It is not uncommon in Maryland for residential tenants to get sued on residential leases and contracts for back rent and alleged property damage, sometimes long after they moved out.
In some cases, landlords and property management companies try to collect for damages or fees that: a) didn’t happen, b) happened years earlier, or c) are inflated or not allowed by law. That’s where it’s good to have a tenant rights lawyer on your side.
Just like any other debt collection defense cases, tenants often have valid defenses to the claims. Here are some questions which may reveal common defenses:
- Did the tenant actually breach the lease?
- Did the tenant actually damage anything?
- Are all fees authorized by the lease or by law?
- Does the landlord have documents and photos to prove the claims?
- Has the landlord or management company sued after the statute of limitations?
The tenant rights lawyers at The Holland Law Firm have served as a tenant rights lawyer for many tenants. We have represented tenants in individual cases and also in class actions.
In 2017, we obtained a class action settlement in the case of Claiborne v. Maryland Management in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. The Claiborne case involved relief for 3,275 class members involved in 2,725 debtor transactions.
In 2019, we were proud to obtain a victory in the Maryland Court of Appeals on behalf of our client in the case of Smith v. Wakefield, LP. The property management company sued Mr. Smith more than 7 years after he moved out. They argued that the statute of limitations to sue a residential tenant in Maryland is 12 years, not 3 years. We disagreed, and on February 27, 2019 the Court of Appeals reaffirmed that in Maryland, the statute of limitations for a residential lease is 3 years. The court concluded that:
(1) The three-year period of limitations set forth in CJ § 5-101 governs actions for back rent under residential leases, regardless of whether the lease includes provisions that purport to convert it into a contract under seal.
(2) The three-year period of limitations that applies to a back rent action under a residential lease is not subject to waiver, in light of RP § 8-208(d)(2)
We are committed to leveling the playing field against landlords and property management companies.
If you were sued or harassed by a landlord or property management company in Maryland, don’t give up. Give us a call.
Contact us to set up your consultation with a tenant rights lawyer.