One who rents a house to another is obligated to construct doors and to fix broken windows, to reinforce the ceiling and to fix broken beams, and to provide a bolt and a lock and similar things which are produced by skilled craftspeople and which are essential to living in a house.
– Maimonides, Laws of Rental 6:3
As Jews we are commanded to work to ensure that all people have what our Torah calls dei machsoro, resources sufficient for their needs. Safe and stable housing is a human right because shelter is something we all need. We are also taught that tenants’ rights are just as important as landlords’ rights.
Today we beat back an attack on tenants’ rights in Maryland.
SB366/HB558, which would have made Rent Court even more biased against tenants, was sent to a “study committee” over the summer. These bills won’t come up for a vote this session, and renters won’t be forced into eviction proceedings because of unpredictable fees or incorrect utility bills.
Unfortunately, SB941/HB473, which would have clearly defined “rent” as, you know, rent, was also sent to summer study. While we still support this commonsense bill to protect tenants, we know that current judicial precedent is on our side, and we are hopeful that it will pass in Annapolis next year.
This outcome means more people who rent their homes will get to stay in their homes, and fewer people will be caught in eviction proceedings.
Eviction protections are only one piece of our economic justice platform. Nobody should be forced to live in or pay full rent for an unsafe, unlivable home. We are still fighting hard for our other renters’ rights bills, which you can find here.