New Rental Registration Law Creates Challenges for Tenants

In August of 2017, the Baltimore Sun published an in-depth investigation on serious deficiencies in Baltimore City’s rent court system. The article reported that a system set up to protect tenants had become little more than a tool for landlords to collect rent, even if tenants had a legitimate reason for not paying.

In response, the City passed a law that required all rental units to be licensed and inspected. Previously only those multifamily units with three or more tenants were subject to inspection.

However, tenant advocates were concerned that some renters would be displaced should landlords refuse to make improvements to their properties.

According to a recent story in the Baltimore Sun, this appears to be happening. Though the City says there is no evidence of widespread displacement, the Sun did find several cases of renters losing their homes. In pushing for passage of this bill, advocates had hoped for the City to provide some assistance to those who might be displaced, but this did not happen.

The Sun tells the story of Michelle Rosario who is in the process of being evicted for failure to pay rent despite living in a rental unit with numerous code violations. Her attorney from the Public Justice Center states that she “took a stand against substandard housing conditions and her unlicensed landlord…but the legal system failed her.”

Also interviewed in the article is John Grasso, a former Anne Arundel County Councilman who owns over 300 rental properties in the City and has previously made controversial statements about those who depend on subsidized housing. Grasso admits to evicting tenants because he did not want to make the required improvements and also feels the City should not require landlords to provide utilities like heat and electricity in their units.

CPHA was founded 78 years ago by a group of concerned individuals horrified at the living conditions of Baltimore City’s poor. While things have improved since then, Baltimore City continues to face many of the same challenges today.

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Gregory Friedman

Gregory Friedman

This article was written by Gregory Friedman. Click here to meet our writing team.

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