How to File for Wrongful Detainer in Maryland – The Pendergraft Firm

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Disclaimer – this is legal information, not legal advice. For legal advice please contact a Maryland landlord-tenant attorney.

The Elements of Wrongful Detainer

Wrongful detainer is the cause of action used to evict house guest or squatters that refuse to leave a property after being asked. The elements are:

  1. House guest or squatter refuses to leave after being asked.
  2. Person who asks guest to leave has the legal right to do so, such as the Owner, Guardian of the Property, or Personal Representative of the estate.
  3. No other cause of action is appropriate such as: Failure to Pay Rent, Tenant Holding Over, or Breach of Lease.
  4. This is for non-tenants who do not pay rent.

Phase One: Before Filing

  1. Make sure you have the documentation showing that you have the legal right to ask squatters to leave the property.
  2. Each situation is different. If you’re the owner you may need just the deed. A power of attorney, personal representative, or guardian of the property will need to bring the documents that grant them that authority in addition to the deed. Contact an attorney if you need help determining what documents you need to bring.
  3. Proof you asked them to leave. You can orally ask them to leave and not bring any additional evidence and use just your sworn testimony. I personally love having written proof such as a letter with proof that it was sent in addition to oral testimony.

Phase Two: Filing for Wrongful Detainer

  1. You have to file at your the District Court where your property is located.
  2. Go to the landlord-tenant clerks’ office and complete the wrongful detainer form. You should ask for a sample completed form to guide you.
  3. Bring two checks – One to pay for the filing fee and one to pay for the Sheriff’s service fee. You can find the current fee schedule here.
  4. In most jurisdictions the court date will be mailed to you.

Phase Three: The Court Date

  1. Bring a copy of your summons because the bailiff will require it to check you in.
  2. Bring your proof that you lawfully have the right to ask the squatter to leave.
  3. You must prove your case. You must prove that you have the legal reight to ask the squatter to leave (property deed, Personal Representative docs etc.). You must prove that you asked the Defendant to leave (oral testimony, written letter asking tenant to leave, pictures, etc.)
  4. Ask for the unpaid rent amount.
  5. Ask for possession of the property.
  6. Defend against squatters counterclaims or defenses (if any).

Phase Four: After the Court Date

  1. You can immediately file a warrant for restitution if the court grants a judgment for possession in your favor.
  2. The warrant for restitution is what gives the Sheriff the authority to contact you to schedule an eviction.
  3. This form is at your local District Court. Ask for a sample completed form to use as a guide. Bring a check, it costs about $40 to file.
  4. Squatter has 10 calendar days from the date of the judgment to file an appeal.

Read The Law: Md. Code Real Property §14-132

Need Help Filing For Wrongful Detainer?

  1. I can help you file your complaint,, prepare for the hearing, and represent you at your court date. Makes the entire process less stressful!
  2. If you enjoyed this information check out my facebook group for landlords or my book on how to avoid the legal pitfalls that cost landlords thousands of dollars
  3. Don’t forget to download the slides, thanks for reading!

Unable To Afford an Attorney or Would Rather Do It Yourself?

Check out my Maryland Landlord Self-Help Eviction Legal Kit or my Maryland Tenant Rights Legal Kit. The kits contain my strategies and sample pleadings for representing landlords and tenants in Maryland.

Maryland Landlord Self-Help Eviction Legal Kit

Maryland Tenant Right’s Self-Help Legal Kit

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