Failure to Pay Rent

Categories :: Landlord/Tenant > Evictions

The eviction procedure for non-payment of rent is called "summary ejectment".  Eviction cases are filed and heard in the District Court of the county where the property is located.  Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8-401

Procedure for Eviction

When tenant fails to pay the rent that is due, the landlord may file a written complaint in the District Court asking to repossess the property,  for the amount of rent due, and court costs (Sections 8-401(a) and (b)).

The court will then issue a "summons" and the sheriff will notify the tenant by first class mail that the tenant should appear before a District Court judge at the trial to be held on the fifth day after landlord files the complaint. The tenant will also be required to "answer" the landlord's complaint to "show cause" why the landlord's demand to repossess the property should not be granted.

If requested, the sheriff must also personally serve the summons to the tenant, subtenant, or other person in actual possession of the property. If none of those persons can be found on the property, the sheriff may post a copy of the summons in a conspicuous place on the property. This method of service is sufficient only for the landlord to get a default judgment against the tenant for possession of the premises and court costs, not for the amount of rent due. The tenant must be personally served to support any judgment for rent due.

At the trial, the judge has the authority to order an adjournment for 1 day to permit either tenant or landlord to obtain necessary witnesses, or for a longer period, if both parties agree. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8-401

Representation at a rent hearing

Usually, only a lawyer can represent someone in court. For the action discussed in this article (summary ejectment in District Court), there are other options for landlords and tenants.

Landlords

A landlord may choose to have a non-lawyer represent him in a summary ejectment or rent escrow action in District Court. It is common for landlords to have their property agents represent them in such actions. 

Tenants

Tenants may choose to have a non-lawyer represent them in rent escrow or summary ejectment proceedings in District Court if the person is

  1. a law student practicing in a clinical law program at an accredited
    law school with the in-court supervision of a faculty member; or
  2. an employee of certain types of non-profit orginzations who has training and is supervised by a lawyer.

 Read the law: MD Code Business Occupations & Professions § 10-206

Judgment in Favor of Landlord

If the landlord wins the case, the court will order the tenant to leave the property within 4 days. If the tenant has not moved out within the time ordered, the landlord may request that the court issue a "warrant of restitution" directing the sheriff to allow the landlord to repossess the property and move the tenant's belongings out of the premises. The sheriff must be present at the actual eviction.

If the landlord does not request a warrant of restitution within 60 days from the date of judgment (or from the expiration date of any stay of execution), the judgment for possession will no longer be valid. If the landlord does not exercise a warrant of restitution within 60 days from the date of warrant, the judgment for possession will no longer be valid. Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8-401

Extension of Time to Leave Premises

The judge may grant an extension of time for surrender of the premises for a maximum of 15 days after the trial if he receives a certificate signed by a physician stating that surrendering the premises within the 4 day period would endanger the health or life of the tenant or another occupant.

In the event of “extreme weather conditions,” the administrative judge of the local District Court has the authority to postpone a scheduled eviction for non-payment of rent from day to day.  When weather conditions permit a resumption of evictions, the postponed evictions will be given priority and must be completed within 3 days after the severe weather ceases.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8-401

Appeals

Tenant or landlord may appeal the court order to the circuit court within 4 days after it has been issued.  If the tenant appeals, he will be required to post a bond with 1 or more sureties, who are owners of sufficient property in Maryland, with the condition that he will diligently prosecute the appeal and pay any judgment, including any additional damages incurred by reason of the appeal.Read the Law: MD Code, Real Prop. § 8-401

Tenant’s Right to Stay on Property by Paying Amounts Owed

In any summary ejectment (eviction) for failure to pay rent where the landlord is awarded a judgment allowing the landlord to repossess the leased premises, the tenant has the right to remain in the leased premises by giving cash, a certified check, or money order to the landlord or his agent to cover all past due rent and late fees, plus court-awarded costs and fees at any time before the actual carrying out of the eviction order. This is called the “right of redemption.”

However, the tenant's right of redemption (i.e. right to stop the eviction) is not available if 3 (4 in Baltimore City) or more judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid were entered against the tenant in the 12 months prior to the beginning of the pending eviction action.

Source: 

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI).

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