The landlord-tenant relationship has the potential to be complex. There are both personal and legal considerations and spoken and unspoken obligations on both parties’ sides.
As a result, there is also the possibility of conflict, particularly when landlords fail to fulfill their obligations or tenants are unable to make their rent on time. However, under the law, tenants have certain rights. Landlords who violate the law may face significant legal consequences. There are certain actions they cannot lawfully take against tenants.
1. Lock them out randomly
Landlords may threaten to lock tenants out or actually lock them out while they are not at home. This is illegal unless the landlords already completed the eviction process. While eviction laws vary based on location within Maryland, in general, the landlord notifies the tenant of the process in some way in a legal eviction. Randomly locking them out or threatening to do so without going through the correct avenues is not legal.
2. Turn off utilities in their name
Turning off water, electricity or gas is a tactic landlords may employ to try and force tenants to move or pay unpaid rent. If the utilities are in the tenant’s name, the landlord does not have the right to shut them off. There is a set of circumstances in which landlords may interfere with the utilities, but one of the criteria is for the utilities to be in the landlord’s name.
3. Enter the building and take items as “rent”
The law grants tenants a right to privacy, which means landlords may not enter the property at any time for any reason. There are reasonable purposes for which they may enter, but they may not enter with the intent of taking tenants’ possessions for unpaid “rent.”
Landlords do not have the right to take action by themselves. They must go through legal processes.