PJC In The News

The Baltimore Sun investigates Rent Court

May 4, 2017: Over the past week, we’ve taken in the results of the Baltimore Sun’s yearlong investigation into Baltimore’s Rent Court and escrow process. The Sun investigation brings into focus a double-edged dilemma: many landlords take advantage of renters in Baltimore’s broken rental market but are often not held accountable in court for seriously defective properties. The Public Justice Center, like other civil legal aid organizations across the country, sees this dual injustice play out each day as our clients and other renters go to court without legal representation. The result? A Court that awarded money damages to renters in less than 0.5% of housing cases while awarding the lion’s share of escrowed rent to the landlords.

The Sun investigation demonstrates clearly that it’s time in Baltimore City for proactive measures: universal rental licensing based on annual inspection – every unit, every year – and a right to counsel when city residents face a judicial order for eviction or an uninhabitable home. And the PJC will continue to work for these reforms through our Human Right to Housing project and the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.

We hope you will check out the Sun’s series on Rent Court and join us in building a solution to these long-standing problems.

Dismissed: Tenants lose, landlords win in Baltimore’s Rent Court – April 26
Baltimore officials want fixes, not fines, from landlords – April 26
Rent Court solutions slowly emerge – April 27
Leveling the playing field in Rent Court – April 30
Officials want to end Baltimore Rent Court disparities – May 1
Baltimore needs a 'paradigm shift' in approach to affordable housing – May 4, Op-ed from the Public Justice Center and Jews United for Justice

Want more? The Public Justice Center’s 2015 report Justice Diverted: How Renters are Processed in Baltimore City Rent Court takes a deep dive into Baltimore’s eviction crisis and recommends several solutions.

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