Pro Bono News
District Court Judge Throws Out Hundreds of Annapolis Housing Authority's Failure to Pay Rent Cases (MD)
Friday, August 09, 2019
- Capital Gazette
District Court Judge Throws Out Hundreds of Annapolis Housing Authority's Failure to Pay Rent Cases
"An Anne Arundel County District Court judge dismissed hundreds of pending failure to pay rent cases against tenants of Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis properties Friday, finding that HACA was ineligible to access an expedited eviction process because it is not a licensed landlord.
Judge John McKenna, administrative judge for the district courts in Anne Arundel County, froze all failure to pay rent cases from April onward when attorneys for Newtowne 20 resident LaDawn Camp contested her case and explained that the outcome could affect all of the other pending cases.
The housing authority claimed Camp failed to pay rent on multiple occasions, most recently in March. Her attorneys argued that HACA had no standing to take her to court under expedited proceedings, because they aren’t inspected or licensed by the city — like every other landlord.
McKenna first ruled in favor of HACA June 3, citing a section of Maryland housing law that allows local jurisdictions to exempt public housing authorities from certain health and sanitation standards and that Mayor Gavin Buckley had legally exempted them.
But after Camp’s Maryland Legal Aid attorneys filed a motion for reconsideration explaining that only the City Council — not the mayor alone — could exempt the housing authority from licensing and inspections, McKenna sided with Camp and threw out hundreds of pending failure to pay rent lawsuits against housing authority residents like her..."