A Guide to the Eviction Process in Maryland

Maryland tenants must abide by the terms of the lease agreement after moving in. For example, paying rent on time, caring for the unit, and adhering to policies on subletting, smoking, and pet rules – if any.

If the tenant doesn’t, you can evict them. If you choose to do so, as the landlord you must follow the statewide legal eviction process for it to be successful. In other words, regardless of the violation the tenant has committed, you cannot take matters into your own hands.

Only a court can rule on whether or not a tenant can be evicted. And even then, only a sheriff can carry out a physical eviction.

Whether you’re considering evicting a tenant or looking to learn more, here’s a step-by-step guide to the eviction process in Maryland.

Serving the Eviction Notice

An eviction in Maryland can only start after a landlord serves the tenant with an eviction notice. To serve the notice, you must first have a legal reason. You cannot try to evict a tenant simply because you no longer like them or because of any other unjustified reason.

Justified reasons to evict a tenant in Maryland include:

  • Failure by the tenant to pay rent.
  • Gross violation of the lease agreement. For instance, subletting the unit without permission or keeping an unauthorized pet.
  • Failure by the tenant to move out after their lease has expired.

Now, each ground for eviction has its own set of rules for how the process should start.

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1. Eviction Notice for Nonpayment of Rent

You can evict your tenant for failing to pay rent on time. According to Maryland statutes, rent becomes late a day after it’s due. Of course, as a landlord, you are allowed to provide a grace period. But if you do, make sure to mention it in the lease agreement.

Unlike some other states, Maryland landlords don’t need to provide their tenants a written notice for nonpayment of rent. You can proceed directly to the next step.

2. Eviction Notice for Violation of the Lease Agreement

You can also evict your Maryland tenant for failing to abide by the terms of the lease agreement and you don’t need to allow them time to correct their violation.

To begin the eviction process, you must first serve the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit. This will give the tenant 30 days to move out in order to avoid being evicted.

Lease violations that typically fall under this category include having an unauthorized pet, exceeding the rental limit, and causing damage exceeding normal wear and tear.

You may also be able to give the tenant a 14 days’ notice under certain circumstances. For example, if they are involved in an activity that endangers or causes serious harm not only to them but to others. This can include illegal activity.

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3. Eviction Notice for Holdover Tenants

You can also evict a tenant who has refused to leave after their tenancy period has ended. More often than not, this applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.

The notice period depends on the type of tenancy. For tenants paying rent on a:

  • Week-to-week basis, you must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
  • Month-to-month basis, you must provide them a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
  • Yearly basis, you must serve them a 90-Day Notice to Quit.

Please note that these notice periods don’t apply to Montgomery County and the city of Baltimore.

Filing and Serving Eviction Complaint

If the tenant doesn’t move out after the eviction notice expires, you must file an eviction complaint in the appropriate court. A sheriff or constable is the one who is tasked with the responsibility of serving the summons and complaint on a tenant.

With the exception of Baltimore, it should cost you $15 in filing fees for nonpayment of rent, and $46 in filing fees for all other evictions anywhere in Maryland. Filing fees in the city of Baltimore will cost you an additional $10 for both nonpayment of rent and for all other evictions.

Court Hearing & Judgment

The reason behind the eviction determines the day the hearing will be held. For evictions involving nonpayment of rent, the hearings are normally held within 5 days after a complaint is served.

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For other eviction types, Maryland law doesn’t specify the exact number of days upon which a hearing may be held.

If the tenant chooses not to appear during the hearing, the court will likely issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord. The court will then issue them with a writ of restitution.

But if the tenant chooses to appear, they may try to fight off the eviction by claiming any of the following:

  • The eviction was a discriminatory act. As a landlord, you must not discriminate against a tenant on the basis of their race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status, or national origin. In addition, Maryland has also made it illegal for landlords to discriminate against their tenants on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identification, and marital status.
  • You used unlawful means to evict them. For instance, shut off utilities, locked them out, or removed their belongings.
  • You failed to follow the proper eviction procedure. For instance, failed to serve the tenant the right eviction notice.

Issuance of Writ of Restitution

This is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit. A court normally issues it a few days following a successful judgment. Once issued, the tenant will be evicted within 60 days.

Summary

As a Maryland landlord, it’s important that you understand the legal eviction process. You must also be well versed in the state's landlord-tenant laws, security deposit laws, and other rental laws and regulations.

If you would like help with any aspect of property management including legal compliance, reach out to the experts at Wayson Enterprises today!

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. For expert help, kindly consider hiring a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.

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