Retaliatory Evictions

Categories :: Landlord/Tenant > Evictions

In October of 2011, Maryland’s statewide retaliatory eviction law was amended in several ways.  Among other things, the amended law now describes a landlord’s prohibited activities as retaliatory actions instead of evictions.  The amendment also eliminated a previous requirement that a tenant prove that the landlord’s prohibited action was solely motivated by retaliation.





It is a “retaliatory action”  for a residential landlord: For any of the following reasons:


  •  To threaten to evict a tenant;
  • To file a court action to evict a tenant;
  • To increase a tenant’s rent;
  • To decrease services provided to a tenant; or
  • To terminate a periodic tenancy (eg.- month-to-month lease).


  • Because the tenant or someone acting on the tenant's behalf complains about an alleged violation of lease or law, or a dangerous housing condition;
  • Because the tenant or the tenant's agent has sued or participated in a lawsuit against the landlord; or
  • Because the tenant has participated in any tenants' organization.

 





The landlord’s “retaliatory action” is prohibited if:


  • The landlord’s reason for retaliation occurred less than 6 months earlier; and
  • The tenant is current on rent; and
  • In a month-to-month or year-to-year tenancy, a court must not have entered against the tenant more than 3 judgments for unpaid rent in the previous 12 months; or
  • In a weekly tenancy, a court must not have entered against the tenant more than 5 judgments for unpaid rent in the previous 12 months; or
  • Where the tenant has lived in the home for 6 months or less, a court must not have entered against the tenant 3 judgments of possession for unpaid rent.

A tenant may respond to her landlord’s retaliatory action in one of two ways: by raising the retaliation as a defense against the landlord’s court action to evict the tenant; or by filing a court claim seeking monetary compensation for damages resulting from the landlord’s retaliatory action.  If a court decides that the landlord committed a prohibited retaliatory action, then that court may order the landlord to pay compensation of an amount of money equivalent to as much as three months of rent, plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

Note: In addition to the protections against a landlord’s retaliatory actions that are listed above, Maryland also specifically prohibits retaliatory actions against persons who report lead poisoning.  Maryland counties also may have ordinances that provide greater protection against landlord retaliation than the statewide law.  A county ordinance prohibiting retaliatory actions applies so long as it provides greater protection than the statewide law.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-208.1, § 8-208.2

Source: 

Isaac Conver, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Bureau, Inc
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