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Landlord & Tenant Section

One of the duties of the Sheriff is to provide enforcement for court ordered assistance to property owners. Evictions are an unfortunate but necessary part of that duty. The Landlord/Tenant Section is responsible for the service of all related summonses and notices regarding the eviction process. This unit works in accordance with the District Court of Maryland. 

OVERVIEW 

Mortgage Foreclosures: Once a judgment has been awarded a mortgage company or other plaintiff, application may be made to the Circuit Court for a writ of possession. This document will authorize the Sheriff to conduct an eviction and return said property to either the plaintiff or mortgage company. 

Delinquent / Late Rent: The Landlord files a Failure to Pay Rent - Landlord's Complaint for Repossession of Rented Property in the District Court any time after the rent due date (fee is $5.00 per tenant). The hearing is held approximately 7 days later. A copy of the hearing notice is mailed to the Tenant and a second copy is personally delivered to the residence. If the Tenant still has not vacated the residence on the fifth day after the judgment, the Landlord may apply for a warrant of restitution (fee is $40.00). If this is issued, the Sheriff is authorized to conduct an eviction.  

Lease Violation: The Landlord files a Breach of Lease in the District Court (fee is $40.00). A copy of the hearing notice is mailed to the Tenant and a second copy is personally delivered to the residence. If the court finds in favor of the Landlord, judgment will be entered against the Tenant. If the Tenant still has not vacated the residence on the fifth day after the judgment, the Landlord may apply for a warrant of restitution (fee is $40.00). If this is issued, the Sheriff is authorized to conduct an eviction. 

Tenant Refused to Leave: (i.e. Tenant holding over for any other reason not addressed above) Landlord files a forcible entry and detainer in the District Court (fee is $40.00). The Hearing is held approximately 7 days later. A copy of the hearing notice is mailed to the Tenant. A second copy is personally delivered to the residence. If the court finds in favor of the Landlord, judgment will be entered against the Tenant. If the Tenant has not vacated the residence on the fifth day after the judgment, the Landlord may apply for a warrant of restitution (fee is $40.00). If this is issued, the Sheriff is authorized to conduct an eviction. 

EVICTIONS 

A warrant of restitution or writ of possession is generally valid for 60 days from the date of issue. The document may be executed any time within the window.  

It is the practice of the Sheriff's Office to initiate efforts to contact a Landlord or other plaintiff within 7 days of receipt of an eviction in order to schedule a mutually agreeable date and time for displacing the Tenant and his/her property. Additionally, evictions are conducted during Court business hours so that any issues which arise during an eviction may be addressed immediately. 

An eviction is only legal if a Deputy Sheriff is present. That Deputy's sole responsibility is to keep the peace. A Landlord is responsible for providing an adequate number of movers and exercising reasonable care in removing a Tenant's property from a location. Under most circumstances, if a Landlord has failed to provide enough movers to conclude an eviction within 2 hours, the eviction will be rescheduled. 

A Tenant is typically permitted to remain on-scene until all property is removed, so long as s/he is not hindering the eviction proceedings. All personal property, except that which may pose a public safety threat, will be placed on the curb of the nearest public roadway. Once there, it is the Tenant's responsibility to safeguard the property. 

Upon completion of the eviction, the removal of any unclaimed or abandoned property becomes the Landlord's responsibility. In accordance with Howard County Code, failure to remove a Tenant's evicted property from a County right-of-way within 48 hours will result in removal by the County Department of Public Works. The Department of Public Works may remove and dispose of all personal property that is on County property in violation of existing County Code. The County will bill the owner of the rental real property for all costs incurred in connection with the removal and disposal of the evicted tenant's personal property.  

Landlord / Tenant matters are handled by the Landlord / Tenant Unit of the Howard County Sheriff's Office. The preceeding is merely an overview of Sheriff's Office policies and practices. Specific questions or concerns may be fielded by the civil process staff at (410) 313-4222 during normal business hours. 

Procedures & Rules for Evictions (PDF document)  

WRITS OF EXECUTION 

The Landlord/Tenant Section also handles Writs of Executions. The purpose of a Writ of Execution is to attempt to satisfy a monetary judgment that has been issued by the Court by either collecting payment for the total judgment or by conducting a levy and/or seizure of personal or real property owed by the Debtor/Defendant.  

The Howard County Sheriff’s Office has seized numerous vehicles, boats, furniture, office equipment, and homes. The Court will often direct the HCSO to sell some of these items at Public Auction - better known as a Sheriff’s Sale - to collect the monies owed. 

For a complete listing of fees associated with the Landlord / Tenant Section, click on the link below. 

Howard County Sheriff's Office Fee Schedule (PDF document) 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES 

    For further inforation on Landlord/Tenant laws visit: http://www.peoples-law.org/ 

Maryland Rental Housing 

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. offers information to tenants and landlords statewide about their rights and responsibilities in eviction: toll free (800) 487-6007. 

The Legal Aid Bureau, Inc. offers free legal services to people with limited incomes. You may wish to have a lawyer help you during the eviction process. To find the Legal Aid office nearest you, contact (410) 539-5340. 

Get a copy of the Maryland Attorney General's 16 page booklet, Landlords and Tenants: Tips on Avoiding Disputes by calling (410) 576-6500. 

The Howard County Sheriff's Office Landlord/Tenant Unit is open Monday thru Friday, 8am-4pm (closed on all Court holidays) and can be reached at (410) 313-4222 (fax: 410-313-4236).