Post mortem summary of potential legal issues

7 Replies

Hi. I'm new here and wanted to share a recent issue I had with my renters. I'm looking for a little knowledge. I apologize if this gets long winded.

I'm a novice landlord and have been renting my townhouse for over 5 years. My last tenant officially vacated Nov 1st 2014. She was the ideal tenant for almost 4 years. Never late and hardly ever had any maintenance issues (that were her fault) and she left virtually no damage to the house after leaving (except for normal ware and tear on walls, etc). But she tainted all that in the last 3 days before moving out. By not moving out on time, leaving all sorts of junk in and outside the house. She hasn't paid her water bill or transferred services back to me. And the worst thing was she left me a squatter!!

She was the only official tenant on the lease and never told me this other guy moved in. He had been there for at least a year.  I did discover he was there about a year ago when I went over to fix an issue but I let it slide (i know; I shouldn't have).

Thankfully, it only took me a week to get rid of the squatter (literally as of last night). I've heard horror stories of it taking almost a year to get rid of squatters. But if the person was never on the lease (and he never paid rent according to my tenant) does he have any legal rights if he had decided to fight me on this?

Hey there! I'm in Maryland also, but in Baltiimore County. Rental laws in MD do vary a little bit county by county. 

I have evicted a guy who had people moved in with him. He kept saying they were guests. Well I evicted him for nonpayment of rent. Eviction day came and the Constable tells *everyone* to get out. He doesn't just make the people on the paperwork get out. I mean--really--how would one ever get control of their property if they only remove people named on the paperwork but let the others stay? Don't worry. 

Have you changed the locks? I hope so! Do it immediately. Did you get any keys back? You got out of this pretty easy. Even good tenants can disappoint you at the end of a lease by leaving junk and stuff. If you need to clean up, then hire someone and take that cost out of the security deposit. You have I think 45 days (please confirm) to return that anyway. Don't forget the 3% simple interest per year that their original deposit needed to accrue. 

Save this link. It's amazing. You can chat online during typical business hours (except lunch time) with a paralegal/attorney about any landlord laws! Priceless link here:
http://www.courts.state.md.us/legalhelp/districtct...

If it says "I'm online", they're available. Otherwise, you'd have to leave a text message, which I'd just try again later when they're online. Please feel free to PM me with any other landlord questions. Now clean that place up and re-rent! Do a holiday move-in special or something.

Jason, first of all welcome to BP!  Now to answer your questions...

Based on what you described, the person was actually NOT a squatter.  A squatter is someone who generally does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use/occupy a property but does so anyway.  That was not the case here apparently. 

Your tenant allowed the person to live there for at least a year, and so did you by not doing anything to remove him once you became aware of him being there.

Therefore, he has established residency there and would need to be evicted (if he had not already left voluntarily).  You'd likely win in court, but you would have to go to court.  You couldn't just throw him out on the street and claim it was okay because he was not on the lease.

Thanks Nicole! I had a feeling I would have been in-the-right to have him kicked out pretty easily but was just curious for the future. That link looks immensely useful! I'll be sure to bookmark it. Thanks a million!

And you better believe I changed the locks the other night. Even when I did that the squatter ended up sleeping on the deck in the back yard for a night. Thankfully he came by last night and hauled his stuff away (which was all also in the back yard, where I put it).

Originally posted by @Nicole W.:

I mean--really--how would one ever get control of their property if they only remove people named on the paperwork but let the others stay? Don't worry. 

Here's what I do - whenever I serve any type of notice (i.e. pay or quit, unlawful detainer, etc), I list every person named on the lease AND add something to the effect of "AND ALL OTHERS IN POSSESSION". 

This extra line accounts for people not named on the lease but who also live there, or show up to court (or the lockout) and claim they do. 

Yeah, I've heard about that...and I guess we could maybe do that here, but I have personally never needed to...and I typically hire a service to do this stuff for me. 

The extra people there thought they had rights to stay since they were getting mail there or something, but found out the hard way they were very wrong. Constable came in and told everyone large, small, and furry to get out.

@Jason M.  

 Welcome to Bigger Pockets; just joined myself earlier this week.

I just finished the Maryland Real Estate course (and passed - whew!) and during the section on property management, my instructor emphasized that Maryland does not recognize squatters rights in rental situations.  They are either paying tenants (with a lease) or trespassers, she said.

You still had good fortune to get them out with little pain.

   

Originally posted by @Kyle J. :

Based on what you described, the person was actually NOT a squatter.  A squatter is someone who generally does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use/occupy a property but does so anyway.  That was not the case here apparently. 

Thanks for the correction, Kyle! Honestly, I hadn't even read up on what the technical/legal term squatter meant and just used it to describe this person generically.

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