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Permits, Approvals and Inspections
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Rental Registration Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why do I have to register my property? I never had to in the past.

A. On December 19, 2007, the Baltimore County Council passed Bill 87-07 requiring that all buildings or portions of a building that contain one to six dwelling units, intended, or designed to be rented, leased, let or hired out to be occupied for living purposes be registered and licensed with Baltimore County.

The purpose is to establish a licensing program in the county in order to create an additional procedure for the enforcement of County codes and regulations to protect and promote public safety, health and welfare.

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Q. When should I register my property?

A. You must register and be licensed before a tenant moves into the property.

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Q. What if I don't register my property?

A. A person who owns and rents a dwelling unit or a portion of a dwelling unit without a license may be subject to the denial, suspension, revocation or non-renewal of the license and/or civil penalties of $25 per day for each day a violation occurs and $200 per day for each day a correction notice is not complied with, and there will be a $1,000 fine for not complying with the Rental Registration Law.

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Q. Does every rental property have to be registered?

A. No. A number of factors may exempt your property from registration. Learn more about the rental registration exemption.

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Q. How do I register my property?

A. You may register online, by mail or in person. Learn more about the application process.

If you don't wish to download the required forms online, you may obtain them from any Baltimore County public library or senior center, or directly from the Rental Registration office:

County Office Building
111 West Chesapeake Avenue, Room G14
Towson, Maryland 21204

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Q. What will the home inspector look for? Where can I find a licensed home inspector?

A. Inspectors look for the following:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms installed in the common area outside of and audible in each sleeping area
  • Electrical system has no apparent visual hazards
  • All plumbing is functional with no apparent visual hazards
  • All windows designed to be opened are operational
  • All combustion appliances are properly vented (e.g., furnace, hot water heater, dryer)
  • Secondary means of escape from sleeping areas exist with no exterior health or safety hazards

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Q. How can I avoid the property failing for smoke detectors?

A.  Make sure you follow the requirements for the type and size of your rental: 

Single-family home:

  • A hardwired smoke detector with a battery backup must be located in the corridor or hallway outside of sleeping areas.
  • If the home has a basement, a hardwired smoke detector with a battery backup must also be located in the basement, and it must interconnected to the smoke detectors outside of the sleeping areas.

Homes with two or three apartments:

  • A hardwired smoke detector with a battery backup must be located in the corridor or hallway outside of sleeping areas.
  • If the home has a basement, a hardwired smoke detector with a battery backup must also be located in the basement, but it only has to be interconnected to the smoke detector on the first floor.

 Homes with four to six apartments:

  • A hardwired smoke detector with a battery backup must be located in the corridor or hallway outside of sleeping areas in each unit.
  • No smoke detector is required in the basement for homes with four to six apartment units.

Wireless remote is accepted for interconnection of smoke detectors as long as the smoke detectors are hardwired and approved by a recognized testing lab such as UL and listed for sale, installation and use in Maryland by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Note: All smoke detectors must be NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code and UL approved.

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Q. Can the lead paint and rental unit inspections be combined or do I have to pay separate contractors for each?

A. Yes, if that inspector is licensed or accredited with the state to perform both lead and home inspections.

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Q. How much will an inspection cost?

A. Baltimore County does not negotiate rates of individual inspectors. The inspector's charges are negotiated between the property owner and the inspector.

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Q. I own and live in a home, and rent a portion of it to other adults. Is it exempt from rental registration?

A. It depends on the number of tenants and whether they are related to you. Owner-occupied rental units are exempt if the owner rents to family members who also live in the unit, or rents to no more than one other unrelated adult who lives in the unit. In either case, any number of minor dependants may live in the unit.

For example, an owner-occupant does not have to register as a rental unit if their adult boyfriend or girlfriend lives with them, or if they have one adult roommate.

Please be aware that separate Baltimore County law prohibits more than two unrelated adults from living together unless the unit is authorized by the county as a rooming or boarding house.

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Q. A relative lives in a home that I own and he pays me rent. Must I register this property as a rental unit?

A. No, dwelling units are exempt from this law if they are occupied by a person who is related to the owner by blood, marriage, adoption or legal custody. However, the relative living in the home may not have more than one additional adult living in the home. Minors dependents related to either adult may live in the home.

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Q. Are large apartment complexes covered by this law?

A. No, this law applies only to residential rental properties with one to six units. Larger rental complexes are covered by other county laws and regulations that ensure the safety and well being of their tenants.

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Revised February 6, 2013

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