Who is a holdover tenant?

A “holdover tenant” is a tenant who remains in the property they are renting after their lease has ended. The word “tenant” means the same as “renter” or “lessee.”

For Tenants:  What can happen to me if I hold over?

1.  You may be sued for money

  • The Tenant may owe the landlord money for damages.
  • At the very least, the Tenant will owe the rent for the time they stayed after the lease was over.
  • You may also owe for other damages caused by your holding over. For example, if a new tenant could not move in because the Tenant were still there, and that caused your landlord to lose money, the old Tenant might owe the landlord the money they lost.

2.  You may be evicted

  • The landlord can have you evicted from the property.
  • The process for this is described below.

3. The Tenant may find themself in a new periodic lease

  • If the landlord allows you to stay after the original lease has expired, you enter into a month-to-month lease (unless the original lease said something different).
  • If the Tenant was originally in a week-to-week lease, the holdover period will also be on a week-to-week basis.
  • If a periodic tenancy has been created as a result of you holding over, then this tenancy is subject to all of the terms and conditions contained in the original lease that are applicable to the new situation. Even if you pay an increased rent amount, this doesn’t change the presumption that the other terms and provisions of the lease remain applicable.

Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-402(c)

For Landlords:  What Can I Do if My Tenant Holds Over?

You have a couple options.

  1. You can seek to evict the tenant and get any money they owe you; OR
  2. you can keep the tenant as a paying tenant.

If you want the tenant out, look at the information below, under Judicial Eviction Procedure. This allows you to evict the tenant and seek any money the tenant owes you. This money includes any unpaid rent, as well as any money you lost because a new tenant could not move in as expected under the lease. However, you may not evict your tenant without following the proper procedure.

If the tenant has already left, but still owes you money, look at the information below, under Suing for Money Damages.  The money the former tenant owes you can include unpaid rent, as well as any money you lost because a new tenant was not able to move in.

You can let the tenant stay, and the tenant will owe you ongoing rent. The tenant will become a month-to-month tenant (or if the original lease was week-to-week, the tenant will become a week-to-week tenant).  Remember, if you change your mind later and want the tenant to leave, you will have to give the tenant proper notice. 

Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-402(c)

Even if you let the tenant stay, you can still sue for money they owe you.  If you intend to keep the tenant, but want to sue for the back rent they owe you, look at the information below, under Suing for Money Damages.

Proper Notice: A landlord must give proper notice before ending a tenancy.  Tenants should read leases carefully to see if they are required to give written notice to end a tenancy.

Court procedureSuing for Money Damages

To sue a tenant for money damages, the landlord can use Form DC-CV 082, “Failure to Pay Rent/Landlord’s Complaint for Repossession of Rented Property.”  This form is appropriate if you are letting the tenant stay, or simply seeking money the tenant owes you, but not if you are evicting a holdover tenant.

Landlords may also pursue other remedies granted by the lease or other applicable law against a holdover tenant. See the Breach of Lease article for more information.

A tenant (or anyone in subsequent possession of the rented property, such as a sub-lessee or assignee), who unlawfully holds over after the lease period ends, must pay the landlord for all actual damages caused by the holding over. At the very least, the holdover tenant owes the rent for the period of holding over at the rate provided in the lease.

A landlord may be awarded a money judgment in tenant-holding-over cases if the court finds that the tenant was personally served

Court procedureJudicial Eviction Procedure

When a landlord gives a tenant proper written notice to leave the property, and the tenant does not leave, the landlord may file a written complaint (a lawsuit) with the District Court of the county where the property is located.  The landlord can do this by filing Form DC-DV-080, “Complaint and Summons against Tenant Holding Over.”

The court will then issue a summons telling the tenant to appear in court on the stated day. The constable or sheriff will serve the court summons on the tenant, subtenant, or assignee on the property, or on their known or authorized agent. If none of those persons can be found, the sheriff or constable will post a copy of the summons in a clearly visible place on the property. If the tenant, sub-tenant, or assignee has also been sent a notice by first class mail, the posting of the summons will meet the service requirement to allow a judgment to restore the property to the landlord.

When both parties appear before the court for the eviction proceeding, the tenant will have a chance to explain why he or she should be permitted to remain in the property.

If either the landlord or the tenant fails to appear at the eviction hearing, the judge may decide to postpone the hearing for not less than six or more than ten days after the date stated in the summons.

If the court rules for the landlord, the court will immediately issue a warrant of restitution. The warrant will be served by a sheriff or constable, and requires the tenant to leave the property, returning the property to the possession of the landlord. 

Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-402(b)(2)(I)

Appeals (What If I Do Not Agree with the Court Decision?)

Either party has the right to appeal the District Court’s decision to the Circuit Court within 10 days of the District Court’s order. If judgment is for landlord and the tenant appeals, the tenant may remain in the property until the case is decided by the Circuit Court. For this to happen, the tenant must:

  1. file an affidavit with the District Court explaining that the appeal was not filed only to delay the eviction; and
  2. file a sufficient bond with the condition that they will diligently prosecute the appeal and will pay all overdue rent, all costs in the case, and all loss or damage which the landlord may have as a result of tenant remaining in possession, including rent during the time of holding over.

The Circuit Court will then schedule a date for the hearing within 5 to 15 days after the appeal is filed. Notice must be served on the other party or their counsel within at least 5 days before the hearing. 

Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-402

Note that if your judgment is for failure to pay rent, and not for holding over, the time to file an appeal is four days. 

Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-401(f)

Nonjudicial Eviction 

The landlord cannot evict the tenant until the constable or sheriff is present to allow them to do so. A landlord must obtain a “warrant of restitution” through the judicial eviction procedure to evict the tenant.

Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 8-401

A landlord may take possession of the rented property from a tenant if the tenant has abandoned or surrendered possession of the property.

Read the Law: Md. Code, Real Property § 7-113

 We can assist you in building your case and verifying your following proper procedures in filing your case. We have litigated numerous hold-over cases with a 98% success rate.