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Rental Housing License Requirements

About Rental Licensure

Since 1965, Howard County Housing Inspectors have enforced Housing Code standards by inspecting and licensing rental housing units.

When Is A Rental License Required?

Every dwelling or dwelling unit in Howard County which is not occupied solely by the owner or owner’s immediate family must be licensed. A license is also required if more than one boarder, roomer or renter occupies the dwelling with the owner or the owner's immediate family member. This requirement applies whether or not rent money changes hands.

Rental licenses ensure that the County Property Maintenance Code standards are met. The requirement applies to apartments, hotels, motels, assisted living facilities, individually owned condominiums, duplexes, mobile homes, single family homes and town homes.

What To Do Before Applying

Out–of-state owners must designate a local agent.

Make sure sleeping areas located in the basement or any other area of the unit meet egress requirements. Generally, an operable exterior window meeting certain minimum dimensions for rescue and ventilation is required in every bedroom.

Check/Install Smoke Detectors-If a house was constructed with A/C wired (electrical 115 volt) smoke detectors or A/C wired with battery backup, those interconnected units must be maintained throughout the life of the dwelling and cannot be replaced with battery only detectors. All detectors must be replaced with like detectors when they are ten years old (ten years from date of manufacture). The date of manufacture, while sometimes hard to locate, should be printed on the back of the smoke alarm. If no manufacture date can be located, it is clearly time to replace the smoke alarm.  Each level of a dwelling is required to have one smoke alarm per level as well as a smoke alarm inside of each bedroom. If additional smoke alarms must be added in order to have coverage on all levels and inside the bedrooms, those smoke alarms may be 10-year sealed-in lithium battery operated smoke alarms (9 volt or other type battery detectors are not acceptable). Please call 410-313-1830 for more information.

How to Apply And What To Expect

A property owner or authorized agent of the property owner may request a Rental License Application by mail, on line or at the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits counter located at 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, Maryland 21043.

After the owner or agent returns the completed application with the required fee, the Department sends a letter requesting that the responsible person contact the Inspection & Enforcement Division to arrange an appointment for inspection of the unit.

Click on the link below to download a checklist of items the inspector looks for at the inspection.

 Download Rental Housing License Application     

 Download Rental Housing Inspection Checklist   

Rental License Duration

Licenses are issued for a two year period.

Owners/agents must notify the Department if the property is sold or is reoccupied by the owner during the term of the license. Additionally the Department must be notified of Management Company and/or Agent changes.  All information must be current including addresses, telephone numbers and other contact information for the owner and management company.


Schedule Of Fees For Licenses

    Apartment Complexes (Includes technology fee): $93.50 per unit 

    Motels, Hotels, Dormitories, Roomers, Sheltered Care (Includes technology fee): $55 per room 

    Single units such as single family detached, single family attached, individually owned, condominiums, duplexes, mobile homes, house sharing, (Includes technology fee): $93.50 per unit 

    Assisted living facilities (Includes technology fee): $93.50 per sleeping room 

For more detailed Fees Schedule click here.

For the text of the Howard County Rental Housing and Property Maintenance Code Local Amendments click here.