Under Maryland law, anyone under the age of 18 is a minor. Anyone 18 years of age or older is an adult. There are exceptions under certain State laws to this general definition of who is a minor, but none of these apply to the landlord-tenant relationship. For a rental lease, a minor is anyone under the age of eighteen (18). Read the law: MD Code, General Provisions
Can a minor sign a lease?
Anyone can sign a lease. The question is whether the person can be held accountable to follow the requirements of the lease, such as paying rent. A lease is a contract. A minor is generally not bound by his or her contracts. This means that, if a minor enters into a contract, the law will allow the minor to cancel, or “void” the contract. The law gives the minor the power to choose whether s/he wants to honor the contract or avoid the obligation.
There is, however, an exception. If a minor receives any of the “basic necessities of life” under a contract, s/he is obligated to pay for them at a reasonable price. Lodging is considered a basic necessity (Corpus Juris Secundum, Infants, § 240).
If a tenant is a minor at the beginning of his or her tenancy and continues to live in the rented property after reaching age 18, s/he can then be held to the terms of the lease as an adult. (See Maryland Law Encyclopedia, Infants and Minors, §§ 43 & 48).
How can a landlord protect him/herself if a minor wants to rent an apartment?
If a landlord is worried about renting to a minor, the landlord can ask the minor to find an adult to co-sign the lease. If any problems occur, the landlord can look to the adult for the unpaid rent or other problems.