Howard County Guide for Landlords and Tenants: Knowing your rights helps landlord-tenant relationships


Back in 2018, the Howard County Council passed bill CB-20 (the Bill), that outlined the do’s and don’ts governing landlord-tenant relationships. All tenants of rental homes in the County, and all rental management companies in Maryland, operating within the area, are bound by those laws. Since landlord-tenant relationships can, at times, get contentious, it helps both parties to know the law and understand their rights and obligations under the Bill.

The Bigger Picture

CB-20 does not stand alone – it supplements the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants that Title 8 of the Maryland Real Property Code enshrine. As such, rental property owners and tenants consider the Bill an “extension” to State laws. All associated transactions and interactions, related to Howard property management in Columbia MD are, therefore, subject to the Bill’s provisions as well as those contained under Title 8.

Professionals, within Howard County’s rental property industry, understand that CB-20 isn’t about unduly rewarding or penalizing any party to a rental property transaction. Instead, the Bill’s objectives are to offer encouragement to all sides to improve and maintain housing quality across the county. And that quality improvement begins with an understanding of the law.

Giving Notice of Entry

One aspect of landlord-tenant friction often concerns the landlord’s right, or the rights of his/her designated rental property manager, to enter the premises of a leased property.  Here’s the gist of what the law has to say about that:

Under non-emergency situations, or unless it’s exigent, under Howard County Code (HCC) Section 17.1009(G), the landlord can’t enter any rented/leased property without providing a minimum of 24-hour notice to the tenant. Experienced rental management companies in Maryland however, know that they can agree upon such notice requirements to mutually convenient timeframes, when landlords and tenants forge a close working relationship.

For instance, if the tenant isn’t available within the 24-hour window, the landlord may agree to enter at another time (later than 24-hours). Conversely, good working partnerships with tenants may gain landlords, or their representative’s, access to the property prior to the 24-hour notice period. 

Towing Illegally-parked Vehicles

Frequently, professionals involved in Howard property management in Columbia MD also deal with another contentious issue: Illegally parked vehicles. Most property managers diligently follow HCC Section 17.603, which mandates the requirement for signage around designated parking, restricted parking, and no parking areas. The signs must be visible day and night, and posted at every vehicle entrance to the property.

The law entitles property managers to tow violator vehicles, at the owner’s expense. However, the posted signs must specify other details related to the towing, such as:

  • the fact that vehicles may be redeemed by the owner 24/7;
  • what the maximum amount owner of vehicle can be charged for the tow,
  • the name and telephone number of the tow service authorized to tow vehicles;
  • and the contact information for the Office of Consumer Protection

If you are an owner of rental property in the County, it’s important to remember that the Bill supplements the States’ landlord-tenant laws. As such, it’s always advantageous to work with local rental management companies in Maryland who also understand the bigger picture.

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