Breach of the Lease

Categories :: Landlord/Tenant > Evictions

Notice Required

If an unexpired lease for a stated period of time provides that tenant may be evicted for breach of the lease, the landlord may file a complaint in District Court if the tenant or person in possession has: 1) breached the lease; 2) the landlord has given tenant 30 days’ written notice that tenant has violated the lease and landlord wishes to repossess the premises; and 3) the tenant refuses to comply.

If the breach of the lease involves behavior by a tenant or a person who is on the property with the tenant's consent, which demonstrates a clear and imminent danger of the tenant or person doing serious harm to themselves, other tenants, the landlord, the landlord's property or representatives, or any other person on the property, the landlord must only give the tenant or person in possession 14 days' written notice that the tenant or person in possession is in violation of the lease and the landlord desires to repossess the leased premises.

Procedure

The court will immediately summons the tenant or other person in possession to appear in court on the date stated in the summons to show cause why the premises should not be restored to landlord. If the tenant or other person in possession cannot be found, service is sufficient if the sheriff or constable posts a copy of the summons in a conspicuous place on the property and sends a copy of the notice by first class mail to the tenant.

If either party is absent from the hearing, the court may continue (postpone) the case for 6 to 10 days and notify the parties.

If the court determines that tenant breached the lease and that the breach was substantial and warrants eviction, the court will order the sheriff or constable to give possession of the premises to the landlord and order a judgment for costs against the tenant.

Payments Accepted After Notice but Before Eviction

If a landlord accepts a payment from a tenant after giving the tenant notice of the breach of lease but before evicting him, it is not considered a waiver of the breach of lease notice or any judgment for possession unless the parties specifically agree in writing.

Any payment accepted should first apply to the rent or the equivalent of rent apportioned to the date that the landlord actually recovers possession of the premises, then to court costs, including court-awarded damages and legal fees and then to any loss of rent caused by the breach of lease.

Any payment that is accepted in excess of the rent referred to above cannot not bear interest but must be returned to the tenant in the same manner as security deposits.  

Appeals


Either party may appeal within 10 days of the judgment. If the judgment is for landlord, and the tenant appeals and wishes to stay on the premises until the determination on appeal, the tenant must:


  1. File an affidavit with the District Court that his appeal is not for the purpose of delaying the eviction;
  2. File sufficient bond with 1 or more securities, with the condition that he will diligently prosecute the appeal;
  3. Pay all rent in arrears and all court costs in the case; and
  4. Pay all losses or damages that landlord may suffer as a result of tenant remaining in possession.

The appeals court will set a hearing not less than 5 nor more than 15 days after application is made.  Notice must be served on the other party or his attorney at least 5 days before the hearing.Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-402.1

Mitigation of Damages

Whenever one of the following kinds of breach of a lease has occurred, the breaching party is liable for damages, but the person who has been harmed has a duty to mitigate the damage he suffers:


  1. landlord fails to give possession of the leased premises to tenant, or tenant fails to yield possession to the landlord; or
  2. tenant fails or refuses to take possession at the beginning of the term; or
  3. landlord or tenant terminates occupancy before the end of the term.

Mitigastion of damages means that the person who has been harmed has to make reasonable efforts to keep from being harmed more. But, the law explicitly does not require the landlord to show or lease a prematurely vacated dwelling unit in preference to other units he is offering.

Whenever the tenant has wrongfully refused to take possession or has vacated a dwelling unit before the end of the term, the landlord may sublet the unit without prior notice to the tenant.  In that case, the tenant is liable for any damages the landlord suffers as a result of the breach.  In addition, tenant is secondarily liable for rent for the remainder of his lease term if the sublessee defaults and landlord give tenant prompt notice of the default.

The provisions of this law cannot be waived in any lease. Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-207

Weather-Related Eviction Postponement

In the event of “extreme weather conditions,” the administrative judge of the District Court may order that the scheduled evictions for nonpayment of rent for a residential property be postponed from day to day.  When weather conditions permit resumption of evictions, the postponed eviction will be given priority and must be completed within 3 days after the extreme weather conditions end. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Property, Section 8-401

Source: 

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI)
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