There’s a right way and a wrong way for Maryland property owners to evict tenants. As the Maryland Attorney General notes, eviction is a legal proceeding that requires a court order. Getting a valid legal order requires that you follow procedures established in the Code of Maryland.
Legal Reasons to Evict a Tenant
You can begin the eviction process on the first day that a tenant’s rent becomes past due. However, this right is subject to the tenant’s right of redemption, which means the tenant may stop eviction proceedings by paying all past-due rent and associated costs, such as late payment fees, any time before the eviction order becomes effective.
According to the Code of Maryland, Real Property Article, Section 8-401, a tenant can only exercise this right three times within a 12-month period. If the judge issues an eviction order without the right of redemption, you can evict the tenant even if he pays in full.
Holding over occurs when a tenant refuses to move at the end of the lease period after being provided with at least a 30-day notification that you’re not planning to renew the lease.
Breaching the Lease Agreement
With the proper written notification, you have the legal right to evict a tenant for breaching the terms and conditions of the lease.
You must have a court order to remove a tenant’s belongings from the residence, change the locks or cut off utilities.
In addition, you may not initiate eviction proceedings against a tenant for exercising his legal rights. This is known as retaliatory eviction, and often involves eviction proceedings against a tenant for things such as complaining to you or a government agency about health and safety issues or for organizing or joining a tenant association.
Eviction Notification Requirements
The required notice to vacate period is generally one month, but varies from no requirement to three months depending on the reason you’re planning to evict the tenant. The notification period in a holdover situation also depends on whether the tenant has a lease or a month-to-month agreement.
There is no required notification period for a past-due rent situation.
In a holdover situation, you must give the tenant at least a one-month notice before starting eviction proceedings. The one-month notification applies to a month-to-month tenant and one that has a lease with a definite duration. However, if the tenant has a year-to-year lease that renews automatically, the notification period extends to three months.
The notification period for a tenant who breaches the lease agreement is 30 days under normal circumstances. However, the period decreases to 14 days if the breach results in a clear and imminent danger of serious harm to your property or other tenants.
The Eviction Process
After providing the required notification, the next step involves filing a complaint and summons and serving notice to the tenant. The clerk’s office at your local courthouse or the clerk’s website will have the necessary forms. The types of service are personal delivery or posting the notice on the property and mailing a copy to the tenant.
Once served, the tenant has a short period in which to file an appeal before the scheduled eviction hearing date. A tenant who loses is responsible for removing all personal items from the property within five days. If the tenant fails to comply with the eviction order, you have up to 60 days to file a warrant of restitution and arrange for a county sheriff to be present when you remove the tenant’s belongings.