"When a foreclosure self purchaser, or we believe a landlord, wants to take back possession of property if they think that they are able to do under the lease, or under the contract, they don't need to go to court. They can simply effect what's called a 'self-help eviction' or 'non-judicial eviction," says Matt Hill, an attorney with Public Justice Center in Baltimore.
In the Nickens versus Mount Vernon Realty case, attorneys say Mr. Nickens' home was foreclosed. Then bank agents reclaimed the home and told Nickens to leave; but when Nickens agreed to move out after an upcoming weekend, he came home to changed locks and bank agents who refused to give him his belongings.
"I wouldn't think that anyone should be set out within given proper notice," says Craig Harshman, broker and president of Hagerstown Management.
The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled against Nickens, saying this was legal; upholding a law that was established in 1381 under King Henry VI. Now the Public Justice Center in Baltimore is working to over-rule this with a new bill.
"You have to go through the sheriff's office in order to effect an eviction. I mean there's just no place for making someone instantly homeless without some due process," says Hill.
Many local landlords say the only time they've heard of anything like "self-help eviction" is in illegal old stories.
"I heard old guys talk about that but I was like that's not the way we do business," says Harshman.
Landlords say when a lease is breached and evicted tenants ignore the process, landlords are forced to legally change the locks and put tenants' belongings on the curb for 24 hours.
"Posted door by the sheriff, they've been given notice by the judge and they still don't have their stuff out of their houses, it's disheartening. That's why I said it was the worst part of my job," says Harshman.
Attorneys say they're working hard to restore eviction laws to a just due process.
In response to Nickens versus Mount Vernon Realty, Public Justice Center attorneys are pushing a Bill that would make "self-help evictions" illegal.
Senate judicial proceedings will be held this Tuesday and then before a House committee on Thursday in Annapolis.