Community Remedies for Properties with Drug-Related Activity
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This law provides for eviction and other remedies if any property, residential or commercial, including mobile homes, is being used for drug-related activity, which the law defines as a "nuisance". Legal action may be brought by a community association or by the county (or Baltimore City) attorney or State's Attorney.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 14-120
"Nuisance" means property that is used by people who come for the specific purpose of illegally administering a "controlled dangerous substance" (any one of the specific substances listed in Maryland Code, Criminal Law, § 5-401); for the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or "controlled paraphernalia" (hypodermic syringes, needles for hypodermic injections, gelatin capsules, glassine envelopes, substances used to adulterate or dilute drugs, etc.) as defined in (§ 5-101(g) of the Maryland Criminal Code) to illegally store or conceal a controlled dangerous substance in sufficient quantity to reasonably indicate an intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled dangerous substance or controlled paraphernalia as defined in §5-620.
An action for relief may be brought in District Court by the State's Attorney of the county where the nuisance is located, the county attorney or solicitor of the county where the nuisance is located, or by a community association where the nuisance is located. "Community association" is defined as a non-profit association of community residents, operating to promote community welfare and improvement, which is either tax exempt under federal law or is defined by specific geographic boundaries.
In addition to the usual service of process required by state law, the plaintiff must have a notice posted in a conspicuous place on the property within 48 hours of filing the complaint. The notice must indicate:
- the nature of the proceedings,
- time and place of the hearing, and
- name and telephone number of the person to contact for additional information.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 14-120(e)
At least 30 days before an action under this law is brought concerning commercial property, the owner of the property and the tenant, if any, must have received a notice from a person or community association entitled to bring action. In Baltimore City, the notice must be given 15 days before the action. The notice must state the date and time of day the nuisance was first discovered, and the location on the property where the nuisance is allegedly occurring. Copies of the notice must be either hand-delivered to the owner and to the tenant, or sent by certified mail to both owner and tenant.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 14-120(d)
Whether or not an adequate remedy exists at law, the court may issue an injunction and order other relief, which may include the following:
- The court, after a hearing, may order a tenant who has knowledge of the existence of the nuisance to vacate the premises within 72 hours; or
- The court, after a hearing, may restore possession of the premises to the owner if tenant and owner are both parties to the lawsuit and the tenant has failed to comply with an order of the court issued as part of the lawsuit. If the court orders the premises restored to the owner, the court will instruct the sheriff or constable to execute the order within 5 days.
- If the owner knew of the existence of the nuisance and is party to the lawsuit, the court may order the owner to submit for court approval a plan to ensure, to the extent reasonably possible, that the premises will not be used for a nuisance.
Evidence of the general reputation of the property is admissible to corroborate testimony based on personal knowledge or observation, or to corroborate evidence seized during execution of a search and seizure warrant, but it is not sufficient on its own to establish the existence of a nuisance.
Relief may be ordered by the court even if the nuisance had been discontinued at the time of the filing of the complaint or at the time of the hearing.
A community association that is the prevailing plaintiff in an action brought under this law may be awarded court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
An action brought under this law must be heard within 14 days after the parties have been served.
An appeal may be filed within 10 days after the date of the court order. The hearing of the appeal must be held between 5 and 15 days after the motion for appeal is filed.