Good rental property management practices encourage property managers to balance the interests of all stakeholders – tenants, owners, and residents. This means that companies offering property management in Baltimore routinely make decisions based on business agreements, prevailing law, and human-interest factors. Unfortunately, the unfolding COVID-19 crisis has tested the limits of those best practices.
Let’s take a look on how COVID-related laws impact Baltimore property managers. Our focus today is on how these laws affect the eviction process.
Understanding Eviction Cases
For property managers in Baltimore to properly apply eviction laws, they must understand various types of evictions. Maryland’s judicial system recognizes four types of evictions – each of which may or may not have relevance to COVID-19 eviction laws:
- Failure to Pay Rent: When a tenant falls behind on rental obligations, property managers may file a case for eviction.
- Tenant Holding Over: If a tenant has an expired lease, it’s best practice to try and negotiate a lease extension. However, a Baltimore property management company has legal right to file an eviction case of Tenant Holding Over.
- Breach of Lease: Before eviction proceedings, the law requires companies, involved in property management in Baltimore, to first provide the tenant written notice of the infractions of the lease. It is important to note, however, that courts typically only issue eviction orders in cases of serious violations.
- Wrongful Detainer: As a property manager, owners may sometimes ask you to evict some residents. You may do so by filing a Wrongful Detainer case. Before filing such a case, property management companies in Baltimore must understand that such requests may, at times, ensue as a result of there being no written rental lease or agreement. The Wrongful Detainer law is a tool to force eviction of such occupants
COVID and Evictions
Effective March 5th, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan issued an emergency order that temporarily prohibited evictions of tenants impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. It’s also important for Baltimore County property management companies to know that subsequently, on June 29, 2021, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed an extension to the original eviction moratorium, which offered reprieve to tenants until July 31, 2021.
ASSESSING THE DIRECT IMPACT
Once companies, involved in rental property management in Baltimore, appreciate the spirit of these laws, it might be easier to implement and enforce the letter of the law. That spirit is to alleviate the pain that COVID-19 has inflicted on renters and tenants. So, what does the letter of the law stipulate? At a very macro level, you may not be able to serve eviction notice if the tenant can prove to the courts that their failure to pay is a direct result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
DOWNSTREAM AND INDIRECT IMPACTS
Companies offering property management in Baltimore County, in such agency capacity, should be aware of an additional emergency order, issued by Governor Hogan’s office, that may impact how you perform your agency-related duties. That supplemental order prohibits utility providers from causing additional hardship to tenants. If part of your duties relates to enforcing the collection of utility dues owed to 3rd-party service providers, you may be impacted by these provisions.