Topics on this page
Maryland laws give victims of domestic abuse added protections.
- you are a victim of domestic violence and have a protective order, OR
- you are a victim of sexual assault and have a peace order.
You must give your landlord written notice by first–class mail or hand delivery. This written notice must include a copy of your court order (protective order or peace order). You have 30 days to vacate the leased premises from the date of providing the written notice to the landlord. You are only responsible for rent for the 30 days after giving your landlord written notice and a copy of the court order.
If you do not move out within the 30 days of providing the notice and copy of court order to the landlord, then the landlord, with written notice to you, may:
- have legal remedies for a tenant holding over or
- deem that your notice of intent to vacate has been rescinded and the terms of the original lease are in full force and effect.
Note that a person cannot use these protections to break a lease when he/she is the person against whom a final protective or peace order has been brought. The law only allows the victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault to break a lease.
Changing Your Locks - Your landlord is required to change your locks if you are a victim of domestic violence and have a protective order, or you are a victim of sexual assault and have a peace order. The court order must require that the respondent (abuser) refrain from entering the residence and/or vacate the residence. You must ask your landlord, in writing, to change your locks and include a copy of your court order.
Your landlord must change the locks by the end of the next business day. Your landlord may charge a reasonable fee for changing the locks. You must pay the fee within 45 days. If you do not pay the fee, the landlord can add the amount to your rent or withhold it from your security deposit.
If your landlord does not change the locks by the end of the next business day, you can hire a certified locksmith to change the locks. Give your landlord a copy of the new key by the end of the next business day.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-5A-06
- Go to court, and tell the judge what happened.
- If you have a final protective order or peace order, bring it with you to court to give the judge.
- If you do not have a final protective order or peace order:
- tell the judge that you are a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault; and
- bring any proof of the domestic violence or sexual assault with you to court, such as a police report, doctor’s report, pictures, etc.
The law requires the judge to consider any evidence about domestic violence or sexual assault in eviction cases.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-5A-05
You may seek protection by use of a "Petition for Forcible Entry and Detainer" to evict an abuser from a dwelling when that person has no legal right to be living there. This means that you must own or lease the dwelling alone or with someone other than the abuser. The abuser must not contribute to the rent or mortgage payments. This type of legal help is generally used by unmarried people. However, this relief can be used by a married victim if you have:
- moved to a new home, which was never previously the marital home; and
- the new home is a place the victim has not agreed to allow the spouse to live; and
- the new home is a place where the abuser never contributed rent or mortgage payments.
File the petition in District Court. There will be a hearing. Show the lease or the title to the property and any rent checks or receipts as evidence at the hearing. If the judge issues an Order, the abuser has the right to appeal within 10 days of the judgment. If the abuser does not appeal, the police will ensure that the abuser's belongings are removed from the property.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 14-132