Breaking a Lease in Maryland
As a landlord in the state of Maryland, you need to know the rules and regulations when tenants break a lease early.
In this article, we’ll cover both justified and unjustified reasons for early lease termination. This can help landlords decide what steps to take when tenants break their contract before the term ends. Knowing the law will also help protect your rights, as a landlord, as well as the rights of your tenants.
Rental Agreement in Maryland
To avoid any confusion, a clear agreement is essential. Before letting your tenants sign the lease, make sure that they clearly understand all the provisions included in the agreement.
Residents should be aware of their rights to justifiably break a lease. Likewise, they should also be aware of the consequences and penalties if they unjustifiably break the agreement.
A tenant is usually required to send a written notice for terminating their contract. Your rental agreement should include the required number of days of notice your tenant must give you when ending their periodic lease in the state of Maryland.
In the state of Maryland, your tenant must give you the following notice:
For tenancy terms with fixed end dates, the Maryland tenant is no longer required to give a written notice because the contract automatically expires on the last day of the term. However, for a weekly lease term, Maryland tenants must give one week's notice to end their lease.
If the tenancy is on a month-to-month basis, residents are required to give one month’s notice when terminating their agreement. To terminate a yearly lease, renters must provide three months’ notice. If this is a farm tenancy, then tenants must give six months’ notice to end the lease.
The lease agreement should also include your responsibility as a landlord to re-rent the unit.
According to Maryland law, landlords are mandated to make reasonable efforts to find new residents for the property to mitigate damages. Renters will only be charged for the remaining rent due while the property is vacant. This means that if the property is rented out to a new tenant, the rent payment from the new tenant will apply to the former tenant’s debt.
Finally, you should also include the tenants’ rights to sublet in your rental agreement. In Maryland, landlords may allow tenants to sublet the unit by not deliberately prohibiting the same in the rental agreement.
As a landlord, you have the right to require a tenant to get your approval first before they can sublet the property to another renter. Maryland residents may obtain your approval by sending you a letter through certified mail.
The letter of request should also include the following:
- Sublet term
- Names of the assignee
- Written consent from other co-tenants
- Copy of the sublease
- Reasons for subletting
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease
The following reasons do not provide enough justification on their own to release a tenant from their obligation on the lease. If a tenant decides to terminate the lease early due to any of the following reasons, they are not provided with legal protection against penalties for not honoring the lease.
- The tenant is relocating for a new job or school
- The tenant is moving in with a partner
- The tenant is moving to be closer to family
- The tenant bought a house
- The tenant is either upgrading or downgrading
If a tenant breaks a lease for any of the reasons mentioned without approval of the court, or due to any reasons not previously mentioned in the lease, there can be consequences for the tenants, like being evicted.
According to Maryland security deposit law, the landlord has a right to withold the deposit if he loses the funds because of tenant's breach of lease.
If a tenant really needs to break a lease for any of these reasons, it’s best that they should ask the landlord to agree to a mutual termination.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Maryland
As a landlord in Maryland, you should understand that your tenants have the right to break their lease early due to lawfully accepted reasons. A landlord should know the justified reasons that allow tenants to terminate a lease before it ends.
Here are the justified reasons for the early termination of a lease:
Early Termination Clause
If a landlord includes this clause in the lease agreement, it means that they allow a renter to break a lease early regardless of the reason, as long as the stated fees are paid.
If the landlord chooses to add this clause for the early termination of a lease, make sure to indicate the amount of fees the renters need to pay, as well as the number of days that they need to provide as notice should they decide to terminate the lease before the term ends.
Active Military Duty
If the tenant enters active duty after the lease is signed, and the tenant needs to move out of the property due to deployment or permanent change of station, then a landlord cannot oblige the tenant to pay rent for the remaining lease term.
The tenant should provide you with proof that they will remain on active duty for the next 90 days, as well as a copy of the notice of deployment.
As a landlord, you have a duty to provide renters with a habitable home. This means that you should address repair issues within a reasonable timeframe.
A landlord has to maintain their property regularly to keep their apartment or rental unit safe for residence. If as a landlord you fail to comply with the habitability standards set by Maryland law, their renters have the right to terminate the lease before it ends.
There are other legal reasons that allow residents to break a lease that a landlord should know, they include:
- Being a victim of domestic violence
- Having age or health-related issues
- Being locked out by the landlord (if the landlord changed the locks without the tenant’s knowledge or permission)
- If the landlord violates a provision in the lease agreement
- If the landlord fails to include the mandatory disclosures in the rental contract
If you own a property in Maryland, you should understand the law when it comes to breaking a lease before the lease term ends. If you have more questions, it’s best to work with a professional property manager. Call American Dream Realty and Management at (443) 640-0090 now!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws change and this information may become obsolete at the time you read it. For further help, please get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.