What’s new about the law?
- All Multiple-family dwellings (MFD) must be licensed.
- All one- and two-unit dwellings must also be licensed.
- All rental units (including one- and two-unit dwellings) must pass an inspection to obtain a license.
- All rental units must have a sanitation plan educating tenants on proper waste storage and disposal.
- Effective date of January 1, 2019.
- There is now a tiered license expiration based on property owner’s compliance with code. All initial licenses are issued for a two-year period. When it is time for renewal, a landlord may be able to obtain a three-year license or be limited to a two- or one-year license based on your maintenance record and violation history.
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We are registered and in good standing with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to provide Baltimore City Rental Inspection services for landlords. Failing to register and have your property inspected could result in being charged with a misdemeanor, a fine of up to $500 per day, as well as suspension, revocation or denial of your rental license.
If you are a Section 8 landlord or similar government program that requires an inspection, you do not need our services as that report will be accepted for the inspection requirements.
Baltimore City Rental Inspection Process
The Baltimore City Rental Inspection process is quite simple and usually won’t be longer than 30 minutes. As a matter of convenience, owners, landlords or property managers are not required to be at there as long as proper access has been coordinated with the tenant or, if vacant, there is a lock box in place.
We will email you a copy of the inspection form in advance so you are aware of exactly what Baltimore City requires and what will be inspected. We encourage clients to understand the requirements in advance to avoid lost time and potential additional cost.
The following is a list of the steps you must take. This information was gathered from the City’s Licensing Requirement Brochure and Information Sheet.
- Abate any open violation notices – click here to check for violations online.
- Visit DHCD online to begin registration. You can also check a property registration status on the City’s website.
- If property built prior to 1978, the property must have a current Lead Certification.
- After you have registered your property and it has passed inspection, you must complete the licensing process online within 30 days for 1-2 family units or within 90 days for multi-family units.
- Print your license. Make sure license is accessible in one and two-family units and posted in multi-family dwellings.
- Post a sanitation guide in common areas.
The Rental Inspection
The items below are a summary of the City’s Rental License Inspection Form. One form will be completed for each unit in a dwelling. Please review the City’s Rental Licensing Inspector Guidance document for specifics of the pass/fail requirements.
- STAIR RAILINGS: Railings are present and secure for interior & exterior steps with more than 3 risers.
- UTILITIES: Gas and electric service are both metered and active.
- ELECTRICAL: Electrical wiring is not visible in living areas. All electrical outlets and switches are protected by cover plates. All lighting fixtures are functional. Three-prong outlets are properly grounded. Electrical outlets within 6 feet of wet areas (kitchens, bathroom, garages, etc.) are GFCI protected unless the property was built before 1971 and has not undergone recent renovations in those specific areas.
- SMOKE DETECTORS: Smoke Detectors are properly installed and in proper working order. All properties require at least one detector per floor but there may be specific requirements for additional detectors based on the age and layout of the property. All detectors must be less than 10 years old. If battery-only, they should be have sealed 10-year batteries and a hush-feature. If the house has been wired for hardwired detectors, battery-only detectors cannot be installed in their place.
- CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS: Carbon Monoxide Alarms are properly installed and functional on each floor. Properties without any fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage are exempt.
- PLUMBING: There is both hot and cold running water with the hot water having a minimum temperature of 110°F. Plumbing fixtures don’t leak and all toilets properly flush. The property is free of interior leaks from water supply and waste lines.
- WINDOWS: Windows, which are designed to do so, should open and close and have a working locking mechanism.
- DOORS: All entry doors to individual units close and have a working locking mechanism.
- EXTERIOR: Exterior walls are free of openings that will allow the entry, into the home, of weather elements such as rain, snow, etc. Exterior gutter and downspout system is installed and designed to channel water away from the property.
- HEATING: The property has an operable heat supply system.
The items below will also be inspected . If there is a concern with any of these, I am required to notify Baltimore City’s Department of Housing and Community Development via the 311 system for further review which may include a full inspection by a City inspector.
- CLEANLINESS: The interior of the property is clean/sanitary (other than items that are the tenant’s responsibility), and free of all signs of infestation by rodents, insects, or pests.
- BASEMENT SLEEPING AREAS: If there is a bedroom in the basement, there is proper egress in case of fire.
- RODENTS: The exterior is free of rodent burrows.
- OTHER CONCERNS: Are there any other readily observable problems that in an inspector’s opinion represent an immediate threat to the health and safety of occupant?
Additional requirements are listed on the Checklist Addendum for Common Areas in Multi-Family Dwellings, Rooming Houses, and Hotels and are summarized below. Buildings with more than nine (9) units will only be required to have a sample of units inspected, not every unit.
- HALLWAYS: Public hallways and stairways are free of obstructions. Public hallways and other common areas are well lit.
- FIRE SEPARATION: There is proper fire separation between dwellings, hallways, and stairways.
- FIRE ALARM: Fire alarm system is in proper working order.
- FIRE DOORS: Fire doors are present, free of defect and closures work properly.
- EXIT SIGNS: Exit signs are properly installed and clearly visible.
- MECHANICAL ROOMS: Mechanical room (furnace, boiler) has proper clearance and is not used for storage. Electrical room (meters, wires) has proper clearance.
- LICENSE POSTING: The multifamily license is posted in a common area.
- HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Hotels and motels must prominently display a sign stating that the facility has provided training to all employees on how to identify human trafficking activities and human trafficking victims.
- OTHER CONCERNS: Are there any other readily observable problems that in the inspector’s opinion represent an immediate threat to the health or safety of occupant?
$150 covers the trip charge, rental inspection, and paperwork for the first unit. Discounts for repeat customers, multiple units, or when combined with a lead paint inspection. Payment is due at the beginning of the inspection. A re-inspection fee applies.
Frequently Asked Questions about Baltimore City Rental Inspections
Can anyone perform a rental inspection?
No, only a state-licensed home inspector registered as a Baltimore City Rental Inspector is authorized to perform these inspections.
Do you perform lead paint inspections?
Yes we can, often at the same time as a Baltimore City Rental Inspection, at a discounted rate. See our Lead Paint Inspection page for more information.
What size is considered a multi-family property?
Per the guidance from Baltimore City, a multi-family property is one that has three or more units.
The information on this page was compiled from a variety of documents provided by the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development. Their website includes some additional information about the program and may contain information that has been updated.
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