Landlords Have an Edge in Eviction Cases. They Can Afford Lawyers, and Low-Income Renters Can’t.

A study released Monday by the Public Justice Center, a civil legal-aid organization, reveals that the outcomes in Baltimore’s “Rent Court” are predictably one-sided.

News Story (Maryland)

Jake Blumgart
December 8, 2015

Tags: Housing: Eviction, Rent Court, Research/Data

Organizations mentioned/involved: Public Justice Center (PJC)


The paper notes that Baltimore faces a “rent eviction crisis” more dramatic than almost any other in the nation. Six thousand to 7,000 families every year lose their homes after being brought to rent court, even when the landlord is guilty of gross violations of the housing code. Only Detroit saw a larger percentage of its renters suffering the threat of eviction, based on data about reported notices of evictions because of nonpayment of rent from the 2013 American Housing Survey.

The Public Justice Center’s research, based on interviews and case analysis with hundreds of tenants whose cases were marked “failed to pay rent,” shows that many tenants could make a strong case for refusing to pay their landlords. The researchers found that almost 80 percent of surveyed renters lived in units with serious “housing defects”—like vermin infestation, toxic mold, or broken appliances—and that 72 percent of that group had notified their landlords about these deficiencies