A “holdover tenant” is a tenant who remains in the property they are renting after their lease has ended.
The word “tenant” means the same as “renter,” or “lessee.”
For Tenants: What can happen to me if I hold over?
1. You may be sued for money
You may owe your landlord money for damages.
At the least, you will owe the rent for the time you stayed after the lease was over.
You may also owe for other damages caused by your holding over. For instance, if a new tenant could not move in because you were still there, and that caused your landlord to lose money, you might owe the landlord the money they lost.
2. You may be evicted
Your landlord can have you evicted from the property. The process for this is described below.
3. You may find yourself in a new periodic lease
If the landlord allows you to stay after the original lease has expired, you enter into a month-to-month lease (unless the original lease said something different). If you were originally in a week-to-week lease, the holdover period will also be on a week-to-week basis. Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Prop. §8-402(c)
For Landlords: What Can I Do if My Tenant Holds Over?
You have a couple of options. You can seek to evict the tenant and get any money they owe you, or you can keep the tenant as a paying tenant.
If you want the tenant out, look at the information below, under Judicial Eviction Procedure. This will allow you to evict the tenant and seek any money the tenant owes you. (This money includes any unpaid rent, as well as any money you lost because a new tenant could not move in as expected under the lease.) However, you may not evict your tenant without following the proper procedure.
If the tenant has already left, but still owes you money, look at the information below, under Suing for Money Damages. The money the former tenant owes you can include unpaid rent, as well as any money you lost because a new tenant was not able to move in.
You can let the tenant stay, and the tenant will owe you ongoing rent. The tenant will become a month-to-month tenant (or if the original lease was week-to-week, the tenant will become a week-to-week tenant). Remember, if you change your mind later and want the tenant to leave, you will have to give the tenant proper notice. Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Prop. §8-402(c) Even if you let the tenant stay, you can still sue for money they owe you. If you intend to keep the tenant, but want to sue for the back rent they owe you, look at the information below, under Suing for Money Damages.
A landlord must give proper notice before ending a tenancy. Tenants should read leases carefully to see if they are required to give written notice to end a tenancy.
Court procedure: Suing for Money Damages
To sue a tenant for money damages, the landlord can use Form DC-CV 082, “Failure to Pay Rent/Landlord's Complaint for Repossession of Rented Property.” This form is appropriate if you are letting the tenant stay, or simply seeking money the tenant owes you, but not if you are evicting a holdover tenant.
Landlords may also pursue other remedies granted by the lease or other applicable law against a holdover tenant. See the Breach of Lease article for more information.
A tenant (or anyone in subsequent possession of the rented property, such as a sub-lessee or assignee), who unlawfully holds over after the lease period ends, must pay the landlord for all actual damages caused by the holding over. At the very least, the holdover tenant owes the rent for the period of holding over at the rate provided in the lease.
A landlord may be awarded a money judgment in tenant-holding-over cases if the court finds that the tenant was personally served. Click here for more information on service.
Court procedure: Judicial Eviction Procedure
When a landlord gives a tenant proper written notice to leave the property, and the tenant does not leave, the landlord may file a written complaint (a lawsuit) with the District Court of the county where the property is located. The landlord can do this by filing a “Complaint and Summons against Tenant Holding Over” form.)
The court will then issue a summons telling the tenant to appear in court on the stated day. The constable or sheriff will serve the court summons on the tenant, subtenant, or assignee on the property, or on their known or authorized agent. If none of those persons can be found, the sheriff or constable will post a copy of the summons in a clearly visible place on the property. If the tenant, sub-tenant, or assignee has also been sent a notice by first class mail, the posting of the summons will meet the service requirement to allow a judgment to restore the property to the landlord.
Sometimes a tenant will pay some or all of the money owed after being served with a notice to vacate. However, just because the landlord accepts payment from the tenant does not mean the landlord gives up the right to evict the tenant, unless the parties have agreed otherwise in writing.
When both parties appear before the court for the eviction proceeding, the tenant will have a chance to explain why he or she should be permitted to remain in the property.
If either the landlord or the tenant fails to appear at the eviction hearing, the judge may decide to postpone the hearing for not less than six or more than ten days after the date stated in the summons.
If the court rules for the landlord, the tenant will be ordered to leave the property within 4 days (Md. Code, Real Prop. §8-401(d)(1)). The tenants may also be ordered to pay for the landlord’s costs for filing this suit.
If the tenant has not moved out within the time ordered, the landlord may request that the court issue a "warrant of restitution." A warrant of restitution tells the sheriff to allow the landlord to repossess the property and move the tenant's belongings outside of the property. The sheriff must be present during the actual eviction; however, he will not participate in physically moving tenant's possessions. That is the landlord's responsibility.
If the landlord does not request a warrant of restitution within 60 days of the court’s order for the tenant to leave (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 of the date the warrant was issued, the judgment for possession will no longer be valid. (Md. Code, Real Prop. §8-401(d)(1))
Appeals (What If I Do Not Agree with the Court Decision?)
Either party has the right to appeal the district court’s order to the circuit court within ten days of the district court’s decision. If judgment is for landlord and the tenant appeals, the tenant may remain in the property until the case is decided by the appellate court. For this to happen, the tenant must: a) file an affidavit with the district court explaining that the appeal was not filed only to delay the eviction; and b) file a sufficient bond with the condition that he will diligently prosecute the appeal and will pay all overdue rent, all costs in the case, and all loss or damage which the landlord may have as a result of tenant remaining in possession, including rent during the time of holding over.
The appeals court will then schedule a date for the hearing within five to fifteen days after the appeal is filed. Notice must be served on the other party or their counsel within at least five days before the hearing. Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-402
Note that if your judgment is for failure to pay rent, and not for holding over, the time to file an appeal is four days. Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Prop. § 8-401(f)
A landlord may take possession of the rented property from a tenant if the tenant has abandoned or surrendered possession of the property.