Non Payment of Rent: Maryland Laws for Landlords and Tenants

(Annotated Code of Maryland, Real Property Article, Section 8-401)

No landlord wants to be put into a situation in which there is non payment of rent, but unfortunately this does sometimes occur. In these cases, there are some laws concerning the situation which allow the landlord to take action.

Complaint for Reposession

Should a tenant fail to pay all rent due, the landlord may file a Complaint for Repossession with the court.  At trial on the Complaint, the court will take evidence regarding the alleged rent default and may enter an Order of Possession if satisfied with the Plaintiff's proof.

Order of Posession and Eviction

The tenant has a right to redeem the leased premises which means he may pay the full judgment amount and remain at the property.  However, tenants often fail to either redeem the leased premises or vacate the premises in compliance with the court’s order at trial.  In such cases, one (1) week after trial (at the expiration of the appeal period), the Landlord may file a Petition for a Warrant of Restitution.  The Warrant is an Order directing the Sheriff’s Department to execute the court’s Judgment of Possession and supervise the removal of the tenant's property from the premises.  At the actual eviction, the landlord must provide his own eviction crew, and other local laws may apply.  The tenant’s right of redemption exists up to the time of the eviction.  Therefore, at any time prior to the eviction, the tenant may redeem the premises (and remain in possession of the premises) by paying the full amount of rent found due by the court, plus late fees and court costs by cash, money order, or certified funds.  

This office manages the entire Failure to Pay Rent process for you, thereby saving you valuable time.  We are highly experienced and can handle the sometimes complex issues that arise.  Also, our new web-based system will eliminate the need for you to complete forms and will send you automated emails at all pertinent stages of the cases.

Without Right of Redemption

If the court has entered three (3) Judgments of Possession (4 in Baltimore City) in the preceding 12 months in regards to a particular tenancy, a landlord is permitted to foreclose the tenant's right of redemption upon entry of a subsequent Judgment.  If the court enters a Judgment without the right of redemption, the landlord may evict the tenant even if the tenant pays the rent.  The request for a foreclosure of the right of redemption (also called judgment absolute) must be pleaded in the Complaint. 

Late Fees

By Maryland statute, landlords may charge late fees of no more than five percent (5%) of the rent. Leases may give tenants a grace period before the late fee is a charged; however, a grace period is not required by Maryland law.  Both the amount of the late fee and date chargeable must be expressly stated in the lease.

Additional Rent

A landlord may request that the judgment amount include unpaid utility bills.  Please note that the lease must deem these charges "additional rent" in order for them to be included in a Judgment of Possession.

Not a Monetary Judgment

Please note that Judgments in rent court are for possession of a leased premises only and are not monetary judgments.  Therefore, they entitle a landlord to an eviction only and not to garnish wages or take other collection action available in cases in which a monetary judgment has been entered.  The judgments are for possession only because the Sheriff's Department does not personally serve the Complaint upon the tenant but rather posts the Complaint at the premises.  Notwithstanding the above, monetary judgments may be entered by the court in cases where personal service was requested by the landlord and effectuated by the Sheriff.  Additionally, monetary judgments may be obtained in civil breach of contract actions if not obtained in rent court.


Non Payment of Rent Cases in Maryland

The above process regarding non payment of rent involves pleading and practice experience to handle the different issues and defenses that arise. Command of the applicable laws is critical as defenses are often raised by tenants or judges.  Moreover, the court process itself can be daunting if one is not experienced in this area.

Because this firm has processed and litigated a high volume of cases since 1997, including many involving non payment of rent, we can expedite your cases with efficiency at a reasonable cost.  In fact, in most cases our fees are less than the five percent (5%) late fee.  Therefore, there may be no out of pocket costs to you for our service, and you will save hours of valuable time otherwise spent processing cases and waiting in rent court.

To learn more about non payment of rent in Maryland, and related issues such as pay or quit notice, tenant holding over, and forcible entry and detainer, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Maher, P.C. for a free, no-obligation consultation.