How to Resolve a Landlord-Tenant Dispute
Our Landlord-Tenant Dispute Lawyer Helps Resolve Issues
Maryland is a landlord-friendly state, where rents are high and laws are generally favorable to landlords. However, issues with tenants do arise; and much as you hope you’ll never have to pursue legal action against a tenant, sometimes this is necessary. If the situation is bad enough that you need to remove a tenant from your property, you’ll have to obtain authorization from the court and use the correct procedures, or you won’t receive the results you desire.
If you are faced with a serious landlord-tenant dispute, it makes sense to have the help of a Maryland landlord-tenant lawyer to resolve it. An experienced landlord-tenant attorney can help you analyze your situation, determine what your rights are, and make well-informed decisions about how to protect your interests, avoid costly mistakes, and ensure everything is done correctly according to the law.
At Lusk Law, LLC, we specialize in landlord-tenant issues and cater our legal services for the specific needs and goals of each client. When dealing with legal disputes and litigation, we work closely with our clients throughout the process to ensure they are updated at every stage and are actively engaged in making decisions regarding their cases. Our legal team is flexible and innovative and possesses the ability to customize our approach to every person and business that we serve. We have helped many clients resolve landlord-tenant disputes, and will do everything possible to help you resolve yours quickly and efficiently.
Call us today at (443) 535-9715 to discuss your individual situation and get started working toward a satisfactory resolution.
How Our Landlord-Tenant Dispute Lawyers Can Help You
Having a skilled landlord-tenant dispute attorney on your side is the best way to ensure that your disputes will be settled favorably. When you hire Lusk Law, LLC, our landlord-tenant dispute lawyers will:
- Review and draft all your documents to make sure that they have been done correctly and that you know exactly what they say, what you are obligated to do, and what obligations the tenants have
- Determine if you or the tenants are in violation of Maryland landlord-tenant law
- Help you determine when you can or cannot evict a tenant
- Make sure any eviction is done properly and in accordance with the law and with the best practices of the industry
- Help you determine the best way to resolve lease disputes by examining leases and negotiating with both landlords and tenants to solve problems in order to avoid litigation
- Handle all legal issues that may arise and defend your position in court if necessary for disputes or lawsuits.
Don’t leave anything to chance when it comes to landlord-tenant disputes. Call Lusk Law, LLC at (443) 535-9715 to schedule an appointment.
What Causes a Dispute Between a Landlord and Tenant?
When dealing with problematic tenants, landlords often feel as though they have fewer rights than their tenants, but the law can also be on your side. Many of your legal options depend on your lease with your tenants, so it’s vital to be aware of the main areas for disputes and properly draft your lease so the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants are clear before you rent a property. The Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has created a web page to help renters and residential property owners understand their respective rights and obligations, as well as the remedies that are available under Maryland law.
The most common areas for landlord-tenant disputes include:
Late or Missed Rent Payments
Landlords should specify in the rental agreement the rent payment times and all fees that may be charged if payments are late. The agreement should also state the length of time after a payment is missed that can result in eviction.
It’s a good idea to charge fees for late payments in order to motivate your tenants to pay on time. In Maryland, late fees can be up to 5% of the rental payment. It’s also a good idea to set up a direct withdrawal from your tenants’ account or charge a credit card at a certain date to avoid issues with late payments.
The Need for Eviction
Eviction is a legal procedure, and in Maryland there are strict rules around eviction that must be followed carefully or the eviction may be deemed invalid.
The District Court of Maryland, a statewide court with 34 locations throughout Maryland, hears all landlord-tenant cases where the tenant is still residing in the property, such as cases of failure to pay rent, tenant holding over, and breach of lease. In addition, any monetary disputes between a landlord and tenant after the tenant is no longer occupying the property can also be litigated in District Court — however, not on the landlord-tenant docket. If the amount in dispute is less than $5,000, which is considered a small claims matter, the proceedings are informal, and a judge decides the outcome of the case. If rent, damages, or total expenses are between $5,000 and $30,000, the case is considered a large claim, and it is litigated according to formal rules of the court.
Excessive Damage to the Property
While it is expected that routine wear and tear will occur, such as scuffs and scrapes from moving or everyday living, if tenants destroy property, landlords can keep a portion or all of the security deposit to cover those damages. Leases should state that tenants are responsible for returning property to “in good repair, minus normal wear and tear”. If the cost exceeds the security deposit, landlords have the option of suing tenants who excessively damage property.
Process for Removing Tenants in a Landlord-Tenant Dispute
In order to evict or remove a tenant or non-tenant from a rental property, the landlord must file a formal complaint with the court, citing at least one of the following violations:
- Tenant’s failure to pay rent.
- Tenant refuses to leave a property at the end of a lease. Landlords must prove that tenants were given proper written notice of at least sixty days before the ending of the lease.
- Breach of lease, such as misuse of rental property, possession of unauthorized pets, or tenant permitting other people to live on the premises who are not on the lease. Before going to court, landlords must give one month’s advance written notice of breach of the lease and that if the breach is not cured, the tenant must vacate the property (14 days’ notice if the tenant has exhibited threats to others’ safety or the safety of the property).
- Wrongful detainer, meaning either non-tenant who has no rights to the property and refuses to leave the property.
If the court issues a judgment in favor of the landlord, then within 60 days a landlord may file a Petition for Warrant of Restitution. If the judgment is based on a tenant’s failure to pay rent, the landlord must wait four business days after receiving the judgment for possession prior to filing the Warrant of Restitution. Once the court signs the Warrant of Restitution, it is sent to the Sheriff for service on the tenant and the landlord may proceed with eviction.
So long as a tenant does not have a record of more than three judgments in the prior 12 months for failure to pay rent, a tenant may be able to avoid eviction by paying any rent owed, along with court costs and late fees.
The tenant will be notified by the Sheriff of the date of the eviction and, unless the tenant vacates prior to the eviction, the Sheriff must be present and the landlord must hire an eviction company to remove the tenant’s personal property from the rental.
Defense Against Tenant Complaints in a Landlord-Tenant Dispute
Landlords sometimes wind up in court because a tenant has brought a complaint against them. These claims may arise when a tenant feels a landlord has failed to provide a safe and habitable rental unit.
Maryland law defines “serious and dangerous defects” as the basis for both a tenant’s action against a landlord and a tenant’s right to withhold rent in escrow with the court. These conditions include:
- A lack of heat, light, electricity, or water (unless those utilities were shut off due to a tenant’s non-payment of bills)
- Lack of sewage disposal
- Rodent infestation in two or more units
- Unmitigated lead paint hazards
- Structural defects that pose a threat to a tenant’s physical safety
- Any condition considered a serious fire or health hazard.
A tenant who alleges a landlord has failed to correct these defects may file a rent escrow action with the court and, if granted, the tenant then pays his rent into an escrow account with the court. Unless authorized by the court, the landlord will not receive the escrowed rent payments until repairs are made. A tenant may also report a landlord to local health and housing authorities for failing to correct dangerous defects.
Get Help With Landlord-tenant Dispute Issues
At Lusk Law, LLC, we help our clients avoid mistakes that lead to disputes, and we work to resolve them if they do arise.
Attorneys Rebekah Lusk and Steven Bright offer clients a variety of services to avoid and resolve landlord-tenant disputes. We provide dependable representation that spans many areas of landlord-tenant law and personal experience as landlords, with the goal of building long-lasting relationships with our clients. Our clients know that we’ll respond quickly to their requests and that we’ll deliver exceptional results in a timely manner.
By helping landlords avoid costly mistakes and charging reasonable fees, we enable them to invest their money where they feel it is best for them and their business. We also build relationships based on trust. Our clients know that we will always look out for their interests and provide them with sound legal advice in many different areas of the law.
If you have any landlord-tenant issues, call Lusk Law, LLC to speak with us today. We are advocates for life’s obstacles and opportunities and are here to offer you solid legal advice. Don’t delay. Give us a call at (443) 535-9715 to schedule an appointment with our legal team today.
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