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Maryland landlords with the most profitable real estate businesses know how important tenant screening is. If you don’t know much about the topic, you aren’t alone but it is never too late to learn. There are some unique features to the law when it comes to Maryland tenant screening.
Here at RentPrep, we’ve gathered information for Maryland tenant screening that will assist you in renting your properties to the finest tenants out there.
We want you to know all there is about:
- Maryland tenant screening laws
- Free landlord resources
- Comprehensive view of the screening process
- Finding the best tenant screening services
Maryland Tenant Screening Laws
Maryland’s tenant screening laws help protect landlords and tenants. These official regulations include:
- Every application fee stays separate from every security deposit.
- Maryland doesn’t place any limits on how much a landlord can charge for the applicaiton fee
- Application fees in Maryland are non-refundable
Even though a security deposit would be refundable, an application fee stays with the landlord for good..
You can learn more about Maryland tenant screening here.
Avoid Making This Screening Mistake
The one screening mistake that lots of Maryland landlords are making is that they aren’t getting the proper consent from the applicant. You won’t be able to run a background check on any applicant until you get that signed consent form. It’s important to move to the next step of researching the applicant’s background, so consent is important.
Does your rental application have a section that asks for signed consent? If not, you can pattern yours after our consent form here at RentPrep.
You can see that the top red arrow clarifies information about the application fee. The bottom red arrow shows where the applicant must sign to give consent for a background check.
Resources for Tenant Screening in Maryland
You and other Maryland landlords can use these free forms and resources to do better at your business. After all, finding the best tenant is the top priority for sure.
- Rental Application PDF – Have every prospective tenant fill out this rental application.*
- Move-In Move-Out checklist – This is helpful for after the tenant screening process to make sure you document the condition of the rental
- Rental Lease Agreement – Once you’ve decided on a tenant you’ll want to draw up a lease. This editable doc is a good starting place.
- Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA – Our screeners here at RentPrep are FCRA certified to ensure compliance on your screening report
- Maryland Landlord Tenant Handbook – The best guide for Maryland landlords
- Maryland Legislature Statues and Codes for Landlords and Tenants – Official regulations for tenants and landlords in the state
*Consider using a “no blank space” policy. That’s where you stop accepting any applications that have a blank space. The idea is that applicants who have something to hide won’t answer some of the form’s questions and hope that landlords won’t ask any further. You’ll be able to avoid lots of bad tenants this way.
Maryland Tenant Screening Process
What is your screening criteria list? It’s a key to help you unlock the best applicants for your rental. Creating a list of factors that best match your ideal tenant will help you sort out the good from the best.
A typical screening criteria list might start out like this:
- Only one pet under 10 lbs allowed
- No smoking
- 12 months at their current job
- Credit score above 600
- No criminal history
- Absolutely no eviction history
You can use whatever criteria you want within reasonable limits, and you definitely cannot discriminate against a protected class. Learn all you can about housing’s protected classes here at hud.gov.
Once you’ve decided what to include, write down the screening criteria. Then, apply that list for each application you review. Consistent application can protect you from anti-discrimination suits that may be filed against you.
Without consistency, your decisions may appear discriminatory. Stick to those screening criteria qualifications and avoid legal trouble.
We’ve created this helpful list to give you a head start in separating applicants into piles of rejections and approvals. Remember:
- Maryland puts no limit on what you can collect for an application fee
- The state law stops landlords from charging more than 2 months rent for the security deposit
- Every background check needs the signature of the applicant to give consent
You should become familiar with the Maryland Landlord/Tenant Handbook here.
Tenant Screening Done Right
If you want to learn tenant screening this is where you start.
We’ve put together 10 chapter guide on tenant screening.
Each chapter will walk you through the process and show you how to identify and place the perfect tenant.
Take the time to go through this tutorial and your future self will thank you.
Selecting the Best Screening Service
Once you have a couple of applications for people who meet all your critiera, it’s time to choose a screening service. A full background check will reveal a lot about the applicants. Pick a reputable screening service that provides the following:
- All previous addresses
- Thorough eviction search
- Comprehensive bankruptcy history
- Any judgments/liens
Once you get that comprehensive report from the screening service, you’ll have insight into each applicant. Then you can make the best choice. Never trust your gut when it comes to rental applications. Only a background check will help you avoid bad tenants.
Landlords should choose RentPrep, because we’ve worked with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years. Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.
Our FCRA certified screeners do the best work of providing the best tenant screening report available.