When evicting a tenant in Maryland, a landlord must follow specific rules and procedures set forth by state law. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures the landlord or property manager must follow when evicting a tenant in Maryland.
To evict a tenant early, that is, before the tenancy has expired, a landlord must have legal cause. The most common legal cause of eviction is failure to pay rent. However, the landlord can also evict the tenant who poses a harm to others on the property or the property itself, or the tenant who violates the lease or rental agreement.
If the landlord is evicting the tenant for failing to pay rent, the landlord is not required to give the tenant notice before filing the eviction lawsuit. As soon as rent is late, the landlord can go to court and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Md. Code Ann. [Real Prop.] § 8-401). Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent in Maryland has more information.
In all other cases, the landlord must give the tenant the following type of notice:
If a landlord does not have legal cause to evict a tenant, then the landlord must wait until the end of the tenancy before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord may still need to give the tenant notice, depending on the type of tenancy.
If the tenant is in a month-to-month tenancy and the landlord wishes to end the tenancy, then the landlord must give the tenant a written one-month notice. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenancy will end at the end of one month and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time. If the tenant does not move out by that time, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Md. Code Ann. [Real Prop.] § 8-402(b)(3)).Maryland Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information.
If the landlord wishes to end a fixed-term lease, such as for one year, but the landlord does not have cause, then the landlord must wait until the term expires before expecting the tenant to move. Unless the lease or rental agreement says otherwise, the landlord is not required to give the tenant notice to move. The landlord can expect the tenant to move by the end of the term. If the tenant does not move, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
Even if the landlord has cause to evict the tenant, the tenant may still fight the eviction in court. The tenant may have a valid defense, such as the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit or the landlord discriminating against the tenant. The tenant's decision to fight the eviction could increase the cost of the lawsuit and increase the amount of time the tenant has to stay in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Maryland has more information on this subject.
A tenant can only be removed from a rental unit after a landlord has won an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Even then, the only person allowed to remove the tenant is a law enforcement officer. Maryland law has made it illegal for the landlord to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit through any other means. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Maryland has more information.
After the tenant is evicted, the landlord may find that the tenant has left behind personal property. If the rental unit is located within the Baltimore city limits, then this property is considered abandoned. The landlord does not need to send the tenant any kind of notification, and the landlord can dispose of the property in any legal way, such as, taking it to a landfill or donating it to charity (see Baltimore City Code, Article 13, § 8A).
If the rental unit is located outside the Baltimore city limits, Maryland law does not give much guidance on what the landlord should do with the tenant's abandoned personal property. The best practice is for the landlord to try to notify the tenant of the abandoned property and the landlord's desire to dispose of it. The landlord should give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to claim the property. If the tenant does not claim the property, then the landlord can dispose it.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Maryland law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.