Landlord Rights and Responsibilities Regarding Lead in Rental Properties

Landlords are by law required to abide by Federal and State guidelines regarding rental property. Please see Federal Law and State Law sections for more information about these laws. Landlords should be aware of the following regulations:

1. Registration
Registration must be renewed annually ($30 fee), and any change in ownership, management, or insurance must be reported within (30) days. Registration forms are open for public inspection, but Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) may not provide a list of properties owned by an individual landlord. However, MDE must disclose, upon request, whether the landlord has registered a particular unit or complied with the percentage requirements for inventory cleanup. In addition, MDE will establish its own database to track the status of affected properties.

2. New Tenancy
Each time occupancy changes, the dwelling unit must meet lead risk reduction standards prescribed by MDE. At the beginning of a new tenancy, the owner must give the tenant the following mandated publications: 1) “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home”; 2) “Notice of Tenants’ Rights”; 3) current “Lead Inspection Certificate”; and 4) Title X disclosure form, which tells families about the lead-based paint and potential lead hazards in their homes. New notices and packets must be given to all tenants every two years if there is no change in occupancy. Notices and packets must be sent by certified mail or by a verifiable delivery method.

3. Repairs and Maintenance
If an owner of affected property undertakes repairs or maintenance that will disturb the paint on any interior surfaces, the owner must make reasonable efforts to ensure that all “Persons at Risk” (children under 6 and pregnant women) are removed from the property while the work is being done, and to ensure that all other persons are not present in the area where the work is being done. Work must be done in a lead-safe manner as specified by MDE Regulations and EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. Tenants must allow reasonable access so that the work can be done.

If it is necessary that the tenant vacate the property for twenty-four (24) hours or more for work to be completed, owners are responsible for the cost of temporarily relocating tenants. However, tenants are still required to meet normal rent requirements during that time unless an Escrow Action is filed. (See Tenant's Responsibilities section for more about Escrow.)

4. Winter Waivers
An owner may apply for a “winter waiver” for work on exterior defects during the period November 1 - April 1 from the local housing authority or the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. The postponed work must be done within thirty (30) days after the end of the waiver period. Maryland Department of the Environment is not responsible for granting winter waivers.

5. Retaliatory Actions
The owner of any dwelling units covered by this law is prohibited from evicting or taking any other retaliatory action against a tenant “primarily” as a result of the tenant providing information to the landlord in accordance with this law. Prohibited retaliatory actions include:

  1. arbitrary refusal to renew a lease;
  2. termination of tenancy;
  3. arbitrary rent increase, or decrease in service to which a tenant is entitled; or
  4. any kind of constructive eviction.

A tenant who was subjected to a retaliatory eviction or other prohibited action is eligible for the relief and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs as provided in the state law prohibiting retaliatory actions by landlords.

6. Rent Escrow
Rent Escrow is a process in which a tenant may file a Complaint for Rent Escrow in the District Court for the county in which they reside. If established, all rent is paid into the District Court escrow account until the Landlord has completed all repairs ordered by the Court.

Anyone can file a Rent Escrow Complaint and go to District Court (Rent Court) to get their Landlord to make repairs or assert the need for Rent Escrow as a defense to a Complaint for Failure to Pay Rent filed by the Landlord for late rent. To set up Rent Escrow, the following conditions must be met:

  1. There is a written or oral lease with between the tenant and landlord for the rental home;
  2. There is a dangerous or defective condition in your rental home which poses a threat to the life, health and safety of those living in your rental home;
  3. Provide Notice by sending a Notice of Defect by certified mail, return receipt requested, to your Landlord telling him about the dangerous conditions in your home; and/or
  4. Your Landlord has failed to repair the chipping, peeling or flaking paint or other dangerous defects in your home.

The following defenses are available to the landlord against a tenants petition for Rent Escrow: 1) lack of notice by the tenant of the dangerous or defective conditions; 2) the lack of dangerous or defective conditions in the rental home; 3) the dangerous or defective conditions have been repaired; 4) the dangerous or defective conditions were caused by the tenant’s family or guests; and 5) the tenant refused the landlord entry into the rental home to make the repairs. The judge may order a number of remedies, including approving the Rent Escrow and ordering that the tenant pay the rent into the court escrow account instead of to the landlord, ordering the landlord to repair the dangerous and defective conditions, ordering that rent be abated until repairs are made, ordering that rent money be returned to the tenant for rent paid in the past for the home which had dangerous and defective conditions.

Once an escrow account is set up, the money will be released to either the landlord on certification that the premises has been inspected and that all lead-based paint violations have been corrected, in accordance with state and local law, or to the tenant or any other person who has corrected the lead-based paint violations on presentation of a bill for the costs of correcting the violations and a certification by the appropriate local health authority that the premises have been inspected and that all lead-based paint violations have been corrected.

7. Maryland Minimum Livability Code Regulations were created to protect the public health, safety, and welfare in residential structures and premises by establishing minimum property maintenance standards for basic equipment and facilities used for light, ventilation, heating, and sanitation for residential structures and premises, and for safe and sanitary maintenance of residential structures and premises.

Federal Laws

There are 3 main Federal Laws involving lead-based paint that apply to rental housing:

  1. Title X – Federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992
  2. Federal HUD Lead-Based Paint Regulations 1012/1013
  3. Federal Lead-Based Paint Pre-Renovation Education Rule (Lead PRE Rule)

These laws are discussed below. You may also click on each law to link to the actual text of the law. Another important law pertaining to rental properties but not lead-paint specific is the Federal Fair Housing Act.

The EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by EPA and that they use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices. Individuals can become certified renovators by taking an eight-hour training course from an EPA-approved training provider. Learn how to become an EPA certified firm and where to take a training course near you.


Maryland Department of the Environment's (MDE) Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (Lead Program) serves as the coordinating agency of statewide efforts to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. Under the 1994 "Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Law," MDE assures compliance with mandatory requirements for lead risk reduction in rental units built before 1950 (as of January 1, 2015, this also includes units built before 1978); maintains a statewide listing of registered and inspected units; and, provides blood lead surveillance through a registry of test results of all children tested in Maryland. The Lead Program also oversees case management, follow-up by local health departments for children with elevated blood lead levels, certifies and enforces performance standards for inspectors and contractors working in lead hazard reduction, and performs environmental investigations for lead poisoned children. The Lead Program provides oversight for community education to parents, tenants, rental property owners, home owners, and health care providers to enhance their role in lead poisoning prevention.

Landlords in Maryland are required to meet both state and federal laws designed to protect families living in homes built before 1950.

If you are a landlord, you CANNOT complete work on a pre-1950 property unless you or your contractor/maintenance personnel are certified by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Maryland Department of the Environment's Lead Rental Registry

Maryland Tenants

Maryland Rental Owners