Maryland Eviction Process
October 25, 2023
We’d love to connect with you.
Eviction In Maryland
If you own and rent properties in the state of Maryland, you are responsible for complying with Maryland eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal Maryland eviction process.
Maryland’s eviction laws can be found at MD Code, Real Property § 8-401.
Eviction Process in Maryland
- Landlord serves a ten- to 30-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant the summons.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets four days to move out, pay rent, or appeal.
- Court issues a warrant for the sheriff to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Maryland, tenants can be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating the lease, or causing a clear and imminent danger of harm to anyone on the premises.
1. Landlord Serves a Ten- to 30-Day Eviction Notice
If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve one of the following eviction notices and state that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation:
- Rent Demand Notice: 10 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than ten days after receipt of the notice) (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(c)). Landlords must use a specific court form created by the Maryland Judiciary called a Notice of Intent to File a Complaint for Summary Ejectment.
- Lease Violation Notice: 30 days to quit. If a tenant violates another lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate (not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice). This Maryland 30 day eviction notice does not require the landlord to give the tenant any time to fix or “cure” the violation (MD Code, Real Property § 8-402.1).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 14 days to quit. This notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant does any of the following on the leased premises as per MD Code, Real Property § 8-402.1:
- Behaves in a way that demonstrates a clear and imminent danger of doing harm to themselves or anyone else on the premises
- Allows a guest to do the same with the tenant’s consent
All written notices should be sent by first-class mail with a certificate of mailing, posted to the rental unit’s front door, or if the tenant agrees, sent by email, text, or through an electronic tenant portal (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(c)(2))
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file a written complaint for “Summary Ejectment” (the eviction lawsuit) in the Maryland District Court of the county where the property is located. For nonpayment cases, the specific form required is called the Landlord’s Complaint for Repossession of Rented Property (Failure to Pay Rent) (copy here). Note that this form can’t be printed or completed online; landlords must obtain a carbonless copy in person at a district court location.
At minimum, the complaint includes as per MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(b)(2):
- A description of the property
- The names of each tenant
- The amount of rent and late fees due
- A request for the tenant to move out and pay the overdue amount
- A statement that affirms the date on which the eviction notice was served
However, the Maryland landlord complaint form is a highly complex document requiring signatures on multiple pages. Whenever possible, it is advisable to hire an experienced eviction attorney to assist you or file the complaint on your behalf.
Additionally, there are non-refundable filing fees for all summary ejectment cases. For evictions due to nonpayment the fee is $15, and for all other evictions the fee is $46. The fees for filing both types of cases in Baltimore City County differ slightly, at $25 and $56, respectively.
3. Court Serves Tenant the Summons
Once the lawsuit has been filed, the district court will issue a summons, to be directed to a sheriff of the county authorized to serve process (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(b)(4)).
The summons will include:
- The date and time of the district court hearing that the tenant must attend. For evictions due to nonpayment, the hearing must be held on the fifth day after the landlord filed the complaint.
- A statement that the tenant should submit an answer to show cause why they should not be evicted.
The fee for service of the court summons is $5 per tenant in Maryland. In addition to being mailed to the tenant by first-class mail, the summons should be served by the sheriff in one of the following manners:
- Directly to the tenant, if personal service is requested
- Posting an attested copy of the summons conspicuously on the property
If the tenant believes the landlord’s assertions are false, they may challenge any of them and dismiss the landlord’s complaint if sufficient cause is shown. The tenant may also be able to stay or delay the court hearing if they can prove that they are a government employee who is involuntarily furloughed from work without pay due to a government shutdown (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(c)).
4. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge.
It is possible that the court will adjourn the trial for one day or longer with both parties’ consent, but typically the judge will issue a judgment on the same day. If the judgment is in the landlord’s favor, the court will issue an order that possession of the premises be returned to the landlord for nonpayment within four days after the trial (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(e)(3)).
There is one exception: If the court receives a certificate signed by the tenant’s physician certifying that moving within the four-day period would endanger the health or life of the tenant or other resident, the time to move can be extended. The maximum extension that can be granted is 15 days after the trial (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(e)(4)).
5. Tenant Gets Four Days to Move Out, Pay Rent, or Appeal
For nonpayment cases, the tenant can pay all due rent and late fees to the landlord during this four-day period and avoid eviction. If they pay everything the court has determined to be due and unpaid, plus the costs of the lawsuit, the complaint against the tenant will be satisfied (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(e)(5)).
The tenant (or landlord) may also appeal the judgment within the four-day period after judgment is entered (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(h)). If the tenant appeals, they must give a bond to the landlord with one or more sureties and pay all costs and damages mentioned in the judgment in order to stay the eviction.
If the tenant does not pay the due rent or appeal within the four days (or the case is not based on nonpayment), the tenant must move out.
6. Court Issues a Warrant for the Sheriff to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
At any time after the four days have passed, the court can issue a Warrant of Restitution (downloadable here), ordering the sheriff or other authorized process server to restore possession of the unit to the landlord and forcibly remove the tenant from the property with all remaining belongings. The landlord must order the warrant within 60 days from the date of the judgment, or else it will expire (MD Code, Real Property § 8-401(f)). The landlord will also need to pay a $40 fee for service of the warrant to the tenant’s residence.
The only reason a warrant of restitution could be delayed is if an administrative judge of the district decides to do so because of extreme weather conditions. The warrant’s execution can only be delayed three days after the condition ceases.
Maryland law does not require landlords to store personal property left behind by the tenant for any specific period after the eviction.
Evicting a Squatter in Maryland
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Maryland, squatters must have lived in the property for 20 consecutive years to invoke Maryland squatters rights and claim right of possession (MD Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-103, 201). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Maryland to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Maryland, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Maryland eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Maryland Eviction Cost Estimates
How much do evictions cost in Maryland? This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Maryland, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Service of court summons||$5 per tenant|
|Issuance of warrant of restitution||$10 (Baltimore City County)|
|Service of warrant of restitution||$40|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Maryland Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||10-30 days|
|Service of summons to tenant||A few days|
|Eviction hearing||5 days after the case was filed (for nonpayment)|
|Issuance of order of possession||Within 4 days|
|Maximum extension||15 days|
|Issuance of Warrant of Restitution||Within 60 days|
|Total||3 weeks – 5 months|
- Notice of Intent to File a Complaint for Summary Ejectment (Failure to Pay Rent)
- Landlord’s Complaint for Repossession of Rented Property (Failure to Pay Rent) (Note: This form cannot be printed or completed online; landlords must obtain a carbonless copy in person at a district court location).
- Petition for Warrant of Restitution
- District Court of Maryland Fee Schedule – This document lists all the fees and other costs in Maryland’s District Court.
- Landlords and Tenants – Tips on Avoiding Disputes – This handbook provides tips for following the rules and legislation regulating landlord-tenant relationships.
- Landlord/Tenant Brochure—Information for Landlords – This brochure includes important information for landlords about their rights and responsibilities during evictions and other landlord-tenant disputes.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Maryland laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.