landlord's and tenant's "collateral" responsibilities for maintaining the leased premises;
- The notice required to terminate occupancy;
- Acknowledgment of landlord's duty, upon termination of the lease, to give to tenant a list of damages chargeable to tenant;
- The maximum number of persons, not including occasional guests, who may occupy the unit. An "occasional guest" is a person who, with tenant's consent, is a temporary occupant for not more than 15 consecutive days;
- A list of all equipment provided by landlord, both the required items such as heat, water, and hot water, and any not-required items such as air-conditioning, washer, dryer, garbage disposal, etc.;
- A list of all services to be provided by landlord, which must include trash removal and maintenance of the grounds;
- An express warranty of habitability;
- In the case of monthly rent payments, a statement that a fee for late payment of rent is not chargeable until the 6th day of the rent period (the tenant is permitted a grace period of five days for the payment of his/her rent);
- A "non-retaliation" provision as in Section 8-208.1 of the Real Property Article of the Maryland Code
- An acknowledgment of landlord's duty to provide a written receipt for the security deposit and for all cash received from tenant;
- An acknowledgment that rent escrow is a lawful tenant remedy;
- Permission to tenant to sublease subject to prior written approval of landlord;
- A statement of the security deposit required, if any, and the interest to be paid;
- An acknowledgment that a blind or deaf tenant may keep a dog of tenant's choice, provided the dog is certified as specially trained to aid tenant inside the unit, in the rental facility, and in all related structures in accordance with applicable laws; and
- Notification to tenant that landlord does not carry insurance on tenant's personal possessions, and if tenant wants to be insured an insurance carrier must be contacted. Landlord must require tenant to initial this provision.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-162
Prohibited lease provisions
The following provisions are prohibited in any written lease:
- Waiver of notice to quit;
- Waiver of landlord's liability for damages caused by landlord's failure to maintain or repair the premises as required by law;
- Incorporation by reference of another agreement or provision, unless a copy is attached to all copies of the lease;
- Authorization of confession of judgment for rent due;
- Waiver of the protection afforded by the Prince George's County Landlord-Tenant Code;
- A penalty for late payment of rent that exceeds five percent of the total monthly rental payment;
- Waiver of notice of any service of process provided or allowed under State or County law;
- Waiver by tenant of any right or remedy provided by law;
A penalty for the late payment of rent that exceeds $3.00 per week or $12.00 per month in the case of leases paid weekly;
- Waiver by tenant of the right to a jury trial;
- Tenant’s agreement that landlord's notice to quit may be less than is required by law (though either party may agree to a longer notice period). The length of notice required from tenant must not be greater than the notice required from landlord (Md. Code, Real Property § 8-501 ); and
- Authorization for landlord to take possession of the dwelling unit or tenant's possession in the unit, unless the lease has been terminated by action of the parties or by operation of law and tenant has abandoned his possessions without formal legal process.
The above-prohibited provisions cannot be enforced by landlord.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-163
Drug activities prohibited
A tenant who knowingly subleases, assigns, transfers possession, or permits use of an apartment for the purpose of committing a violation of the Controlled Dangerous Substances Laws of Maryland is guilty of misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §162.00.01
A tenant who knowingly subleases, assigns, transfers possession, or permits use of an apartment for the purpose of violating Prostitution Laws, including human trafficking laws of Maryland is guilty of misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-162.00.02
Any inquiries or complaints about prostitution and human trafficking made to Prince George’s County 311 call center will be directed to the county enforcement agencies. Upon request, the state Human Relations Commission can provide inquiry/complaint information to a landlord about his or her own rental properties.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-162.00.03
The Human Relations Commission, in collaboration with the Prince George's County Police Department, will provide voluntary training on how to identify human trafficking activities and human trafficking victims. This training is for management staff of an apartment rental and is completed at the cost of the participating apartment owners. Beginning on July 1, 2017, landlords may voluntarily certify every other year to the Human Relations Commission that their management staff has completed the voluntary training.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-162.00.04
Rental facilities in flood areas: notice to tenants
Whenever the County Department of Environmental Resources determines that any part of a multi-family rental facility, including the parking area, is within the 100-year flood plain, the lease of any tenant who would occupy a building or use a parking or storage facility within the flood plain area must contain specific information about the flood hazard and about the purchase of insurance. Any lease which is required to contain such a provision and which does not contain it, together with tenant's signature or witnessed mark specifically related to that provision, will be unenforceable by landlord.
Within 5 days after the Department of Environmental Resources notifies a landlord of flood hazard, landlord must give all tenants the appropriate notice.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-162.01
Evictions: Placement of Abandoned Property
After a warrant of restitution is executed, the landlord must dispose of the property of a tenant. None of the tenant’s property can be placed on a public right-of-way or on any public property. Any property removed from the leased premises pursuant to a properly issued warrant of restitution will be considered abandoned.
If the tenant or the tenants’ agent is present at the time the warrant of restitution is executed, the tenant has up to four hours to salvage and transport his or her property.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-164
Real estate leases are included in the definition of “merchandise” under the consumer protection law. The law is enforced by the Director of the Prince George's County Department of Environmental Resources.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 2 §2-142(a)(7)
The following acts are unlawful in connection with the sale or advertisement of merchandise or service, or the borrowing of money or extension of credit, whether or not anyone has been deceived or damaged by the unlawful act:
- Any act of deception, fraud, false promise, or material misrepresentation;
- Concealing, suppressing, or omitting a material fact which was known or should have been known to the merchant or lender;
- Unreasonable detention of money or personal property;
- Harassing or threatening a person by telephone, letter, or other means, or contacting a person's employer about the person's debt (however, legal process may be used to collect a debt);
- Arbitrarily refusing or terminating a person's credit without explanation and without allowing the person to correct errors on his credit records;
- An "unconscionable trade practice": taking unfair advantage of the lack of knowledge, ability, experience, or capacity of a consumer, which results in a gross disparity in the rights of the consumer as against the merchant, or a gross disparity between the price paid and the value received by a consumer;
- Failure of the seller of a residential condominium unit to make certain disclosures required state law
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 2 §2-146
Power of the Director
The Director of the Prince George's County Department of Environmental Resources has the power to receive and investigate complaints from any person, and to initiate its own investigations of fraud or unfair dealing. The Director can
- Issue subpoenas and cease and desist orders;
- Report violations to law enforcement;
- Represent consumers before administrative and regulatory agencies and legislative groups;
- Assist and advise government agencies and officials;
- Assist, develop, and conduct consumer education programs; and
- Encourage local business and industry to maintain high standards of honesty, fair business practices, and public responsibility.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 2 §2-147
The county, on behalf of the Director, can annul or suspend a Traders or Business License, and under certain circumstances, request the Circuit Court to issue an injunction against a violator or against a person who fails to obey a subpoena.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 2 §2-148
Recovery of costs
In any action brought to enforce this law, the County is entitled to recover from the violator the costs incurred by the Commission for the investigation and hearing.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 2 §2-149
Rental Licenses: license required
Licenses are required to operate single-family rental facilities or multi-family rental facilities (buildings with 3 or more rental dwelling units). Licenses are issued by the Director of the Prince George's County Department of Environmental Resources. The legal owner of the property must apply for the license on a form supplied by the Director.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-181 to 182
Licenses are issued for a period of 1 - 2 years as determined by the Director, depending upon the inspection and licensing work schedule. If the property meets the requirements of the County Housing Code, a license will be issued. If the requirements are not met, the applicant will receive a written statement specifying the defects.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-184 to 185
If feasible, the license must be prominently and publicly displayed on the premises or produced upon request of a tenant or prospective tenant. The license must be available at reasonable times for inspection by an authorized inspector of the Department.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-188
A property located within an incorporated municipality (i.e. a city, town, or village) that issues single-family rental licenses under its own housing code is exempt from the single-family dwelling license requirement.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-182.01
A license is not required for a single-family rental facility if:
- The tenant is the landlord's parent, son, daughter, sibling, grandchild, grandparent, or in-law;
- The landlord is an active member of any branch of the United States Armed Forces, Diplomatic Corps, or Foreign Service who maintains the property as his or her permanent residence; or
- The landlord has been relocated for employment or education, maintains the property as his or her permanent residence, and the property has not been leased for two consecutive years.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-181
Change of ownership
The multi-family rental license terminates on change of ownership, but the purchaser may continue to operate the facility without penalty if an application for a new license is submitted to the Director before actual change of ownership.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-186
Suspension or revocation of license
A license may be suspended or revoked if the Director finds a violation of the Housing Code and the violation seriously threatens the health and safety of the occupants of the property, or the licensee has unreasonably failed to comply with a violation notice. Suspension may be ordered without a hearing; revocation cannot occur until after a hearing is held. If a license has been suspended or revoked, the licensee may not lease a vacant unit or a unit that becomes vacant until the license is reissued. A notice of this prohibition will be provided by the Department of Environmental Resources and must be publicly displayed in the rental office or on the property.
Read the law: Prince George’s County Code, Subtitle 13 §13-187
Laws of Incorporated Towns in Prince George's County
There are 27 incorporated towns (“municipalities”) in Prince George's County:
Approximately half of these towns have no local laws of special importance to tenants and landlords. The rest, however, have enacted legislation such as housing codes, tenant-landlord codes, rent control, and requirements for licensing and periodic inspections.
If you live in an incorporated town, be sure to check with your local government office to see if there are any municipal ordinances or regulations which you should be aware of. More information is available for each of the Incorporated Municipalities on the Prince George’s County website.
Where to Go for Help
To prevent wasteful duplication of effort, contact one agency at a time. If the agency accepts your case, give it a reasonable amount of time to get results, and check back with it before calling another agency.
- Community Legal Services of Prince George's County, Inc.
- 240-391-6370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Tenant Representation Project provides free same-day legal representation to income-eligible tenants facing eviction in Hyattsville District Court, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
- Prince George's County Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement
- Enforces the Prince George's County Housing Code.
- Prince George's County Human Relations Commission
- Enforces the Prince George's County anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination in the rental, sale, and financing of housing.
- Prince George's County Department of Social Services
- Provides information, referral, and emergency service to families in crisis because of eviction or utility cut-off.
- Legal Aid Bureau, Inc., of Prince George's County
- Offers legal services to income-eligible persons in the areas of public benefits such as Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Unemployment Benefits, AFDC, Food Stamps and other similar public benefits. Legal assistance is also offered in the areas of public and federal housing and private landlord/tenant problems. Legal Aid does not accept walk-in clients. An applicant for legal services should call first to schedule an appointment.
- District Court Self-Help Resource Centers
- Landlords and tenants in Prince George's County are also offered free counsel and advice at the District Court in Upper Marlboro
- Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Maryland Attorney General
- Enforces the Maryland Consumer Protection law. Of particular importance to tenants and landlords is the Division's enforcement authority over tenant-landlord matters as defined in the Maryland Code, Real Property Article. The Division also enforces the state Mobile Home Park Law and provisions relating to warranties on new dwelling units.