Housing Cases and COVID-19

Information for Landlords

The COVID-19 State of Emergency has changed how housing cases are handled by the District Court. This page will give you some general information about what has changed.

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Four Types of Eviction Cases

Failure to Pay Rent – A landlord may file if a tenant is behind on rent.

Tenant Holding Over – A landlord may file this case when a tenant’s lease has expired. The landlord must first give the tenant written notice that they want to end the tenancy. The length of the notice depends on the lease and local law in your county.

Breach of Lease – This case is used when a tenant is being accused of not following the written lease. The landlord must first give the tenant a written notice identifying the lease violation and asking the tenant to leave. The court will only evict a tenant for breach of lease for serious violations of the lease.

Wrongful Detainer – File Wrongful Detainer to seek an eviction when there is no landlord and tenant relationship at all. This means the people involved never signed a lease or made rental payments. Wrongful Detainer is commonly used to evict friends, family, or other house guests who have no legal right to live in the property.

Definitions

Rent Escrow - Rent escrow is a case that a tenant can file against their landlord. The tenant must show the court that there is a health or safety problem in the property. The tenant must also prove that the landlord knew about the problem but failed to fix it. The Court may order the tenant to pay their rent to the court instead of to the landlord until the problem is resolved. At the end of the case, the judge will decide who will get the rent money being held by the court. The judge may also decide to end a lease early.

Warrant of Restitution - A warrant of restitution is a type of court order. It tells the sheriff or constable to go to a property and carryout an eviction. Filling out and filing a warrant of restitution is a landlord’s next step after being awarded a judgment. In Failure to Pay Rent cases, the landlord must wait four (4) business days after the hearing before they can file a warrant.

Once the landlord files a warrant, a judge will review it. If everything is correct, they will sign it, and a copy will be forwarded to the local sheriff or constables office. The landlord may then contact the sheriff or constable to schedule an eviction.

Can I have a tenant evicted?

Yes, evictions may take place. The statewide pause on evictions was lifted on July 25, 2020. Orders from the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and Governor Hogan which limited evictions are no longer in effect.

Tenants may no longer raise either order as a defense to a Failure to Pay Rent case.

In cases where a tenant raised either order as a defense and judgment was reserved, the Court will now enter judgment without a request from either party. Landlords may then file a Warrant of Restitution. Upon filing of the Warrant of Restitution, the court will set a hearing within 21 days. Hearing notices will be mailed to all parties.

Note that in most cases tenants have the right of redemption. This means the tenant may pay the judgment plus court costs to prevent an eviction.

Are the courts holding hearings on new eviction cases?

Yes.

Starting April 26, 2021, the Maryland Courts moved to Phase V of the reopening plan. During Phase V, courts will continue holding hearings in eviction cases. Cases which were pending may proceed to a hearing. The court will set hearings on newly filed cases.

What happens in cases that already had a hearing?

Cases where a hearing was held and judgment for possession was entered in favor of the landlord may proceed to eviction. You may file a Warrant of Restitution if within the time set by law. The court will consider Warrants of Restitution on a case by case basis.

Will my hearing be held in person or remotely?

Most hearings will be in person. Some courts may schedule your hearing by videoconference or telephone. Check your hearing notice carefully. If you’re not sure whether to appear in person, call the clerk’s office.

If your hearing is supposed to be in person, you can ask to participate by phone or video. Use this Form to ask to participate remotely. More information about remote hearings is available here.

Where can I get help?

Mortgage Help

Homeowners may be eligible for a mortgage forbearance. This means mortgage payments may not be due for a brief period. Read more about mortgage forbearances and other resources at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s webpage.

Legal Help

Talk with a lawyer for free at the Maryland Court Help Center. Call 410-260-1392 or chat online.

Lawyers at the Help Center can give you advice about your housing case. They may also refer you to where you may find representation or rental assistance resources. The Maryland Court Help Center can help both tenants and non-business landlords. They cannot help you if you are already represented by a lawyer. Read more about the Court Help Centers here.

Do you want to hire a paid lawyer? Try calling a lawyer referral service in your area.

Do you need free or reduced fee legal representation? A list of providers is available at the People’s Law Library webpage.

Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process through which people in conflict resolve the dispute with the help of a neutral 3rd party. Mediation is often successful at resolving disputes between landlords and tenants. Read general information about mediation here. Follow the links below to find a mediator