Baltimore City Rental Property Inspections
On August 1, 2018, a new law takes effect requiring all Baltimore City rental properties, including one- and two-family and multi-family dwellings, to be licensed to operate as a rental by January 1, 2019. In order to receive a license from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) the property must meet two requirements: 1) must be registered with DHCD using the online portal and 2) must be inspected by a State Licensed, Baltimore City registered Home Inspector.
I am registered and in good standing with Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) as a Rental License Home Inspector and can walk you though the process. Failing to register and have your property inspected could result in a $1,000 fine and suspension, revocation or denial of your rental license. The Section 8 inspection will be accepted in lieu of this inspection - the Section 8 approval letter must be uploaded with your documents.
Rental licensing is built on a tier system designed to reward property owner’s that properly maintain their rental units. All initial licenses are issued for a two-year period. When it is time for renewal you 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.
NOTE: If your MFD license is scheduled to expire in 2018 you are NOT required to get a third-party inspection. A Baltimore City inspector will conduct the inspection as scheduled. Any MFDs whose license(s) will expire AFTER December 31, 2018, must get a third-party inspection
Steps You Must Take (from the New Licensing Requirement Brochure)
- Contact an approved inspector (contact me) and pass your inspection. Details on the inspection requirements are below.
- If property built prior to 1978, the property must have a current Lead Free Certification or Full Risk Reduction Certification. I perform lead paint inspections and can even do one at the same time as the rental inspection.
- Visit DHCD online to complete registration - set up a new account or login to your existing account. You only have 30 days to do this after the inspection is completed for 1-2 family units and 90 days for multi-family units.
- Upload required documents and pay the registration fee ($25-35 per unit).
- 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.
- 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 ungergone recent renovations in those specific areas.
- SMOKE DETECTORS: Smoke Detectors are properly installed and in proper working order. There are specific requirements based on the age and layout of the property. Most properties will require at least one detector per floor and outside of sleeping areas. Detectors must be less than 10 years old. If battery-only, they should be have sealed 10-year batteries and a hush-feature.
- 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 do not leak and all toilets properly flush. 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 following items will also be inspected . If I have a concern with any of these, I am required to notify Baltimore City's Department of Housing and Community Development for further review.
- 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?
This information was compiled from a variety of documents provided by the Department of Housing and Community Development on October 30, 2018. Their website includes some additional information about the program.