Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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When a landlord sues a tenant for breach of contract based on a residential lease and the trial court enters judgment in the landlord’s favor and the judgment includes damages for unpaid rent and other expenses, a post-judgment interest rate of six percent applies pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. (“CJ”) 11-107(b) rather than the post-judgment interest rate of ten percent under CJ 11-107(a). Landlords initiated actions for breach of contract against Tenants. The district court entered judgments in Landlords' favor, but the judgments did not delineate the portions thereof that were comprised of unpaid rent, as opposed to other expenses. Thereafter, Debt Collector engaged in collections activity on Landlords’ behalf. Debt Collector sought to apply the post-judgment interest rate of ten percent under CJ 11-107(a). Tenants filed complaints against Debt Collector, arguing that CJ 11-107(b) applied. The federal district court certified the question of which legal rate of post-judgment interest on the judgment awarded applied. The Supreme Court answered as set forth above. View "Ben-Davies & Moore v. Blibaum & Associates, P.A." on Justia Law

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Hosford, severely disabled and wheelchair-bound, has muscle spasms and pain.Since 1989, Hosford has resided at Foghorn's Baltimore CIty Ruscombe Gardens Apartments, subsidized through a federal “Section 8” project-based program. Hosford signed a “Drug-Free Housing Policy” with his lease. In 2014, the complex had a bed bug infestation. An extermination company entered Hosford’s unit and saw a marijuana plant growing in his bathtub. They reported this to the management office. A responding police officer concluded the plant was marijuana, confiscated it, and issued a criminal citation. A police chemist concluded that the plant was marijuana. A nolle prosequi was entered on the possession charge. Foghorn gave Hosford a notice of lease termination. When he did not vacate, Foghorn initiated an eviction. The Court of Appeals held that Maryland Code, Real Property 8-402.1(b)(1), which provides that a court ruling on a landlord-tenant dispute must conclude that a breach of a lease is “substantial and warrants an eviction” before granting judgment for possession of the leased premises, is not preempted by federal regulations mandating that subsidized Section 8 project-based housing developments include lease provisions that engaging in any drug-related criminal activity on or near the leased premises is grounds for termination of the lease. View "Chateau Foghorn, LP v. Hosford" on Justia Law

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Under the rent escrow statute, if a tenant is successful in showing that a landlord was aware of certain conditions or defects in the rental property and failed to correct them, the tenant may be entitled to an abatement or reduction of the rent or other relief. Landlord in this case filed a summary ejectment action against Tenant to collect unpaid rent and to regain possession of the unit. During trial, Tenant attempted to submit evidence of alleged defects in the rental property. The circuit court declined to accept the proffered evidence, concluding that it would be relevant only in an affirmative rent escrow action, which, according to the court, must be filed as a separate action. The circuit court proceeded to enter judgment in favor of Landlord. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment, holding that Tenant could present her evidence and contentions under the rent escrow statute in defense of the summary ejectment action brought by Landlord and was not required to present them in a separate action. Remanded. View "Cane v. EZ Rentals" on Justia Law

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Respondent decided not to renew the lease of Petitioner, a tenant in an apartment building, and filed a tenant holding over action. Petitioner argued that the non-renewal and tenant holding over action were in retaliation for her advocation on behalf of the apartment building’s tenants association. The circuit court ruled in Petitioner’s favor on the question of retaliation but awarded damages for only one of the two alleged acts of retaliation. Specifically, the court found that Petitioner failed to prove that she was current on the rent at the time that she filed her tenant holding over action. The circuit court also declined to award attorneys’ fees to Petitioner. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Petitioner was not ineligible for relief as to the second alleged act of retaliation, as Petitioner’s debts to Respondent other than her fixed monthly amount specified as “rent” in her lease did not factor into whether she was current on the rent for purposes of the anti-retaliation statute; and (2) the circuit court erred in refusing to grant attorney fees without permitting Petitioner an opportunity to submit evidence concerning her entitlement to attorneys’ fees and without explaining how it chose to exercise its discretion. View "Lockett v. Blue Ocean Bristol, LLC" on Justia Law