Researching Landlord-Tenant Law


Landlord-tenant relations are governed mainly by state statutes and case law. Depending on the specific issue you are facing, you may need to research Maryland state law, federal law, or both.

Maryland Statutes

In Maryland, the official source for the state statutes is the Annotated Code of Maryland. All Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries (see SAILOR, Maryland's Online Public Information Network sponsored by Maryland public libraries) carry the Annotated Code of Maryland in print.

Citations to selected Maryland landlord-tenant law statutes:

Federal Statutes

The official source for the federal statutes is the United States Code. All Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries (see SAILOR, Maryland's Online Public Information Network sponsored by Maryland public libraries) carry the United States Code in print. Many of the same libraries also carry one of the unofficial print versions, the United States Code Annotated and the United States Code Service. You should research the federal statutes in one of these unofficial print versions of the Cod because they are both more up-to-date than the official Code. Also, the unofficial versions include summaries of cases that interpret each statute. Two sources for the federal code online are GPO Access and the Cornell Legal Information Institute, however both of these sources are frequently out of date. Below are some important federal statutes that you might want to look up in print:

Federal Regulations

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigates complaints against landlords in federal housing, and complaints of discrimination in private housing rentals. The Department's regulations are published officially in Title 24 of CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations). The print version of the CFR is available in all Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries. The Department's Fair Housing regulations are also available electronically on the GPO Access home page.


  • Maryland Landlord-Tenant Law, Practice and Procedure / Douglas M. Bergman 4th ed. New Providence, N.J.: LexisNexis, 2009.
  • Maryland Real Estate Forms / Russell R. Reno, Jr., Wilbur E. (Pete) Simmons, Jr. Baltimore, Md.: Rykim International Pub. Co., 1983- (looseleaf for updating).
  • Residential Real Estate Transactions / J. Paul Rieger, Jr., Thomas D. Gibbons, editors. 4th ed. Baltimore, Md.: Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers, 2004.
  • HUD Complaint Forms. For housing discrimination, bad landlords in federal housing, etc.

Resources for Additional Help

The resources below may help you understand landlord-tenant law. Keep in mind, however, that books explaining the law are no substitute for the law itself. You should always verify what the authors of these books say about the law by looking up the statutes, cases, and regulations the books cite. Some of these books may also include sample forms.

  • Maryland guide to local, state and federal laws governing tenant-landlord relations : including laws prohibiting discrimination in housing. Baltimore, Md.: Baltimore Neighborhoods, 2010.
  • Every Landlord's Legal Guide / Janet Portman, Marcia Stewart & Ralph Warner. 10th ed. Berkeley, CA: Nolo, 2010.
  • Every Tenant's Legal Guide / Janet Portman & Marcia Stewart. 6th ed. Berkeley, CA: Nolo, 2009.
  • Renters' Rights: The Basics / Janet Portman & Marcia Stewart. 6th ed. Berkeley, CA: Nolo, 2012.


There are several ways to begin researching landlord-tenant case law. One way is to find the statutes that apply to your situation in the Annotated Code of Maryland. You can find additional cases by reading books that explain the law and noting the cases they cite. Another method of finding cases is to search the Maryland Digest, which is a subject index to Maryland case law. The Digest arranges summaries of published cases by legal issue using the "topic and key number" system. Once you know the topic and key number combination for your issue, look up that topic and key number in the Digest and you will find a list of case summaries discuss your issue. Each summary includes a citation to the full text of a case.

This section developed by Sara Kelley, Librarian, Georgetown University Law Library, updated by the staff of the Maryland State Law Library
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, 2020.”