The foundation of any contract is the expectation that both parties will honor their end of the agreement and can’t cancel when the contract becomes inconvenient. In Maryland, only a few types of contracts receive a window where signees receive a window with guaranteed cancellation rights, limiting consumers’ ability to back out of a signed contract in many instances. Many contracts contain clauses that outline both parties’ abilities and rights to abandon the contract, and usually define cancellation rights for most consumers.
Cooling Off Periods
In Maryland, most contracts aren’t given the three-day “cooling off” period in which consumers have the right to cancel the contract. Consumers who sign contracts with a self-defense center, a health club or a weight-loss center have the right to cancel their contract within three days of the initial purchase for any circumstances. Consumers also have the right to cancel contracts for vacation-area memberships, timeshare properties and campground memberships for 10 days after signing. Other types of contracts, such as sales on vehicles or other services, aren’t covered by cancellation rights.
The Maryland Door-to-Door Sales Act may provide consumers with additional cancellation rights if they sign a contract with a door-to-door salesman for home-improvement services. The act requires all contractors to include clauses that define rights and cancellation notification procedures. When vendors include this clause in contracts, homeowners must abide by its provisions. If a contract fails to provide a clause outlining cancellation notification procedures, homeowners may cancel their contract with the vendor at any time.
Homeowners Association Disclosure
Home buyers who enter into a contract to purchase a home in a neighborhood with 12 or more homes that’s governed by a homeowners association must be notified of the homeowners association’s existence, bylaws -- including architectural restrictions and occupancy guidelines -- fees, and assessments levied against the home and other restrictions, according to the Maryland Homeowners’ Association Act. When homeowners association details aren’t disclosed at the time of sale, the home buyer has the right to cancel the contract.
Contracts only obligate their parties to terms disclosed upon signing. When consumers sign a contract with a vendor with rates of financing or other details that change after the contract is signed, the vendor hasn’t honored his terms, and consumers have the right to cancel the contract at any time.
Many contracts contain cancellation clauses that define the situations in which both parties may cancel the contract and methods necessary to notify the other party of cancellation. When contracts and their termination clauses don’t violate Maryland or federal laws, these guidelines are enforceable as contract law. Parties who violate cancellation clauses may face civil lawsuits for breach of contract.
- Maryland Attorney General; Long-Term Contracts: Health Club Memberships, Lawn Care, and More; July/August 2003
- Maryland Attorney General: Consumers' Frequently Asked Questions
- Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation: Maryland Door-to-Door Sales Act -- Maryland Home Improvement Commission
- Justia.com U.S. Law: Maryland Homeowners Association Act -- Meeting to Elect Governing Body of Homeowners Association
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.