The mold should be approached seriously, both the landlord and the tenant. No rental property is immune from a mold outbreak. It can always occur due to an unattended spill, faulty plumbing, or even a misdirected lawn sprinkler.
According to Maryland law landlords from all regions are required to provide a safe and habitable apartment. Also, any company that provides mold remediation services on residential property in Maryland must have an appropriate license to perform such activity.
In this article, I will try to bring you the details about the rights and obligations of the tenants and owners in Maryland State.
Resource: See the full list of mold laws by state here
Maryland tenants have two strategies at their disposal that are recognized by the courts and that they can pursue following a mold outbreak in their apartment or rental home. Those two strategies are “rent withholding” and “repair and deduct”.
The title itself says what it is about. Tenants, in case of mold, can stop paying rent, claiming the mold has made their apartment uninhabitable. Regardless of what may appear in the rental agreement, all landlords in Maryland are bound by the “implied warranty of habitability”, a doctrine that requires providing tenants with apartments in a livable condition.
Repair and deduct
The “repair and deduct” strategy allows tenants to conduct mold remediation and clean-up on their own and deduct the costs from future rents.
Landlord responsibilities for mold in Maryland
Currently, there is no federal law in Maryland State that governs landlord responsibilities when it comes to mold. Also, Maryland does not have a law that concisely states that the owner is solely responsible for mold and its removal.
If the tenants believe and can prove they have been harmed by the mold presence in their apartment or rental unit, they can try to recover damages from their landlord in court for their losses.
The landlord will be held responsible if the judge can prove that the landlord negligently created a mold problem or allowed one to grow on a property.
Mold disclosure laws in Maryland
Maryland does not have any statutes or regulations that require landlords to disclose high concentrations of mold in rental properties to prospective tenants or buyers.
It is important to know what is expected of you as a seller of real estate property that has or previously had mold damage. While you may be concerned about the negative repercussions of disclosing the presence of mold in the property, it is always better, and in this case more legal, to make sure any potential buyers are aware of the situation.
Potential tenants will respect the honesty, and feel safe knowing that professionals have cleaned up the mold problem.
How long does the landlord have to fix the mold problem in Maryland?
When mold appears it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If the landlord does not act promptly when a written notice of mold is received the tenant can take further action.
Maryland landlords are required to provide a habitable dwelling and make all requested repairs in a reasonable time frame which is usually 30 days.
If the landlord does not perform the needed repairs, tenants can move out without being responsible for future rent.
Can a tenant in Maryland seek justice in court?
If the landlord does not make the needed repairs in a timely manner tenants can stay in the rental unit and sue the landlord for damages. There is a possibility of a judge to order a landlord to make repairs.
Additionally, a Maryland tenant can sue the landlord for mold if he/she can prove that the landlord breached the duty to protect the tenant’s health, and safety and violated the rental agreement. In Maryland, there are several ways that tenants could potentially sue the landlords for damages relating to indoor air quality and mold spore exposure in rental properties.
Some landlords choose to include mold clauses in rental agreements. These clauses provide the landlord with an exemption from liability.
Can you break the rental lease in Maryland State due to mold?
If the Maryland tenant decides to break the rental lease due to mold they are obligated to give the following amount of notice:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Only the following reason allows the tenant to make an early break of the rental lease:
- Early termination clause;
- Active military duty;
- Landlord harassment;
- Uninhabitable unit (including mold);
- Domestic and sexual violence.
Some Maryland tenants who break a lease early may still be required to pay the remainder of the lease agreement.
Tenants’ relocation due to mold in Maryland
The generally accepted rule says that the tenants need to be relocated if the mold is serious enough to cause the dwelling to be uninhabitable. In this case, landlords are usually required to remediate mold at their expense unless the mold is caused by the tenant.
The answer to the question of who covers the costs of any needed relocation can be found in the lease terms and the laws of the applicable jurisdiction.