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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. The details below explain the process to obtain a license which is good for an initial two year period. An additional inspection is needed at each renewal every 1-3 years depending on the property type and citation/violation history.
All non-owner-occupied properties in Baltimore City are required to be registered each year. The registration period is January through December. Property registration fees must be paid every year for the property to be considered registered. Registration is required whether or not the property is a rental, whether or not it is occupied, and whether or not it is generating income. You can check a property registration status on the City’s website.
The following is a list of the steps to register your rental property gathered from the City’s Licensing Requirement Brochure and Information Sheet.
- Resolve any open violations or citations from Baltimore City Code Enforcement.
- If the property was ever vacant, had major renovations done, or was divided into separate units make sure it has a valid Use & Occupancy (U&O) Permit that allows for it to be occupied and allows the correct number of units.
- Use our Book Now page when you are ready to schedule your Baltimore City Rental Inspection. Details on the inspection checklist and requirements are below.
- If property built prior to 1978, the property must have a current Lead Certificate. We can perform lead paint inspections at a discounted rate while on-site for the rental inspection.
- After your property has passed inspection, you must upload your paperwork and complete the registration process online within 30 days for 1-2 family units or within 90 days for multi-family (3+) units.
- Make sure license is accessible in 1-2 family units and posted in multi-family dwellings.
- Post a sanitation guide in common areas.
The items below are a summary of the City’s Rental License Inspection Form. We will complete one form for each unit in a dwelling and send it to you electronically within 24 hours (usually same day).
The City’s form does a very poor job listing the specific requirements of each section – please review the City’s Rental Licensing Inspector Guidance document for specifics of the pass/fail requirements.
- STAIR RAILINGS: Handrails are present and secure for interior & exterior steps with more than 3 risers. Guardrails are present and secure for areas over 33 inches in height.
- UTILITIES: Gas and electric service are both metered and active. We need to have access to inspect these areas even if the tenant does not.
- ELECTRICAL: Electrical wiring is not exposed 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 are additional specific requirements based on the age and layout of the property. All detectors must be UL listed and less than 10 years old. If battery-only, they must have a sealed 10-year battery 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 (gas furnace, oil boiler, gas stove, fireplace, etc.) or an attached garage are exempt.
- PLUMBING: There is both hot and cold running water at all fixtures with no leaks. The hot water must have a minimum temperature of 110°F. All toilets must properly flush. The property must be free of leaks from water supply and waste lines.
- WINDOWS: Windows should open (and stay open by themselves) and close. The window should also have intact glass and 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 of weather elements (rain, snow, etc.) into the home. Exterior gutter and downspout system should be installed and designed to channel water away from the property.
- HEATING: The property should have an operable heat supply system.
The following items will also be inspected. If we have a concern with any of these items, we are 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 Baltimore City Code 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, it needs to have two different ways to escape directly from the bedroom itself to the outside in the event of a fire.
- RODENTS: The exterior is free of rodent burrows.
- OTHER CONCERNS: We can note and refer any other observable problems that in our opinion represent an immediate threat to the health and safety of a tenant.
Multi-Family Properties (3+ Units)
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: We can note any other observable problems that in our opinion represent an immediate threat to the health and safety of a tenant.
$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 prior to the inspection. A re-inspection fee applies for any failed items.
Frequently Asked Questions about Baltimore City Rental Inspections
Do you have to register your rental property in Baltimore City?
Yes, 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.
Can anyone perform a Baltimore City rental inspection?
No, only a state-licensed home inspector registered as a Baltimore City Rental Inspector is authorized to perform these inspections.
How long does a Baltimore City rental inspection take?
The rental inspection of a typical single-unit property takes about 30 minutes.
Do you perform lead inspections?
Yes we can, often at the same time as a Baltimore City Rental Inspection. See my Lead Paint Inspection page for more information.
Can you perform a Baltimore City rental inspection without the landlord present?
Yes, we often perform inspections by either utilizing lockbox access or by meeting tenants onsite. Our report will provide an explanation of all failure items and repairs needed.
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.
Do I still need to register a vacant rental property?
All properties that are not owner-occupied need to be registered annually with the City even if they are unoccupied.
Can I use this rental inspection for Section 8 or similar government program?
Yes, in most cases a Baltimore City rental inspection will be accepted for those inspection requirements (check with the specific agency first).
Is a Section 8 housing inspection or similar inspection accepted by Baltimore City?
Yes, Baltimore City may accept Section 8 and similar inspections in lieu of their own (check with Baltimore City first).
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.