Once a tenant signs the lease agreement, they should not be violating lease terms regarding paying rent, abiding by rental unit policies, or causing negligent property damage to the premises.
A tenant abiding by the terms of the rental agreement does not always happen, though. And in such cases, as a landlord, you’d be able to evict the tenants from your rental property.
When Maryland landlord files for an eviction, they must follow the statewide eviction proceding to the letter. A landlord must not engage in unlawful eviction tactics such as removing their tenant’s personal property or locking them out of the premises. Retaliatory or discriminatory-based evictions are not acceptable.
Looking to evict tenants from one of your rental properties? Or, are you a landlord simply learning what the process entails? Either way, the following is a basic overview of the legal process landlords in Maryland must observe, under the landlord-tenant law.
What’s the Maryland Eviction Process?
As a landlord in Maryland, you must take certain proactive steps to evict your tenant successfully.
A landlord must begin by serving their tenant an eviction notice. This will bring attention to what violation the tenant has committed and what action they would need to take within a specified period.
A landlord must then begin the filing a lawsuit and complaint with the district court if they wish to continue and see an eviction hearing. However, the landlord must only do this if the tenant doesn’t complete the options provided by the eviction notice and continue living there.
The district court will then decide based on the evidence adduced. If the district court rules in favor of the landlord and they win the eviction lawsuit, they’ll be issued a Writ of Restitution. This legal document will grant a landlord legal possession of the property over the tenant.
Generally speaking, expect this process to take between three and five weeks. However, it can also take much longer depending on the reason for the eviction, court costs, and whether the process does not go smoothly.
Proper Notice for Termination with Legal Cause
Landlords must have legal cause to evict their Maryland tenant. In the state of Maryland, such reasons include failure to pay rent, end of the lease, expiry of the lease, and violation of the lease agreement.
If the tenant fails to pay rent owed and you want to evict them, you may or may not choose to provide them advance notice. Once rent becomes late, you may be able to immediately file an eviction lawsuit in court.
The tenant can, however, stop their eviction if they paid rent and any late fees in full before the final decision is rendered by the court.
To evict a tenant who has no lease or whose lease has come to an end, you must serve them 30 days advance notice. If the 30 days end and the tenant remains on the property, you can choose to continue with the eviction.
Finally, to evict a tenant for a lease violation, you must serve them either of two notices depending on the violation. For minor offenses, you must serve them a 30 days’ notice to either correct the violation or move out.
Examples of such lease violations include failing to keep the unit safe and sanitary, failing to make small repairs and maintenance, and causing disturbance to other tenants.
For serious offenses, however, you must serve them a 14 days’ notice to move out. You need not give them the option to cure their offenses. Examples of serious violations include illegal activity, and negligent property damage.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Maryland
Getting the process right as a landlord is key to a successful Maryland eviction case. One wrong move, such as serving the written notice incorrectly, can render the process null and void. You must serve the tenant an eviction notice in any of the following ways.
- By first-class mail.
- By posting a copy in a conspicuous area on the property AND mailing a copy through priority mail.
Tenant Eviction Defenses in Maryland
In Maryland, tenants are only allowed to file answers with the court for nonpayment of rent evictions. The following are examples of defenses the tenant may provide to stop or delay their eviction.
- The tenant paid the rent within the notice period specified in their eviction notices.
- The tenant failed to pay rent after you failed to take care of important repairs.
- The eviction was a retaliatory action.
- The eviction was based on the tenant’s race, color, religion, nationality, or any other protected characteristic.
Attending the Court Hearing
The date on which a hearing is held is dependent upon the reason for the eviction. For nonpayment of rent evictions, the hearing usually occurs within 5 days after the filing of the complaint.
For other types of evictions, Maryland law doesn’t specify exactly when a hearing must be held. Regardless of the reason for the eviction, if the tenant does not appear in court, there will be a default judgment. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the court will issue them with a writ of restitution.
Writ of Restitution
This is the tenant’s final notice to leave their rental unit. It grants the tenant the chance to remove their belongings before they can be forcefully kicked out by a law enforcement officer.
The landlord has a maximum of 60 days to request the issuance of the writ of restitution after a successful judgment. If, as the landlord, you fail to do so, the writ will expire and you’ll need to re-do the eviction all over again. For evictions involving nonpayment of rent, the writ is normally issued within four business days after a successful judgment.
Do you have specific questions involving the eviction process in Maryland? If you do, please seek the professional services of an attorney. Alternatively, get in touch with property managers from a qualified Baltimore property management company.
American Dream Realty and Management is a knowledgeable and experienced property management company. Our mission is to help property owners and landlords in Baltimore City succeed.
A property manager from our expert team would be glad to help you manage condominiums, HOAs, residential properties, and commercial properties. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you succeed!
This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.