Evictions Guidance from the District Court as Maryland Judiciary Enters Phase 3 Reopening

Posted By: Erin Bradley Headlines ,

On July 17, the District Court provided communication regarding landlord/tenant actions during phase 3 of Maryland Judiciary’s reopening plan.

The Court entered Phase 3 reopening on Monday, July 20, 2020. During this phase, the District Court will begin handling rent escrow actions (provided local inspection practices are capable of being conducted), tenant holding over actions, breach of lease actions, and wrongful detainer actions. On a case-by-case basis, warrants of restitution for these actions are authorized pursuant to the Maryland Rules. Additionally, on Saturday, July 25, 2020, and consistent with the Evictions Order, the court will begin to process warrants of restitution for failure to pay rent cases that were pending or already authorized prior to the March 16th closure of the courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pursuant to the Evictions Order, the stay for residential evictions is lifted effective Saturday, July 25, 2020. It will coincide with the Federal CARES Act, which limits evictions in certain instances. As such, the following procedures will be followed by the District Court of Maryland:

  1. A failure to pay rent case filed before March 27 and currently pending with the court will be set for trial on or after Monday, August 31, 2020.
     
  2. The Evictions Order requires landlords to file a CARES Act Declaration of Compliance with the court by Monday, July 27, 2020, for any failure to pay rent filing made between March 27 (the effective date of the CARES Act) and June 3 (the date of the most recent Evictions Order) or the complaint will be dismissed without prejudice. Complaints filed from June 4 through August 24 must also be accompanied by a Declaration of Compliance at the time of filing. A Declaration of Compliance must be filed into each case. The Declaration of Compliance can be found here: https://mdcourts.gov/district/forms form DC-CV-113.
     
  3. In Prince George’s County only, if the failure to pay rent case is filed via the electronic system, the Declaration of Compliance must be mailed, dropped in the drop box or filed as otherwise authorized by the Administrative Judge for Prince George’s County within 10 days of the electronic filing or the case will not be accepted.
     
  4. For failure to pay rent complaints made between July 25 through August 24, a Declaration of Compliance must be filed, or the case will not be accepted. If the Declaration indicates the property is covered by the CARES Act, the landlord is required to give a 30-day notice to vacate that may be given no earlier than Saturday, July 25, 2020. Each judge will determine the sufficiency of the notice to vacate and judgment will not be entered unless the judge finds the notice to be sufficient.
     
  5. For failure to pay rent complaints filed on or after August 25, a Declaration of Compliance is not required.

Also, please note that per Governor Hogan’s April 3rd Executive Order on Evictions, tenants can raise a COVID-19 related substantial loss of income as an affirmative defense during eviction proceedings.  The District Court guidance indicates that should loss of income be raised, it will be an affirmative defense in either a failure to pay rent case or breach of lease action until the Governor’s State of Emergency is lifted or the Executive Order is amended. Each judge will determine the sufficiency of the evidence provided.

For more information, please refer to the Communication from the District Court