What does Rent Court look like?
Check out our Video Tutorials to see for yourself. These videos simulate the essence of Rent Court in action. Each of these give a great overview of the Eviction process and Rent Court not only in Baltimore City, but across jurisdictions. We have provided comments on each of the video subjects based on our experiences.
Does Rent Court Manager (RCM) collect money on behalf of the landlord?
No.  RCM does not collect any money on behalf of the landlord.  As portrayed in the first video tutorial, Landlords are encouraged to maintain an open dialogue with their tenants, and collect any outstanding money. You must notify RCM of any monies collected prior to the court date by updating your case in the portal. If you were able to collect all of the overdue rent money, then you will need to dismiss the case on the portal.
How long does Rent Court take?
Rent court is a long, drawn out process. Often the individual landlords are at the end of the court docket because they are less familiar with procedure and take longer vs. those cases that have an attorney represented. You could be in court for a half day or more.
What happens in Court?

When both sides appear: the Court will hear both sides of a case and make a decision. If the landlord wins, the Court will enter a “Judgment for Possession,” or often referred to as “Judgment Landlord.” On some occasions, if there was personal service (see Eviction Glossary of Terms) on the tenant, the Court may also issue a money judgment in the amount of rent and costs due. This is not the norm.

When the landlord fails to appear: the Court will most likely dismiss the case.

When the tenant fails to appear: the Court will most likely enter a judgment in favor of the landlord.

What if my tenant is in the military?
The landlord case is subject to Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and must declare knowledge of the tenant(s) being in the service or not. There are various methods to do this; it can be disclosed at lease signing which they attest to, or research can be done at https://scra.dmdc.osd.mil/scra/#/home to provide verification. If verification isn’t provided and uploaded, or it cannot be validated, there is a significant risk that the case will be dismissed by the judge. Be certain to provide their date of birth or Social Security number when filing your case in case we need to do a search.
When should I file my Maryland Failure to Pay Rent (FTPR) and my Maryland Eviction (Warrant of Restitution, or WOR)?
Landlords should file their FTPR the first day the rent is late, regardless of the tenant story (and they have a lot of stories). They need to know that non-compliant behavior with their lease obligations will be dealt with swiftly. Sometimes landlords hedge their risk for tenants who habitually pay late to save on filing costs. This prolongs the time for the legal process to play out if the tenants will need to be evicted.
What if my tenant files for Bankruptcy?
You are at risk of not being able to recover damages even if you obtain a money judgement (see Eviction Glossary of Terms). At this time you should consult with an attorney.
Why do some Maryland landlords wait until after the 5th day of the month to file?
Some tenants pay on the 5th because Maryland requires a 5 day grace period without a late fee penalty (assuming rent is due on the 1st of the month). For some tenants, they wait until the 5th, and the landlord delays filing see who pays before they incur the expense of filing. If you have repeat offenders who habitually pay after the 5th of the month, we recommend filing on the 1st of the month, and charge the late fee (which must be written in your lease).
Can I charge a late fee?

Yes, up to 5% in Maryland. It has to be written in the lease that the tenant has signed.

What are the requirements for filing with Rent Court Manager to ensure my case is timely filed and properly prepared so it’s not dismissed?

To best prepare your case, we need the following:

  1. A copy of the Lease for which you are filing.
  2. A copy of the Tenant Ledger (see Glossary of Eviction Terms), from the start of Tenant occupancy to the current date.
  3. A copy of the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) Lead Inspection Certificate if your property was built before 1978 (with a valid date for the current tenant in place).
  4. A copy of the city registration or county license depending on jurisdiction of your property (if applicable)
  5. A copy of the completed DOD Military Service Verification. This is federal law, and district courts are now enforcing this requirement. The tenant SS#, or Birth date, and Last Name are required to perform this verification. 
  6. While not mandatory, generally it is helpful to know if you believe the tenant will likely contest the case, due to repairs, or some other reason. During the filing process, there is an opportunity provide a short narrative of the events that led to this filing, and be prepared to attach any supporting documentation for repairs, receipts and invoices of vendor payments, etc.
After the case has been filed, if the tenant makes a partial rent payment, the complaint value must be amended.  If there is a full payment, you must dismiss the case via logging onto your online RCM account.

If you are filing an individual case using our Filing Wizard, you will have an opportunity to upload the above mentioned documents as you complete the Filing Wizard and answer each question. You will only need to upload documents listed above in items 1-4 one time. If you need to file on the same tenant for successive months, the only additional upload required will be an updated tenant ledger.

Provide us all of the documentation that you believe would support your claim or defense. If the relationship between you and your tenant is cantankerous, make sure we have evidence to defend any argument you imagine they may claim. If you anticipate the tenant making claims about repairs not being addressed and/or completed, submit appropriate supporting documentation for the defense of your case, i.e. work orders, receipts from contractors, etc.

How do I collect back rent money?
The Court cannot collect money for you. A Failure to Pay Rent (FTPR) only gives you a Possession Judgement, it is the landlords responsibility to get a Money Judgement to collect past and unpaid rent. (More detail provided in Eviction/Rent Court Glossary of Terms.)  For more information, check out our blog post and District Court brochure titled Post-Judgment Collection.
Can I collect on unpaid utilities in Rent Court?
Yes, only if your lease specifically states that utilities are “Additional Rent.” If that is true, include the appropriate supporting documents such as your utility bills in your filing.
What are all the Abbreviations – FTP, FTPR, WOR, and what do they mean?
Most commonly used terms are FTP and FTPR, which can be used synonymously.  Both terms mean Failure To Pay Rent, which is the first step in the eviction process to be granted judgement for possession (not a money judgement). The second step is filing the WOR, which is the Eviction paperwork. The Warrant Of Restitution is less often called a writ of possession, or simply a writ. This site also provides a complete Glossary of Terms for understanding evictions.
How do I know if my property needs to be registered with the MDE?

If your property was built before 1978, it must be registered, inspected, and renewed annually.  See below from the MDE website:

  • Residential rental properties built before 1978 are required to be registered and then renewed annually with Maryland Department of the Environment.
  • Residential rental properties built after 1977 and properties that have a passing Lead Free inspection certificate are exempt.
  • On or after January 1, 2015, all properties built prior to 1978 must have a new lead inspection certificate at each change of occupancy.

We recommend Landlords request a lead free test inspection. The inspector will tell you what requires remediation to qualify for a lead free certification. Lead free certification significantly reduces risk of liability. Reference our Blog post regarding the severance of liability protection from the Lead Risk Reduction Act.   If the lead free certification remiation is cost prohibitive, the inspector will be able to present alternatives, such as Full Risk Reduction, Modified Risk Reduction, or Lead Safe category.

Do I need an Attorney to file for an Eviction?

Not necessarily.  It is not required as an individual landlord representing your own property. Corporations and certain other business entities must have an attorney. Rent Court Manager provides an attorney to represent you in court on your behalf because our intent is to serve your best interest.  Keep in mind, your tenant may have attorney representation from various legal aid sources; the attorney from Rent Court Manager will be prepared to argue your case with the information you have provided.