Housing Provider Requirements

Housing Providers in Baltimore need to be aware of the requirements for the State-Wide Lead-Based Paint and Local Registration, Inspection and License Requirements for Rental Properties in Baltimore


Rent Control: There is no rent control in Baltimore City or Baltimore County.  Rents and rent increases are established by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant.


Trash, Fire and other fees:  Some areas of Baltimore City have a Special Benefits District Surcharge on the real property tax in which all property owners in the designated areas pay an additional fee that is collected by the City and paid to a quasi-government agency that provides services within the Special Benefits District.  The quasi-government agency is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  Neither Baltimore City nor Baltimore County charges surcharges or fees for fire service or trash removal services.  Baltimore City picks up trash and recycling from some small multi-unit buildings with larger apartment buildings being required to hire private trash haulers.


Maryland Lead-Poisoning Prevention Program

This state-wide program is administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).  Compliance with this program applies to all residential rental properties that were originally constructed before 1978, even if they were totally renovated after 1978.   There is a presumption that properties built after 1978, when lead-based paint was banned nationwide, are lead-free.  There are 3 categories of properties built before 1978:

  1. LEAD-FREE A property is “Certified Lead-Free” when a private contractor that is certified by MDE uses a hand-held device that x-rays through several layers of paint and returns a reading of the amount of lead content in the paint, several layers deep.  The technician gets readings on every surface inside the rental units, in the common areas, and on the exterior.   Every wall, ceiling, door, door frame, baseboard, molding, trim, window, window sill, window frame, radiator, fireplace (if painted) is tested.  On the outside, every door, door frame, window casing, porch, and cornice is tested along with any painted surface including sidewalks, steps, porches, and walls.  If the lead content of each of these tested surfaces is below the guidelines, the property is determined to be “Lead-Free”.  The testing contractor produces a report and certificate that is submitted to MDE along with the $10 “removal fee” and nothing more needs to be done with this property.  However, it is suggested that owners retain the original lead-free certificate in a safe place and convey this certificate to subsequent owners of the property.
  2. LEAD-FREE LIMITED:  This classification is common when properties are completely rehabbed on the inside but still may have some components, most notably historic cornices on the exterior, that contain lead-based paint.  Lead-Free Limited is a property that, through testing with an XRF device, are determined to be lead-free on all components on the interior of the apartments or living spaces, but have lead-based paint in the common areas and/or on the exterior.  Again, the inspector/contractor produces are report and certificate that is filed with MDE along with the payment of the $10 “removal fee”.  In order to maintain Lead-Free Limited status, once every two (2) years, the property owner must hire an independent lead inspector to perform a visual inspection of the exterior only and the inspector must determine that there is no chipping, flaking or peeling paint on the exterior of the property.  It is extremely important to maintain this inspection because if there is a lapse and the property is not inspected at least on each 2-year anniversary, the Limited Lead-Free status ends and a new complete XRF of the property is required.  Limited Lead-Free does not require annual registration, no additional registration fees are paid, and no tenant notices are required.
  3. LEAD:  The law assumes that any property originally built before 1978 that is not Certified Lead-Free or Certified Lead-Free Limited contains lead-based paint.  Properties with lead-based paint must do 4 things:
    1. Register on or before December 31 of each year and pay the registration fee of $30 per residential unit that is offered for rent (units that are held vacant and units that are occupied by a property owner do not need to be registered) .
    2. Every unit must undergo a dust-test before a new tenant moves into each housing unit.  A third-party independent State certified inspector takes a sample of the dust in each room in the rental unit.  The tests are sent to a lab which determines the lead-content of the dust.  The inspector also performs a visual inspection to make sure there is no chipping flaking or peeling paint inside the rental unit, in the common areas, nor on the outside.  After the lab results are known, the inspector issues a certificate stating that the rental unit is “safe” to rent in accordance with the requirements of the program.  This certificate is good for as long as this tenant remains in the rental unit.
    3. At of before the lease is signed, the tenant must be given two forms:  the brochure produced by HUD entitled “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and the form produced by Maryland State entitled “Notice of Tenants’ Rights.
    4. These two forms must be given to the tenant at least once every two (2) via some verifiable means.


Because lead paint lawsuits can be filed up until a child reaches the age of 21, it is suggested that Lead Poisoning Prevention Program forms, along with lease forms and repair records be kept for 21 years.


Baltimore City Registration, Inspection, and License Requirements

1.  Registration.

Baltimore City requires that every residential building that is not owner-occupied, even if it is vacant and not offered for rent, be registered with the Baltimore Housing Department.  Units must be registered, and fees paid on or before December 31 each year.  All registrations and payments must be done online using the City’s new Registration Portal.  The City no longer accepts paper registration forms or payments at the counter.

Fees:  $30 per unit for single-family houses and two-unit apartment properties.  $35 per unit for multi-family properties (3 or more apartments or mixed-use properties with 2 or more residential rental units).  The fee for a vacant property is $100.

2.  Inspection.

All prior violation notices need to be corrected and abate and housing units must be inspected by an independent Licensed Maryland Home Inspector who is also registered by Baltimore Housing to do City rental license inspections.  If all 12 pass-fail items on the Inspection Checklist pass, the property owner is issued a passing inspection.  There are 5 additional criteria which the inspector determines that the property passes, or, if the issue is questionable, the matter is referred to the Housing Department for further determination.  A referral does not hold up the issuance of a passing report or the issuance of a license.   Multifamily properties have an additional 9-point Multifamily checklist that must pass before a license is issued.  Buildings with 10 or fewer units must have all units inspected.  Buildings with more than 10 units need have only a portion of the apartments inspected in accordance with this chart:


SECTION 8 HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER or USE AND OCCUPANCY CERTIFICATE:  Instead of a rental inspection by a third party home inspector, properties that have been recently renovated for which a new Use and Occupancy Certificate have been issued may use this U&O Certificate.  Landlords renting to Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenants, or similar subsidy programs that are subject to City HQS (HUD’s Housing Quality Standards) inspections may use the HQS inspection certificate instead of a third-party home inspection.


TIME FRAME:  The initial inspection is valid for two (2) years.  The next inspection is valid for 1, 2, or 3 years depending upon the landlord’s response time for any violation notices issued by the City in the most recent 24 month period.  If the landlord corrects all violation notices within 60 days or receives no violation notices, subsequent rental property inspections are good for 3 years.  If the landlord takes 61-90 days to correct a violation, the next license is good for only 2 years.  If the landlord takes more than 90 days to correct a violation, the next license is (a) only valid for 1 year and (b) the landlord must pay an additional $15 per unit per year registration fee.  This additional fee is to benefit the City’s affordable housing trust fund.


POSTING:  The landlord must post the rental license in a conspicuous place within each rental unit and the landlord must post a Sanitation Guide within each rental unit and in any communal trash area within the building.


Baltimore County Registration, Inspection, and License Requirements


Baltimore County’s program applies only to buildings with 6 or fewer dwelling units.  The registration fee for owner-occupied with one or two tenants is $48 per unit.  The fee is $60 per unit for owner-occupied buildings with three or more tenants or non owner-occupied buildings.  Owners may register online using Baltimore County’s On-Line Registration Portal or owners may submit paper forms and payment by check.

Registration, payment of fees, and inspection is required once every three years.

Inspections are performed by Home Inspectors licensed by the State of Maryland.  Inspectors check for compliance with 7 items on the Baltimore County Rental Inspection Checklist.   The inspector also completes a Carbon Monoxide Alarm Verification form.