A landlord has the right to proceed with evicting a tenant in Maryland for violating lease terms or if the landowner simply wishes to terminate the tenancy. The eviction process usually begins with the landlord sending a written notice to warn the tenant of the breach or termination of lease — though, issuing a notice is optional in some instances that are discussed in this article. A tenant who receives a notice will have to cure the violation or vacate the premises. Failure to comply will result in the landlord filing formal eviction proceedings against the tenant in District Court.
Laws – Maryland Code Real Property Title 8. Landlord and Tenant
How to Evict
- Step 1 – Send Eviction Notice to Tenant
- Step 2 – Communicating with the Tenant
- Step 3 – File in Court
- Step 4 – Serving the Tenant
- Step 5 – Appear in Court
- Step 6 – File Warrant of Restitution
- Step 7 – Repossessing the Property
Step 1 – Send Eviction Notice to Tenant
An eviction notice, also known as a “notice to quit,” must be provided to a tenant in most cases when a violation of lease terms occurs or if the landlord wishes to terminate a month to month tenancy. A written notice informs the tenant of the type of violation, any options to cure, and a time period to comply. Landlords in Maryland can select one (1) of the following notices in accordance with state law:
- Non-Payment of Rent (Immediate): Sending a notice for non-payment of rent is optional in the State of Maryland; it can be used as a courtesy to allow the tenant to cure the non-payment violation. A landlord may bypass this step and proceed with a legal eviction in District Court by filing a Complaint Form (SAMPLE).1
- Imminent Danger (14-Day Notice): Required for use when a tenant poses a risk of potential danger to themselves, other occupants, or the property.2
- Month to Month Tenancy (30-Day Notice): This notice serves as a termination of lease letter. A landlord must utilize a thirty (30) day notice to inform the tenant their lease will come to an end after the month-long grace period.3
- Non-Compliance (30-Day Notice): A landlord must issue this notice when seeking to repossess the property after a tenant has breached the lease agreement terms in any way besides non-payment of rent. However, if the tenant fixes the non-compliance issue within fourteen (14) days of receiving notice, it shall be considered cured, and the tenancy will go on as normal.4
Step 2 – Communicating with the Tenant
Tenants will have to respond to an eviction notice within the specified timeframe. Landlords can determine the tenant’s intentions based on their response and plan on how to move forward. If the tenant, for instance, has no plans to cure a certain violation, the landlord can begin preparing eviction filings to use in court. However, a tenant will most likely agree to cure the violation. This allows for the eviction to be avoided altogether.
Communicating with the tenant allows for a smoother process, and it can avoid potential court battles or even the eviction itself. It is in the interest of both parties to be as transparent as possible when settling eviction-related disputes.
Step 3 – File in Court
- Average Processing Time: Three (3) weeks – Five (5) months5
- Filing Fee: $275 – $300 (all counties except Baltimore City); $300 – $320 (Baltimore City)6
- Where to File: In person at the District Court nearest to the property5
A landlord must file specific court-ordered forms in order to legally file an eviction in the State of Maryland. Unfortunately, the required court forms are not available online. Below are samples of the necessary court forms that will need to be obtained in the District Court:
- Complaint for Non-Payment (DC-CV-082): Sample only. A landlord must file this complaint form to start the eviction case against the tenant who has failed to pay rent.
- Complaint and Summons for a Violation of the Lease (DC-CV-085): Sample only. A landlord must submit this complaint to file for a Summary Ejectment due to a tenant’s violation of lease terms.
- Petition for Warrant of Restitution (DC-CV-081): Sample only. For use when a tenant does not comply with the court’s judgment. A landlord must file this form to have the tenant removed by the sheriff.
Step 4 – Serving the Tenant
Once the case is filed by the landlord, the tenant will need to be served. The District Court, sheriff, or constable will post the summons and complaint on the property, and the papers will be mailed to the tenant.7
The summons (a written demand to appear in court) will include a hearing date in which the tenant must appear before a judge in District Court. The trial typically occurs on the fifth day after the landlord files the complaint.8
Step 5 – Appear in Court
Both the landlord and the tenant must appear in court on the established date. During the hearing, the judge may likely ask for both landlord and tenant testimonies. Landlords should be prepared to address any questions and justify their reason to evict the tenant.
One way for landlords to ensure their success during the hearing is by developing responses to8 common tenant defenses. Some of the most common defenses include the tenant claiming:
- The landlord did not repair crucial conditions at the unit.9
- The landlord caused serious threat of danger to life due to unrepaired defects.9
- The landlord did not follow formal eviction procedures.4
- The costs of the late rent and the suit were paid before the trial date by the tenant or someone acting on their behalf.10
Note that either parties’ failure to appear in court may cause the case to be dismissed, postponed, or ruled against their favor.8
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord (plaintiff) at the end of the trial, a judgment for possession will be issued in order to evict the tenant.
Step 6 – File a Warrant of Restitution
A Petition for Warrant of Restitution must be filed in the event that the tenant fails to vacate the premises after the court’s judgment. A Warrant must be filed within sixty (60) days of the date of judgment.8
This form (SAMPLE) must be obtained directly from the District Court.
Step 7 – Repossessing the Property
After the landlord files the Petition for Warrant of Restitution, the court issues an order for the local sheriff or other law enforcement officer to remove the tenant from the property.
The sheriff will likely change the locks after the tenant has been properly removed from the premises. Once finalized, the landlord will have the property back in their possession.