This post is a follow-up to my video on When Maryland Landlord Companies Don’t Need an Attorney for Court. In a nutshell, it is generally considered the practice of law to represent someone in court. However, there is a carve out in the law that allows for representatives to represent Landlords in failure to pay rent actions. The common term used to describe them is a Maryland Rent Court agent.
So, if you want representation in rent court you have the option of hiring either a landlord-tenant attorney such as myself or a Maryland Rent Court agent. Here, I try to explain the general differences between the two options. That said, every landlord attorney and Maryland rent court agency is different. So keep in mind that these are generalizations.
Are Maryland Landlord Attorneys Better Than Maryland Rent Court Agents?
No. I’ve met highly-qualified rent court agents that have been representing landlords in Maryland rent court much longer than I have. A qualified rent court agent can handle your case better than an unqualified attorney. There is no license required to become a Maryland Rent Court agent so do due diligence to ensure your agent is qualified.
Are There Things Maryland Landlord Attorneys Can Do That Maryland Rent Court Agents Can’t?
I also think they can’t process tenant holding over actions per the letter of the law but some people disagree with my legal interpretation on this one.
Lastly, you go through the steps to get a monetary judgment, an attorney can help you take judgment collection action against your tenants such as garnishing their wages or levying their bank accounts. A rent court agent will have to pass your file off to an attorney to help you collect.
Do Rent Court Agents Charge Less Than Landlord Attorneys For Failure To Pay Rent Actions?
I think it’s fair to say that most Maryland rent court agents will take a case for less than an attorney. But it really depends on a particular firms business model. Larger firms that serve larger complexes, whether they employ landlord attorneys and/or rent court agents, charge less because they make money by bulk filing. On the other hand, smaller firms typically charge more. Another factor that may go into pricing is distance from the firm to the court house location. The best way to find out what any firm will charge you is to reach out and get a quote. 🙂
Is There A Time When It’s Clearly Better To Hire A Landlord Attorney Over a Rent Court Agent For a Failure To Pay Rent Action?
Yes. Particularly if your matter is highly contested and there needs to be a lot of oral arguments. Or perhaps when the Defendant has a solid-defense as to non-payment. In those cases, I think it’s best to lawyer up.
Are There Things Rent Court Agents Can Do That Landlord Attorneys Cannot?
Yes actually. In my experience some jurisdictions in Maryland will allow for attorneys to testify on a landlords behalf. I’ve done it in Baltimore City & Baltimore County. But in some Counties, such as Prince George’s County, the Judges will want me to have a witness.
I can’t just get a power of attorney to act as a representative of the landlord. I can’t be both your attorney and your agent. Some Courts want attorneys to stay in our attorney role and not provide testimony and just make arguments. In these cases, the landlord can appear in Court or send an agent to act as our witness. Rent Court agents can always testify on behalf of their landlords.
In addition, I think it’s fair to say rent court agents tend to be more full-service, by this I mean they will schedule your eviction and provide an eviction crew and take care of you on eviction day. My law firm schedules the eviction and then provides referrals to quality eviction crews our clients have used in the past. This isn’t true for all law firms or rent court agents so be sure to inquire about how your eviction processes will handle your filing.
Need Help In Your Next Failure To Pay Rent Action?
Then do not hesitate to reach out to to us. If you want to use an attorney that is.