Maryland Lead Program rental property registration

housing marketBeginning January 1st, if you own a rental property located in Maryland that was built before 1978, you must register with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). The new law extends the existing registration requirement for homes used as rental units built before 1950. The registration fee is $30 per unit, and must be renewed annually prior to December 31st.

Since the registration of rental properties built before 1978 began July 1st, many landlords and property managers have been planning to be in compliance by the New Year. However, many home owners, whose selling strategy includes a simultaneous rental listing, may not be aware of the new law; which could not only affect a potential lease, but may also incur potential penalties and/or liability for non-compliance. The coinciding listing strategy is an artifact from the market following the housing downturn; when many listed homes that did not sell were extemporaneously rented as a means to ride out the market, with the intention to sell at a later time when prices increased. For many home sellers today, a simultaneous rental listing is part of a selling strategy as a means to allow them to move (either by selling the home or by renting it to a tenant).

It is not uncommon that some of these sale/rental home listings are vacant. If you find yourself in this category, consider that you’re required to have the property registered with the MDE and lead inspected by an MDE accredited inspector before your tenant moves in. If the inspection requires any remediation to meet Program requirements, all work must be performed by a MDE accredited contractor.

If you’ve never registered with MDE Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, you need to contact the Rental Registry Division (410-537-4199) to be assigned a “tracking number.” A list of accredited inspectors and accredited contractors can be found on the “Lead Poisoning Prevention Program” website ( Registration likely began early so as not to create bottlenecks and delays; however, if there is a chance your home could become a rental sometime during the New Year, you might consider not waiting until the last minute.

A July 1st MDE press release ( emphasized that, “Exposure to lead is the most significant and widespread environmental hazard for children in Maryland. Children are at the greatest risk from birth to age 6, while their neurological systems are developing. Exposure to lead can cause long-term neurological damage that may be associated with learning and behavioral problems and with decreased intelligence.” And although lead poisoning cases decreased about 98% since the enactment of Maryland’s 1994 Lead Risk Reduction in Housing Act, a significant number of new lead poisoning cases were linked to homes built before 1978. The MDE cited a 2011 study, which found an 80% “likelihood” of lead paint in properties built between 1950 and 1960. The MDE also cited data analysis that almost half of the confirmed cases of initial lead poisoning reports from the last two years in Maryland counties outside of Baltimore City, “involved children living in post-1949 rental housing.” The MDE states, “Failure to register, certify or follow approved lead-safe work practices may subject property owners to thousands of dollars in fines and potential lawsuits.”

Details about the lead registration requirements and further information about the MDE Lead Poisoning Prevention Program can be obtained from the website (

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© Dan Krell

Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

When landlord-tenant relations go wrong


Although renting your basement out may seem like a great way to generate extra income to help pay the bills, it can also become a point of conflict that could spiral out of control if not handled correctly. The recent report of the arrest of local landlord highlights the issues of being a landlord, as well as being a tenant.

The arrest seems to be the outcome of events that climaxed when the landlord allegedly forced the tenants out of the apartment earlier this month because the tenants were allegedly late paying their rent. According to an August 21st Montgomery County Police press release (, the police responded to calls of woman screaming for help and banging on a neighbor’s window. The woman reported to police that five individuals were in an interior room and prevented her from closing her bedroom door. The woman and her son were allegedly grabbed and were told that the “landlord said they had to, ‘go and pack their stuff.’” It was reported that the individuals yelled at the woman to take her belongings and get out of the apartment; and the suspects “pushed” the woman and her son out of the home.

Another tenant, who spoke to investigating officers, stated that the landlord allegedly told them that they should stay in their room because he was going to pay people to force the tenants out. Another tenant stated that the landlord told them to not come out of their residence because there would be people “yelling and screaming.”

One of the five suspects who was subsequently arrested, was allegedly paid $1,000 to “scare and force” the tenants out of the apartment. The landlord reportedly turned himself in to police and was “charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit robbery, and conspiracy to commit second-degree assault.”

Another outcome of this incident is that the property was condemned by the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) and all occupants were ordered to vacate the property. An investigation of the home by the 4th District Community Service Officer and DHCA Housing Code Enforcement Inspectors determined that the landlord was “running a rooming/boarding home”; which “included four, illegal accessory apartments and five separate kitchens” and was “occupied by 15 people at the time of the incident.”

The unfortunate actions, events, and outcome of this incident are atypical. However, the plight of the landlord and tenant highlights the frustrations that can occur on both sides of the rental relationship, and may serve as a reminder to consult with an attorney before taking matters into your own hands.

Before you decide to become a landlord, consider familiarizing yourself with federal, state and local laws, rules and ordinances governing landlord-tenant affairs; as well as making sure your rental(s) conforms to licensing and zoning laws. Locally, the Montgomery County Office of Landlord – Tenant Affairs (housed within the Department of Housing and Community Affairs) is a resource for landlords and tenants on licensing, security deposits, evictions, leases, and rent increases. Besides publishing a Landlord – Tenant Handbook (a guide on informing of general rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants), it also offers a free and quick avenue for tenants to seek amicable dispute resolution.

By Dan Krell
© 2014

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Homeseller turned landlord

Dan Krell, Realtor®
© 2012

Reluctant home sellers turn to renting their homes.

home for saleHanding over the keys of your most expensive investment to another person is not how you think you would have moved on with your life.  But, because the housing market threw a wrench in many peoples’ plans, many home owners who could not sell their homes decided to rent it instead.  Unfortunately, some didn’t know what to expect from their tenants, while others didn’t realize that they had obligations as a landlord.  And as you might imagine some rental arrangements did not turn out so well.

Although the home owner turned landlord may feel kinship to the hard core real estate investor, there are some differences.  Unlike the genuine real estate investor, most people are not accustomed to leaving their home in another’s care (often the person is a total stranger).  Another difference is that the home owner may decide to rent their home to ride out the housing market, while the hard core investor has made a commitment to the real estate investment as a vehicle for accumulating wealth; many investors will hold property for many years looking forward to the future payoff of appreciation when the property is sold.

Of course there is a commonality too; the desire for positive cash flow.  The positive cash flow is the perpetual incoming of cash so the mortgages and other real estate related expenses (such as property taxes, HOA/condo dues, maintenance, insurance, etc.) can be paid. Although a positive cash flow is a good thing, some are content just to break even and have no net proceeds from the rental.  Expenses can add up quickly and turn the rental into a negative cash flow situation (when the rent does not cover all the home expenses); which can became the source of serious financial issues.

home for saleSo, you decided to rent your home (or maybe you were talked into it) so you could move on with your life, what now?  Finding tenants and maintaining the property can be an issue for the novice and experienced alike.  Although seasoned real estate investors have systems in place for various aspects of their business (from finding tenants to collecting rent); you might consider hiring a licensed professional to manage your rental property.  For a fee, professional property managers take care of your rental property: which can include finding tenants, collect rents, and maintain the property.

And since rental agreements can be rather legally complex, consulting with an attorney prior to entering into the agreement would be prudent; as well as consulting with an attorney when issues arise between you and your tenant.

Consider getting additional information about rental properties before embarking on your new journey.   Some municipalities and local governments offer resources to inform you of your obligations and provide additional resources.  For example, the local government of Montgomery County MD offers resources for landlords and tenants.  Besides the “Commission on Landlord – Tenant Affairs,” which hears landlord – tenant disputes; other resources are available including a description of “ordinary wear and tear,” and links to the District Court of Maryland listing actions a landlord can take against a tenant (and vise verse).

What seems to be a comprehensive guide is the “Landlord – Tenant Handbook,” which is offered as a manual to renting for both the landlord and tenant.  The handbook describes: the obligations of the landlord and tenant; property licensing requirements; rental application and lease; security deposits; property maintenance; complaints; terminating the lease; and “survival tips.” The handbook and other landlord – tenant resources can be found at (click the “Landlord & Tenant” link).

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of September 10 , 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

Landlord tips for the investor

The real estate market in the Metro DC area has broken sales records for the last few years. Each year sales numbers and average home prices surpass the previous year by a wide margin. Besides the many home buyers who are buying homes for their own families to inhabit, there are the devout few who are always on the lookout for a bargain home to turn into a rental property. They are looking for landlord tips.

With home sale prices rising seemingly as fast as a jet taking off the runway at Reagan National Airport, it may be a wonder how, or more appropriately why, investors buying homes for rental properties.

Serious investors are a remarkable breed. They come from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. Although they have a diverse background, their one commonality is accumulating wealth. The goal for the average investor is to accumulate real estate and sit on it as the value appreciates. The payoff for the investor is when they sell off their assets and retire.

This over simplified and brief article is an overview of some difficulties that most real estate investors encounter. Some of the difficulties that many real estate investors encounter are tenants, maintenance of the property, and cash flow.

Finding good tenants to rent your properties is essential for success. A good tenant is described as one who pays in a timely manner and who will treat your home as if it was theirs. To find tenants, you can advertise in the local papers for tenants, subscribe to placement companies, or hire a professional management company to do all the work for you. The best tenants usually come by referral.

Some landlord tips include (but not limited to) making sure the prospective tenants have good references is essential. One way to do that is to ask them for a recent copy of their credit report, which would report any past delinquencies. Rental companies usually report delinquencies and non-payments to credit reporting companies like Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. If they do not have a credit report, some investors accept references from past landlords.

Once your rental property is leased, it is important to keep it maintained. Good tenants will usually do the basic maintenance for you. If things go wrong, however, it will be up to you fix the problem. It never fails, the emergency calls will come in the middle of the night or while you’re on vacation. You will need to respond to the emergencies fairly quickly as you build your relationship with your tenants.

The most important issue with a rental property is cash flow. Cash flow is the perpetual incoming of cash so the mortgages and other real estate related expenses can be paid. Cash flow can be positive or negative. The goal with cash flow is to at least come out even, as most investors bank on the appreciation of the property itself for wealth building.

To help overcome the pitfalls of owning investment properties, some investors hire professional management companies. These companies can help find quality tenants, collect rents, and maintain the property. As the art of being a landlord is becoming legally complex, the management company and a good attorney can help you through the difficulties.  Landlord tips come at a premium, and usually through experience.

Anyone that is serious about beginning a career as a real estate investor should attend classes and find out more about the field to make an informed decision. As a real estate investor, you will find that there are many complex issues that require experience and support. However, once mastered, it can be very rewarding.

By Dan Krell.        Copyright © 2005.