Failure to pay rent when it is due is the most common reason evictions occur in Maryland. Maryland laws typically support landlords in eviction cases but tenants do have protected rights.
To evict a tenant, the landlord must first give notice to the tenant. Maryland law does not specify a notice period so notice may be given at the landlord’s discretion. Next, the landlord must file a written complaint in the district court requesting to evict the tenant, and claim both the amount of rent due and any legal fees incurred by the landlord. Five days after the complaint is filed, the tenant will need to appear in court to “answer” the landlords claim and “show cause” as to why the eviction should not be granted.
If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, the tenant will be ordered to evacuate the property within four days. If the tenant does not move out in time the landlord may request a “warrant of resolution” which allows the landlord, with the sheriff present, to repossess the property and remove the tenant’s belongings.
Tenants have the right to the opportunity to pay the full amount of rent due. If the outstanding rent is paid before the eviction hearing occurs the tenant has the right to remain in the rental property. If the tenant attempts to pay the landlord but the landlord refuses to accept, the landlord cannot evict the tenant. The case should also be dismissed if the tenant can demonstrate that he is being evicted as retaliation for complaining to a regulatory agency or joined a tenant’s union.
Tenants also have the right to defend themselves against discrimination. The landlord cannot evict a tenant based on the tenant’s race, gender, religion, family status, place of origin or disability. Finally, the eviction should be dismissed if there was no serious violation of the lease or if the tenant did not give adequate notice.
The tenant may file a rent escrow action in situations where the landlord refuses to meet his obligation to provide safe and sanitary living quarters. For example, if there is a rodent infestation or flooding in the rental unit that goes unresolved by the landlord, a rent escrow allows the tenant to withhold rent payments to the landlord until the problem is fixed. Instead, the tenant makes the monthly rent payments to an escrow account with the courts until the landlord complies.
For a rent escrow action to be awarded, the tenant must give written notice to the landlord to repair the health or safety hazard and give adequate time for the landlord to resolve the issue. If the landlord does not comply and the court rules that the condition is serious enough to threaten the tenant’s life, health or safety, a rent escrow should be established.
To learn about eviction and rent escrow laws in Maryland, give us a call at Lebovitz Law. We have years of experience negotiating the best deals for our clients, whether it’s family law or property law. Contact us today.