- No Rental License, No Eviction
- June 28, 2011
- Law Firm: Miles & Stockbridge P.C. - Rockville Office
The Maryland Court of Appeals recently held that a Landlord, who had failed to obtain a rental license pursuant to the Anne Arundel County Code for premises he leased to a tenant, was not permitted to initiate summary ejectment proceedings for the tenant’s failure to pay rent under Section 8-401 of the Real Property Article of the Maryland Code. In the case of McDaniel v. Baranowski, No. 64, September Term 2010, the record revealed that the Landlord did not possess a current rental license for the leased premises. The Landord had previously obtained a license but that license had expired prior to the lease in question being executed. The Landlord, however, did reapply for a rental license after he had initiated the summary ejectment proceeding against the tenant.
Notwithstanding the Landlord’s prior license and his subsequent reapplication, the Court stated, “in order to invoke the facile process of summary ejectment, a landlord in those jurisdictions requiring licensure, must affirmatively plead and demonstrate that he is licensed at the time of the filing of the complaint for summary ejectment in order to initiate the summary ejectment process.”
As a result of the decision, the Montgomery County Sheriff has issued a bulletin to all Montgomery County Bar Association members alerting them to the impact the decision may have to any future summary ejectment cases to be filed. Many other jurisdictions in Maryland are presumably issuing similar advisories.
In addition to making sure that a valid license is in effect, a landlord should also verify that the correct license has been obtained since there are many levels or types of rental licenses in the numerous Maryland counties. Each county will likely have its own licensing scheme. Under the Court’s decision, holding the wrong type of license may be the equivalent of having no license at all and may result in a dismissal of the case.
Once a landlord has obtained a required license, there still exists a logistical issue that remains unaddressed by the Court of Appeals’ opinion. That is, how does a landlord “affirmatively plead and demonstrate that he is licensed at the time of filing”? The statewide pre-printed complaint forms for summary ejectment actions have no section dedicated to this issue and there is no blank room elsewhere in the complaint form to proffer to the Court the required affirmative allegation.
Although every local jurisdiction will have its own local practice, it is recommended that a separate line be filed with the summary ejectment complaint, alleging that the landlord was properly licensed by the applicable jurisdiction. Additionally, a copy of the landlord’s rental license should be attached to the line and filed with the Court. Lastly, the landlord should be prepared at the trial to proffer to the Court a copy of the license to be admitted into evidence.