Do you have a rental property in Maryland? If so, there are important points to keep in mind to help reduce the chance a problem will arise with a tenant or, help you protect your interest if a problem has already started.
Above all else, make sure you have a signed, written lease with your tenant. Without a written lease, disputes between the landlord and tenant often arise simply because each side has a different understanding of what was agreed. With a written lease, when a problem later arises, the problem often ends quickly because each side often can look at the lease to determine the solution without having to go to Court. Also, certain provisions are required to be in some written leases in Maryland, so it is important that your written lease be well-prepared and an experienced attorney can help you do just that.
If a landlord and a tenant have a problem that simply cannot be resolved between themselves, there are three bases by which a landlord can have a tenant evicted in Maryland:
- Holding over: This is when a tenant has failed to move out after the full term of the tenancy has ended. The landlord is required to provide a notice to quit to the tenant, typically stating the tenant must move out no later than the end of the next month. If the tenant fails to move out by the stated date, then the Court can file a holding over complaint for an Order directing the Sheriff to force the tenant to move out.
- Failure to pay rent: If your tenant has failed to pay you all rent that is due, then you can file a failure to pay rent complaint requesting the Court enter an Order for you to be able to repossess the premises if the tenant does not pay all due money before the Sheriff comes to the premises to begin the eviction. Be sure to keep detailed records of what the tenant owes and pays. If you obtain three failure to pay rent judgments against a tenant during a 12-month period, then when you file another failure to pay rent complaint during the 12-month period, you can request the Court Order prohibit the tenant from staying in the premises even if the tenant pays the due money.
- Breach of lease: Other than the above two options, you can also evict a tenant if the Court believes the tenant has violated other portions of the lease, such as operating an unpermitted business on the premises or causing physical damage to the premises. Make sure to keep detailed records of the violations. In order to win on a breach of lease complaint, you must give written notice to tenant of the violations and provide an opportunity of 14 days to 60 days, depending on severity, for the tenant to fix or stop the violations. Then, if the tenant is still in violation, then you can have a trial where a judge can decide whether: (1) the tenant breached the terms of the lease; (2) the breach was substantial; and (3) the breach warrants an eviction. The Court must rule in your favor on you on all three of these questions in order for you to win.
If you are a landlord and would like assistance regarding a tenant, whether it be drafting a lease to reduce the chance of a problem in the first place or getting involved when a problem with a tenant has already started, Byrd & Byrd, LLC can help