A security deposit is in Maryland is any payment of money in advance to cover the non-payment of rent or damages to leased premises, common areas, major appliances, and furnishings caused by the tenant. A landlord must return the security deposit with interest to the tenant minus any amount which she may rightfully withhhold within 45 days of the end of the tenancy.
Tenant Security Deposit Rights
Landlords regularly violate tenants security deposit rights. These rights cannot be waived in any lease. A landlord that violates a tenants security deposit rights possibly be liable for three times the amount of the security deposit withheld, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.
Maximum Security Deposit Amount
A security deposit cannot exceed 2 months rent for each unit. If a landlord violates this a tenant may recover up to three times the additional amount plus reasonable attorneys fees. A tenant my bring this action any time during the tenancy or 2 years after the end of the tenancy.
Required Receipt or Lease Provisions
Landlords must give tenants a written receipt for the security deposit (or include in the lease provisions) certain notices. If these notices are not included the landlord maybe liable to the tenant for $25.
The security deposit must be kept in a federally insured financial institution that does business in Maryland. The security deposit account cannot be attached by either the landlords or tenants creditors.
Return of Security Deposit With Interest
Landlords must return security deposits with interest within 45 days of the tenancy. The amount of interest varies from county to county, it can be as low as 1% per year or as high as 4% per year. Consult with a lawyer to see how much interest you are entitled. If a landlord fails to return any part of the security deposit within 45 days, he is liable for up to 3 times the withheld amount of the security deposit plus reasonable attorney’s fees.
Withholding of Security Deposit
A landlord may withhold a security deposit for unpaid rent and damages caused by the tenant or her guests beyond ordinary wear and tear to the unit, common areas, and major appliances and furniture owned by the landlord. If a landlord chooses to withhold any portion of a security deposit, he must send the tenant a notice by first class mail to her last known address a written list of the damages and a statement of costs actually incurred to repair the damages within 45 days after termination of the lease. If a landlord does not send the notice within 45 to the tenant days he forfeits his right to use the security deposit and must return it in full with interest.
Return of Security Deposit After Eviction or Leaving the Property
A tenant can demand the return of her security deposit even if she has been properly evicted if she is rightfully owed the money. The tenant must send the landlord a request by first class mail (I recommend certified mail) to the landlord that includes the tenants new address. The landlord must send the tenant the security deposit minus any amount rightfully withheld, a statement of damages if any, and the interest required by law within 45 days. If the landlord does not do this, the tenant may sue the landlord for up to 3 times the withheld amount, plus reasonable attorneys fees.
The Pendergraft Firm Security Deposit Rights Practice
Brian Pendergraft is a Maryland landlord-tenant attorney that has successfully represented both landlords and tenants in the District Court of Maryland. Call us at (301) 205-9013 or E-mail [email protected] to see if we can help you recover up to three times your withheld rent and attorneys fees! Or to see if we can defend you from a security deposit action.
Unable To Afford an Attorney or Would Rather Do It Yourself?
Check out my Maryland Landlord Self-Help Eviction Legal Kit or my Maryland Tenant Rights Legal Kit. The kits contain my strategies and sample pleadings for representing landlords and tenants in Maryland.