An eviction is a legal process requiring an order from a court. In Maryland, a landlord may not evict a tenant simply by posting a notice on the door demanding that the tenant immediately vacate the property. A landlord may also not change the locks or remove the tenant's personal property. A court order is the only legal way to carry out an eviction in Maryland.
Reasons for Eviction
The most common eviction reason is non-payment of rent. In Maryland, if the due date for the tenant's rent payment has passed, the landlord may immediately begin eviction procedures through the court system. At any time between the due date and the time the tenant is actually removed from the property, the tenant may pay the late rent along with any penalties agreed upon in the lease to stop the eviction.
The landlord may also evict the tenant if the lease agreement has been violated in a material way. For instance, a single violation of an apartment complex's parking regulations would likely not be sufficient to uphold an eviction in Maryland, but a tenant keeping a pet that was specifically disallowed in the lease probably would. For an eviction of this nature, the landlord must provide a one month written notice but may also be able to charge fees if the fees have been provided for in the lease.
When the landlord initiates the eviction procedure, the tenant will receive an official court summons. In Maryland, it is proper for this summons to be mailed to the tenant or posted on the tenant's door. A judge will then hold a hearing in which both the tenant and the landlord explain their positions. The burden of proof is on the landlord to show that an eviction is appropriate. If the landlord wins, he or she will petition the court for a "warrant of restitution" and will be able to appear at the tenant's property with a sheriff who will order the tenant to leave and oversee the removal of the tenant's property.
The tenant has between four and 10 days to appeal the eviction, but rent must be paid to the court's escrow fund while waiting for the appeal to be heard.
A landlord may not evict a tenant as a result of an unfavorable outcome in court, a tenant's report to a state authority or a tenant's membership in a tenants' rights organization. A tenant who believes that she has been evicted in retaliation for any of these actions may petition a Maryland court to rescind the eviction and order the landlord to pay damages.