Understanding Maryland’s eviction laws can be a challenge for both landlord and renter. While a positive landlord-tenant relationship may help reduce the need for eviction, sometimes they are simply unavoidable. The eviction process will vary from state to state and even county to county, although the steps leading to an eviction are generally the same:

  • Send a written notice
  • Fill out a complaint
  • Serve the tenant
  • Attend a trial
  • Final hearing

Keep in mind that every eviction situation is unique and depends largely on the terms laid out in your lease/rental agreement. This is why it’s almost always a good idea to require a lease agreement, keep all files organized, and communicate regularly about terms in your lease agreement. 

Eviction Process Overview:  1. Written notice 2. Complaint filing 3. Tenant service 4. Trial attendance 5. Final hearing

If you’d like to understand the eviction process in Maryland better, common reasons to evict, and how to file an eviction lawsuit, read on.

What is an Eviction and How Does it Work?

An eviction is a specific legal process that a landlord should follow if they want to remove a tenant from their rental property, typically before the lease ends. There are several common reasons a landlord might file for eviction, such as lease violations, not paying rent, illegal activity, or other issues.

While the landlord may have ownership of the rental property, they cannot evict a tenant on their own terms. In Maryland, landlords cannot force a tenant off of their property by changing locks, shutting off utilities, or removing doors. Even if the tenant has failed to pay rent or is “holding over,” also known as living in the property after the lease ends, landlords must follow each step in the legal process to evict a tenant properly.


A landlord may take possession of their property in two specific situations:

  1. The landlord retrieves a “warrant of restitution” issued by a court and properly executed by a sheriff or other authorized person. This is issued after the landlord follows the steps in the eviction process and files a complaint in the District Court. (We’ll go over more details below.)
  2. The tenant has abandoned the unit by moving out.

Reasons for Eviction

The first step a landlord must do in the eviction process is to provide the tenant with a written notice. This notice should explain the reasons for eviction so that the tenant is properly notified. Here are the most common reasons for eviction in Maryland:

  1. Non-payment of Rent: As soon as the rent due date has passed and the rent payment has not been made, a landlord can begin the eviction process. The written notice must give the tenant at least a 10-day notice. If the tenant pays the rent in full anytime during the eviction process (even after the 10 days), the tenant can still put a stop to the eviction. Non-payment evictions are known as a “summary ejectment” or Failure to Pay Rent and are filed in the District Court.
  2. Lease Holding Over: If a tenant does not move out when the lease has ended, a landlord may evict them for “holding over.” The landlord must prove they provided a 60, 90, or 7-day notice (dependent on the type of tenancy) prior to the end of the lease for the tenant to be at fault. 
  3. Lease Violation: If a tenant violates the lease agreement (for example, damaging the rental, having unapproved pets, etc.) the landlord must provide a written 60-day notice before going to court. If the lease violation presents a clear and imminent danger, only a 14-day notice is required.
  4. Illegal Activity: Tenants who engage in criminal activity on or near the premises are at risk of being evicted not only by their landlord but by a state or county attorney or community association (such as an HOA), depending on if the crime is drug-related or not. This type of eviction typically requires a 30-day notice, except in Baltimore City, where the requirement is 15 days.

Providing a written eviction notice before beginning the process in court will protect you as a landlord and help avoid non-compliance with the law.

Failure to Pay Rent as a Furloughed Government Employee:

In Maryland, if you are a tenant facing a failure to pay rent case, the court must pause the court case if you can prove that the property is your primary residence, you are a federal, Maryland, or local government employee, and you are furloughed without pay due to a shutdown.

Importance of a Lease/Rental Agreement

A lease or rental agreement is a handy document that outlines the terms and conditions the landlord and tenant must follow during the rental period. These terms help maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship while protecting both parties.

Exceptions to Eviction:  Warrant of restitution issued by the court. Tenant abandonment.

Since violating the lease can be cause for eviction, it’s the landlord’s duty to provide a thorough lease agreement for the tenant and the tenant’s duty to understand the agreement and communicate any questions before attempting to breach the terms in the agreement.  It’s always a good idea to document all texts, screenshots, photos, and lease agreements in a secure, easily accessible place, like our highly-rated property management software.

The Eviction Process in Maryland

Evictions require patience and diligence when following the process. Here’s how to begin filing for eviction in Maryland, step by step.

1. Provide Notice to the Tenant

As you may know by now, the first step in the eviction process is for the landlord to provide the tenant with a written notice. The written notice should list the reason for eviction and a timeline for the tenant to fix the issue, if applicable. 

2. File a Complaint

Once the notice has been provided and the proper amount of time has passed, the landlord can file a complaint in the District Court of the property. The landlord must fill out a complaint and pay the filing fee (typically $25-45 in Maryland.) The timeline takes anywhere from a week to two months, depending on the reason for eviction. These documents are then filed:

  • Complaint: This is a formal eviction form with the court detailing the reasons for eviction.
  • Summons: This must be filed with a complaint and is served to the tenant once a hearing date is scheduled. A summons gives the tenant details of the complaint and provides a chance to present their side.

3. Tenant is Served

After the complaint and summons are filed, the tenant is served the summons containing the court date. In Maryland, the landlord cannot serve the tenant. A sheriff or authorized individual must serve these documents by posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the property or mailing the document to the property. The tenant must be served within five days of the hearing.

4. Attend the Court Hearing

Tenants who live in the state of Maryland aren’t required to respond to the complaint in order for a trial to be scheduled. The landlord and tenant should plan to attend the hearing so they can present their side of the case. If the tenant does not show up, the landlord may win by default. At the hearing, a judge or magistrate will listen to each side and rely on any presented evidence to make a decision.

If the tenant disagrees with the complaint and would like to appeal it, they can file a written answer to the court prior to the hearing.

5. Eviction is Initiated

If the landlord wins the trial, a Writ of Restitution is issued at least four days after the judgment is finalized. A landlord can also request the Writ be issued on the day the court rules in their favor. This Writ informs the tenant that they have 60 days to vacate and remove their belongings. 

Failure to Pay Rent:

If the eviction is due to a failure to pay rent, the court can order the tenant to leave the property within four days. If the tenant has not left the property in this time, the landlord may request the court issue a “warrant of restitution,” which directs the sheriff to assist the landlord in repossessing the property.

6. Property is Repossessed

If the tenant is not out of the property within the required date, a sheriff or official can forcibly remove the tenant or lock them out of the property. The landlord cannot evict the tenant on their own, even after the court rules in their favor. Tenants have a maximum of 60 days to remove their belongings, though it is not a guarantee. 

Abandoned Property and Animals:

Any items left behind can be donated or thrown away at the landlord’s leisure. If a pet is found on the premises, Maryland has specific laws regarding this situation. The sheriff must contact an animal shelter or rescue organization to take the pet. It is against Maryland law to remove a pet during an eviction and leave it on the sidewalk or outside of the property.

How to Navigate Evictions Successfully

  • Keep Good Records: It’s crucial to maintain records for your own sake and so you can win your case if you ever face an eviction. Save screenshots, documents, and timestamps in a digital file or cloud and back it up regularly. You can also use property management software to store everything rental-related.
  • Maintain Communication: Use an app or software that specializes in tenant/landlord communication and encourage your tenant to check it regularly. Let tenants know ahead of time of any changes or suspected violations. Sometimes, a conversation goes a long way.
  • Screen Tenants Thoroughly: Before you let a tenant into your rental, make sure you do a thorough background check to prove the tenant can behave properly and afford rent payments. Tip: You can run background and finance checks directly in TenantCloud.
  • If you find yourself in an eviction suit and would like specific law advice, contact an attorney specializing in Maryland law.


Being a landlord in Maryland comes with plenty of benefits as well as a handful of responsibilities. Get to know the eviction laws in Maryland, and you’ll be on the right track to a healthy, positive rental experience. If you need to file for eviction, you have all the tools and resources you need to get started.

TenantCloud makes property management easy peasy, helping you screen new tenants, communicate with renters, and store important documents all in one place. Get started with a free 45-day trial today.


Can I force tenants to leave in Maryland?

No, landlords may face legal trouble if they attempt to force a tenant out without following the proper eviction process. In Maryland, tenants can sue their landlord for damages, which could wind up costing you thousands of dollars in legal fees. Always follow the eviction process and seek a lawyer for guidance.

What is illegal for landlords dealing with eviction in Maryland?

Forcing a tenant out of the home is illegal, otherwise known as a self-help eviction. Landlords cannot cut off the tenant’s access to utilities such as power or water. They also cannot change locks or block the property. 

Do landlords need to keep tenant belongings in Maryland?

No, any belongings left behind, aside from pets, can be donated or disposed of at the landlord’s leisure.

Can a tenant sue a landlord for self-help eviction in Maryland?

Yes, according to Maryland law, a landlord who violates the eviction process may be liable for the tenant’s court costs, attorney fees, plus damages. The tenant may also be granted to stay in the property.