A person may not claim possession or refuse to leave a property unless the person is entitled to possession of the property under the law. Regardless of whether the entry to the property was with or without permission, if a guest or squatter refuses to leave when asked, the tenant or other person with right of possession of the premises may seek eviction through a “wrongful detainer” action in District Court. "Wrongful detainer" means to hold possession of real property without the right of possession.
Wrongful detainer is not the appropriate action for eviction for current or holding-over tenants or for someone who has been granted possession of the property under a court order.
The tenant or other person claiming possession may make a complaint for wrongful detainer in writing to the District Court of the county in which the property is located.
The court will then summons the person accused of wrongful possession to appear in court on the day specified in the summons to show cause why relief should not be granted to the person filing the complaint.
If the person accused of wrongful possession can’t be found for personal service, the process server must attach a copy of the summons conspicuously on the property and send a copy to the person accused of wrongful possession by first-class mail.
If tenant prevails, the court must
- Give judgment for restitution of the possession of the property to the tenant;
- Issue a warrant to the sheriff commanding the sheriff to deliver possession to the tenant (i.e. remove the person unlawfully in possession); and
- Give judgment in favor of the tenant or other person claiming possession for damages due to the wrongful possession and for court costs and attorney fees IF the damages were claimed in the complaint and the court finds that the person in wrongful possession was personally served with the summons or otherwise submitted to the jurisdiction of the court.
An appeal can be filed by either party no later than 10 days from the entry of the judgment of the District Court.
The person accused of wrongful possession of the property may retain possession until the determination of the appeal if the person:
- Files an affidavit that the appeal is not for the purpose of delaying the eviction; and
- Files sufficient bond with 1 or more securities, with the condition that he will diligently prosecute the appeal OR pays to the tenant or other person claiming possession or into the appellate court the fair rental value of the property for the entire period of possession up to the date of judgment, all court costs in the case, all losses or damages other than the fair rental value of the property up to the day of judgment that the court determined to be due because of the wrongful possession, and the fair rental value of the property during the length of the appeal.
The court must set a hearing date for the appeal that is not less than 5 days or more than 15 days after the application for appeal. Notice of the hearing must be served on the parties or the parties' attorneys not less than 5 days before the hearing.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Prop. § 14-132
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