Landlord and Tenant Issues

House Bill 500, now pending the Maryland General Assembly, provides for a proposed amendment to Section 11-104 of the Maryland Condominium Act that would allow a condominium’s bylaws to include “a restriction or prohibition on smoking tobacco products within the units or in the common elements.”  The proposed legislation would also amend Section 11-111 to authorize a council of unit owners to adopt a rule imposing such a restriction or prohibition.

The bill also would also add new Section 11B-111.7 to the Maryland Homeowners Association Act, which would permit a homeowner association to “include in its declaration, bylaws, rules, or recorded covenants and restrictions a provision that restricts or prohibits the smoking of tobacco products in any multi-unit dwelling or in the common areas.  A “multi-unit dwelling” is defined in the bill as “a town house, a row house, or any other individually owned dwelling unit that shares a common wall, floor, or ceiling with another individually owned dwelling unit.”

The proposed legislation would also amend Maryland Real Property Code Section 8-208 to permit landlords to include in written residential leases “a restriction or prohibition on smoking tobacco products within the dwelling unit or elsewhere on the premises.”

 

The Maryland General Assembly failed to take action on a bill that would require condominiums to remove limits on the number or percentage of units that can be rented, if the unit owner demonstrates “financial hardship” and meets certain other requirements.  House Bill 1039 proposed to establish new Section 11-111.4 in the Maryland Condominium Act, and provide that unit owners who meet one of the bill’s six definitions of financial hardship may request a waiver from any rental limitations applicable to the community.  The unit must be the owner’s primary residence, and the appraised value of the unit must be less than 90% of what is owed.

The Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill that would require condominiums to remove limits on the number or percentage of units that can be rented, if the unit owner demonstrates “financial hardship” and meets certain other requirements.  House Bill 1039 would establish new Section 11-111.4 in the Maryland Condominium Act, and provide that unit owners who meet one of the bill’s six definitions of financial hardship may request a waiver from any rental limitations applicable to the community.  The unit must be the owner’s primary residence, and the appraised value of the unit must be less than 90% of what is owed.  The exception to rental restrictions would be for a term of three years. (more…)

A Maryland legal ruling recently made national news when the Court of Appeals held that the owners of pit bull breeds, as well as landlords who permit tenants to own pitbulls, are strictly liable for damages arising from an attack by these dogs.  The decision in Tracy v. Solesky changed the common law, which requires that a plaintiff must prove that the dog was known to be dangerous.  Now the Court has determined that it will hear arguments to reconsider the decision.  Interested groups on both sides of the contovery have filed amicus curie briefs with the Court, and seek to be heard on the issue.

The victim in the underlaying case was Dominic Solesky, a 10-year-old boy who in 2007 was mauled by a pit bull.  Solesky was seriously injured in the attack, requiring five hours of surgery, including repair of his severed femoral artery.  He spent seventeen days in the pediatric intensive care unit, had additional surgeries, and spent a year in rehabilitation.  In 2008, his parents filed a complaint seeking money damages against the dog’s owners and their landlord, alleging negligence and strict liability.  The dog’s owners subsequently declared bankruptcy.  At trial, the court ruled that there was insufficient evidence that the landlord knew of the vicious nature of the dog.  In 2011, the Court of Special Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision. The landlord’s insurer appealed to Maryland’s highest court.

In modifying Maryland common law of liability relating to attacks by pit bulls and pit bull-mixes, the Court of Appeals concluded that “because of its aggressive and vicious nature…pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are inherently dangerous” and went on to “impose greater duties by reducing the standards necessary to hold owners and others liable for the attacks of their pit bulls.”

Stay tuned for developments as the issue is reconsidered.