Maryland bill would allow tenants to file collective lawsuits against problem landlords
MARYLAND – The Maryland Tenant Safety act has passed the house and has housing advocates pushing for the Maryland Senate to vote on the measure before the end of the legislative session.
The bill would allow tenants to join in on a collective action lawsuit against a landlord if they are all having the same issues at a given property.
Maryland legal aid says this could help ensure systemic issues are addressed like frozen pipes, bugs, and other issues that could affect multiple units due to building-wide failure.
But the current rent escrow law treats each unit as its own case, a measure MLA says benefits landlords looking to do a quick fix, and only for the units that speak up.
“To remedy those types of problems through individual cases would be pretty much futile, especially where if one case drops out for failure to fund an escrow account, problems will continue that affect neighbors units,” said Maryland Legal Aid Assistant Director of Advocacy Zafar Shah adding ” this is a transformative change for the state escrow process.”
He says the measure would remove financial incentives for landlords to keep units in this condition and have court-ordered fixes come down from local courts.
This bill would require notice of a group lawsuit against a landlord to be given to all tenants with the option to sign on and receive repairs.
Maryland Legal aid says they are receiving resistance in the Maryland judicial committee, but say they will be back next legislative session should the measure fail to move forward.