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
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.
Also see Reasons to Evict