Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Business Law - Residential Landlord Licensing

One very common small business is that of the residential landlord. Just as with any small business, this one should not be entered into without first considering the laws that govern it. We represent landlords and tenants in both residential and commercial landlord tenant lease negotiations and disputes. My partner David W. Lease conducts seminars on landlord tenant law twice a year and both of us regularly are in Court on both simple and complicated issues facing landlords and tenants.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, as well as other jurisdictions within the State (City of Rockville and City of Gaithersburg have licensing departments separate from the County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs). In order to obtain a license, the landlord must file an application and pay a fee. By so doing, the landlord subjects the property to inspections by the County so that the government can determine whether the rental housing is safe and maintained in accordance with the applicable building code.

Being a licensed landlord is important, because failing to obtain a license subjects the landlord to a fine of $500.00. More important, however, is that failing to have a license, whether that failure is intentional or unintentional, may preclude the landlord from collecting rent from its tenants, and may otherwise render a lease illegal and invalid.

Licensing information can be found here and the application for a license is located here. The sample lease approved for use in Montgomery County is located here.

In an upcoming article, I will discuss some of the most important Maryland appellate court opinions in regard to landlord licensure.

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