Illegal Evictions in Maryland


 Is this legal advice? This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.

Don't Use Self-Help to Evict a Tenant

A self-help eviction occurs when a landlord retakes possession of a property without using the eviction process. The use of self-help may amount to landlord harassment. Maryland law prohibits a landlord from using self-help to evict a tenant. Maryland's legal eviction procedures apply regardless of what a tenant has done or how a tenant behaves. Even if the tenant has not paid rent, has destroyed property, or has violated a term in the lease or rental agreement, a landlord may only legally remove the tenant by following state eviction procedures.

 

A landlord should avoid the following self-help methods:
Allowing utility companies to cut off service by failing to pay the bill
Changing the locks
Removing the tenant's property from the rental unit
Threatening the tenant
Ordering the tenant to leave
Liability for Evicting a Tenant Illegally


Courts frown on self-help evictions, and may readily award a tenant damages for an illegal removal. If a landlord illegally evicts a tenant, the tenant may sue the landlord for trespass, wrongful eviction, assault, battery, slander, libel and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A tenant's behavior will not shield a landlord from liability. Instead, a court may view the landlord's unlawful actions as landlord harassment.

The tenant is entitled to actual money damages for the expenses resulting from the illegal eviction. This may include compensation for temporary housing, for the food that spoiled when the electricity was cutoff, or for property that disappeared when the tenant was locked out by the landlord. Some states may allow a tenant to recover monetary penalties, such as two or three months rent or two to three times the actual damages. A tenant may also be able to remain on the premises, receive free occupancy, or vacate the premises and collect their security deposit from the landlord.

Evict a Tenant Lawfully

Instead of using landlord harassment and other illegal means to force a tenant to vacate a rental property, a landlord should follow applicable Maryland laws when evicting a tenant. Although it may take longer and cost more money, it will protect a landlord from hefty fines and imprisonment.
 
What to do

Contact Maryland Evictions Online to handle your case for you.

 

Eviction: Get the Facts - Maryland Attorney General

 

 

Also see  Reasons to Evict