Few scenes reveal urban malaise so visibly and vividly as a sidewalk piled high with broken-down chairs, tables, blankets, mattresses—the furnishings of a life. This dismal experience represents a system in collapse, with unhappy consequences for the tenant who has been evicted, the landlord who has obtained the eviction order, the neighborhood that is littered, and the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland—as unwitting enablers.
There are thousands such scenes in Baltimore City every year. The saddest aspect of it is probability: if you rent in Baltimore City, the chances of eviction are greater than if you rent in the comparable cities of Washington, D.C., Detroit, or Cleveland.
Tenants in Baltimore City are handicapped from the start. Compared with other cities, the eviction process assigns less responsibility to landlords to notify tenants of non-payment of rent and to dispose of tenant belongings. The combination of widespread tenant delinquency and minimal landlord responsibilities results in:
These consequences adversely affect the quality of life in Baltimore City. But the effects can be reduced. This paper presents nine recommendations.