Housing matters between landlords and tenants are usually heard by the District Court, in a special Rent Court docket. Baltimore created the nation’s first Rent Court to hear housing cases between landlords and tenants. On a typical day, 800-1,000 cases are heard. In some counties, the pace at which housing cases are heard can be fast, depending on the whether or not the landlord and/or tenant appears and evidence (or lack thereof) presented.
So what exactly takes place in Rent Court?
- When both sides appear: The Court will hear both sides of a case and make a decision. The judge will typically ask the plaintiff - the party who filed the claim - to speak first. After explain his or her side of the case, and presenting any relevant evidence, the defendant will be asked for his or her response. At this time, the defendant can explain his or her point of view and also present any evidence. If the landlord wins, the Court will enter a “Judgment for Possession,” often referred to as “Judgment Landlord.” On some occasions, if there was personal service (see Eviction Glossary of Terms) on the tenant, the Court may also issue a money judgment in the amount of rent and costs due. This is not the norm. The court may enter judgment in favor of one of the parties, or it may schedule another hearing if more information is needed.
- When the landlord fails to appear: The Court will most likely dismiss the case. When the tenant fails to appear: the Court will most likely enter a judgment in favor of the landlord.
- When both parties fail to appear: The court will either dismiss the case, issue a judgment, or postpone the trial.
Want to see Rent Court in action?
Check out our videos below, which simulate the Rent Court experience in Baltimore City, as well as other jurisdictions in Maryland.
- Video 1: What happens before court, burden of proof, and evidence
- Video 2: Late Fees, Partial Payments, Judgments, Right of Redemption, Rent Escrow, Eviction Prevention
- Video 3: Judgement of Possession, Warrant of Restitution, Eviction Day, Documentation of notices
Need help filing an eviction case?
As landlords ourselves, we understand the hassle of having to take your tenants to court. In addition to days lost at the courthouse, you likely spend hours trying to track down the status of your cases. And let’s not forget the lost rent you’re racking up for each day in the process ($40/day on average). We'll handle your case for you, start to finish, with our easy system, automated case updates, and super accessible customer service - saving you time, money & stress. Get your free account to start filing today!