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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.

Q. When should I register my property?

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

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 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.

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.

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 do not wish to download the required forms online, you may obtain them from any Baltimore County Public Library branch or senior center, or directly from the Rental Registration office:

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

Q. Do I need a home inspection? What will the home inspector look for? 

A. All rental properties must be inspected. The home inspector must be licensed by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations. A home inspection requires the Baltimore County license inspection sheet to be completed and signed by a licensed inspector for the compliance of one or more of the components of an existing residential building with the health and safety requirements established by the Director.

Inspectors look for the following:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms are installed in the common area outside of sleeping areas and on every level of the dwelling unit
  • 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 (furnace, hot water heater, dryer, etc.) are properly vented
  • Secondary means of escape from sleeping areas exist with no exterior health or safety hazards

Q. Will my license ever expire? Can I renew I renew my license?

The rental license is valid for three years and will expire on the third anniversary of its effective date. Before a license expires, the licensee may periodically renew it for an additional three-year term. For additional information, please review the Baltimore County Code or call the Rental Registration office at 410-887-6060.

Q. I own a Section 8 rental unit. Do I still have to do the licensing inspection?

A. No, you do not have to do a separate licensing inspection. You must provide a copy of a Section 8 inspection that was completed in the past 12 months as well as the Rental Housing License Application and required fee.

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 and on every level on the dwelling unit.
  • If the home has a basement, a hardwired smoke detector with a battery backup must also be located in the basement, and it must be interconnected to the smoke detectors on all levels of the dwelling unit.

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 and on every level of the dwelling unit including the basement.
  • A basement smoke detector must be interconnected to the smoke detector on the first floor only.

 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 and on every level of the dwelling unit.
  • A hardwired smoke detector is required in the basement for homes with 4-6 apartments but does not have to be interconnected.

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.

Q. Can the lead paint inspection, required for properties built prior to 1978 (effective 1/1/2015), and rental unit inspection be combined?

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

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.

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 dependents 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 a 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.

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: Dwelling units are exempt from this law if a person who is related to the owner by blood, marriage, adoption or legal custody occupies the unit. However, the relative living in the home may not have more than one additional adult living in the home. Minor dependents related to either adult may live in the house. Relatives only include grandparents, parents, children or grandchildren.

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.

Revised June 25, 2018         


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