Maryland Eviction LawPosted by Christopher Berkompas in Maryland
Note: I am not a lawyer, and this is not intended as legal advice.
Under what circumstances may a tenant be evicted?
A landlord in Maryland may evict a tenant based on several reasons:
- The tenant failing to pay due rent
- The tenant failing to move out after the end of the lease term
- The tenant substantially breaching terms of the lease
However, the landlord may not seek to evict a tenant in retaliation for the tenant requesting the landlord to operate in accordance with the terms of the lease. For example, he may not seek eviction if his reason is to retaliate for a repair request on the part of the tenant.
The state attorney may also bring eviction proceedings against a tenant for illegal drug activity on the premises.
What is the process for evicting a tenant?
In the case of non-payment of rent, the landlord may begin eviction proceedings by filing a complaint with the court. The landlord must specify in the complaint:
- the amount of rent due for each rental period under the lease;
- the day the rent is due for each rental period; and
- any late fees for overdue rent payments.
The tenant will then be notified of the date of the hearing, at which he must appear or the court will decide in favor of the landlord by default.
If the court decides for the landlord, it will give the landlord a writ of restitution within 5 working days, which will authorize the landlord to arrange with the local sheriff to forcibly evict the tenant if necessary. The tenant has 4 to 10 days to appeal the judgment.
In the event that the tenant still refuses to leave, the sheriff will force him to do so, returning the premises to the landlord.
How are landlords supposed to deal with tenant belongings left behind?
The sheriff will remove them from the premises, and leave them out in public on the street. Once off the land, the tenant's possessions are the tenant's responsibility.
Can the landlord shut off utilities or lock a tenant out prior to the completion of the eviction process?
Until legally evicted, a tenant has a right to essential utilities, such as gas, heat, and water, and the landlord has no right to shut them off in order to persecute the tenant. However, a landlord may shut off these services in order to do a bona fide repair. Locking out a tenant before being evicted is similarly illegal.
Are landlords required to let tenants know why they are being evicted?
Yes, if the reason is a breach of the lease or nonpayment of rent. In that case, the tenant will receive a copy of the landlord's complaint to the court, which will specify the details listed above.
Is it legal for the landlord to deduct legal fees and court costs from the security deposit?
No. It may only be applied to back rent or repairs to the property.
Can the landlord try to collect unpaid rent for the rest of the time left in the lease?
A court may so order it, but a landlord must go through the court in order to recover back rent.
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