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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

RENTAL INSPECTIONS

Q. Do I need to get the forms or do you give them to me?

A. I will provide you with everything you need, especially if you register online (which I highly recommend).  I will also be available to answer any questions you may have.

Q. How much will an inspection cost?

A. Rental inspections cost $100.  Lead inspections typically cost $200.

Click here to for more info about pricing.

Q. Should I register my property before the tenant moves in?

A. According to the Baltimore County office, yes.  However, they also require the tenant to sign one of the forms, so it's a bit of a Catch 22.

Q. How do I register my property?

A. I strongly recommend registering online.  You can also do it by mail or in person.

Learn more about the registration process here.

Q. How long is my rental license good for?

The rental license is good 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.

Lead certificates are good as long as you have the same tenants.  When you change tenants you are required to get a new lead inspection in order to obtain a new lead certificate.

And if you think they do it two different ways just to confuse you you are being paranoid.

Q. When did this start?
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.

Q. Does every rental property have to be registered?

A. No. There are various factors that may qualify the property as exempt.  For example, if you rent the property to a relative you may be exempt.  Also, properties that are not connected to the public sewer.

Click here to read the Exemption Affidavit.

Q. What do you look for?

A. I am required to look for the following:

  • A hardwired smoke detector on any floor with bedrooms (usually the second floor) and in the basement.
  • A carbon monoxide detector in the common area on any floor with bedrooms (does not need to be hardwired but can be).
  • Electrical system has no apparent visual hazards
  • All plumbing is functional with no apparent visual hazards
  • All combustion appliances are properly vented (for example: furnace, hot water heater, dryer)
  • Secondary means of escape from sleeping areas exist with no exterior health or safety hazards

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. 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.

Q. Can you do the lead paint along with the rental inspection?

A. Yes, I am a licensed home inspector, and a certified Lead Paint Risk Assessor, so I can perform both inspections.

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 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. 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.

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.

Q. The guy at Home Depot told me battery operated smoke detectors are acceptable as long as they have 10-year lithium batteries.Are large apartment complexes covered by this law?

A. He is wrong.  It says right on the rental inspection sheet they must be hardwired.

Q. The guy at Ace Hardware told me battery operated smoke detectors are acceptable as long as they are interconnected.

A. He is also wrong.  It says right on the rental inspection sheet wireless interconnection is acceptable as long as the smoke detectors are hardwired.

LEAD INSPECTIONS

Q. Do I need a lead inspection?

A. The short answer is yes, if you own a rental property that was built before 1978.

Q. How do I prepare for a lead inspection?

A. There are two parts to the inspection:

  • Visual Inspection:  There can be no chipping or peeling paint anywhere at the property.  This includes the outside.  All paint must be intact, meaning anything that has been painted must maintained, including steps, porches, railings, and fascia near the roof.

  • Dust swipes:  Dust samples must also be collected.

Q. The paint on my railings is cracking and chipping off.  Does that count?

A. Yes.  Anything that has been painted counts.  You can not have any chipping or peeling paint.

Q. My porch has chipping paint, but I painted it myself last year, so I know it's not lead paint.

A. It doesn't matter.  There can be no chipping or peeling paint

Q. How much do you charge?

A. I normally charge $200 for a rowhouse or average sized detached house.  Large houses could run a little more and condos and apartments a little less.  If the property has old single pane wooden windows the fee will be higher because I'm required to take twice as many samples.

Q. How much do you charge?

 

A. I normally charge $200 for a rowhouse or average sized detached house.  Large houses could run a little more and condos and apartments a little less.  If the property has old single pane wooden windows the fee will be higher because I'm required to take twice as many samples.

Q. What is an MDE tracking number and how do I get one?

A. An MDE tracking number is a number the MDE issues to an owner for all properties for that owner.  This number is listed on every lead certificate.

If you do not already have a tracking number, you need to obtain one from MDE at 410-537-3825.  Normally they will give you one over the phone.  However, if you are unable to reach them you can email them at mde.leadreg@maryland.gov.  They will send you a tracking number and password by email, which you can use to register (or renew) your property online at the link below:

https://securemde.mde.state.md.us/_layouts/OLRR/UserLoginPage.aspx