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Statutes Text

Article - Real Property


    (a)    (1)    In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

        (2)    “Threaten to take possession” means using words or actions intended to convince a reasonable person that the landlord intends to take imminent possession of the property in violation of this section.

        (3)    (i)    “Willful diminution of services” means intentionally interrupting or causing the interruption of heat, running water, hot water, electricity, or gas by the landlord for the purpose of forcing a tenant to abandon the property.

            (ii)    “Willful diminution of services” does not include a landlord choosing not to continue to pay for utility service for residential property after a final court order awarding possession of the residential property, if the landlord has provided the tenant reasonable notice of the landlord’s intention and the opportunity for the tenant to open an account in the tenant’s name for that service.

    (b)    (1)    Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a landlord may not take possession or threaten to take possession of a dwelling unit from a tenant or tenant holding over by locking the tenant out or any other action, including willful diminution of services to the tenant.

        (2)    A landlord may take possession of a dwelling unit from a tenant or tenant holding over only:

            (i)    In accordance with a warrant of restitution issued by a court and executed by a sheriff or constable; or

            (ii)    If the tenant has abandoned or surrendered possession of the dwelling unit.

    (c)    (1)    If in any proceeding the court finds in favor of the tenant because the landlord violated subsection (b) of this section, the tenant may recover:

            (i)    Actual damages; and

            (ii)    Reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

        (2)    The remedies set forth in this subsection are not exclusive.

    (d)    This section may not be construed to prevent a landlord from taking temporary measures, including changing the locks, to secure an unsecured residential property, if the landlord makes good faith attempts to provide reasonable notice to the tenant that the tenant may promptly be restored to possession of the property.

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