Today I have a question specifically about Baltimore County rent court.
I hire a company called myrentcourt.com to file any Failure to Pay Rent / Warrant of Restitution paperwork and attend court on my behalf.
The guy working there told me something that confused me. He said that the $48 I pay him (to cover court costs and pay for his service) can't "technically" be demanded paid back by the tenant. I never heard that. In fact, I read this:
In any summary ejectment (eviction) for failure to pay rent where the landlord is awarded a judgment allowing the landlord to repossess the leased premises, the tenant has the right to remain in the leased premises by giving cash, a certified check, or money order to the landlord or his agent to cover all past due rent and late fees, plus court-awarded costs and fees at any time before the actual carrying out of the eviction order. This is called the “right of redemption.”
My lease also states that any fees are considered "Additional Rent". I do not see a place on the Failure to Pay Rent form to actually put down legal fees. I only see late fees.
Second confusion is over time to apply/demand the legal fee. For some reason, I thought any court/legal service fees were applied to the following month's rent as additional rent. But this guy is saying that since my tenant paid me, the money should go towards all fees first. Yes, I know the order of payment, but I again, thought that the legal service/court fee wouldn't apply until next month.
Her rent= $845
Legal fee= $48
She paid me $888, so in my mind that paid the rent and late fee and made her good for March with even a .75 cent credit towards April. This guy did the math so that she's still short for March by $47.25 because he applied the payment towards the $48 as well.
What do you guys do? I thought I was clear on this stuff.
First of all, let me say that I do not have experience in this, but I have a couple of questions on the subject. If there is a time limit on when you can receive fees, and the court fees in particular, then would it not be the wisest thing to do to put the money received toward those fees first so that the tenant still owes you rent which does not have the same time limit constraints? if you were to just put that money towards the rent first and leave the fees unpaid, would it not be possible that it would get to the point where you can no longer receive the fees if there is a time limit from doing so? By leaving the arrears in the rent side of things, I would think that he is doing you a favor, guaranteeing that you can collect all the fees.
It logically makes sense, except for the fact that if the $48 was not initially put on the Failure to Pay Rent court papers (and where do you put it anyway?), it's not legally demanded. She could, if she wanted, fight me on that.
Would you know about this?
@Nicole W. First, this is not legal advice!!! You will need to check your local jurisdiction!!!
That being said, generally fees incurred in pursuing legal action can not be assessed as additional rent, and must be explicitly provided for by a court order. The part of the excerpt you copied, as I read it, protects the tenant in this situation, not you. The way I interpret this, you could ask the court to award you $48 for legal expenses incurred while filing the eviction, but this clause essentially says that if the tenant pays 3 things prior to eviction notice (past due rent, late fees, and any other costs the court mandates) they have the right to remain in the premises. You see the problem, your legal fees are not court mandated, and if they can not be classified as additional rent, then they don't fit into any of those 3 categories.
In my understanding the agent from myrentcourt.com is correct, you would not be able to recoup those fees from the tenant, unless the court had approved those fees prior to the tenant exercising their right of redemption.
Again this all hinges on the supposition that legal fees incurred can not be reclassified as additional rent, so check with a local property attorney.
Thanks, @Adam Hershman , for your thoughts. I went ahead and hopped on a chat session with the handy free legal service that MD has and talked to an attorney.
This person said that in the Disposition section on the bottom left-hand area of the paper, if it's checked for "Judgment in favor of Landlord for possession of the premises and costs", then that means the tenant must pay the court/legal fees as well as late fees and rent if they want to avoid the next step of eviction.
I confirmed by asking, "so even though the legal fee is not technically listed on the paperwork, I can still demand it?" He said, "yes."
@Nicole W. Sorry can't help on this one. You may want to check with Baltimore Neighborhoods inc (a landlord tenant non profit group, not sure if the cover the county)
PS like the new pic
Ned Carey, Crab Properties LLC | http://baltimorerealestateinvestingblog.com/
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