Baltimore Court Grants Summary Judgment in Favor of STSW Client

Silverman|Thompson|Slutkin|White real estate litigation attorneys succeeded in obtaining summary judgment on behalf of the private owner of a project-based Section 8 housing project in a breach of lease action pending in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. The case involved a determination of whether projects funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development may proceed with eviction upon a showing that drug-related criminal activity had occurred. Maryland law previously required that, after adducing evidence that a tenant had breached their lease by engaging in drug-related criminal activity, the landlord also prove that the breach was material, substantial and warranted eviction, thereby allowing a judge or jury to countermand the landlord’s decision to evict. The ruling by the Honorable Laurence P. Fletcher-Hill, which has wide implications for all federally-funded housing projects, held that Maryland law is preempted by federal law to the extent it would permit a judge or jury to review a HUD-assisted landlord’s decision to proceed with the eviction of a tenant who has committed drug-related criminal activity. As a result, if a federally-assisted landlord can prove by undisputed fact that a tenant has engaged in drug-related criminal activity in or near the leased premises, the landlord has established grounds for eviction as a matter of law and is entitled to terminate the lease.

Avery Strachan, a partner in the firm’s real estate litigation department, represented the firm’s client along with Kerri Smith, an associate in the real estate litigation department. Partner Bill Sinclair argued the Motion for Summary Judgment before Judge Fletcher-Hill.