Nothing is more frustrating for landlords than when tenants breach their lease and fail to comply with lease terms. While a breach of lease can be frustrating, residential tenants are still entitled to certain procedural protections before an eviction can occur, and a landlord’s failure to follow the requirements can lead to a wrongful eviction claim.
In Maryland, the process for a breach of lease for failure to pay rent is different from the procedure for breach of lease for a reason other than failure to pay rent. The focus of this post will be on breach of a residential lease for reasons other than failure to pay rent when the lease term has not expired.
Common reasons why a landlord may want to evict a tenant before the lease term expires include (but are not limited to):
While a tenant’s behavior may be troubling, only the court gets to decide whether or not the landlord can evict the tenant. Annotated Code of Maryland Real Property § 8-402.1 sets forth the full details of the requirements that must be satisfied. Such requirements include the following:
The tenant’s action or omission must be a breach of the lease, and the lease must expressly list that the landlord may evict the tenant for such a breach.
As a condition to filing the breach of lease action, the landlord must have given the tenant 30 days’ written notice that the tenant is in violation of the lease and the landlord desires to repossess the leased premises. The notice period is reduced to 14 days if the breach of lease involves behavior by the tenant or a person who is on the property with the tenant’s consent which demonstrates a clear and imminent danger to person or property.
If the tenant does not voluntarily vacate the property and the landlord wishes to proceed with eviction, the landlord must file and properly service a Complaint and Summons Against Tenant in Breach of Lease.
On the trial date assigned by the court, the landlord must appear in court prepared for trial. If the court determines that the tenant breached the terms of the lease and that the breach was substantial and warrants an eviction, the court shall give judgment for the restitution of the possession of the premises. Note that the court may find the tenant is in breach of the lease, but refuse the landlord’s request for an eviction.
Eviction and Petition for Warrant of Restitution:
The eviction process for a holding over action is identical to the process in a failure to pay rent action, except that the Landlord must wait until expiration of the ten (10) day appeal period prior to filing the Petition for Warrant of Restitution.
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