Maryland Lease Agreement Template – Forbes Advisor


Published: Oct 27, 2023, 10:08am

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A lease agreement is the document created when a landlord enters into a contract with a tenant to rent property.

This article will break down all the requirements and tell you what you need to know to create a binding rental contract in Maryland. One of the best ways to ensure you understand how a document works is by looking at a template. You can enter your email address below to get a free lease template in your inbox.

Basing your lease on this document can help you ensure you create a legally binding document.

What Is a Lease Agreement?

A lease agreement is a contract between a landlord—the property owner—and a tenant (or tenants)—the person or people using the property.

The purpose of a lease is to spell out the rights and responsibilities of all parties. These typically include the landlord’s right to collect the agreed-upon rent, for example, and their duties to repair and maintain the property. The tenants also have rights and responsibilities in most rental contracts.

The exact nature of the roles of each party will depend on the nature of the document, Maryland laws and the terms that the landlord and tenant agree to.

When Is a Lease Agreement Used in Maryland?

A lease agreement is often used to formalize a Maryland landlord-tenant relationship and to outline the rights and obligations each party owes to the other.

Even in instances where a rental contract isn’t required to be written out—in Maryland, oral leases are legal for terms of less than one year—it’s usually a good idea to have a written lease.

If you do decide to enter a lease without a written rental agreement, you should be aware of potential consequences. Without documentation, it will be difficult to prove when a party fails to comply with the agreement.

Who Typically Creates a Lease Agreement?

The landlord usually takes on the responsibility of writing the residential lease. This makes sense, as one of the critical elements of a written rental contract in Maryland is a description of the property, and tenants may not be familiar enough with the rental property when they begin a new lease.

There is no requirement, however, that the landlord write the lease. Tenants can draft a residential lease themselves. In either case, both parties can negotiate the lease terms before signing, though this is more common in commercial than residential leases.

What Parties Are Involved in a Lease Agreement?

The parties to a lease are:

  • The landlord—or lessor—owns the property. They can be an individual, multiple people or a company.
  • The tenant—or lessee—wants to use the property for the lease term. Just like the landlord, tenants can be people or, usually in commercial leases, companies.

In some instances, the landlord may require a cosigner or guarantor to also be party to the contract. The cosigner agrees to accept responsibility for complying with the lease if the tenant can’t. Usually, this means that the cosigner or guarantor will pay the rent if necessary.

What Should Be Included in a Maryland Lease Agreement?

There are a lot of elements that should be in a lease, but the requirements of a written lease in Maryland are surprisingly minimal:

  • A lease must identify and be signed by all parties.
  • A lease must identify the address of the property being rented.
  • Finally, a lease must identify the amount and frequency of the rent payments.

Just because it only takes a few criteria to form a legal lease doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to write such short and vague agreements, however.

A well-written Maryland lease should include details like the term of the lease, the manner in which the rent is to be paid, the security deposit (if any), how the tenant should contact the landlord, the timing of repairs and requirements for the landlord accessing the property. These are just some items that a lease should include, too.

You can see an example of a well-drafted and inclusive Maryland lease in our free template.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a Maryland lease valid if it isn’t signed by the landlord?

Maryland law allows for oral leases for terms up to one year. For leases of a year or longer to be valid, they must be in writing and signed by the creator of the lease. While the lease can be created by either party, it is usually the landlord who creates the lease. In that case, a lease not signed by the landlord would be invalid.

What is the maximum fee for late rent in Maryland?

Maryland law sets the maximum fee for paying rent late at 5% of monthly rent. If the lease is week-to-week, the maximum late fee is $3 per week and cannot exceed $12 per month.

What rights does a tenant have in Maryland?

A lease in Maryland is a contract between the tenant and landlord. Like any contract, both parties can negotiate the terms—at least in theory. In practice, landlords may be unwilling to alter their residential lease.

It doesn’t hurt to ask, however. It’s also important to know that a lease can’t contain terms that are illegal.

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Adam Ramirez has been writing and editing about the law and legal issues for more than 20 years. After earning a law degree from the University of Arizona, he clerked for two years for a U.S. District Court judge. He researched and wrote legal precedent in published opinions on behalf of the Court. He previously was an editor, columnist and journalist at the Miami Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The Oregonian, Golf Digest, FindLaw.com and other media outlets.

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