Property Management Blog

How to Evict a Tenant

How to evict a tenant:

Any property management company will tell you that setting high standards on rental applications and conducting proper pre-screening before accepting tenant applicants are the best protection against a future need to evict. Still, evictions are necessary sometimes due to changes in tenants' situations or because the landlord may have been too lenient in accepting tenants who were not really qualified in the first place.  Regardless of how well a landlord or property manager may pre-screen tenants, it could happen that the tenants will need to be evicted due to a failure to pay rent.

In Maryland, the process is rather straightforward. When tenants are late in their rent, the first step is to file a 'Failure to Pay' with the District Court. The cost of this procedure depends on the number of tenants on the lease but is approximately $22. A clerk of the court will then set a court date at which a judge will hear the landlord's claim and the tenants' counterclaim if any. If the judge determines that the tenants in fact do owe funds, a judgment will be made in favor of the landlord in the amount owed.

The tenants are then given an additional 5 business days to make payment in full for the amount in the judgment to the landlord. If this full payment has not been received by the landlord within the 5 business days, then the landlord may return to the court to file a 'Writ of Restitution' for a $40 fee that, once signed by a judge, authorizes the county sheriff to evict the tenants. Due to the sheriff's scheduling constraints, the actual eviction can take place around 30 to 60 days later. All the tenants' belongings are put onto the street at the curb, and any attempt by the tenants to re-enter the property would be considered an act of trespassing and the tenants would be subject to arrest. 

In actuality, it seldom gets to this point. Once the tenants have been made aware that the eviction has been scheduled in a few days, they somehow manage to move their possessions before the sheriff gets there.