Baltimore is a city of renters. Of its 622,000 or so residents, more than half rent, rather than own their homes. The majority of those renters have a median income of less than $28,000 a year. Thousands of families and individuals every year have problems that are unique to renters: how best to communicate with their landlords, getting repairs done thoroughly and in a timely way, getting their deposits back, and in many cases, avoiding eviction. Thousands of landlords, from major companies to Mom and Pop entrepreneurs, rent apartments and row houses on the open market and through on the housing choice voucher program.
Today, the Public Justice Center is releasing a report that indicates there are often serious, systemic problems between renters and landlords. The report focuses on how Baltimore’s rent court runs and operates. This morning, we’re going to look at this unique court with the main author of the report, Zafar Shah. He is an attorney in the Public Justice Center’s Human Right to Housing Project. Deborah Weimer also joins us by phone from her office in Baltimore. She is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law where she works with law students to lead a clinic where students represent tenants. For a copy of Justice Diverted: How Renters are Processed in the Baltimore City Rent Court, go here.