Pro Bono News

Fee shifting can help restore balance to rent court (MD) (Opinion)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fee shifting can help restore balance to rent court


"This year, the Baltimore Sun published an important series of articles on Baltimore City Rent Court. It describes a complex rent escrow system designed to protect tenants that is nevertheless dominated by landlords — even when the properties have conditions that are a serious threat to the health of the tenants. The landlords rarely suffer significant consequences for allowing unsafe property conditions, and tenants frequently struggle to navigate the system even when their cases are strong.

This is largely because landlords are almost always represented, while tenants are very rarely represented in rent court. The Maryland General Assembly could make a change to the law that would help increase tenants’ ability to get representation at no cost to the general public, would be paid for only by landlords who violate the law and would decrease the burden on Maryland courts: fee-shifting to prevailing tenants in rent escrow cases..."

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