Tenant Holding Over Actions

A tenant holding over is an individual that continues to stay in a property after the lease is expired and without the landlord’s permission. If a tenant stays past the expiration of the lease, the landlord can sue the tenant for damages.  Damages include actual damages done to the property, loss of income because the landlord could not use the property for another purpose, and/or for failing to pay rent after the lease expired.  If a tenant holds over, a landlord has the right to evict the tenant or to hold the tenant to a new periodic tenancy.  If the landlord allows a tenant stay after the original lease has expired, a de facto month-to-month lease is created, unless the lease said something different, or if the terms of the lease were shorter than month-to-month.

To evict a tenant holding over, the landlord must give the tenant proper written notice to leave the property.  If the tenant does not leave, after written notice is received, the landlord can file a written compliant with the appropriate District Court.  After the complaint is filed with the court, the landlord will need to properly serve certain documents to the tenant.  If the tenant pays the landlord after they receive the notice or the served documents, the landlord can still evict the tenant, unless the landlord and tenant agree to something else in writing. 

When before court, both the landlord and the tenant will have the time to explain their side of the story and why or why not the tenant should be evicted.  If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will have to leave the property within four days and may be required to pay the landlord’s cost for filing the suit.  (If the tenant has a doctor’s note saying that it is dangerous to leave, the tenant can have up to 15 days before they have to leave the property. If the property is in Baltimore City, and the tenant has a doctor’s note, there is no time limit by which the tenant has to leave.)  If the tenant has not moved out after the prescribed time, the landlord may request a warrant of restitution.  A warrant of restitution tells the sheriff to help the landlord retain his property and allows the landlord to remove the defendant’s belongings from the property.  A landlord needs to request a warrant of restitution within 60 days of the court’s order for eviction, or the landlord will need to go to court again to receive another order for eviction.

Either party can appeal the court’s decision.  If the tenant appeals the decision, the tenant can stay in the house until the appeal is heard.  As part of the tenants appeal, the tenant must promise to the court in an affidavit that he or she is not appealing to delay the eviction and the tenant must also pay a bond to the court.  The bond helps ensure that the tenant will diligently handle the appeal and pay any damages, including overdue rent and court costs, to the landlord for the duration that the tenant occupies the property. Tenants have ten days to file an appeal in a tenant holding over action. 

If you need help with a tenant holding over case or any other landlord tenant action, contact the Law Office of Phillip E. Chalker at phillip@attorneychalker.com or (443) 961-7345.