Circuit Court for Baltimore City Case No. 24-C-17-003110
Barbera, C.J., Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Hotten,
present case provides us an opportunity to review the 14-day
notice requirement contained in Real Property Article §
8-402.1(a)(1)(i) of the Maryland Code (1974, 2015 Repl. Vol.)
("Real Prop."). The issue before us stems from a
breach of lease action filed by Respondent Broadway Overlook
("Landlord") against Petitioner Shontel Hunter
("Tenant") in the District Court of Maryland
sitting in Baltimore City.
and Procedural Background
February 28, 2017, Respondent-Landlord issued a "Notice
to Vacate Property" to the Tenant. The notice provided:
This notice made the 28th day of February, 2017 is
to notify the tenant Shontel Hunter that you have
(14) days to vacate the property 129 N. Bond
Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21231 Unit #129NB.
You have until March 15th 2017 to surrender the
property back to the Landlord. This notice is in accordance,
with the Breach of Lease filing requiring a 14
day notice to vacate the property.
Winn: Broadway Overlook
in original). Two days later, on March 2, 2017, the Landlord
filed a breach of lease complaint ("Complaint")
against the Tenant in the District Court of Maryland sitting
in Baltimore City. The complaint alleged that "the
tenant has threatened bodily harm to leasing staff in front
of Baltimore City Police. The Tenant failed to maintain unit
in accordance with lease." Under paragraph three of the
Complaint, the Landlord checked the box for "14 days
written notice" to complete the sentence: "The
Landlord has given the Tenant [X] 14 days written notice
(because the breach causes a clear and imminent danger of
serious harm to others or the property of the landlord), that
the Tenant is in violation of the lease, and that the
Landlord desires to repossess the premises." The
Landlord indicated that written notice was dated "Feb.
28th 2017" and attached a copy of the written
notice to the Complaint.
District Court set the matter in for a trial on April 14,
2017. Prior to the admission of evidence, the Tenant moved to
dismiss the action on the basis that the Landlord had filed
its Complaint prematurely. The Tenant also argued that the
"Notice to Vacate" did not specify why she needed
to vacate, which, she argued, was a violation of section
23(E) of the lease. The District Court denied Ms.
Hunter's motion. After receiving evidence, the District
Court ruled in favor of the Landlord. The District Court
determined that the Landlord had demonstrated a breach of
lease with respect to an incident that occurred on January
23, 2017 between the Tenant and the Landlord's staff. The
District Court further ruled that the Landlord gave adequate
advance notice for the Tenant to vacate.
Tenant appealed to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
Sitting as an appellate court, the Circuit Court affirmed the
judgment of the District Court. The Circuit Court concluded
that Real Prop. § 8-402.1(a)(1)(i)(2)(b) is "devoid
of any language that would suggest a waiting period of 14
days is a condition precedent to filing a [breach of lease]
complaint[.]" The Circuit Court reasoned that the
statute requires a landlord to only provide notice to the
tenant that he or she must vacate in 14 days, but does not
require the landlord to "exhaust the 14 day period of
notice before filing the action." The Circuit Court also
held that because the Landlord's Complaint explained the
grounds for the relief sought, there was sufficient evidence
to affirm the District Court.
November 3, 2017, we granted certiorari to consider
1. "Did the [C]ircuit [C]ourt err in finding that Real
Prop. § 8-402.1 allows the landlord to file a complaint
for possession without having first exhausted the ...