How can I evict a tenant who is behind on rent?
Failure to Pay Rent (Maryland Code, Real Property, Sec. 8-401). The eviction procedure for non-payment of rent is called "summary ejectment". Trials of eviction cases are held in the District Court of the county where the property is located. If a tenant receives a notice from the
court to appear for summary ejectment proceedings, he should be sure to appear, and he should seek advice immediately. Evictions can be speedy. Tenant should take his rent receipts and rent book to the hearing.
As soon as a rent due date has passed and the tenant has failed to pay the rent, the landlord or his agent or attorney may file a written complaint under oath or affirmation, asking for repossession of the premises, the amount of rent due, and court costs. The landlord must specify on the complaint: (a) the amount of rent due for each rental period under the lease; (b) the day
the rent is due for each rental period; and (c) any late fees for overdue rent payments.
The constable or sheriff notifies the tenant, tenant's assignee or sub-tenant in the dwelling unit, or tenant's known or authorized agent, by first class mail and also in person. If none of the above can be found, the sheriff or constable will post the summons in a conspicuous place on the premises. The notice orders the tenant to appear in court for a hearing on the fifth court day after the complaint was filed by the landlord. (A court day is a day on which the court is open and doing business.)
The trial is to be held on the fifth day after the complaint is filed. (This is not followed in all jurisdictions.)
At the trial, the judge has the authority to order an adjournment for one day to permit tenant and landlord to obtain necessary witnesses. If both tenant and landlord agree, the adjournment may be for a longer period. When the trial does not take place on the fifth day after the complaint was filed by the landlord and the complaint so requests, if the tenant has not become current in payment of rent since the filing of the complaint, the court shall enter a judgment in favor of the landlord for possession of the property and determine the rent and late fees due as of the trial date. The determination of rent and late fees shall include the rent claimed in the complaint, the rent accruing after the date of the filing of the complaint, late fees accruing in or prior to the month in which the complaint was filed, and credit for payments of rent and late fees made by the tenant after the complaint was filed.
If the tenant is not present at the hearing, and if the notice was sent by first class mail and the summons was posted on the property, that constitutes sufficient service to support a default judgment in favor of the landlord for possession of the premises and court costs, but not for rent due. However, if the court finds that the actual service on tenant was sufficient to support
judgment in tort or contract, the court may also award landlord the amount of rent due.
"Service sufficient for tort or contract" means (1) personal delivery of the notice to tenant or to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process on behalf of tenant, or (2) delivery of the notice by registered mail, return receipt requested, and the return receipt is
received and signed by tenant.)
If the landlord wins the case, the court will order the tenant to leave the dwelling within 4 days after the trial.
The judge may grant an extension of time for surrender of the premises for a maximum of 15 days after the trial if he receives a certificate signed by a physician stating that surrendering the premises within the 4-day period would endanger the health or life of the tenant or another occupant.
Tenant or landlord may appeal the court order within 4 days after it has been issued. If tenant appeals he will be required to post a bond with one or more sureties who are owners of sufficient property in Maryland.
If the tenant has not moved out within the time ordered, the landlord may seek a "Warrant of Restitution". Then, as soon as the landlord can make arrangements with the constable, the landlord may move the tenant's belongings out of the premises. If the landlord does not request a warrant of restitution within 60 days, the judgment for possession will be stricken from the record.
In the event of "extreme weather conditions", a scheduled eviction for non-payment of rent may be postponed from day to day. The administrative judge of the local District Court has the authority to order the postponement. When weather conditions permit a resumption of evictions,
the postponed evictions will be given priority and will be completed within 3 days after the extreme weather conditions end.
At any time before the actual carrying out of the eviction order (i.e., before the tenant's goods are removed), the tenant has the right to remain in the leased premises by giving cash, a certified check, or money order to the landlord or his agent to cover all past due rent and late fees, plus court-awarded costs and fees.
However, the tenant's right to stop the eviction (redeem the premises) at any time before the eviction order is actually carried out, is not available if 3 or more judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid were entered against the tenant in the 12 months prior to the beginning of the pending eviction action.
The sheriff or constable must be present at the actual put-out as an officer of the court. However, he will not participate in physically moving tenant's possessions. That is the landlord's responsibility.