In November, Bay Management Group tried to evict Dinickyo Brown over $336 in unpaid rent. Brown, who pays $650 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in Northeast Baltimore, fought back, arguing the charges arose after she complained of mold. The landlord dropped the case, only to file a fresh eviction action—this time for $290.
“They drag you back and forth to rent court, and even if you win, it goes onto your record,” says Brown, who explains that mold triggers her epilepsy. “If you try to rent other properties or buy a home, they look at your records and say: You’ve been to rent court.”
The story, as Brown tells it, may become the new normal. In Baltimore, landlords initiated 150,000 eviction proceedings last year, according to one estimate. In 2014, landlords nationwide started 3.4 million evictions. That kind of volume has created a fertile market for companies that offer to assist with such cases. Click Notices Inc., an Annapolis, Md.-based startup, is one of them, and it’s the one that filed both actions against Brown…
“I think you have to ask, when you make it so easy to file, are you creating a system where it’s very easy to get people into court and bully them?” says Zafar Shah, an attorney at Public Justice Center, a civil legal aid organization based in Baltimore…
Click Notices encourages its clients to start eviction proceedings as early as possible because removing problem tenants opens up apartments for people who need affordable housing and are willing to pay on time.
It could have unexpected benefits for cities starved for apartments that renters can afford, he explains. “How do you build more affordable housing? You could start by making the sector more efficient,” says Sigler. “Capital won’t flow into the sector when 40 percent of tenants won’t pay on time.”
Won’t pay on time? Willing to pay on time? Do you think the corporate world might consider that rents are too damn high?