If you have a tenant who is not paying rent or violating any other policy that warrants eviction, it’s probably time to serve the tenant a notice to vacate. The sooner you address this situation, the quicker you can prepare the property for a new tenant who will hopefully pay rent on time. Even a month or two without rental income can negatively impact your investment.
As winter approaches, you might wonder how to evict someone the legal way and what rights you have concerning filing a 30-day notice to move out during the winter. Anne Arundel County sees some harsh winter weather, so it’s a good idea to review the following tips to perform a legal eviction during the winter.
Is It Legal to Evict an Anne Arundel County Tenant During the Winter?
The short answer is yes; Anne Arundel eviction laws have no restrictions when it comes to when it is acceptable to evict a tenant. You can evict a tenant at any time throughout the year as long as you follow the legal apartment eviction process. Some countries like Poland, Austria, and France prohibit evictions during the cold weather, but no such restrictions exist in Maryland. However, rental laws in Anne Arundel County have specific statutes. As long as you follow them to the letter, you can serve a notice to vacate an apartment in Anne Arundel County as soon as the situation meets the required criteria.
While the outside temperature and the time of year may not inhibit the eviction process, an eviction could technically qualify as illegal for several reasons.
Type of Illegal Eviction Tactics
You need to handle a Maryland eviction properly, or you could face a legal situation in which the tenant can keep living in your rental property rent-free. If you’re trying to find out how to evict someone who doesn’t pay rent, it’s essential to follow the proper legal channels to avoid allowing them to continue taking advantage of your property without payment. Even if you have a terrible tenant, do not do any of the following in the hopes they will leave:
- Change the locks on the rental unit
- Threaten the tenant
- Harass the tenant
- Turn off utility service to the rental unit
- Hire movers to remove all of the tenant’s belongings
- File an eviction notice without following Maryland landlord-tenant law
If you want a non-paying tenant out of your property as quickly as possible, cutting corners will not result in a fast eviction. Instead, it could prolong the process significantly, and you will continue losing rental income for the duration of the process. If you want to file an eviction notice, MD law has specific procedures in place to do so. First, you must identify a legal reason for eviction and file the required notices before moving forward with an eviction. The best approach is to verify the state and local laws that apply to your rental property and speak with an attorney to establish guidelines for a standard eviction process.
Winter Eviction Rules for Anne Arundel County
If you wish to proceed with an eviction, the first step is to terminate the tenancy or lease agreement in writing. State and local laws dictate the proper method. In Anne Arundel County, you must terminate the lease or tenancy with a 30-day notice. This notice stipulates what the tenant must do to fix the violation or the timeframe for moving out. If the tenant does not comply either way, you can file a lawsuit to evict the tenant.
In the event you need to go to court for an eviction, the court can rule in favor of the renter and deny the eviction claim under certain circumstances. Some of the reasons a court may rule in favor of the tenant include:
- Landlord failure to provide proper notice
- Landlord is evicting the tenant in retaliation to the tenant exercising his or her rights
- The landlord is filing for eviction on discriminatory grounds
- The tenant stopped paying rent because the rental unit is uninhabitable
If any of these are true of an eviction situation, the court will likely rule in favor of the tenant.
Do Renters Have Specific Rights During the Winter?
Evictions are legal during the wintertime in Maryland, but Howard and Montgomery counties do restrict evictions during freezing temperatures. It’s possible for an eviction judgment to be official, but the sheriff’s office postpones the actual eviction if the temperature is below 15 degrees. Any landlord planning to evict a non-paying tenant should verify county laws to determine if any special rules exist for evictions during the winter.
Utility Shutoff During the Winter
Every state places specific guidelines for utility companies to follow when it comes to cutting off service due to nonpayment. If you plan to evict a tenant this winter, check the federal Department of Health and Human Services website for a list of each state with guidelines for utility shutoff restrictions. In Maryland, you must continue utility service until the eviction process is complete, and the tenant is completely moved out of the rental property.
Apt Eviction Process
Landlords should keep detailed records of all missed and late rent payments and unpaid tenant fees for every lease or tenancy agreement. It’s also wise to retain copies of any correspondence you have with your tenants, especially concerning nonpayment issues and other discussions about the state of the property. If you ever need to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, these records will support your position if you need to take the case to court. It’s essential to be as thorough as possible when it comes to protecting your income and your investment in your rental property.
Many people may find it heartless or even cruel to evict someone during the winter, but the reality is that landlords have distinct rights and expenses of their own that their rental income satisfies. Ultimately, sticking to your lease and following state and local laws is the best way to complete an eviction quickly and legally. Following Anne Arundel County and Maryland landlord-tenant laws ensures you are within your legal rights to perform an eviction and maintain the profitability of your rental properties all year long.
Don’t want to deal with the eviction process yourself? Hire a property manager to do it for you. Contact our team at Bay Property Management Group to get started today!