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Advocates: Bill intended to help renters in Baltimore could do the opposite, urges mayor to veto it

Posted at 10:18 PM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 23:09:18-04

BALTIMORE — Housing and renters' advocates gathered at Baltimore's city hall to voice their concerns about the security deposit alternatives bill passed by city council two weeks ago.

The bill is intended to help make housing more affordable for renters by giving them alternatives to paying a security deposit, but they say it will do more harm the good.

If the mayor signs it, renters could get two option to paying the security deposit. One option would allow them to pay in smaller installments. The other would let them buy rental security insurance from a company called Rhino.

“This bill is a scam," said Caitlin Goldblatt who is a member of Baltimore's chapter of the Democratic Socialist of America.

“If it seems to go to be true, it probably is," said Marceline White with Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition.

Advocates said one of the options would have people buy a surety bond and not insurance. By doing so, they say it could take away certain tenant protections and cost them more in the long run. They described it as a predatory.

“If a landlord files a claim through Rhino, the surety would pay the landlord and seek repayment from the renter," said Goldblatt. "Tenants do not even have the ability to receive their money back at the end of a lease term.”

White added, “are [landords] going to offer the installment plan or are they going to do something where they know they’ll get paid no matter what from [Rhino]?"

They're urging Mayor Brandon Scott to veto the bill.

“I urge Mayor Scott to do the right thing, to recognize that he too comes from my same background. I’m not trying to hurt you. Don’t try to hurt me," said Terrel Askew with United Workers.

We reached out to the mayor's office about the bill. We're told he is reviewing the legislation and still has three council meetings from when it was passed to take action.