A yearlong investigation by The Baltimore Sun found that the rent court system routinely works against tenants, while in many cases failing to hold landlords accountable for not meeting minimum housing standards.
Sun Investigates team members Doug Donovan and Jean Marbella spent a year examining Baltimore's court system for landlord-tenant disputes and examining possible solutions for improving the process. They spent dozens of hours observing court proceedings and touring tenants' homes, interviewed dozens of tenants, landlords, officials, and analysts, and reviewed thousands of pages of court filings and other documents. The Baltimore Sun's work was supported by a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network.
Eviction, and the threat of eviction, weigh heavily on the lives of many of Baltimore's poorest tenants. They move from one ramshackle rental to the next, migrants in their own city, squeezed by rents that consume most of their meager incomes, intolerable housing conditions, a court system that advocates say is insufficiently responsive to their complaints, and a rate of eviction actions that is among the highest in the nation.
Today Rheubottom, 58, finds himself in an ironic position: enforcing eviction orders. Tensions between landlords and tenants can run high. Police say a confrontation between a tenant and a landlord in February escalated into a fatal shooting.
A large residential property management company has settled a class-action lawsuit with 1,442 Baltimore tenants who accused the firm of charging improper fees and then threatening them with eviction to force payment, the parties announced Friday.
Landlords in the state have won cases in rent court despite failing to properly document claims, serve legal notice on tenants or prove that they are licensed to rent properties, according to a study released Tuesday by Maryland Legal Aid.