Information for Landlords and Tenants

The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) assists both tenants and landlords in Howard County who have questions or problems involving rental housing.

  • Tenants and landlords can obtain information on Maryland laws that govern lease provisions, security deposits, habitability and evictions;
  • Tenants can file complaints if they believe their landlords have violated landlord-tenant laws. OCP helps tenants understand their rights, try to resolve the dispute through mediation and, if necessary, take action to address unfair or deceptive practices;
  • Landlords and prospective landlords can get the help they need to comply with landlord-tenant laws and be successful in their rental businesses.

Important Information About Howard County's New Landlord-Tenant Law

In 2018, the Howard County Council enacted new legislation governing certain landlord and tenant relations. The Act is codified in Title 17, Subtitle 10 of the Howard County Code. The purpose of the act is to:

  • Supplement the rights of landlords and tenants under State law (codified in Title 8 of the Maryland Real Property Code);
  • Encourage landlords and tenants to maintain and improve the quality of housing in the County;
  • Assure fair and equitable relations between landlords and tenants; and
  • Revise and modernize landlord-tenant law to more realistically serve the needs of County residents.

The effective date of the Act is August 12, 2018 but landlords have until December 12, 2018 to bring their leases into compliance. Note that the new law does not apply to leases that were already in effect on August 12, 2018 but will apply to those leases if renewed after December 12, 2018. 

What this means if you are a tenant:

  • If you are currently renting a house or apartment in Howard County, the new law does not apply to your current tenancy. You still have rights under State law.
  • If you sign a new lease or if your current lease comes up for renewal after December 12, the lease must comply with the requirements of the new law. 
  • If you sign a new lease or if your current lease is up for renewal between August 12 and December 12, understand that landlords are not required to change their lease terms until December 12, but you can negotiate with your prospective landlord to include in your lease some or all of the protections provided in the new law. If your landlord refuses to change the lease terms, you will have to decide whether to sign the new lease or renew a current lease under the old terms.

Landlord-Tenant Assistance Publication

Upon the approval of a rental application, landlords are required to give the approved applicant a copy of the Office of Consumer Protection's Landlord-Tenant Assistance publication written in the language of the applicant's choice. Use the links below to access the publication in the languages that are currently available. If an approved applicant requests the publication in a language that is not listed, contact the Office of Consumer Protection at 410-313-6420, and the Office will provide you with the translated document as soon as practical.

Additional Landlord-Tenant Information

The Office of Consumer Protection's Guide to Landlord and Tenants provides answers to the questions most frequently asked by landlords and tenants about both the Howard County and State landlord-tenant laws.

To find out if a property has a current Howard County Rental License you can access the Citizen's Access Website or call the Department of Inspections, Licensing and Permits at 410-313-1830.

More Questions? Call the Office of Consumer Protection at 410-313-6420 or send us an e-mail