The tenant eviction process in Washington County, Maryland, requires multiple court filings and extensive paperwork. A persistent landlord can evict a tenant for failing to pay rent or for violating terms of the lease agreement. However, the law gives tenants multiple opportunities to avoid eviction by paying back rent or addressing violations of the lease agreement.
The landlord starts the eviction process in Washington County by applying for a legal notice called a Summary Ejectment in District Court. The is an official notice of eviction. Paperwork necessary for the action is available at the court house. After the landlord files, the court will summon the tenant to trial within five days by mail, or in person by a constable.
The tenant must appear in court for the trial. If the tenant does not, the judge will automatically issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord. That allows the eviction to proceed. At the trial, the tenant can defend himself by claiming that he did pay the rent. Landlords are virtually certain to win the court proceeding if they show clear documentation that the tenant has not paid as agreed or committed a violation of the lease agreement. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant must pay all back rent, court costs and late fees, or move out within 96 hours.
After the trial, the landlord can ask the court for a Warrant of Restitution if the tenant does not pay the back rent or fees or move out within the 96 hours stipulated by the judge. The warrant allows the landlord to request a sheriff or constable to physically evict the tenant. By law the tenant usually can still avoid eviction by paying all fees, rent and court costs before the actual eviction. However, the landlord can choose not to accept payment if three or more evictions, or court judgments, were entered against the tenant over the past year.
Even with a formal eviction notice in place, the tenant can enter further negotiations with the landlord to remain in the home for a temporary period. The tenant can negotiate an agreement to remain on the premises on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis, depending on the original terms of the lease agreement. However, the landlord does not have to agree to the offer and can allow the eviction to continue.
Landlords cannot accelerate an eviction by turning off the utilities. Landlords also may not engage in a "retaliatory eviction" because a tenant who was paying on time sent a written complaint about the landlord to a housing agency or the tenant joined a tenants' association group.