If you are the tenant or other person with the right to possess a property, you may ask someone to leave. Even if you gave that person permission to enter the property, your guest must leave when you ask. If a guest or squatter refuses to leave, you may ask the court to issue an order to remove them by filing a "wrongful detainer" action in District Court.
"Wrongful detainer" means to hold possession of real property (house, apartment, building, land) without the right of possession. You may not use "wrongful detainer" to evict current tenants, evict holding-over tenants, or evict someone who has possession of the property by court order.
Complaint - To start the court process for wrongful detainer, file a complaint for wrongful detainer in the District Court in the county where the property is located. The person filing the complaint is the Plaintiff. The person accused of wrongful possession (i.e., the person against whom the complaint is filed) is the Defendant. Include in the complaint what you are asking the court to order, including any monetary damages.
Summons - The court will then send a summons to the Defendant. The summons will give a date for the Defendant to come to court and explain why the court should not grant the Plaintiff’s requests.
If the process server can't find the Defendant to serve them in-person, then the process server must attach a copy of the summons in a visible place on the property. The process server must also send a copy to the Defendant by first-class mail.
Jury Trial – You or the other party can ask for a jury trial. This will move the hearing to the circuit court.
Court Decision - If the Plaintiff wins the case, the court will order the sheriff to remove the person unlawfully in possession.
The court may also award the Plaintiff money for any harm suffered, court costs, and/or attorneys' fees IF:
- the Plaintiff asked for damages in the complaint; AND
- the court finds that the person in wrongful possession was personally served with the summons or there was service of process or the Defendant agreed to the jurisdiction of the court.
Appeal - If you or the other party disagree with the court’s decision, any party can file an appeal no later than 10 days from the date the District Court enters the judgment. You must file the appeal in the circuit court where the property is located. Learn more about appeals.
The Defendant may be able to keep possession until the circuit court decides the appeal IF the Defendant:
- Files an affidavit that the appeal is not for the purpose of delaying the eviction; AND
- Files a bond OR pays
- the fair rental value of the property for the entire period of possession up to the date of judgment;
- all court costs in the case;
- all losses or damages that the court determined to be due because of the wrongful possession; AND
- the fair rental value of the property during the length of the appeal.
On request by either party, the court must set a hearing date for the appeal that is not less than 5 days or more than 15 days after you apply for appeal. Notice of the hearing must be served on the parties or the parties' attorneys not less than 5 days before the hearing.
If the circuit court decides in favor of the person who is asking for the guest or squatter to leave, then the circuit court will order the sheriff to evict the guest or squatter.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 14-132