Categories :: Housing > Landlord/Tenant

The following laws and rules about rental housing property apply specifically to residents and property in Baltimore County. Rules not covered here may be covered by other Maryland law. The following material also has links to the appropriate sections of Maryland Law when applicable. Some of these rules only apply to residential property.  Make sure you explore all the possible areas of the law regarding your legal problem. Housing Laws are in Articles 7, 29, and 35 of the county code. You can read the code online.

The following links jump into specific parts of this article.

LANDLORD MAY NOT CUT OFF ESSENTIAL SERVICES
Baltimore County Code, Title 3 - Housing in General 
§ 35-3-101

A landlord may not reduce or withhold essential services such as means of ingress or egress, gas, electricity, water, heat, light, furniture, furnishings, or similar services to which tenant may be entitled under the express or implied terms of the tenancy. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-101(a)

A violation of this law is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no less than $1.00 or more than $100.00. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-101(b)

If the landlord does not restore the service, the tenant can ask the police to make a report. A copy of the report is given to the tenant, who can then take it to a court commissioner to have the landlord charged with a criminal violation of the Code. The following county court houses are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

    Essex          - 8914 Kelso Drive

    Catonsville   - 900 Walker Avenue

    Towson        - 120 E. Chesapeake Avenue

The tenant should follow the instructions printed on the police report. If the court commissioner finds probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, he will issue a statement of charges against landlord and set a trial date, usually within 2 weeks of the date of tenant’s complaint. Even if landlord restores the service prior to the trial date, the trial will take place.

RENT ESCROW

Baltimore County Code, Title 4 - Rent Escrow §§ 35-4

Where there are certain serious defects in a dwelling and the landlord has failed to correct them within a reasonable time, this law permits the tenant to pay the rent into court so that funds may accumulate and be used to pay for needed repairs. The tenant may use this procedure affirmatively by bringing suit, or he may use it defensively after withholding rent from the landlord and being sued for non-payment. The following is a summary:

The defects covered by this law are those which “constitute or if not promptly corrected will constitute a fire hazard or serious threat to the life, health, or safety of the occupants,” including:

  1. Lack of hot or cold running water (except where tenant pays for water and the lack of water is a result of his failure to pay the water charge);
  2. Lack of light or electricity;
  3. A lack of adequate sewage disposal facilities; or
  4. An infestation of rodents (except in one-family dwellings).

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(b)(2)

Any of the conditions listed above may be used by tenant as a defense to an action of distress for rent or an action brought by landlord to recover rent or possession of the premises for non-payment of rent; or tenant on his own initiative may file a declaration in the District Court, claiming the presence of a hazardous defect as defined above and asking relief.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(a)

Tenant’s assertion, whether it is the basis of an action brought by tenant or is the defense to an action brought by landlord, is dependent upon the following:

  1. Before the beginning of the action, the landlord or his agent was notified of the defective condition in writing by certified mail, or by receipt of a violation notice from a state or county agency.
  2. Landlord has refused or failed to remedy the condition within a reasonable time. What is a reasonable time is left to the discretion of the court, but a delay beyond 30 days after landlord received the notice is presumed to be beyond a reasonable time.  That presumption may be rebutted.
  3. Tenant pays into court the amount of rent due under the lease, until that amount is modified by court order.
  4. Tenant has not had more than 3 judgments for rent due and unpaid entered against him during the 12 months preceding the beginning of the legal action. If tenant has lived on the premises for 6 months or less and has received 2 or more judgments for rent due and unpaid, tenant is not entitled to the protection of this rent escrow law.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(d)

It shall be sufficient answer or rejoinder to the declaration or defense of the tenant if the landlord establishes to the satisfaction of the court that:

  1. The condition complained of does not exist,
  2. The condition has been remedied,
  3. The condition was caused by tenant or members of his family, or by his or their invites or guests, or
  4. The tenant has unreasonably refused entry, or has unreasonably failed to make arrangements for entry by landlord or his agent to make repairs.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(e)

At the conclusion of the hearing, the court shall make findings of fact and shall make any order that the justice of the case requires. Such an order may include one or more of the following:

  1. Termination of the lease or surrender of the premises to landlord;
  2. Ordering all the rent money paid into the escrow account to be released to the landlord or to the tenant in accordance as below;
  3. Ordering the tenant to continue to pay the rent into the escrow account until the defective condition is remedied;
  4. Ordering that the rent, whether paid into escrow or paid to the landlord, be reduced as determined by the court to an amount that fairly compensates for the existence of the condition found by the court;
  5. Ordering any amount of the money accumulated in escrow to be released to the tenant (where the landlord has refused to make repairs within a reasonable time), or to the landlord, or to a contractor chosen by the landlord, in order to make repairs. In any case, the court must make an order to ensure that the money is used to make the repairs;
  6. Referring the matter to a county or state agency for investigation and report, and delay final decision until the report is received. During that time, the tenant will pay into court any rent due and as it may have been reduced by the judge; and/or
  7. Ordering the escrow funds to be used to pay a mortgage on the property to prevent foreclosure.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(f)(1)

In all cases where the court decides that the tenant is entitled to relief under this Rent Escrow law, there is a burden upon the landlord to show cause as to why the rent should not be reduced. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(f)(2)

Whenever an escrow account is established by the court and the condition is not fully remedied within 6 months and the landlord has not made a reasonable effort to remedy the condition, the court may order all money accumulated in the account to be paid to the tenant. The escrow will then continue, beginning a new 6-month period with the same conditions as before. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(g)(1)

The initial hearing must be held within 15 calendar days after notice of the hearing is mailed, except that the court may order an earlier hearing where emergency conditions are alleged, such as failure of heat in winter, lack of adequate sewage facilities, of any other condition which constitutes an immediate threat to the life, health or safety of the inhabitants of the premises. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(h)(1)

The court, on its own motion or by a motion of either party, may hold additional hearings to determine the rights and obligations of the parties. Distribution of escrow money can take place only by order of the court after a hearing where both parties were given reasonable notice or upon motion of both parties, or upon certification by an appropriate agency that the work required to be done has been satisfactorily completed. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(h)(2) and (i)

Whenever a hearing is required in the course of determination of the case, the court shall notify by certified mail (return receipt) all persons required to be notified, stating the date, time, and purpose of the hearing. Refusal or unreasonable delay by a party in accepting the notice will not prevent any remedy to which the other party is entitled. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(j)

For 6 months following a determination of the merits of the case, the tenant is protected from eviction, rent increase, or a decrease in any service which the landlord is required by law to provide - unless the court finds that the tenant did not make his declaration or defense “in good faith,” or that the rent has been increased or tenant evicted “for good cause.” After the 6-month period, the burden is on the tenant to prove he acted with good faith or the landlord lacks good cause. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(k)(1) and (k)(2)

“Good cause” for the landlord to evict or raise the rent must include one of the following:

  1. The condition which was the basis of tenant’s complaint or defense was caused by an act or omission of tenant or a member of his family or their invites or assignees, beyond ordinary wear and tear.
  2. The landlord wants in good faith to regain possession of the property so that he himself may live there immediately upon termination of tenant’s lease.
  3. The landlord has contracted in good faith and in writing to sell the Property, and the purchaser plans to live there immediately upon termination of tenant’s lease.
  4. The landlord seeks to raise the rent because he has experienced a substantial increase in taxes or in maintenance of operating costs unrelated to any condition asserted under this Rent Escrow law.
  5. Landlord has completed a substantial capital improvement of the premises and is not related to any condition asserted under this law.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(l)

The 6-month protection applies to a tenant who in good faith reports a potential code violation to a state or county agency, except that after the 6-month period the landlord is free to increase the rent. In addition, this portion of the law shall not affect tenant’s or landlord’s right to terminate or not renew a written lease for one year or longer in accordance with the provisions of the lease; but the terms of the lease may not be used to defeat the intent and provisions of this law. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(m)

If a landlord intends, in good faith, to raze or board up the premises and intends to obtain a permit to do so, he may gain possession after giving the tenant 60 days’ notice. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(n)

Any provision of a lease or other agreement purporting to waive any provision of this law benefiting a tenant, resident, or occupant of a dwelling, is against public policy and void. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(o)

This law applies also to residential property leased by a state or county agency.

There is a rebuttable presumption that the following conditions, as long as they do not present a serious and substantial threat to the life, health, and safety of the occupants, are not covered by this law:

  1. Lack of decorative amenities, such as fresh paint, rugs, carpets or paneling, or other defects which merely reduces the aesthetic value of the premises;
  2. Small cracks in the walls, floors, or ceilings;
  3. Lack of linoleum or tile on the floors, provided the floors are otherwise safe and structurally sound;
  4. Lack of air-conditioning.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(c)

Concerning defects in utilities, this rent escrow law applies only to those utilities which the tenant was entitled to receive when the lease began, or which the tenant did receive before he or the landlord instituted court action

Flood Plain Areas: NOTICE TO TENANT OF MULTI-FAMILY DWELLINGS
Baltimore County Code, Title 3 - Housing in General § 35-3-302

When any part of a multi-family rental facility, including the parking lot, is within the 100-year flood plain on a Flood Hazard Area Map of the Federal Insurance Administration or on the Flood Plain Map of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or is so designated on other available flood plain data, a specific acknowledgment must be contained in the lease entered into with any tenant who would occupy a building within a Flood Hazard Area, or who would use a parking area or storage facility, any part of which is within a Flood Hazard Area. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-302(a) and (b)

The required acknowledgment is as follows:  

In the event of heavy rainfall, the unit you are to occupy or the motor vehicle parking area or the separate storage facility (as the case may be) is situated within a flood hazard area and may be subject to flooding which may damage personal belongings and motor vehicles. Because of this possible loss, you may be eligible for U.S. government subsidized flood insurance on the personal belongings in your unit. In any event, because of this danger of loss of your personal belongings due to flooding, you may wish to consider acquiring flood insurance which may be purchased from some insurance agents.

Damage to motor vehicles may not be covered by such insurance; therefore, you may wish to also determine whether or not you have sufficient motor vehicle insurance to cover loss due to damage of your motor vehicle resulting from flooding in the area.

   I acknowledge reading and understanding the foregoing warning concerning flooding and the availability of flood insurance and hereby assume the risk of loss which may result from such flooding.

Tenant Signature___________________________

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-302(c)

This acknowledgment may be an attachment to the lease.  However, if it is included in the lease form, it must be distinctly set apart from the other lease provisions and space must be provided for tenant’s signature or a witness mark relating specifically to the acknowledgment. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-302(d)

Any lease which is subject to this law and which does not comply with these requirements will be unenforceable by the landlord. Anyone violating this law is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 of imprisonment of up to 30 days, or both. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-302(d) and (e)

OWNER RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTENANCE OF INVESTMENT PROPERTY
Baltimore County Code, Title 2 - Buildings §§ 35-2-401 to 35-2-406

Purpose

The purpose of this law is to promote the public welfare, health, and safety of the citizens of Baltimore County; maintain conditions under which the citizens of the county may live and work without unnecessary impairment of their physical and mental well-being; and protect and maintain the property values and the existing character of the county's communities by addressing the maintenance problems associated with investment properties through the enforcement of this subtitle and the County Building Code. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-2-403

Definitions

“Investment property” means an improvement on real property in the county that has: (1) A commercial or industrial zoning classification or use; (2) A residential usage from which the owner derives rental income; or (3) Been uninhabited for 6 months or more.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-2-401(c)

“Owner” means a person, firm, corporation, receiver, guardian, personal representative, or trustee who alone or jointly or severally with others has legal title to investment property. This includes an owner who does not have actual possession of the investment property.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-2-401(d)

“Deterioration” means damage to, structural weakening of, or signs of decay on any building material of an existing structure.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-2-401(b)

Maintenance

The County Building engineer, after inspecting the property, has a responsibility to require the owner of the investment property to replace or repair any of the following which are missing or deteriorated:

  1. Exterior architectural features which create an unsafe condition;
  2. Exterior walls or other vertical supports;
  3. Roofs or other horizontal features;
  4. Exterior chimneys;
  5. Crumbling or exterior plaster or masonry;
  6. Ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roofs, and foundations; and
  7. All other exterior construction, including broken windows and doors.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-2-404(a)(1)

Trash

The owner is also required to remove trash, rubbish, or other debris from the premises of the investment property. The owner of investment property located immediately adjacent to a residence must keep all trash containers and receptacles with a capacity in excess of 40 gallons in the rear yard of the property or screened, by natural or artificial means, from public view. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-2-404(a)(2) and § 35-2-405(a)

Inspections

The Building Engineer may enter property in order to make the inspection referred to above.

If property has been uninhabited for 1 year or more, the Building Engineer may enter to inspect for any hazardous or unsafe condition after giving notice to the owner. If the owner prevents or hinders the inspection, the county may petition the court for right of entry. An owner’s failure to respond to a notice to inspect is considered a denial of entry. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-2-405(b)

Work performed by the County

If an owner fails to make the repairs required by the Building Engineer, the County may have the necessary work done. The costs will be billed to the owner and until they are paid, will be a lien on the property and collected in the same way as taxes are collected.

Before the County has the work done, the owner will be given notice and an opportunity for a hearing before the Director of Permits and Licenses or his designee.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code 35-4-201(d)

Penalties

An owner who violates a provision of this law is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine of not more than $500 for each offense. Each person who violates this law is also subject to a civil penalty of $200 for each violation. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-2-406(a) and (b)

HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
Baltimore County Code, Title 2 -- Prohibited Practices §§ 29-2-101 to 29-3-115

Definitions

“Discriminatory restrictive covenant” is defined as a specification limiting the transfer or rental of a dwelling because of the person's race, creed, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, marital status, or physical or mental disability. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-101(b)

“Housing” means a dwelling for the use of one or more individuals, groups, or families and includes mobile homes and any land which is offered for sale or rent for the construction or location of housing. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-101(c)

“Rent” means to rent, lease, sublease, let, or otherwise grant for consideration the right to occupy premises not owned by the occupant. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-101(d)

Following are the specific prohibitions:

Sales and rentals

A person who has the right to sell, rent, control, construct, or manage a dwelling may not engage in discrimination:

  1. In making or causing the making, printing, or publishing of a notice, statement, or advertisement regarding the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference or limitation;
  2. In representing to a person that a dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental, if the dwelling is in fact available;         
  3. In refusing to negotiate for the sale or rental of a dwelling;         
  4. In refusing to sell or rent a dwelling after the making of a bona fide offer;        
  5. In refusing to make a dwelling available;
  6. In restricting the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling;        
  7. In restricting the provision of services or facilities in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling;         
  8. By including a discriminatory restrictive covenant in the transfer, sale, or rental of housing; or        
  9. By honoring, exercising, attempting to honor, or attempting to exercise a discriminatory restrictive covenant.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-102(a)

A person may not engage in discrimination in denying a person access, membership, or participation in or restricting the terms and conditions of access, membership, or participation in a multiple listing service, real estate brokers' organization, or other service, organization, or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-102(b)

A person may not engage in discrimination by representing that the existing or potential proximity of real property owned, used, or occupied by persons of a particular race, creed, religion, physical or mental disability, color, sex, national origin, age, or marital status will or may result in:

  1. The lowering of property values;
  2. A change in the racial, religious, or ethnic character of the block, neighborhood, or area in which the property is located; or
  3. A decline in quality of the schools and institutions serving the area.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-102(c)

A person may not engage in discrimination:

  1. By knowingly inducing or attempting to induce another person to transfer an interest in real property by making the prohibited representations described above;
  2. In placing a sign, display, or device designed to indicate that a bona fide offer is being made to sell, rent, assign, transfer, or otherwise dispose of a dwelling if, in fact, the property is not being offered for sale, rent, assignment, or transfer; or
  3. In maintaining a sale, rent, assignment, transfer, or other similar sign for more than 7 days at a dwelling after the execution of a contract or written agreement for the sale, rental, assignment, or transfer of the dwelling. 

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-102(d)

Restrictive covenants

Discriminatory restrictive covenants are null and void and are contrary to the public policy of Baltimore County. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-103(a). Anyone may refuse to accept a document affecting title to property if the document includes a discriminatory restrictive covenant. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-103(b)(1). The refusal is not to be considered a breach of contract to buy, lease, mortgage, etc. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-103(b)(2)

Exemptions

(1) This law prohibiting housing discrimination does not apply to:

  • A rented room or apartment in an owner-occupied dwelling containing only one rental unit;
  • Private clubs which are not in fact open to the public and which, incidental (subordinate) to their primary purpose and not for a commercial purpose, provide lodging limited to or with preference to their own members; or
  • Religious organizations, or non-profit organizations and institutions operated or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, which own or operate housing for non-commercial purposes, and which limit or give preference in the sale, rental, or use of the housing to persons of the same religion.

(2) The prohibition against discrimination based on age does not apply to a medical, health, or educational institution established for a specific age group; to a domiciliary, retirement, or senior citizens’ home or facility; or to a preschool children’s home or facility.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-104(a), (b), (c) and (d)

Financial practices

It is unlawful for a lending institution to discriminate in denying a loan or in setting any of the terms or conditions of a loan for the purchase, construction, improvement, repair, or maintenance of a dwelling. (This law includes provisions governing the deposit of public funds in a lending institution that has engaged in a discriminatory practice.) Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-2-403

Enforcement

The Commission is authorized to investigate complaints of discrimination, conduct studies, surveys, and public hearings, and make recommendations to the county executive and the county council. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-3-101

A complaint of an alleged violation of this must be filed by the aggrieved person within 6 months after the act occurred or was discovered by the complainant. The complaint must be in writing, under oath, on a form provided by the Commission. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-3-103

The executive director of the Commission will investigate the complaint and, if the facts warrant, will seek a remedy through conference and conciliation. If the conciliation procedure does not result in an agreed-upon solution, the Commission will hold a public hearing. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-3-107(a), (d)(1) and (d)(2)

Decisions and orders of the Commission may be appealed. The Commission may seek court enforcement of a decision or order. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-3-110(a)

If the Commission finds that the complaint was filed in bad faith and without substantial justification, the complainant may be assessed the expenses incurred by the Commission. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-3-112(a) and (b)

Any information that would reveal the identity of the complainant or the respondent is kept confidential until the complaint reaches the administrative hearing stage. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §29-3-114(a) and (b)

BLOCK BUSTING AND SOLICITING REAL ESTATE FOR LEASE OR SALE
Baltimore County Code, Title 3 - Housing in General §§ 35-3-201 to 35-3-203

Definitions

“Canvassing” means a solicitation by a person in order to obtain a listing of real property or to confer with the owner regarding a real estate transaction and includes soliciting door-to-door, soliciting by the use of circulars, visits, or any other means where the canvasser or his employer has not been invited or requested by the owner to obtain a listing of the property or to confer about a real estate transaction. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §35-3-201(b)

“Owner” means a person having the right of ownership or possession or the right to sell, rent, or lease real property and includes the lessee (tenant), sublessee, managing agent, or other person having the right to occupy, sell, rent, or lease any real property. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §35-3-201(c)

Soliciting prohibited

It is unlawful to solicit the purchase, sale, or lease of residential property by any kind of canvassing, such as: door-to-door solicitation in person or by telephone, or distribution of circulars, cards, advertisements, etc.

The following are not considered soliciting by canvassing: advertisement by radio, television or in bona fide newspapers of general circulation in the area; literature distributed by U.S. mail; legitimate personal referrals; contacts resulting from the owner having personally advertised the property for sale; collecting market data or information for appraisals

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §35-3-202

Penalty

A violation of this law is a misdemeanor. Each instance of violation constitutes a separate offense.

A real estate broker or salesman convicted of a violation shall also be referred to the Maryland Real Estate Commission for disciplinary action.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §35-3-203(b)

FIRE ALARMS
Baltimore County Code, Title 2 - Fire Prevention Code, Rules, and Regulations § 14-2-201

The owner of any building containing 1, 2, or 3 residential rental units must install at least one direct-wired, electronically operated smoke detector in each unit. In buildings constructed before 1976, the owner must also provide battery powered back-up systems.  Installation of the detectors must comply with the County Building Code requirements for installation in new 1 and 2 family dwellings. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 14-2-201(b)

Every third year the owner of every rental dwelling unit must submit to the County Department of Permits and Licenses a written verification by a licensed electrician or the County Fire Department that the required smoke detectors are properly installed and operating. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 14-2-201(c)

The owner of the dwelling unit is held responsible for maintenance, repair, and replacement of a smoke detector if the owner received written notice by certified mail from the occupant that the smoke detector is not in operating condition. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 14-2-201(d)

Neither the owner nor the occupant may remove a smoke detector or make it inoperative. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 14-2-201(e)

The County Department of Permits and Licenses may issue a violation notice to anyone violating this section. Failure to comply with the notice within the time specified will subject the violator to the following civil penalties:  $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation, and $1,000 for any further violation. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 14-2-201(f) and (g)

FIRE PREVENTION
Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code

Grills and Other Outdoor Fires

A permit is not required for small recreational and cooking fires, including campfires, barbecue grills, broilers, and hibachis that are constantly attended and for which routine precautions against spread of fire have been taken. However, except for one and two family dwellings, no hibachi, gas-fired grill, charcoal grill, deep fryer, fuel fired heating or cooking appliance may be stored, used or kindled on any balcony or under any overhanging portion or within 15 feet of any multifamily occupancy. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code Section 1:10.11.1.1 and 1:10.11.6

A permit is required for any bonfire, rubbish fire or other open burning upon any private property; the required burning permit must be kept at the site of the fire during burning operations. No burning is allowed within the perimeter of Interstate Highway 695 (I-695) or upon any public street, alley, road or other public property. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code Section 1:10.11.1.5 and 1:10.11.1.6.

Residential Sprinkler Systems

All new buildings must be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system or other automatic fire suppression system. All existing high-rise buildings are required to be protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system by October 13, 2013. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code Section 1:13.3.2.1.1 and 1:13.3.2.26.2.3

CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS
Baltimore County Code, Title 5 – Livability Code § 35-5-213.1

The following applies to all rental properties, whether newly constructed or already existing, in which fuel burning equipment is installed or that is otherwise heated by fuel burning equipment or that is attached to an enclosed parking area. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213.1(b)

A carbon monoxide alarm must:

  1. Be installed in the common area outside of, and audible in, each sleeping area in the housing unit;
  2. Be attached to a wall or ceiling and tested and properly maintained; and
  3. Sound a distinctively different alarm than a smoke alarm within the same housing unit.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213.1(c), (d) and (e)

The property owner must:

  1. Supply and install one or more carbon monoxide alarms;
  2. Provide written information on alarm testing and maintenance to at least one adult occupant of the housing unit; and
  3. Secure and maintain the signature of the adult receiving the written information.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213.1(f)

An occupant must:

  1. Test and maintain carbon monoxide alarms according to the manufacturer's guidelines;
  2. Replace batteries as needed; and
  3. Immediately notify the property owner, by certified mail, of any malfunction or other problem of the carbon monoxide alarm.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213.1(g)

Upon receiving notice from the tenant, the property owner is responsible for the repair or replacement of carbon monoxide alarms. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213.1(f)(2)

For newly constructed buildings (built on or after January 1, 2008) the alarm must be hardwired and have a battery backup. For older buildings it must be hardwired, plugged into an electrical outlet, or battery powered. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213.1(h)(1) and (h)(2)

MINIMUM TEMPERATURES AND HEATING SYSTEMS IN DWELLING UNITS
Baltimore County Code, Title 4 -Rent Escrow § 35-4-202

Between October 15 and April 15, inclusive, of each year, the owner of every building containing one, two, or three rental dwelling units must comply with the following:  Where the heat is not under the control of the tenant and the outdoor temperature is 10 degrees Fahrenheit or above, the owner must maintain a temperature of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures must be maintained as an average of the readings in the rooms, and are measured at the center of each room at a height of 3 feet above the floor. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-4-202(a) and (b)

If the owner fails to provide the required heat or equipment, the tenant may use any remedy or defense provided by the County Rent Escrow Law. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-4-202(c)

The County Department of Permits and Licenses may issue a violation notice to any owner who violates this section. Failure to comply with the notice within the time specified will subject the owner to the following civil penalties: $250.00 for the first violation, $500.00 for the second violation, and $1,000.00 for any further violation. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-4-202(d)

RODENT AND VERMIN CONTROL
Baltimore County Code, Title 7 - Nuisances §§ 13-7-301 to 13-7-315

Definitions

“Owner” means the actual owner or the agent or custodian of a building. Where the terms of the lease hold the tenant responsible for maintenance and repair, “owner” includes the tenant.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 13-7-301(f)

“Rats” means rats and mice.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 13-7-301(g)

Requirements

All buildings in the county must be free of rats and must be maintained in a rat-proof condition as provided in the county building code. The occupant or owner of a building shall eliminate rat harborages and conditions conducive to the existence of a rat harborage. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 13-7-302

Inspections

The director of the county Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management is authorized to inspect exteriors and interiors of premises to determine if there is evidence of rat infestation, rat harborage, or inadequate rat-proofing. If the owner, tenant, or person in possession of a dwelling or dwelling unit refuses to permit entry for an inspection, the inspector may enter only if he has a properly issued warrant to enter. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 13-7-303 (a) and (b)

Failure to comply with a notice to make repairs is a misdemeanor. Whenever the health officer of the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection finds that a public health emergency exists because of a rodent infestation that is likely to cause disease in human beings, either official may abate the condition without prior notice to the owner or occupant of the premises. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 13-7-314 and §13-7-304

Insects

The owner or occupant of a building must not allow the building to be infested with insects, such as but not limited to cockroaches, fleas, and lice, which can spread disease to human beings. An owner must not allow mosquitoes to breed on the premises. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 13-7-313

Violations

Failure to comply with any of these requirements is a misdemeanor.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 13-7-314

LIVABILITY CODE
Baltimore County Code, Title 5 - Livability Code §§ 35-5-102 to 35-5-215

The purpose of the Livability Code is to protect public health, safety and welfare in the use and occupancy of dwellings; to set minimum standards for basic equipment and facilities and for safe and sanitary maintenance of residential structures and premises; and to define responsibilities of owners, operators, and tenants. The Code is enforced by the County Department of Community Development. “Code Official” is the Director of the Department or his appointee. 

The following applies to all residential structures used for human habitation except owner-occupied housing. Generally, all premises in Baltimore County must be kept in a clean, safe, and sanitary condition and be free from infestation. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-201(a) and (b)

Following is a summary of the Livability Code:

Enforcement and Inspections

The Baltimore County Code Official is responsible for enforcing the Livability Code. The Code Official may enter a structure or premises with the permission of the tenant for the purpose of making an inspection or performing any other required duty under this Code. A Code Official may enter a property in order to conduct an inspection without permission of the owner or tenant if the Code Official believes that a violation of Subtitle 3 of the Code has occurred and the Code Official has a court order. If a property owner, tenant, or operator of a structure refuses, impedes, inhibits, interferes with, restricts, or obstructs entry and free access to any part of the structure or premises subject to an authorized inspection, the county may seek a court order for right of entry if there is probable cause to believe that a violation of the code exists in or on the premises. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-103(a), (c)(1), (c)(2)(i), (c)(2)(ii) and (e)(1) and (2)

Legislative intent

The Code is to be liberally construed to protect public health, safety and welfare as they are affected by the use and maintenance of residential structures and premises. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-102(b)

Application and exemptions

The Code applies to all residential structures used for human habitation except: owner-occupied single family units, and housing exempted by the Department of Community Development in accordance with state regulation.

Repairs, alterations, etc., required by the Code shall be made in accordance with all appropriate codes and standards, including housing industry standards. The provisions of the Livability Code do not impair the power of the county relating to demolition or removal of unsafe or unsanitary structures.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-201(a) and (b)

Waivers

Upon application of a property owner, the Code Official may waive a Code requirement if:

  1. Tenant is given adequate notice in a form and manner specified by the Department of Community Development;
  2. Tenant is given an opportunity to comment in writing or in person; and
  3. The waiver would not threaten the health or safety of a tenant.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(a)

A waiver continues beyond the term of the current tenant. Any prospective tenant applying to lease the unit must be notified that a waiver has been granted for that unit and that occupancy will be subject to the waiver. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(b)

A waiver will not supersede the state fire, elevator, or boiler laws. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(c)

Duties and powers of the Code Official; notices, inspections, emergencies, regulations

Upon giving notice to property owner and tenant, the Code Official may enter a structure or premises at any reasonable time to inspect and perform other Code duties. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-103(c)

The Code Official may require and approve any alterations or repairs necessary to bring property up to Code standards. When conditions are encountered which make an approved plan of repair impractical, the Code Official may approve changes in the field if the change is readily determined to be in compliance with the Code, and it is requested by the property owner of his agent before the change is implemented. A description of the change and the justification for it must be filed with the permit for the project. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-103(d)(1), (d)(2) and (d)(3)

Any Code violation which the Code Official considers an emergency must be corrected by the property owner within 48 hours. The time may be extended if the property owner shows that an effort to make repairs has begun, and if he shows a commitment to completing the repairs at the earliest possible time. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(d)(4)(i)(1)

A violation which is not an emergency must be corrected within 30 days of receipt of the notice of violation. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(d)(4)(i)(2)

If property owner, operator, or tenant obstructs entry or free access to any part of the premises or prevents or hinders an inspection, the County may seek an ex-parte order for right of entry. The County will need to present evidence that there is probable cause to believe that a Code violation exists in or on the premises. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(e)

After receiving a violation notice, the tenant must permit the owner or operator, their employees, etc., to enter the premises at reasonable times to inspect, make repairs, etc., as necessary to comply with Code provisions. The tenant should be given notice prior to the entry. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(f)

The Code Official must make reasonable efforts to coordinate inspections by his and other governmental agencies. He shall confer with other governmental officials in order to eliminate conflicting orders. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(g)

The Code Official may adopt regulations to carry out the provisions and the intent of this Code. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-205(h)

Unsafe structures; orders to vacate

When the Code Official finds that a structure or part of a structure is unsafe or unfit for human use or occupancy, he may order it: condemned; placarded (boarded up) and vacated. The structure or that part of the structure may not be reoccupied without approval of the Code Official. Unsafe equipment may also be condemned, placarded, and put out of use. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-203(b)

An unsafe structure is one that is damaged, decayed, dilapidated, structurally unsound, dangerous, or of such faulty construction or unstable foundation that the structure is likely to partially or completely collapse, or is a structure that does not provide minimum protection from fire. A structure is unfit for human occupancy or use if the structure is unsafe, unsanitary, has an infestation, contains filth or contamination, or lacks ventilation, illumination, sanitary or heating facilities, or other essential equipment. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-203(d)(1) and (2)

Unsafe equipment may contribute to a finding that the structure is unsafe or unfit for human occupancy or use. Unsafe equipment includes a boiler, heating equipment, cooking equipment, electrical wiring, or other equipment on the premises which is in such condition that the Code Official finds it a hazard to the life, health, safety, or property of the tenants. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-203(d)(3)

If the property owner fails to close or vacate the premises within the time specified in the order, the Code Official may close the premises. The cost will be a lien upon the property. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-203(e)

When a tenant is required to leave a structure because of an order to vacate or an order to make certain repairs required under this Code, the property owner must make prompt, reasonable, and good faith efforts to locate alternative housing of comparable affordability within a reasonable distance of the structure. However, if tenant’s displacement is caused by tenant’s own negligent, wrongful, or malicious act or omission, or if it is caused by an act of God or other condition beyond the control of the owner, the owner is not required to locate alternative housing. If the owner refuses or is unable to find alternative housing, the County may provide alternative housing, the County may provide alternative housing until one of the following occurs: the Code Official authorizes reoccupation of the structure; tenant’s lease term has expired; or a period of 6 months has passed since the order to vacate was issued. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §35-5-204(a), (b) and (c)

Any cost incurred by the County in relocating tenants will be a lien against the property.

A property owner may not displace or evict a tenant solely because tenant complained to the Code Official about an alleged Code violation.

A displaced tenant continues to be responsible for the same amount of rent which he paid immediately prior to displacement. If the rent for the alternative housing is greater, the property owner is responsible for the difference until the end of tenant’s lease term or 6 months, whichever is less. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-204(d)(1) and (d)(2)

Persons entitled to replacement housing are: tenants of the structure at the time the condemnation order or order to repair is issued, and any person who is required to leave the structure as a result of the order.

If the Code Official finds that a structure is unsafe or unfit for human use or occupancy, he may order it condemned, vacated, and boarded up or fenced. The structure may not be reoccupied without approval of the Code Official. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-203(b)(1) and (2)

Notices and orders; sale or lease of the premises

When the Code Official determines that a Code violation exists, or has reasonable grounds to believe that a violation exists, or has decided to condemn any equipment or a structure, notice is given to both property owner and tenant.  When a condemnation order is served and tenant must vacate the unit, he must be given reasonable time to leave, unless emergency conditions require him to leave immediately. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-202(b)

A property owner who has received a compliance order or a notice of violation may not lease, sell, mortgage, or otherwise dispose of the premises until: the provisions of the order or the notice have been complied with; or the property owner has given the lessee, buyer, or mortgagee, etc., a copy of the compliance order or violation notice, and has given to the Code Official a signed and notarized statement from the lessee, buyer, or mortgagee acknowledging receipt of the order or notice and stating that he accepts full responsibility for making the required repairs. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-202(c)

No one, tenant, property owner, or other, may remove or deface a posted notice without approval of the Code Official. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-202(d)

Penalties

A property owner who willfully violates a provision of this Code is guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction for each violation may be fined a maximum of $500 for each day that the violation exists, or imprisoned for not more than 90 days, or both.  These penalties are in addition to any other penalty provided by federal, state, or local law. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-215(a)(1)

Any person affected by a decision of the Code Official in enforcing this Code may request and may be granted a hearing. A court may consider a violation of the Livability Code by a tenant or landlord as evidence of a breach of the lease agreement between the tenant and landlord. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-215(b)

Structure - Exterior

The property owner is required to maintain the exterior of a structure in good repair and in a sanitary condition so that the structure does not pose a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the occupants. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(a)

Supporting parts must be structurally sound, free of deterioration, and capable of safely bearing the dead and live loads imposed on them. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(b)

The foundation, roof, and all other exterior surfaces must be kept in good repair and in such condition as to keep out rodents and other pests. Foundation walls must be structurally sound, without unsafe cracks or breaks. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(c) and (d)

Exterior walls shall not have holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers, or any other condition by which rain or dampness could enter the interior. All exterior surface materials must be kept weatherproof and properly coated to prevent deterioration. Roofs must be structurally sound, without leaks, and with adequate drainage to prevent rainwater from causing dampness or deterioration in the walls or interior parts of the structure. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(e)

All external decorative features and all awnings, stairways, fire escapes, overhang extensions, etc., must be kept safe and sound, in good repair, and properly anchored.  They must be protected from the elements and against decay and rust. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(h)

Exposed surfaces of metal or wood must be painted or weatherproofed. Exterior stair, porches, balconies, fire escapes, etc., must be kept in safe condition and capable of supporting their anticipated loads. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(k)

Windows, doors, and their frames must exclude wind, and, as completely as possible, rain and rodents. Windows and doors must be weather tight and reasonably fit their frames.  Windows must not have cracks or holes. Windows used for ventilation or emergency escape must be easily opened from the inside and held in position by window hardware. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(m)(1) and (2) and (n)

From April 1 to December 1, tight-fitting insect screens must be supplied for every door, window, or other outside opening used for ventilation. However, the Code Official may exempt windows equipped with air conditioners, openings above the 4th floor, etc., or may require alternatives to screens. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(o)

Each exterior door and its hardware must be kept in good condition. Locks on exterior doors to individual housing units must be in good repair and capable of tightly securing the door. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(p)

Structure - interior

The interior of a structure must be kept in good repair, structurally sound, and in sanitary condition so that it does not threaten the health safety, or welfare of the occupants. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(a)

Supporting structural members must be sound, free of deterioration, and capable of safely carrying the imposed loads. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(b)

Interior surfaces - floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, etc. - must be kept in good repair and in a safe and sanitary condition. Kitchen, bathroom, and toilet floors must be substantially impervious to water so that they may easily be kept sanitary. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(c)

The interior must be clean and sanitary, with no accumulations of rubbish or garbage.  Rubbish and garbage must be placed in temporary storage facilities, not allowed to accumulate or be stored in public halls or stairways. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(d)

Structures must be free of rodent and insect infestations, and where infestations are found, the area must be promptly treated with an extermination process that is not harmful to human health. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(e)

Any door available as an exit must be easily opened from the inside. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(f)

Interior stairs and railings and other exit facilities must be in sound condition and good repair so as not to be dangerous. The stairs must be safe to use and capable of supporting anticipated loads. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(g)

Repairs

The Code Official may require alterations or repairs that are necessary to bring a structure or premises into compliance with the Code. Upon being given notice, a tenant of a structure or premises must give the property owner or operator or the agent or employee of the property owner access at reasonable times to any part of the structure or premises for the purpose of making the inspection, maintenance, repairs, or alterations necessary to comply with the provisions of the Code. Any repairs or alterations that are required by the Livability Code must be made in accordance with Baltimore County building codes and any other applicable laws.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-103(d)(1)(i) and (f); §35-5-201(b)

Common Areas

A property owner of a structure containing two or more housing units must maintain the common areas of the structures and premises in a clean and sanitary condition. Read the Rules: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-206(d)(1)

Lead paint abatement

Whenever any interior surface, such as walls, ceiling, trim molding, window frame, radiator, or banister, is in a deteriorated condition that presents a potential health hazard due to lead paint, the surface must be treated according to procedures established by the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(h)(2)

Unless it presents a potential biting surface for children, an intact surface in good condition need not be treated. Whether in good condition or deteriorated condition, all surfaces such as trim moldings, window frames, and banisters, which present a potential biting surface, must be treated according to established procedures established by the County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-209(h)(3) and (h)(4)

Light and ventilation requirements

In place of the natural light and ventilation requirements of this Code, alternative arrangements or methods that meet minimum performance requirements for equipment will be permitted in order to comply with the Building Code. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-210(b)

All areas in a structure must be provided with sufficient light and ventilation so as not to endanger health and safety. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-210(d)(1)

The property owner shall provide sufficient natural light or equipment for artificial light must be provided to permit maintenance of sanitary conditions and to permit safe use of the area and of appliances, equipment, and fixtures. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-210(c)(1)(ii)

Except in 1 and 2 family structures, common halls and stairways must at all times be adequately lighted with illumination equal to at least 60 watts for each 200 square feet of floor area. The space between lights may not be more that 30 feet. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-210(c)(2)

All exterior stairways and exits must be illuminated. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-208(c)(2)(iii)

When mechanical ventilation is provided in place of natural ventilation, the mechanical system must be kept operating while the structure or part of it is occupied. If air is recirculated, it may not be recirculated to a different habitable area. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-210(d)(2) and (3)

Plumbing facilities and fixtures

Each housing unit must include its own plumbing facilities, which can be used in private, are adequate for personal cleanliness and disposal of human waste, and are operating properly. The following facilities must be supplied and kept in sanitary and safe working condition:

  1. A room separate from other habitable areas, that provides a toilet supplied with cold running water and that affords privacy;
  2. A sink placed in close proximity to the toilet that is supplied with hot and cold running water;
  3. A room that is equipped with a bathtub or shower supplied with hot and cold running water and that affords privacy; and
  4. A kitchen sink, separate from the sink near the toilet that is supplied with hot and cold running water.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(b)(1) and (b)(2)

All plumbing fixtures must have been approved as required by law. They must be of nonabsorbent material and kept in safe, usable condition. Fixtures, vents, drains, and water supply lines must be properly installed, connected, and maintained in working order, kept free from obstructions, leaks, and defects, and capable of performing as intended. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(c)(1)(ii) and (iii)

Installations and repairs must comply with building and plumbing codes. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(c)(1)(iv)

Plumbing fixtures must be kept clean and sanitary to avoid breeding rodents and insects or producing dangerous or offensive gases or odors. They must be installed in a way that permits easy access for cleaning both the fixture and the area around it. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(c)(1)(v) and (c)(2)

The property owner must also: properly connect each sink, bathtub or shower, drinking fountain, toilet, or other plumbing facility to either a public water and sewage system or to a private water and sewage system that has received all required approvals; maintain the water supply free from contamination; locate all water inlets for plumbing fixtures above the overflow rim of the fixture; and install and maintain the water supply system to provide a supply of water at all times to plumbing facilities, fixtures, devices, and appurtenances in sufficient volume and at pressures adequate to enable them to function satisfactorily. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(d)(1) and (f)(1)

The water supply must be kept free from contamination. The water inlet for each fixture must be above the overflow rim of the fixture. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(d)(1)(ii) and (iii)

The water supply system must be installed and maintained to provide a continuous supply of water to the plumbing fixtures in sufficient volume and pressure for satisfactory functioning. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(d)(1)(iv)

Heating facilities for water must be properly installed, maintained, and connected to the hot water lines of the required hot water facilities. Water heating facilities must be capable of heating water so that an adequate amount of water is supplied at each appropriate fixture at a temperature of at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(e)

Alternative water systems and alternative plumbing facilities and fixtures may be approved on a case-by-case basis. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(b)(3)

Each plumbing stack, waste and sewer line must be installed and maintained so that it functions properly, and must be kept free from obstructions, leaks, and defects in order to prevent structural deterioration or health hazards. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-211(c)(3)

Mechanical and electrical requirements

Cooking and heating equipment

Unless the lease states that the tenant is responsible for providing cooking equipment, installed cooking equipment must be provided by the property owner. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212(c)(1)

Each habitable room in a housing unit must contain at least one receptacle outlet, each laundry area and bathroom must contain at least one grounded type receptacle, and each kitchen must contain at least two receptacle outlets on a single small appliance circuit rated at a minimum of 20 amperes. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (d)(2)

Each kitchen, interior stairway, water closet compartment, bathroom, laundry room, basement, and furnace room must contain at least one electric light fixture; stairway fixtures must be switch operated. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (d)(3)

All equipment and accessories for cooking, heating, and water heating must be kept free of leaks and water flow obstructions, and in proper functioning condition, free of fire, health, and safety hazards. Portable cooking equipment using a flame is prohibited. All mechanical equipment used for heating and cooking must be properly installed and kept in safe, good working condition, capable of functioning as intended. Installations and repairs must be made in compliance with the building and any other applicable code. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (c)(2)(i), (ii), (iii) and (c)(3)(iii)

Fuel-burning equipment must be connected to a chimney, flue, or vent in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and applicable codes. Safety controls must be kept in effective operation. Required clearances from combustible materials must be maintained.  There must be an adequate supply of air for complete combustion of the fuel and for ventilation of the area. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (c)(2)(iv), (v), (vi) and (vii)

Devices to reduce gas consumption, attached to a gas appliance, supply line, or the vent outlet or piping, may not be used unless they are labeled for that use and the installation has received all required approvals. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (c)(3)(i)

Fireplaces, wood burning stoves, etc., must be stable, structurally safe, and connected to an approved chimney. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (c)(2)(viii)

Space heaters using kerosene are prohibited. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (c)(3)(ii)

Where equipment to control temperature or humidity is an integral function of the housing unit, that equipment must be maintained and operated according to its designed capacity. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (c)(2)(ix)

Whenever an electrical system needs modification in order to comply with this code, the service shall be upgraded to a minimum of 60 amps, 3 wire service. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (d)(4)

All electrical equipment, wiring, and appliances must be installed and maintained safely in accordance with all applicable codes. All electrical equipment must have received all required approvals. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-212 (d)(5)

Fire safety

All structures must be constructed and maintained to prevent and avoid fire hazards and in a manner conducive to fire safety. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (a)(2)

A safe, continuous, and unobstructed means of egress must be provided from the inside of a structure to the outside at a street, yard, court, or passageway leading to a public open area at grade (ground level). Each housing unit must have access directly to the outside or to a common area that leads directly to the outside; all doors in the required route of egress must be easily opened from the inside; all fire escapes must be structurally sound and in working condition; exit signs must be illuminated and visible; and each sleeping room in a basement must have at least 1 openable window or exterior door approved for emergency egress or rescue, or it must have access to 2 separate approved exits. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (a)(3)

Hazardous accumulations; fire precautions

Accumulations of garbage or rubbish in stairways, passageways, doors, windows, fire escapes, or other means of egress are prohibited. Highly flammable or explosive materials such as paints, volatile oils and cleaning fluids, or combustible materials such as paper, boxes, and rags, may not be accumulated or stored except in reasonable quantities for current use. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-214

A housing unit may not be located in a structure that contains an establishment which handles, dispenses, or stores flammable liquids with a flash point of 100° Fahrenheit or lower, except as permitted in the building or other code. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (c)(1)

Floors, walls, ceilings, etc., which are required to comply with a fire resistance rating, must be maintained so that the rating is preserved. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (c)(2)

Fire protection systems

All fire protection systems and equipment must be kept in proper operating condition at all times. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (b)(1)

Smoke detectors must be provided as required by law. Where fire suppression systems (sprinklers) are provided, the sprinkler heads must be maintained in good condition, free from any defect, kept clean and free of corrosion and paint, and neither bent nor damaged. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (c)(2) and (c)(3)

Where provided, portable fire extinguishers must be visible and accessible and maintained in an efficient and safe operating condition. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (c)(4)

Required fire-resistance rated doors and smoke barriers, including hardware, must be kept in good working order. Any unapproved hold-open devices such as door stops and wedges may not be used. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (c)(5)

Responsibilities of tenant and property owners

Unless specifically provided otherwise in this Code, only the property owner is responsible for compliance with this Code. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-206 (a)(1)

The owner will not be cited for a violation caused by the negligent, wrongful, or malicious act or omission of a tenant, provided the owner’s own act or omission did not in any way contribute to the violation. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (a)(2)

A housing unit may not be leased to anyone for occupancy or use unless the structure and premises comply with the provisions of this Code. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-213 (b)

Sanitation

Tenant is responsible for: keeping clean the part of the premises which tenant occupies, controls, or uses; for storing and disposing of rubbish and garbage in a sanitary manner as required; keeping owner-supplied equipment and fixtures clean and sanitary and exercise reasonable care in using and operating the equipment; and properly install and maintain equipment and fixtures that are furnished by the tenant and keep the equipment and fixtures in good working condition, clean and sanitary, and free of defects, leaks or obstructions. Owner of a structure containing 2 or more housing units must keep clean the common areas of the premises and maintain the equipment and fixtures supplied by the property owner in good working condition. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-206 (c) and (d)

Insect and rodent infestations

If extermination is necessary before premises can be leased to a tenant, it is the responsibility of the owner. In a single-unit structure, tenant is responsible for exterminating any insects, rodents, or other pests. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-206(e)(1)

The tenant of a structure containing a single housing unit is responsible for the extermination of any insects, rodents, or other pests in the structure or on the premises. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-206(e)(2)

In a structure containing 2 or more housing units, the owner or operator is responsible for extermination of any infestation on the premises, except in a housing unit where the infestation is caused by tenant’s failure to take reasonable action to prevent the infestation in his own unit. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-5-206(e)(3)

Tenant’s duties; violations; penalty

The tenant must:

  1. Keep the part of the structure or premises that the tenant occupies, controls, or uses, in a clean and sanitary condition;
  2. Store and dispose of rubbish and garbage in a clean and sanitary manner as required by law;
  3. Keep owner-supplied equipment and fixtures clean and sanitary and exercise reasonable care in using and operating the equipment; and
  4. Properly install and maintain equipment and fixtures that are furnished by the tenant, and keep the equipment and fixtures in good working condition, clean and sanitary, and free of defects, leaks, or obstructions.

Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §35-5-206(c)

Tenant may be given a citation for failure to fulfill a responsibility imposed by this Code. If tenant fails to comply with the citation, a fine of $200 may be imposed for each day that the violation continues. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §35-5-206(f)

Retaliation Prohibited

A property owner may not evict a tenant solely due to the tenant's complaint to the Code Official of an alleged violation of this Code. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code §35-5-204(e)

EVICTION: PLACEMENT OF TENANT’S POSSESSIONS , INCLUDING A MOBILE HOME
Baltimore County Code, Title 3 - Housing in General § 35-3-101

Whenever a tenant’s possessions are removed from leased premises in accordance with a properly authorized and executed warrant of restitution, the possessions must be placed on the landlord’s property, either in a location designated by the landlord or, if no location is designated, then on landlord’s property in a location as near as possible to the leased premises.  Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-103(a)(1)

Tenant’s possessions must not be placed on a public highway or right-of-way or on any other public property. Tenant’s possessions which are removed from leased premises under a properly issued warrant of restitution are considered abandoned. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-103(a)(2) and (a)(3)

If tenant’s property to be removed is a mobile home or a trailer (as defined in the Real Property Article of the Maryland Code) landlord may direct that the property remain at its existing location. The vehicle may not be placed on a county highway or right-of-way or on any public property other than a land disposal site. During the time that it remains on the landlord’s property, it must be posted by landlord as evicted property. Any person in violation of this section is subject to a civil penalty of $1,000. Read the Rule: Baltimore County Code § 35-3-103(b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3) and (c)

 

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Baltimore County Code, this page updated by Lauren Rutkowski, Esq.

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