The tenant eviction process in Washington County, Maryland, may require multiple court filings and extensive paperwork. A landlord has the right to evict a tenant for not paying rent (a Summary Ejectment) or for violating the terms of the lease agreement. However, tenants have rights under the law, too. They can avoid eviction by paying back the rent or taking steps to address any lease violations.
Read More: How to Evict a Renter in Maryland Who Has No Lease
Filing a Complaint
To start the eviction process in Washington County, a landlord files the appropriate paperwork at the district court. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this may be a Failure to Pay Rent/Landlord's Complaint for Repossession of Rented Property (DC-CV-082) if the tenant owes back rent. If the tenant is violating the lease, a Complaint and Summons Against Tenant in Breach of Lease (DC-CV-085) may be filed.
If the tenant is refusing to leave the property after receiving proper notice to vacate or is violating the lease, the landlord must file a Request for Service for each defendant using the Request for Service form (DC-CV-02). This is not required in Failure to Pay Rent cases.
As the plaintiff, the landlord must pay the correct filing fee by check or money order to the Washington County Clerk of Courts office, made payable to the District Court. As of March 2020, the filing fee for a Summary Ejectment is $15, and the service fee is $5 for each tenant.
Appearing in Court
The tenant must appear in court for the trial. In the absence of the tenant, the judge will automatically issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord. This allows the eviction to proceed. At the trial, the tenant can defend himself by claiming that he did pay the rent. Landlords are virtually certain to win the court proceeding if they show clear documentation that the tenant has not paid as agreed or has committed a violation of the lease agreement. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant must pay all back rent, court costs and late fees, or move out of the landlord’s property within 96 hours.
Obtaining a Warrant of Restitution
After the trial, the landlord can ask the court for a Warrant of Restitution if the tenant does not pay the back rent or fees or move out within the 96 hours stipulated by the judge. This gives the landlord the right to request physical removal of the tenant by a sheriff or constable. By law, the tenant usually can still avoid eviction by paying all fees, rent and court costs before the actual eviction. However, if three or more evictions or court judgments were entered against the tenant during the past year, the landlord can choose not to accept payment.
Negotiating an Agreement
Even with a formal eviction notice in place, the tenant can enter further negotiations with the landlord to remain in the home for a temporary period. For instance, the tenant can negotiate an agreement to remain on the premises on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis, depending on the original terms of the lease agreement. However, the landlord is under no obligation to agree to the offer and can allow the eviction to continue.
Note that landlords cannot accelerate an eviction by turning off the utilities, nor may they take part in a "retaliatory eviction," because a tenant who was paying on time sent a written complaint about the landlord to a housing agency or joined a tenants' association group, for instance.
Read More: How to Evict a Month to Month Tenant
Timescale for Landlord Tenant Cases
Most landlord tenant cases are finalized within 30 days of filing, although rent escrow actions typically take longer, as multiple hearings may take place before a final resolution is reached. If the case is a Failure to Pay Rent/Summary Ejectment, the trial date must be set within 16 days of the filing date. If it is a Breach of Lease case, the trial date must be set within 14 to 21 days of the filing date.
- District Court of Maryland District Eleven – Frederick and Washington Counties Case Management Plan – Landlord Tenant Cases
- District Court of Maryland Cost Schedule
- Legal Beagle: How to Evict a Renter in Maryland Who Has No Lease
- Legal Beagle: The Eviction Laws in Prince George's County, Maryland
- Legal Beagle: How to Evict a Month to Month Tenant
- Legal Beagle: Simple Lease Rental Agreement
- Legal Beagle: What is a Default Judgment?
- Legal Beagle: How to Stop Sheriff Evictions
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.