BALTIMORE, MD.— On Monday, October 16, 2023, Mayor Brandon M. Scott, alongside Councilwoman Odette Ramos and former Council President Mary Pat Clarke, signed into law “The Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act,” which aims to restore renters’ ability to engage directly with their landlords who may be looking to sell their rental properties and provide easier pathways for renters to move to homeownership.
“The Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act will help give back some power to renters in Baltimore City who are hoping to pursue the dream of homeownership and stay in their homes when a landlord decides to sell,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Homeownership is one of the greatest generational wealth builders that families and communities have. By signing this bill into law, we are making a statement that we want to expand every opportunity for residents who rent to take the leap into homeownership.”
The bill was inspired by the continuous advocacy and previous legislation led by former Council President Mary Pat Clarke. As a Councilwoman representing Northeast Baltimore, she worked with St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center founders Vinnie Quayle and Frank Fisher on the original ‘Tenant Right of First Refusal’ legislation, which was the first legislation in the country designed to give tenants the opportunity to purchase the homes in which they live when the owner was ready to sell. Exemptions added by later legislation made former Council President Clarke’s bill all but obsolete.
“This is an important piece of legislation to ensure that renters have the best chance to purchase the home in which they already live,” said Councilwoman Odette Ramos (District 14). “Our version makes the law much stronger, as it was originally intended by then Council President Mary Pat Clarke when she worked with St. Ambrose and other advocates to pass the very first Right of First Refusal law in the nation. In the rare time she was not in office, the bill was watered down which made it almost impossible for renters to purchase the homes in which they live. That changes today, and I’m proud to name this bill after my predecessor to acknowledge her groundbreaking work for Baltimore’s families.”
The Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act repeals the exemptions that gutted the original legislation, and reestablishes that if an owner/landlord wants to sell their property, they must first provide their current tenant opportunity to pursue a purchase. With some exceptions, the tenant would have 14 days to make a decision to sign a letter of intent to purchase and enter a contract, or the owner can move forward in the process of selling the property to any potential buyer. The legislation also implements a number of reporting and data requirements.
“This work started years ago, and I remember all of the changes that we went through in drafting this bill. Baltimore City’s housing market is still very attractive, especially in District 14, but we have to find a way to keep people in their homes and offer them opportunities to establish wealth for themselves.” This legislation accomplishes that, and I am honored to have my name attached to this bill. I want to thank Mayor Scott and my successor Councilwoman Odette Ramos for seeing this through to the finish line and creating this win for the residents of Baltimore City.”
The bill will make a significant impact for numerous families across Baltimore by eliminating substantial barriers to homeownership and prioritizing renters pursuing homeownership in Baltimore’s housing market.