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§ 8-208.1. Retaliatory actions due to reporting violations or complaints prohibited

West's Annotated Code of MarylandReal PropertyEffective: October 1, 2014

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Real Property (Refs & Annos)
Title 8. Landlord and Tenant (Refs & Annos)
Subtitle 2. Residential Leases (Refs & Annos)
Effective: October 1, 2014
MD Code, Real Property, § 8-208.1
§ 8-208.1. Retaliatory actions due to reporting violations or complaints prohibited
Retaliatory actions
(a)(1) For any reason listed in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a landlord of any residential property may not:
(i) Bring or threaten to bring an action for possession against a tenant;
(ii) Arbitrarily increase the rent or decrease the services to which a tenant has been entitled; or
(iii) Terminate a periodic tenancy.
(2) A landlord may not take an action that is listed under paragraph (1) of this subsection for any of the following reasons:
(i) Because the tenant or the tenant's agent has provided written or actual notice of a good faith complaint about an alleged violation of the lease, violation of law, or condition on the leased premises that is a substantial threat to the health or safety of occupants to:
1. The landlord; or
2. Any public agency against the landlord;
(ii) Because the tenant or the tenant's agent has:
1. Filed a lawsuit against the landlord; or
2. Testified or participated in a lawsuit involving the landlord; or
(iii) Because the tenant has participated in any tenants' organization.
Retaliatory action used as defense or claim for damages
(b)(1) A landlord's violation of subsection (a) of this section is a “retaliatory action”.
(2) A tenant may raise a retaliatory action of a landlord:
(i) In defense to an action for possession; or
(ii) As an affirmative claim for damages resulting from a retaliatory action of a landlord occurring during a tenancy.
Amount of judgment
(c)(1) If in any proceeding the court finds in favor of the tenant because the landlord engaged in a retaliatory action, the court may enter judgment against the landlord for damages not to exceed the equivalent of 3 months' rent, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs.
(2) If in any proceeding the court finds that a tenant's assertion of a retaliatory action was in bad faith or without substantial justification, the court may enter judgment against the tenant for damages not to exceed the equivalent of 3 months' rent, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs.
Conditions required for relief
(d) The relief provided under this section is conditioned on the tenant being current on the rent due and owing to the landlord at the time of the alleged retaliatory action, unless the tenant withholds rent in accordance with the lease, § 8-211 of this subtitle, or a comparable local ordinance .
Time of retaliatory action
(e) An action by a landlord may not be deemed to be retaliatory for purposes of this section if the alleged retaliatory action occurs more than 6 months after a tenant's action that is protected under subsection (a)(2) of this section.
Rights of landlord or tenant to terminate or not renew tenancy
(f) As long as a landlord's termination of a tenancy is not the result of a retaliatory action, nothing in this section may be interpreted to alter the landlord's or the tenant's rights to terminate or not renew a tenancy.
Construction with comparable ordinances
(g) If any county has enacted or enacts an ordinance comparable in subject matter to this section, this section shall supersede the provisions of the ordinance to the extent that the ordinance provides less protection to a tenant.

Credits

Added by Acts 1974, c. 645. Amended by Acts 1975, c. 108; Acts 1975, c. 323; Acts 1980, c. 843, § 1; Acts 1989, c. 5, § 1; Acts 1989, c. 813; Acts 1990, c. 6, § 2; Acts 1996, c. 10, § 1, eff. April 9, 1996; Acts 1998, c. 21, § 1, eff. April 14, 1998; Acts 1999, c. 219, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, c. 649, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 1999; Acts 2011, c. 264, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2011; Acts 2011, c. 265, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2011; Acts 2014, c. 556, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2014.

Editors' Notes

HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES
1999 Legislation
Acts 1999, c. 219, § 1, in subsecs. (a)(1) and (a)(2), substituted “the tenant's” for “his”.
Acts 1999, c. 649, § 1, in subsec. (a)(1), substituted “the tenant's agent has filed a good faith” for “his agent has filed a”; in subsec. (a)(2), substituted “the tenant's” for “his”; rewrote subsecs. (c) and (f); and in subsec. (d)(2), substituted “tenancies requiring” for “periodic tenancies measured by”. Prior to revision, subsecs. (c) and (f) read:
“(c) If in any eviction proceeding the judgment be in favor of the tenant for any of the aforementioned defenses, the court may enter judgment for reasonable attorney fees and court costs against the landlord.”
“(f) Nothing in this section may be interpreted to alter the landlord's or the tenant's rights arising from breach of any provision of a lease, or either party's right to terminate or not renew a lease pursuant to the terms of the lease or the provisions of other applicable law.”
2011 Legislation
Acts 2011, c. 264, § 1, and Acts 2011, c. 265, § 1, rewrote the section, which previously had read:
“(a) No landlord shall evict a tenant of any residential property or arbitrarily increase the rent or decrease the services to which the tenant has been entitled for any of the following reasons:
“(1) Solely because the tenant or the tenant's agent has filed a good faith written complaint, or complaints, with the landlord or with any public agency or agencies against the landlord;
“(2) Solely because the tenant or the tenant's agent has filed a lawsuit, or lawsuits, against the landlord; or
“(3) Solely because the tenant is a member or organizer of any tenants' organization.
“(b) Evictions described in subsection (a) of this section shall be called ‘retaliatory evictions’.
“(c)(1) If in any eviction proceeding the judgment be in favor of the tenant for any of the aforementioned defenses, the court may enter judgment for reasonable attorney fees and court costs against the landlord.
“(2) If in any eviction proceeding the court finds that a tenant's assertion of a retaliatory eviction defense was in bad faith or without substantial justification, the court may enter judgment for reasonable attorney fees and court costs against the tenant.
“(d) The relief provided under this section is conditioned upon:
“(1) In the case of tenancies measured by a period of one month or more, the court having not entered against the tenant more than 3 judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid in the 12-month period immediately prior to the initiation of the action by the tenant or by the landlord.
“(2) In the case of tenancies requiring the weekly payment of rent, the court having not entered against the tenant more than 5 judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid in the 12-month period immediately prior to the initiation of the action by the tenant or by the landlord, or, if the tenant has lived on the premises 6 months or less, the court having not entered against the tenant 3 judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid.
“(e) No eviction shall be deemed to be a ‘retaliatory eviction’ for purposes of this section upon the expiration of a period of 6 months following the determination of the merits of the initial case by a court (or administrative agency) of competent jurisdiction.
“(f) Nothing in this section may be interpreted to alter the landlord's or the tenant's rights to terminate or not renew a tenancy governed by a written lease for a stated term of greater than 1 month at the expiration of the term or at any other time as the parties may specifically agree.
“(g) In the event any county or Baltimore City shall have enacted an ordinance comparable in subject matter to this section, that ordinance shall supersede the provisions of this section.”
2014 Legislation
Acts 2014, c. 556, § 1, rewrote subsec. (d), which previously had read:
“(d) The relief provided under this section is conditioned upon:
“(1) The tenant being current on the rent due and owing to the landlord at the time of the alleged retaliatory action, unless the tenant withholds rent in accordance with the lease, § 8-211 of this subtitle, or a comparable local ordinance; and
“(2) If the alleged retaliatory action is a landlord's termination of a periodic tenancy:
“(i) In the case of tenancies measured by a period of one month or more, the court having not entered against the tenant more than 3 judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid in the 12-month period immediately prior to the initiation of the action by the tenant or by the landlord; or
“(ii) In the case of tenancies requiring the weekly payment of rent, the court having not entered against the tenant more than 5 judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid in the 12-month period immediately prior to the initiation of the action by the tenant or by the landlord, or, if the tenant has lived on the premises 6 months or less, the court having not entered against the tenant 3 judgments of possession for rent due and unpaid.”
MD Code, Real Property, § 8-208.1, MD REAL PROP § 8-208.1
Current through all legislation from the 2019 Regular Session of the General Assembly.
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