Thursday, May 5, 2011

Maryland Court of Appeals Rules: "Landlord - No License, No Rent Case"

For a long time I have wondered how the Maryland Court of Appeals would rule in a summary ejectment (rent case) landlord-tenant case if the tenant challenged the validity of the suit based on the landlord’s lack of a license required by the local jurisdiction where the property is located. On May 4, 2011, the Court of Appeals ended my speculation. In McDaniel v. Baranowski, (copy here) the Court ruled that a landlord without a license to rent his or her property cannot bring a summary ejectment action against the tenant.

In light of the McDaniel case, every tenant lawyer will be searching the licensing records of the landlord to see if the rent case can be dismissed on a preliminary motion. Every landlord would be wise to make sure that all licensing requirements are followed.

A question remaining is what happens next if you are a landlord? How can you remove your tenant for failing to pay rent if you are not licensed? Well, the Court seems to say that as long as the landlord obtains a license and pleads and proves that licensure in Court, the landlord can proceed. Therefore, the landlord appears to be able to cure the defect; and even though the landlord was not licensed at the time of the lease to the tenant, a newly licensed landlord may sue for possession after a tenant’s failure to pay rent.