E-Alerts & Press Releases

Baltimore City wants Rent Court reform now. Will the State Senate listen?

March 23, 2018

HB 832/SB 520 is a key reform to Baltimore City's eviction process. It is also a local jurisdiction bill unanimously supported by Baltimore City's State Delegates and Senators. It successfully passed the House this week.

Now the City waits for the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to do the right thing. But on Thursday, Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) chose to hold the bill.

Today, take two actions to stop this:

1. Tell JPR Chairman Sen. Zirkin to listen to Baltimore City renters and elected representatives: He must lead SB 520 to a committee vote and onto the Senate floor!

2. Ask Senate President Mike Miller to ensure "local courtesy" for this unanimously supported local bill.

SB 520 is a fiscally neutral, common-sense bill to reform Rent Court in Baltimore City.

It would end short notice of eviction trials, ensuring that renters have a minimum seven days between receiving a summons and going to court. This simple measure will improve access to a fair hearing for:

  • Low-wage workers juggling shifts at multiple jobs
  • Parents with few options for childcare or school transportation
  • People with disabilities or health constraints that make mobility challenging
  • Any renter who needs to seek legal advice or representation ahead of trial

The bill reflects the recommendations of a 2016 legislative study requested by Baltimore City Delegate Sandy Rosenberg and then-Senator, now-Mayor Catherine Pugh.

The bill is opposed only by:

  • Real estate industry lobbyists who favor speedier eviction over basic fairness
  • The Maryland Judiciary, which prefers the bill to have state-wide effect rather than local only

Contact Senator Bobby Zirkin, Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee
410-841-3131, bobby.zirkin@senate.state.md.us

Contact Senate President Mike Miller
410-841-3700, thomas.v.mike.miller@senate.state.md.us

For more information about the PJC’s legislative work on rent court reform, contact Zafar Shah at (410) 625-9409 x237 or shahz@publicjustice.org. For general inquiries about legislation, contact John Nethercut at (410) 625-9409 x238 or nethercutj@publicjustice.org.  


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