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Clean Streets Law Goes Into Effect; New Brochure Explains Procedures

On October 1, 2007, the City of Baltimore will have a new law that provides basic and better justice for tenants, relief for communities suffering from blight, and savings for taxpayers. Passing this bill has been the first legislative success of the Rental Housing Coalition, organized by the Public Justice Center in 2004. This coalition of tenant advocates, community organizations, and other supporters of reform of Maryland’s landlord-tenant laws has shown increasing strength at the city and state levels.

The Clean Streets bill requires that for the first time, landlords must give tenants 14 days notice of the actual date when the sheriff is scheduled to evict them. The notices must be mailed by first class and certified mail and posted on the property. These notices will give tenants more time to make arrangements to move out and protect their belongings or to pay the rent due to cancel the eviction.

The Clean Streets Bill also prohibits the long tolerated practice of allowing landlords to dump tenants’ belongings in the public street after an eviction. Landlords are now required to properly dispose of any abandoned property after an eviction at a public dump, and can be fined $1,000 per day for illegal dumping on public property. In the past, tenants suffered the public humiliation of seeing their belongings in the street, and often lost their property to scavengers or the weather. This was particularly a problem because tenants did not know when the eviction would actually occur. Neighborhood organizations were dismayed that the City would allow this dumping, which was a visible sign of blight in the neighborhood. And Baltimore City taxpayers picked up the tab -- $800,000 per year to remove the belongings to the dump. The Clean Streets Bill ends the practice of public dumping.

Passing a law is only the first step towards actual reform however. The hard work of educating the public and implementing and enforcing the law now begins. To kick off our public education campaign, the Public Justice Center wrote the attached booklet for the Rental Housing Coalition to explain the new law to landlords and tenants. The booklet was approved by a working group of landlord representatives, district court judges, the Sheriff, and the City Law Department, and will be distributed at the District Court and by organizations throughout the city.

Click here to read "Evictions in Baltimore City: Procedures for Tenants and Landlords."

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