Are You a Landlord in Baltimore? Listen Up! Big Changes Could Be Coming

Price and Keir assists numerous landlords and tenants in a variety of real estate issues.  A new bill could require more inspections for Baltimore City landlords. This would be the most significant update to rental housing regulations in Baltimore City since they were written half a century ago in 1966.

The bill calls for licensing and inspecting ALL residential properties in Baltimore, not just larger buildings with three or more units, as is currently required. This means one and two unit rental properties will now require mandatory inspections. Currently, those properties only get inspected when tenants complain of violations. The goal is to improve overall rental quality in Baltimore by taking a more proactive approach, so Baltimore will follow some other successful city models.

Landlords who comply by fixing issues as they arise and avoid large problems will need to be inspected every three years. Difficult property owners with violations would need to be inspected every year or two. All properties will begin with a two year license. The better care you take of your property, the fewer inspections you will face.

Who pays for the inspections? Landlords, so that the city’s inspectors do not carry the burden. City inspectors would focus on emergencies and complaints, if the bill is passed. This overhaul is similar to Baltimore County’s system.

An interesting note is that the city rarely collects or enforces penalties against landlords for violations. Judges in the city’s landlord-tenant court routinely ruled in favor of property owners even when renters proved they lived in unsafe conditions, says the Baltimore Sun. Other cities have more strict inspection requirements than Baltimore.

Over half of the homes in Baltimore are rentals. Baltimore tenant advocates have blamed living conditions on poor oversight of landlords for a while. Multiple groups representing tenants and community progress have pushed for more inspections.

The bill would also allow city officials more reasons to deny, suspend and revoke rental dwelling licenses. Baltimore revoked just 2 licenses over the past 12 years says the Baltimore Sun.