Why Ask For A Monetary Judgment In Rent Court?
Last month, I was denied a monetary judgment in rent court in Prince George’s County. Monetary judgments allow for their landlord to take judgment collection actions against their tenants such as garnishing wages, levying their bank account, etc.
Generally, Landlords can only request possession of their rental property and not monetary damages because the Sheriffs favor serving by posting to the premises. Service by posting is only effective for asking for possession of the property.
In order to ask for a monetary judgment, tenants need to be personally served. Landlords can do this by hiring their own private process server to attempt to serve the tenant. If successfully they can lawfully ask for a monetary judgment.
I typically go the standard route of filing for possession and then filing a civil suit later. Often, landlords do not know the extent of the damages that they are owed until after they have repossessed the property and in rent court landlords are limited to asking rent. For those reasons, landlords can typically ask for more in a civil suit.
However, if my clients are owed enough money in rent I’ll encourage them to hire a private process server so we can ask for a monetary judgment. The last time I did this was about November of last year. It went well and my client was awarded both possession and a monetary judgment.
Why I Was Denied A Monetary Judgment – Spoiler Alert: No Reason
Now back to my present case Prince George’s County case and the reason I’m writing this blog. The presiding Judge granted my client possession of the property but she denied awarding my client a monetary judgment. She said she didn’t award monetary damages in rent court and I can file a suit to ask for a monetary judgment civil court. I protested her decision stating that the law allows us to ask for monetary damages if we personally served the tenants and that this was for a commercial lease, and she reiterated that she does not award monetary damages. I left defeated. It is possible that I could have just drawn the wrong Judge that day and that I would have got what I requested before a different Judge.
Will There Be No More Monetary Judgments In Rent Court State Wide?
Not quite, but we may be headed in that direction. My main take away from this lesson is sometimes getting the results you want is more than knowing the law. Sometimes it’s also knowing the climate of your particular jurisdiction or even the temperament of a particular Judge. Prince George’s County as a whole may be moving in the direction of no longer awarding monetary damages in rent court or perhaps I ended up in front of the wrong Judge.