When a tenant does not pay the rent, a landlord may ask the court for permission to evict the tenant. This eviction procedure is called "summary ejectment" or a Failure to Pay Rent case. Eviction cases are filed and heard in the District Court of the county where the property is located.
These laws apply statewide in Maryland. Within Maryland, some counties and municipalities make small changes to the state laws. Don't forget to check your local housing laws.
Topics on this page:
- Procedure for Eviction
- Representation at a rent hearing
- Judgment in Favor of Landlord
- Extension of Time to Leave Premises
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. A landlord must possess a current license to operate, if required by the county and/or municipality, in order to use the summary ejectment procedures.
Notice Requirement - Before filing the Failure to Pay Rent complaint in the District Court, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written notice of the landlord's intent to file the complaint. This notice provides that the tenant has 10 days after receiving the notice to pay the rent due.
Read the Case: McDaniel v. Baranowski, 419 Md. 560 (Court of Appeals, 2011)
The court will then issue a "summons." The sheriff will notify the tenant by posting the summons and complaint on the property, and mailing the papers to the tenant. The summons says the tenant should appear before a District Court judge at the trial. The trial will occur on the fifth day after the landlord files the complaint. The tenant will 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 Property § 8-401
Rent Court for Landlords Part 1: How to Start your Case in Rent Court from the Maryland Courts
Rent Court for Tenants Part 1: Notice and Trial from the Maryland Courts
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.
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 may choose to have a non-lawyer represent them in rent escrow or summary ejectment proceedings in District Court if the person is
- a law student practicing in a clinical law program at an accredited law school with the in-court supervision of a faculty member; or
- 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.
When a sheriff executes a warrant of restitution, the sheriff is required to immediately inspect the premises for any pets and, if found, deliver the pet(s) to the tenant. If the tenant is not present at the time the warrant of restitution is executed, the sheriff must:
- contact an animal shelter or animal rescue organization to take custody of the pet;
- provide the tenant with the name and contact information of the animal shelter or animal rescue organization where the pet is taken; and
- provide the animal shelter or animal rescue organization with the name and contact information of the tenant to whom the pet belongs
Maryland law prohibits removing a pet during an eviction and leaving the pet on public property or a public sidewalk.
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.
Rent Court for Landlords Part 2: I Won in Rent Court, Now What? from the Maryland Courts
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 can choose to postpone a scheduled eviction for non-payment of rent from day to day. When the weather allows evictions to start up again, 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 Property § 8-401
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 Property § 8-401(h)
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.
A landlord may not refuse payment from a rental assistance program managed or funded by a county or city.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-401(g)
Rent Court for Tenants Part 2: Right of Redemption and Eviction from the Maryland Courts
Generally speaking, Maryland court records are open to the public. Sometimes a party can ask the court to shield a document and this removes the document from public view. A court can also shield an entire case and remove it from public view. The party asking for a case to be shielded must have a good reason.
If your Failure to Pay Rent case was filed between March 5, 2020 - January 1, 2022, you may ask a court to shield the case. To be eligible for shielding, you must show that your loss of income, and inability to pay rent, was because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, if a judgment was entered against you for unpaid rent, that judgment has to be satisfied first. To ask a court to shield your case, use form DC-CV-116.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-502