Written notice required of landlords and renters for changes in tenancy


December 05, 1993|By George B. Laurent

The failure to give proper notice can be a most frustrating and painful experience.

"I have been a good tenant here for over 10 years. Recently, I gave my landlord an 88-day notice. My landlord pointed out that my lease requires a 90- day notice and has renewed for another year. Since I am buying house I must now break my lease. It will most likely cost me over $2,000."

"I told my landlord when I gave him the rent over a month ago that I was leaving at the end of the month. He said, OK. Now he tells me that I will probably owe him a month's rent because I didn't give him the notice in writing."

"My landlord just informed me that he wants a $50 rent increase with next month's rent which is due in a week."

Many tenants and small landlords, especially those involved with month-to-month oral tenancies, have no idea that a written notice is required to change the terms of the tenancy -- for example, to end the lease or to raise rent. Many tenants and landlords fail to read the lease carefully or have forgotten the requirements for notice.

Baltimore law requires a landlord to give at least 60 days' written notice before the end of the year, month, or week when the tenant is to leave. The tenant normally has to give only a 30-day written notice. For example, a tenant on a monthly tenancy, deciding in December that he wants to leave, should give the landlord a written notice more than 30 days before Jan. 31.

Outside Baltimore, state law requires the landlord to give a minimum written notice of a week for a weekly tenancy and a month for a monthly tenancy. The tenant is required to give a minimum written notice that is reasonable -- presumably, the same notice that the land lord is required to give.

A landlord in Maryland may request a longer notice in a written lease as long as the notice requirement will be the same for tenant or landlord. The day of delivery is not counted as part of the notice time.

The notice may be hand-delivered or sent by mail early enough to be delivered in time.

A landlord may give a written 30-day breach of lease notice -- which states the alleged cause -- any time during the tenancy. In Baltimore, the notice must be given before the end of the week or month that the landlord wants the tenant to leave. Outside Baltimore, the landlord can give an immediate written 30-day breach notice. The tenant, of course, can contest the notice.

George B. Laurent is executive director of BNI, or Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc., a private nonprofit group that works to resolve tenant-landlord problems and to eliminate housing discrimination.


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