Good communication is the key to any successful relationship. Therefore, take the time to get to know your landlord. For your personal benefit, make an effort to know all rights and responsibilities.
You have several options when a problem with your landlord occurs. Initially, attempt to remedy the problem by notifying the landlord, preferably by certified mail, return receipt requested. This lessens the possibility of later misunderstandings and further serves to maintain a record of your attempts to have the problem solved. After being notified of a serious defect, the landlord has a “reasonable time” to rectify the complaint. If you have questions about your rights, you can always contact UMBC’s Off Campus Student Services at 410-455-2770.
The legal definition of a reasonable time depends on the circumstances of each individual case. If notification elicits no response from the landlord, there are several agencies that can help you with landlord information and problems. Don’t duplicate efforts – contact one agency. If the agency accepts your case, be sure to give them enough time to get results before contacting another agency. The agencies are as follow:
Repairs and Reimbursements
- All tenants should consider buying renters’ insurance. The landlord’s homeowner’s insurance will not cover the loss of your possessions. This includes loss due to theft or damage to the property such as fire or water damage.
- Never make repairs to the landlord’s property without first getting written permission. This includes a signed and dated statement about reimbursement to you.
- If the landlord neglects to repair the property and those repairs are health and safety violations, the tenant should call the housing code inspector for the county.
Communicate to your landlord in writing for any other the circumstances listed below. Send the letter by certified mail (return receipt requested) or take two copies of the letter to your landlord and have the landlord acknowledge receipt in receipt in writing on your copy.
- Prior to move-in, if serious damage to your apartment is evident
- At move-in when damage has occurred between your pre-lease inspection and move-in
- Gas leaks, electrical problems
- Roaches or rodents
- Any other serious problems
- When you intend to terminate the lease according to terms of the lease usually 30 days advanced notice
- After move-out, and after inspection by landlord to request list of damages to be charged against your security deposit
- When you intend to sublet the apartment
A user-friendly and detailed pamphlet from the Maryland Attorney General on landlord and tenant issues for students can be found online.