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Property Management and Eviction Laws in Montgomery County, Maryland (MD)

The Eviction Process in Montgomery County, Maryland

No pay-No stay. Sounds simple enough. In practice however it is a little more complicated. To understand how the eviction procedure works it is helpful first to understand the social thought behind the procedure. Although you perhaps only own one rental property, the law treats you the same as the corporation, which owns a thousand units. When someone is forcibly removed from their place of residence by the sheriff it can create a social problem if they have nowhere to go and/or no way to move and store their possessions. Therefore, the system is designed to move slowly. It can be very frustrating to have someone living in your home and not paying the rent, even though you need that money to pay your mortgage.

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What Happens When the Tenant Doesn't Pay

When a tenant doesn’t pay the most important thing to do is act timely. It has been my experience that most owners who self manage get much too involved with their tenant on a personal level. This is quite understandable, as we all want to be a nice friendly person. However, this personal relationship leads a typical owner to try to be understanding when the tenant doesn’t pay the rent but has a “good” excuse. Often the problem begins with a series of late rent payments. Payments get later and later. Then a pattern of partial payments. Finally no rent is paid and now the owner is desperate for immediate eviction. At this point the tenant is typically three to six months behind and the slow moving eviction process has not even begun!

Late Rent & Late Fees

In a typical lease the rent is due on the first day of the month. In Montgomery County a late fee cannot be charged until after the tenth day. This is an exceptionally long period as in all other areas it is a five-day period. None-the-less the law is the law. Even though a late fee cannot be charged until after the tenth, the rent is in fact late on the second day of the month and therefore you may file for eviction on that day. I would only file that early however, against a tenant who is an on-going problem. Normally I would file shortly after the tenth day of the month if the rent remains unpaid. Because the entire process takes a minimum of two and a half months, and in exceptional cases where tenant bankruptcy is involved can take even longer, it is prudent to take action this quickly.

Let's say today is Thursday September 12th and the tenant hasn’t paid the rent but “hopes” to bring “something” in next Friday. What do you do? You hate to have the property become vacant and have to find a new tenant. Also you hate to make the tenant angry if they are just going through a short financial problem. What to do? What to do? I believe that unless this tenant has a long and reliable track record you must file eviction today. Filing doesn’t mean you will go through a complete eviction. In fact by law if they pay before the court date you must cancel the eviction suit and they get to stay. Let’s say they are a fairly new tenant or have a history of late payments, so we file today.

Have any Questions? Call our Eviction Specialist Now for a Free Consultation.
(800) 546-7362 or (301) 340-6400

The Eviction Process

While you could file a suit yourself, the property management experts at RE/MAX Premiere Selections recommend always using an attorney. There’s just too many pitfalls to represent yourself. If you hire us as your property manager, we'll call the attorney give him the details and he will fill out the paper work and file it with the court within a few days.

Landlord/Tenant suits are only heard on Wednesdays and it usually takes about three weeks or so to get on the docket. Remember if the tenant pays before court we must dismiss the case and the tenant stays.

Luckily the calendar is in our favor and the court date is set for Wednesday October 2nd. This means that if the rent is not paid we can get a judgment for both September and October rent at this one hearing. If the court date fell on a Wednesday, which was October 1st, then October rent would not be late and could not be included.

The big day finally arrives. Often the tenant does not show up for court. In that case our judgment is automatic. If they do show up, depending on the judge, and on the sob story the tenant tells, the judge may give them another week or so to pay up before entering judgment in favor of the Landlord.

Let’s say they don’t show so we get our judgment. Bear in mind that you only get a judgment for “Possession of the Property,” not a money judgment. You have to file another suit in a different court later to get a money judgment. We have to wait four business days after receiving our judgment for Possession before the attorney can file for a Writ of Execution. This writ will order the Sheriff to evict the tenants.

The four business days pass with no payment or appeal so now our attorney prepares and files the writ. It goes back to the Judge. The Judge is a busy guy with stacks and stacks of cases. Maybe he goes away for a few days or maybe he is just very busy. You never know how long it will take for him to sign the writ and sent it to the Sheriff. All you can do it wait ten days or so and start calling the Sheriff every day to see if it arrived.

The Sheriff is a busy guy too. He is so busy that he only takes calls between 7AM and 8AM Monday through Friday, holidays excluded.

It’s now mid October and the Sheriff finally has received the writ. Unfortunately there has been a lot of bad weather lately and the Sheriff is backed up, so he gives you a date to do the eviction of November 4th.

Have any Questions? Call our Eviction Specialist Now for a Free Consultation.
(800) 546-7362 or (301) 340-6400

More Hidden Costs

The Sheriff doesn’t actually move anything. You must hire a crew to move everything out to the public curb. Again the Sheriff is a busy guy so you only have one hour of his time. Therefore, for the average house you must have a crew of twelve to fifteen men on site when he arrives or he will cancel the eviction and you must reschedule for his next opening. If the property is a townhouse or condo on a private street you must also pay for a truck to move everything to the public curb.

November 4th finally arrives. The Sheriff shows up (a little late but you’re just happy to see him). Lucky for us it’s not too cold, rainy or snowy because if it were the eviction it would have to be rescheduled. The Sheriff looks at the house and looks at your crew and decides you have enough people to proceed. He knocks on the door and asks the tenant if they have the rent for September and October (November rent was not due on the court date so it's not included). The tenant smiles and says he just got paid and hands the money to the Sheriff.

The Sheriff hands the money to us, cancels the eviction and leaves. We must pay the crew for showing up even though they did nothing. Now we must call the attorney to file suit for November rent and start the process all over again. Isn’t this fun!

Fortunately the law allows us after three judgments for possession (within 12 months) are granted by a Judge to file for Absolute Eviction on the fourth judgment, where the Sheriff can put them out even if they have the money.

Have any Questions? Call our Eviction Specialist Now for a Free Consultation.
(800) 546-7362 or (301) 340-6400

The Conclusion

It rarely however gets this as far as in this example. In most cases the tenant either pays much earlier in the process or they abandon the property so eviction is avoided. This is what society wants, the tenant to either pay and stay or to move voluntarily. That is why the system works so slowly, so few are actually put out on the street. You never know which tenants will pay up or move out so it is prudent to file suit timely and proceed with the process. If you do actually have to have a tenants things moved to the curb and they don’t come and remove these items in forty-eight hours, guess who has to pay to have all these things taken to the dump?

Let's not even go into what happens if the tenant files bankruptcy. I am sure you have learned enough for today. Also be happy your property is not in the District of Columbia as the process there takes even longer.

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