Information for Tenants
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.
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.
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 be 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.
- Governor Hogan’s Executive Order – Expired August 15, 2021
- The Centers for Disease Control Order – Vacated August 26, 2021
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?
On December 29, 2021, the courts entered Phase III emergency operations. During this phase the District Courts will continue to hold hearings in the following eviction cases:
- Breach of Lease
- Tenant Holding Over
- Wrongful Detainer
Failure to Pay Rent cases will NOT be set for a hearing during Phase III. The courts will continue to accept and process Warrants of Restitution in Failure to Pay Rent cases where judgment has been entered.
What happens in cases that already had a hearing?
Cases where a hearing has already been held and judgment entered in favor of the landlord can proceed to eviction. The landlord may file a Warrant of Restitution. 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 by telephone. Check your hearing notice carefully. If you’re not sure whether to appear in person, call the clerk’s office.
Yes, you may file rent escrow or raise it as a defense in a Failure to Pay Rent case. Hearings on Rent Escrow cases may depend on whether inspection practices are being conducted.
Where can I get help?
Call 2-1-1 Maryland if you need financial help to pay your rent. Their staff will ask for your zip code and refer you to places in your area that help with rental payments. Staff at 2-1-1 may also refer you to assistance, with food, utilities, temporary housing, job training, and other services. Simply dial 211 on your phone or search their database.
Many Maryland cities and counties have started rental assistance programs. Visit this page for a list of where to apply by county.
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 Center 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 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
- My case is pending in the District Court: Please contact the District Court Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) Office at 410-260-1676 (or toll-free at 1-866-940-1729) for more information prior to your trial date.
- My case has not been filed yet: You may be able to find mediation through a community mediation center. A list of community mediation centers can be found here.