Eviction…It can be a scary word. Unfortunately, if a tenant has breached the lease it may be the last recourse you as a landlord have to collect rent owed and/or to reclaim a unit. On December 5th, AAP held a seminar that featured Rosie McCray-Moodie of the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs and Captain Portillo and Sergeant Awi from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. They each discussed different parts of the eviction process.
Some key takeaways from the night include:
- Landlords must go through the courts if they want to evict a tenant, making sure they fill out the court actions with all the proper information.
- If the tenant pays all the rent due before an eviction takes place, then the tenant has the right to reoccupy the rental unit. The only exception is when you have requested and been granted a “No Right of Redemption” judgement by the judge.
- On the date of the eviction, the landlord must provide plastic bags large enough to fit clothing and other items, at truck or other means to move items to the public right of way, and a moving crew to move the tenant’s personal property from the rental unit.
You can learn more about the process by reviewing DHCA’s Eviction Prevention pamphlet here.
Here are some other things to consider when thinking about eviction:
- It is best not to let a tenant get multiple months behind in rent. Studies show that the further behind a tenant gets in rent, the harder it is for them to pay it back. Instead, consider setting up a payment plan with a tenant so that they can catch up on the rent and don’t fall too far behind.
- Eviction Lab, a team of researchers at Princeton University, found that pre-filing notices can reduce the number of eviction filings for failure to pay rent actions. A pre-filing notice explains that if the tenant does not pay rent within a certain amount of days, the landlord will sue the tenant for possession and rent owed. While not required by Maryland or Montgomery County law, they may be worth considering since they may also allow tenants more time to secure emergency assistance and pay any rent owed.
- As a landlord, you are required by the County to state, in any notice of past due rent or other notice of judicial proceedings, that tenants can contact the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA). It’s as simple as adding the following sentence, “General information and assistance regarding evictions are available from the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs.” Many tenants are unaware of the emergency assistance available in the county, so providing this information helps to ensure that tenants get the assistance they may need to pay the rent.