WHAT IS AN EVICTION?
An eviction is the legal process in which a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property. Evictions can happen for many reasons, depending on the terms of your lease.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON REASONS FOR EVICTIONS?
In Maryland, there are three major categories for reasons for evictions:
- non-payment of rent
- “holding over” – staying beyond the terms of the lease
- breach of lease
IS THERE A GRACE PERIOD FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT?
In Maryland, there is no grace period for non-payment of rent, so eviction can begin the day after the rent is due. Most property managers are in the courthouse filing eviction papers the day after rent is due, so it is important that you pay rent on time.
WHAT DOES “HOLDING OVER MEAN”?
“Holding over” refers to when tenants continue to live at a property after the lease has ended. If your lease has ended and you are not continuing to lease, you need to be moved completely out by the end of the lease. That includes any personal possessions, such as furnishings.
WHAT IS “BREACH OF LEASE”?
Landlords can evict tenants who have violated some part of the lease, for example, by allowing people or pets not listed in the lease to live at the property or by engaging in criminal activity within the home. If you wish to add something not in your lease, you will need to talk to you landlord first, and have the lease modified.
ARE THERE SITUATIONS IN WHICH A LANDLORD CANNOT USE EVICTION?
Yes. There are two major things that a landlord cannot do by Maryland law:
- Landlords cannot use “Self-Help” evictions – A self-help eviction occurs when a landlord retakes possession of a property without using the legal eviction process. This may be something like changing the locks, turning off utilities, or putting possessions out of the property. The landlord is then “helping himself” to an eviction rather than using the legal process.
- Tenants can’t be evicted as a form of retaliation. If a tenant organizes or joins a tenant board, or files a complaint or lawsuit against a landlord, the landlord can’t respond by evicting the tenant, raising the rent, or decreasing services promised in the lease. Additionally, sections of the retaliatory eviction laws in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Montgomery County may apply when they provide stronger tenant protections than those of Maryland state eviction law.
IS A LANDLORD REQUIRED TO GIVE ME ANY NOTICE IF I HE IS GOING TO EVICT ME FOR NOT PAYING RENT?
No. Unlike most states, a landlord in Maryland is not required to give a tenant any notice before beginning eviction proceedings. This means that if the tenant does not pay rent the day it is due, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit the very next day.
IS NOTICE REQUIRED IF HE IS GOING TO EVICT ME FOR A LEASE VIOLATION?
Yes. In Maryland, Another common reason for eviction is because the tenant violates the lease or rental agreement–for example, by having a dog when none are allowed or throwing loud parties during designated quiet hours.
If a landlord is going to evict you for this reason, he/she is required to give you notice before filing the eviction lawsuit with the court:
- 14 day notice – If the lease violation can cause danger to you or to someone else on the property
- 30 day notice – For lease violations that do not cause harm to another person
Both types of notice must be in writing and state that the tenant must fix the violation within the appropriate time frame or the landlord will file the eviction lawsuit with the court.
WHAT IS THE EVICTION PROCESS IN MARYLAND?
Here is what the eviction process in Maryland looks like:
To begin the eviction lawsuit, a landlord must file a complaint and summons with the district court of the county in which the rental property is located.
After the complaint and summons are filed, the tenant will receive a copy of the paperwork – this can be in person or posted.
The summons will have a date and time on it for a hearing before a judge, usually 5 days after the complaint was filed.
If the tenant wishes to challenge the eviction, the tenant must appear at the hearing.
The judge will listen to both the landlord and the tenant and then make a final determination regarding the eviction.
For more information on the process, visit the online Housing section of the Maryland Courts.
IF I GET AN EVICTION NOTICE, SHOULD I CHALLENGE IT IN COURT?
Challenging an eviction is not always the best option.
You might have to pay the landlord’s court and attorney’s fees if you are unsuccessful in court. You could also receive a negative credit rating and could be turned down for future housing.
The best thing that you could do would be to try to talk to the landlord and strike a deal outside the court system. If you can pay partial rent and give a firm date that the remainder will paid, or if you need to get someone out of your house that is not on the lease, or find a new home for a pet not on the lease, the landlord might be agreeable.
But you must follow through with your agreement, or the eviction will be enforced.
Choosing not to go to the hearing does not keep the landlord from winning an eviction.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM EVICTED?
If the court issues an ORDER OF POSSESSION or grants the WARRANT OF RESTITUTION, you may be evicted.
You can avoid eviction in most cases if you pay the amount the court decided was due, plus court costs, before the eviction takes place.
Payment to the landlord must be in cash, certified check or money order.
- EXCEPTION: If you have had three (3) judgments of possession against you (or four(4) in Baltimore City) during the past 12 months before the current eviction suit, a landlord may ask the court to deny your right to get your property.
- If the judge grants the landlord’s request, you may be evicted even if you pay the rent due.
If you do not catch up your payments, eviction moves forward:
- The landlord cannot evict you on a Sunday or holiday.
- The sheriff must be present during the eviction.
- The landlord does not have to notify you when the eviction will take place.
- Once your property is removed from the premises, you are responsible for its safety.
WHO CAN I CONTACT FOR HELP IF I HAVE EVICTION NOTICE?
If you have an eviction notice and don’t know what to do, you can contact the Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc., (BNI) hotline.
The BNI Hotline serves both tenants and landlords and is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Call 410-243-6007 or within Maryland call 800-487-6007.
If eviction would leave you homeless, you may be eligible for an emergency grant or other help from an eviction prevention program. One program is offered by Baltimore City’s Department of Social Services: 443-378-4600.
For more information from the Court see: www.courts.state.md.us/legalhelp/housing.html