The law is specific about correctly processing and accepting a Rental Application in Maryland.
Maryland has many valuable resources landlords can use when determining what they can legally do to find new renters.
Make sure to brush up on the legalities of all aspects, such as application fees, before you begin offering a lease agreement in Maine.
Maryland Rental Application Fees
According to Maryland Real Property Code Section 8-213, you can charge rental application fees in Maryland but must use the fees to conduct applicant screenings.
If you charge over $25, you must return any amount not used for a credit check or other part of screening.
Give the potential renter an itemized list of how you used the fee. If the fee was under $25, you do not have to refund it. This requirement does not apply to landlords who rent four or fewer rental units at one location or to seasonal or condominium rentals.
Another common charge for prospective tenants is a security deposit.
State law allows you to charge a deposit, including one for pets, but it cannot total more than two months’ rent ( Maryland Real Property Code Section 8-203).
You must include a receipt for the security deposit with the lease. The deposit must be in an FDIC-insured financial institution within Maryland, and you can only use the account for deposits.
You must pay interest if you hold the security deposit for more than six months.
State law does allow you to keep all or part of the deposit money for unpaid rent or to pay for damages that exceed normal wear and tear. You have to give the remaining money back to the tenant within 45 days of the end of the tenancy.
Authorization for Background Checks
A common component of a rental application in Maryland is a background check. This screening allows you to vet potential tenants thoroughly and reduces the chances of renting to someone who may damage your property, not pay rent on time, or cause other issues.
Maryland law allows you to conduct a background check if you provide prospective renters with notice of your intent and secure their consent to a background check (Maryland Real Property Code Section 8-218).
Potential renters can also provide you with a reusable tenant screening report which is a document completed within the last 30 days that contains the following:
- Credit report
- Criminal records for the past seven years
- Eviction history for the past seven years
- Employment and income verification
- Rental history
You also can request one of these reports separately. You should conduct a screening of every adult who will live in the home.
How To Conduct an Eviction Record Search in Maryland
If you do not use a reusable tenant screening report that already contains eviction records, you can also check through the courts.
The state offers the Maryland Judiciary Case Search online tool.
You will only need the applicant’s first and last name to search.
Other Resources for Landlords in Maryland
As you put together your rental application in Maryland, it is helpful to look over the state’s Fair Housing Act (Maryland State Government Code Section 20-702).
This legislation outlines the state’s policy on discrimination and helps you not violate any of its requirements.
It is illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or source of income.
Another tool to use is the state sex offender registry.
It allows you to ensure prospective renters do not have a criminal history involving sex offenses and also lets you check the neighborhood so that you can alert new tenants if an offender lives in the area.
How to Write a Rental Application
Follow the steps below to write a rental application in Maryland.
Step 1 – Fill in Property Address Information
Write the date of the rental application and the address of the rental property.
Step 2 – Collect Basic Rental Applicant Information
This section provides the applicant(s) basic identifying information about themselves.
Step 3 – Collect Applicant’s Residence History
In this section, the applicant(s) provides their residence history including addresses, dates of residency, and reasons for moving.
Step 4 – Gather Applicant’s Employment History
This section is for the applicant(s) to provide current and previous employment information and other sources of income.
Step 5 – Gather Applicant’s Financial History
This section is for the applicant(s) to provide bank account and credit card information.
Step 6 – Collect References
The applicant(s) provides personal references’ names and contact information in this section.
Step 7 – Additional Questions and Verification
This section contains additional questions to determine more information about the applicant such as smoking or pets.
Sample Maryland Rental Application
Below is a free, downloadable rental application example that you can print out and use to screen potential tenants.
You can also create a customized Maryland rental application form in our document builder.