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  1. #1

    Default Statute of Limitations on Accumulation of Back Rent in Maryland

    My question involves collection proceedings in the State of: Maryland
    Multi-year tenant balance grew over time ( From 2011-July 2014). Month after month, year after year, it grew larger til I was fed up with the promises and attempts to have tenant repay little extra each month to slowly catch up. Started eviction proceedings and tenant skipped out. I could not find for 2 years (Oct 2016). When located, I filed civil lawsuit instead of small claims due to value well over $5k. Court date finally coming up (Jan 18, 2018) and tenants lawyer is claiming case exceeds statute of limitations. Statute of limitations in MD is 3 years. My question is: I'm assuming because I filed in Oct 2016 and their accumulated debt and skip out was July 2014, the full amount of balance is within the 3 year statute of limitation. OR... can I only collect for transactions 3 years prior to filing (ie. rent billed-payments from Oct 2013 - July 2014)?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Md Accumulation of Back Rent Statute of Limitations

    The details of whatever agreements you had with the tenant would matter. Generally though the time to file a complaint for unpaid rent starts the day after the rent is due but is unpaid. That means each month’s unpaid rent starts a period of limitations for that month. If you wait to pile up a bunch of months of unpaid rent, you risk that the earlier months may end up being too old and past the statute of limitations. Thus, it may be that rent due more than three years before you filed your complaint are too late now to successfully get a judgment for.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Md Accumulation of Back Rent Statute of Limitations

    I believe that the 2 years that the tenant hid from you might not count against the SOL.

    See MD's tolling statute:

    2016 Maryland Code
    Courts and Judicial Proceedings
    Title 5 - Limitations, Prohibited Actions, and Immunities
    Subtitle 2 - Computing Time
    5-205. Absence from State or moving from county

    (a) Denial of benefit of limitation. -- A person who absents himself from the State or removes from county to county after contracting a debt, so that his creditor may be uncertain of finding the person or his property, may not have the benefit of any limitation contained in this title, but this subsection does not prohibit a person from removing himself or his family from one county to another for reasons of convenience nor does it deprive any person leaving the State for the time limited in this subsection of the benefits of any statute of limitations if he leaves sufficient and known effects for the payment of his just debts in the hands of some person who will assume the payment of them to his creditors.

    (b) Person absent when action accrues. -- A person who is absent from the State when a cause of action accrues against him may not benefit from a statute of limitation if the plaintiff files the action within the normal limitations period after the defendant returns to the State.
    http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/fr...S&tab=subject5

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Md Accumulation of Back Rent Statute of Limitations

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    I believe that the 2 years that the tenant hid from you might not count against the SOL.
    To be clear, though, difficulty finding somebody does not automatically translate into their trying to frustrate a creditor -- many deadbeat tenants are difficult to find not because they are hiding from creditors, but because they move around a lot.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Md Accumulation of Back Rent Statute of Limitations

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    To be clear, though, difficulty finding somebody does not automatically translate into their trying to frustrate a creditor -- many deadbeat tenants are difficult to find not because they are hiding from creditors, but because they move around a lot.
    If you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Md Accumulation of Back Rent Statute of Limitations

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    If you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

    But it's the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the reason for moving was to frustrate the creditor. You gotta prove its a horse that made the hoofbeats, not just assume it. Note that even being outside the state does not extend the statute of limitation in Maryland so long as the defendant, when found, would be subject to process under the state’s longarm statute:

    Although Larsen did not reside in Maryland during any portion of the relevant period and does not reside in Maryland now, there is no dispute that he was always reachable by process. Thus, he was never “absent from the State” within the meaning of 5-205. In his complaint, Hansen alleged that the Circuit Court for Montgomery County had personal jurisdiction over Larsen under Code (1974, 1995 Repl.Vol.), 6-103(b)(1) of the Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., in that he transacted business in Maryland.4 Section 6-304 of the Courts Article provides: “If the exercise of personal jurisdiction is authorized by this title, the defendant may be served with process where he is found, whether within or outside of the State.” Id., 6-304.

    The complaint could have been filed and Larsen could have been served with process at any time after the cause of action arose. The record contains no valid explanation for the delay of thirteen years and three months from the date that Hansen allegedly learned of the sale of Type Time Boardwalk. It is nonsensical to suppose that, where a defendant is subject to the personal jurisdiction of a court and is within reach of the court's process, a plaintiff may refrain from taking action against the defendant until after the limitations period would normally expire simply because the defendant resides in another State.

    Hansen v. Larsen, 144 Md. App. 201, 210, 797 A.2d 118, 123 (2002). By that reasoning, if the defendant simply moved counties but yet would be subject to process he too should still get the benefit of the statute of limitations. In any event, simply moving without leaving a forwarding address isn’t itself going to be enough to toll the limitations period.

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    Default Re: Statute of Limitations on Accumulation of Back Rent in Maryland

    Quote Quoting marcusmadsen
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    My question is: I'm assuming because I filed in Oct 2016 and their accumulated debt and skip out was July 2014, the full amount of balance is within the 3 year statute of limitation.
    It's reasonable to infer that the lawyer's argument is that the statute of limitations started to run on any individual rent payment when that payment was due, such that the statute has run for any rent payments due more than three years before you filed your lawsuit, limiting you to rent claims for @October 2013-July 2014. If they owed more than @10 months rent at the time they finally moved out, you made a novice landlord's mistake -- you have to be hard-hearted when tenants come to you with excuses about why their rent is late, because if you don't... this is what happens. I would not be surprised if they presently have a legal aid attorney who is helping them for free.

    If they are claiming that their more recent payments were for the more recent rent charges, and not for the arrears, you can argue to the court that any money you received was first applied to back rent and not to the most recent rent debt. You can also try arguing that the rent should be treated in the manner of an open account, rather than a series of separate obligations, such that the statute of limitations should start to run at the time the tenant vacated -- I can't promise that the court will be receptive to the argument, but if the court accepts it then the entire debt should be collectable.

    If the lawyer has filed an actual motion, you can tell us what the lawyer's arguments are.

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