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Common Landlord Mistake: Self-Help Evictions


In Maryland, a self-help eviction by a landlord is illegal and prohibited by law. If a landlord engages in self-help eviction, which involves actions such as changing locks, removing belongings, shutting off utilities, or forcibly removing a tenant without following proper legal procedures, the tenant has several remedies available to them. These remedies aim to protect the tenant's rights and hold the landlord accountable for their unlawful actions. Here are some potential remedies for illegal landlord self-help eviction in Maryland:

  1. Injunctive Relief: The tenant can seek injunctive relief by filing a petition in court to obtain an immediate court order to stop the unlawful eviction or to regain possession of the rental property.

  2. Damages: The tenant may be entitled to seek monetary damages resulting from the illegal eviction, including costs associated with temporary housing, storage of belongings, and any other losses suffered as a direct result of the landlord's actions.

  3. Actual and Punitive Damages: In certain cases, a tenant may be entitled to both actual damages (compensation for actual losses) and punitive damages (additional compensation intended to punish the landlord for their wrongful conduct). Punitive damages may be awarded if the landlord's actions were particularly egregious or malicious.

  4. Termination of Lease: The tenant may have the right to terminate the lease agreement due to the landlord's breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. This means the tenant can end the lease without penalty and seek a refund of any prepaid rent or security deposit.

  5. Reinstatement of Possession: If the tenant has been wrongfully removed from the rental property, they may be entitled to seek reinstatement of possession. This means the tenant can regain access to the property and resume their tenancy.

  6. Attorney's Fees: In some cases, a tenant who successfully sues their landlord for an illegal eviction may be entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees and court costs incurred during the legal proceedings.

It is important for tenants who have been subjected to an illegal self-help eviction to gather evidence, document the incident, and consult with an attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law in Maryland. An experienced attorney can guide tenants through the legal process, protect their rights, and help them pursue the appropriate remedies available under Maryland law. Please note that laws can change over time, and it's always advisable to consult with a legal professional or access the most up-to-date information from official sources to ensure accuracy and applicability to your specific situation.

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