Topics on this page:
- Landlord/Tenant Matters Generally
- Failure to Pay Rent and Evictions - Affirmative Defenses
- CARES Act
- CDC Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions
- Water, electricity or other utilities
- Filing Documents
- Filing Deadlines
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Phase 5 of the Judiciary's Phased Reopening Plan began on October 5, 2020 with District Courts fully functional. This means that the District Courts are hearing all landlord/tenant case types, including failure to pay rent cases.
Warrants of Restitution - If the court enters a judgment in a landlord/tenant case, then the court may authorize a warrant of restitution on a case-by-case basis. Learn more about warrants of restitution. Also, see the Maryland Courts website for information about extended deadlines for warrants of restitution related to landlord/tenant matters.
Since July 20, 2020, the District Courts have been processing warrants of restitution for failure to pay rent actions to begin after July 25, 2020, consistent with the Third Amended Administrative Order Lifting the Suspension During the COVID-19 Emergency of Foreclosures, Evictions, and Other Ejectments Involving Residences.
Local Orders - Your local District Court may have additional orders related to eviction. Check for local orders here.
For more information, please see the Communication Regarding Landlord/Tenant Actions During Phase IV of Maryland Judiciary's Reopening Plan.
Read the Administrative Order: Third Amended Administrative Order Lifting the Suspension During the COVID-19 Emergency of Foreclosures, Evictions, and Other Ejectments Involving Residences; Second Amended Administrative Order on the Progressive Resumption of Full Function of Judiciary Operations Previously Restricted Due to the COVID-19 Emergency
The stay for residential evictions was lifted on Saturday, July 25, 2020. A failure to pay rent case filed before March 27, 2020 and currently pending with the court will be set for trial on or after Monday, August 31, 2020.
Affirmative Defense (Governor's Executive Order) - Governor Larry Hogan issued an order requiring that the court cannot issue a judgment for possession or warrant for restitution (the documents required before you can be evicted) if the tenant can show they suffered a loss of income due to the COVID-19 virus or the state of emergency.
- This includes substantial loss of income due to job loss, reduction in compensated hours of work, or the need to miss work to care for a school-aged child.
- This is a temporary order that ends when Maryland's state of emergency and catastrophic emergency is rescinded.
- This order applies to residential and commercial tenants.
- This order does not waive rent payments.
- Landlords have remedies other than eviction, such as actions for money judgments.
- If the tenant raises this, the court will treat it as an affirmative defense in failure to pay rent cases and breach of lease actions until the state of emergency is lifted or the Executive Order is amended.
- The judge will decide whether you have provided sufficient evidence to support this defense.
Affirmative Defense (CDC Order) - Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an order related to evictions that may prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant under very specific circumstances.
- See the section below for more details about the CDC Order.
- This does not prevent the Landlord from filing a failure to pay rent case against you, but does provide you with an affirmative defense.
- If you raise this defense, the court will treat it as an affirmative defense.
- The judge will decide whether you have provided sufficient evidence to support this defense.
Successfully raising these affirmative defenses does not mean that rent is not due. Instead, if you successfully assert a defense based on the Governor's Executive Order or the CDC Order, the court will determine the amount that is due for possession, but will reserve entry of judgment until such time as the judgment is not prohibited by the Executive Order or the CDC Order. Once the Governor's Executive Order or the CDC Order is no longer in effect, the court will enter each judgment for possession that was reserved by the court.
Landlords of some kinds of housing cannot file failure to pay rent cases until after July 25, 2020. This moratorium applies to public housing, federally subsidized (Section 8) housing, and residential property that is subject to a federally backed mortgage. Additionally, landlords or agents of these properties cannot evict tenants without a 30 day notice after the moratorium is lifted. This means that a tenant may not be evicted before August 25.
Declaration of Compliance
- Landlords must file a CARES Act Declaration of Compliance with the court for all failure to pay rent complaints from May 20 through August 24, 2020.
- The Clerk's Office will not accept failure to pay rent filings without a Declaration of Compliance.
- A Declaration of Compliance is not required for failure to pay rent complaints filed on or after August 25, 2020.
- Forms are available on the Maryland Courts website.
For more information, please see the Communication Regarding Landlord/Tenant Actions and CARES Act Information During Phase III of Maryland Judiciary's Reopening Plan.
On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a temporary halt in residential evictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is effective September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
- This temporary halt or moratorium does not apply to everyone.
- The moratorium is not automatic. You and every adult listed on your rental agreement or lease must submit a Declaration to your landlord.
- The CDC moratorium does not prevent a landlord from filing a failure to pay rent case. You may need to bring the Declaration with you to court.
- This does NOT cover foreclosure on a home mortgage.
- Read the order very carefully to determine whether you are eligible.
Rent Payments and Fees: This order does NOT waive rent obligations. You are still required to pay rent and other payments due under your lease agreement. This order does NOT waive any fees, penalties, or interest associated with the failure to pay rent or other housing payment that may be payable under your lease agreement.
Residential Property: This order applies to property leased for residential purposes.
- This includes any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park, or similar dwelling that you have leased for residential purposes.
- This does NOT include any hotel, motel, or other guest house that you have rented as a temporary or seasonal guest.
- Commercial property is not included.
Declaration: You AND every adult listed on your rental agreement or lease must submit a Declaration to your landlord. Under penalty of perjury, you must declare that:
- you have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
- you expect to earn no more than $99,000 in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), were not required to report any income in 2019 to the IRS, OR received a stimulus check under the CARES Act;
- you are unable to pay the full rent payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- you are using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as your circumstances permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expense; AND
- if evicted, you would likely be homeless or forced to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting because you have no other available housing options.
A copy of declaration is available as an attachment to the order. Be aware that there are serious consequences if you make any false or misleading statements or omissions, including fines and jail time. Submit this Declaration to your landlord. Do not submit the Declaration to the CDC.
NOTE: Even if you meet the requirements, you can still be evicted for reasons other than the failure to pay rent or other housing payment (e.g., criminal activity, threatening the health and safety of other residents, damaging property, etc.) Read the terms of your lease carefully.
Landlords: There are serious consequences if you violate this order, including fines and jail time.
Read the Agency Order: 85 Federal Register 55292 (September 4, 2020)
Governor Larry Hogan has issued an order that no electric, gas, sewage disposal, telephone, water, cable, or internet provider can terminate your service if it is being used in your home, until the health emergency is over, but no later than September 1, 2020.
A company providing those services cannot charge you a late fee during the health emergency.
NOTE: The Public Service Commission has extended the prohibition against terminations of gas, electric, and certain water utilities through November 15, 2020. However, there are some steps you must take. Read the Press Release for more information.
Read the Executive Order: Order of the Governor of the State of Maryland, Number 20-07-31-01, Amending and Restating the Order Dated June 29,2020 Prohibiting Termination of Residential Services and Late Fees
Filing Court Documents - Clerks offices are open. Be aware that individual courts and jurisdictions may adjust phases depending on the current state of COVID-19 throughout Maryland. Check for local closure notices and updates.
- MDEC is available for electronic filing. Learn more about MDEC.
- Drop Box - Drop boxes may be available at court locations. Check your local court's website for more information.
- Virtual Drop Box - Non-MDEC jurisdictions (Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County) may still make "virtual drop boxes" available for filings. Check your local court's website for information about availability and additional details.
New Cases – The Court extended the deadline to initiate new matters.
- Deadlines established by Maryland law or court rules about when you must file new matters in the Maryland state courts, including statutes of limitations, are tolled or suspended effective March 16, 2020.
- The deadlines are tolled or suspended by the number of days the courts are closed plus an additional 15 days.
- The number of days that the courts are closed means March 16, 2020 through July 20, 2020, which are the number of days that the offices of the clerks of the court are closed due to the COVID-19 health emergency. This time (March 16 – July 20) does not count against the time remaining to start a new case.
- More information, including an example, is available on the Maryland Courts website.
Pending Cases - The Court extended the deadline for hearings and other judicial proceedings in existing cases.
- Deadlines established by Maryland law or court rules in existing cases are tolled or suspended effective March 16 by the number of days the courts are closed plus an additional 60 days.
- The number of days that the courts are closed means March 16, 2020 through July 20, 2020, which are the number of days that the offices of the clerks of the court are closed due to the COVID-19 health emergency. This time (March 16 – July 20) does not count against the time remaining to conduct judicial proceedings.
- These proceedings will be scheduled at a future date. Other deadlines remain in effect.
- See the Maryland Courts website for more information, including examples.
No Dismissals for Lack of Jurisdiction or Prosecution - Under normal circumstances the court may dismiss a civil case for lack of jurisdiction (failure to serve the defendant within a specific time) or lack of prosecution (failure to take any action within 1 year). The court will recalculate when cases are eligible to be dismissed for these reasons in light of the modified deadlines.
Read the Administrative Order: Third Revised Administrative Order on the Emergency Tolling or Suspension of Statutes of Limitations and Statutory and Rules Deadlines Related to the Initiation of Matters and Certain Statutory and Rules Deadlines in Pending Matters