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, including:
- Providing information on Maryland laws that govern lease provisions, security deposits, and evictions;
- Handling disputes where a tenant believes a landlord has violated landlord-tenant laws. OCP helps tenants understand their rights, try to resolve the dispute through mediation and, take action to address unfair or deceptive practices;
- Assisting landlords and prospective landlords to comply with landlord-tenant laws and be successful in their rental businesses.
In 2018, the Howard County Council enacted legislation governing certain landlord and tenant relations. The Act is codified in Title 17, Subtitle 10 of the Howard County Code and was recently amended; amendments are effective as of June 6, 2021. 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 Howard County Council has passed Emergency Bill 33-2020: The Rental Property and Stability Act. The Act encourages landlords and tenants to communicate regarding contractual obligations and abilities to meet these obligations during the ongoing Covid-19 public health emergency.
Specifically, the Act provides certain prohibitions on actions landlords can take during the state of emergency, including no increases in rent or mobile home park fees, or the assessment of late fees for non-payment of rent, and prohibits certain notices to tenants and mobile home park residents. It also encourages the creation of payment plans to meet rent obligations and outlines provisions for payment plan agreements.
Beginning of Emergency: March 5, 2020
End of State of Emergency, per Governor’s order: August 15, 2021
Three months after end of emergency, when restrictions are lifted: November 16, 2021
UPDATE: On September 27, 2021, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that portions of the County’s Rental Protection and Stability Act, Howard County Code Section 17.1200 (the "Act"), violate the Maryland Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights and are, therefore, invalid as applied in certain instances. The Act prohibits certain landlords and mobile home park owners from taking certain actions during the State of Emergency declared by the Governor of Maryland on March 5, 2020 and for three months after the end of that state of emergency. See Willowbrook Apartment Associates, LLC, et al. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, et al., Case No. 20-cv-01818-SAG. The Court has ruled that the Act applies prospectively only. The Act cannot be applied to rent increases agreed to prior to the effective date of the Act, which was May 23, 2020. The Maryland State of Emergency ended on August 15, 2021 and, except as provided therein as to payment plans, the Act ceases to be in effect after November 16, 2021.
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 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
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 (voice/relay), and the Office will provide you with the translated document as soon as practical.
Maryland’s moratorium on residential evictions expired on 8/15/21, and there are currently no state or federal protections in place to prevent residential evictions. If you are facing eviction, please seek help immediately. Eviction prevention information and resources are available here:
Rent/utility and mortgage assistance information is available here:
Howard County residents who are behind in their rent and/or facing eviction may refer to the Tenant's Guide to Residential Evictions in Howard County. Published by the county's Consumer Protection Advisory Board; the guide is available in English, Spanish and Korean to assist those at risk of eviction.
“Navigating the Landlord-Tenant Relationship” was presented October 7 by the Consumer Protection Advisory Board to educate and inform residents who own or rent properties throughout the county. The virtual forum featured a panel of experts from Howard County Government and community partners to address issues which affect both landlords and tenants, including landlord/tenant laws, eviction prevention, discriminatory practices, as well as housing voucher programs, and the responsibilities of tenants and landlords. View a recording of the entire forum, below, and a list of presenters with contact information, here.