Q. Can my landlord evict me for complaining about conditions in my house or apartment?

A. No. Maryland Law prohibits the eviction of a tenant, threatened eviction of a tenant, or termination of a lease of any residential property and prohibits arbitrary rent increases or decreases of the services to which a tenant is entitled for any of the following reasons:

  1. If in the past 6 months the tenant or his agent has filed a written complaint, or complaints, with the landlord or with any public agency or agencies against the landlord; or
  2. If the tenant or his agent has filed a lawsuit or lawsuits against the landlord in the past 6 months; or
  3. If the tenant is a member or organizer of any tenant organization.

Read the law: MD Real Prop. § 8-208.1

Q. lf the unit is substandard and I move in anyway, have I given up the remedy of rent escrow?

A. No. Obviously, if the unit was substandard when you moved in and you did not know of the defective conditions, no court will say you have waived or given up your right to use the remedy of rent escrow. Also, if you move into the property and the landlord promises to make repairs to the property after you have moved in, no court will say that you have waived or given up your right to use the rent escrow law. The exception to this will be only in extreme cases where the tenant acts deceptively. The State’s public policy is against tenants living in substandard housing. Read the law: MD Code Real Prop. § 8-211

Q. Suppose the landlord does not claim or accept my certified letter and it is returned to me from the post office, will this mean I cannot use the rent escrow law?

A. No. That is why it is suggested you send one copy of your letter first class mail as well as certified mail - return receipt requested. Although the law states the letter must be sent certified mail, it does not and cannot force a landlord to accept the certified mail. If the certified letter is returned to you, keep it, do not open it. Take it to court with you to show that you followed the law. If the first class letter was not returned, in all probability, your landlord has received notice of the conditions and you should be able to proceed with your case.

Q. If my landlord refuses to paint my apartment or house, can I use the rent escrow law?

A. No. The rent escrow law can be used only for the repair of dangerous conditions or conditions which may become a threat to your life, health or safety if not repaired. You cannot use this law for the purpose of beautifying your premises or forcing the landlord to make minor repairs or repairs of a non-dangerous nature. Read the law: MD Code Real Prop. § 8-211(f)

Q. My landlord has sued me on several occasions when I was late with my rent payments. Will this stop me from using the rent escrow law?

A. Use of the rent escrow law is conditioned upon the court having not entered more than three judgments of possession for rent due against the tenant within the 12-month period immediately prior to the action by the tenant, or by the landlord, in cases of tenancies measured by a period of one month or more. Where tenancies are week-to-week, that is the tenant pays rent by the week, the court could not have entered more than five judgments for rent due and unpaid within the 12-month period immediately prior to the action. If a week-to-week tenant has lived on the premises for six months or less and the court has entered three or more judgments for rent due and unpaid, the tenant cannot use the rent escrow law. There are exceptions to this rule but where this situation arises, one should contact an attorney.  Read the law: MD Code Real Prop. § 8-211(k)(3)


Legal Aid Bureau; edited by Rachel Wolpert, Esq., Maryland Legal Aid

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