Baltimore’s city council has voted to pass Renter’s Choice, to give renters much-needed relief after the negative impact of the pandemic. If signed, the new bill would require that property managers and owners offer an alternative to the traditional cash deposit, reducing the upfront cost of moving and decreasing housing insecurity for Baltimoreans. These alternatives can include security deposit insurance (like Rhino!).

While Renter’s Choice is new to Baltimore, many local renters already use security deposit insurance from Rhino. Rhino has given renters more housing options, and puts more cash back in their pockets. See how renters navigate Baltimore’s rental market, and how Rhino empowers renters during the moving process. 

Baltimore renting 101

Renters who want to live in Charm City have a lot to consider when they make the move, including systemic issues in the rental market. The average rent in Baltimore is $1,304 per month, and over 48% of Baltimore residents are renters. As in most cities, the cost of living increases in certain neighborhoods, and those who need more space for their family will likely pay higher than the average rent. Considering the median household income for renters in Baltimore is $34,113, it can be difficult to rent where you want to live in Baltimore. 

For example, those eying a family-friendly two-bedroom in the Inner Harbor will pay closer to $5,133 per month. For many renters, this can be a financial challenge, especially if they don’t want to spend more than 30% of their income on rent. 

Rhino renters already use security deposit insurance in Baltimore 

Renting in Baltimore is easier and less stressful with Rhino. Rhino’s security deposit insurance is just one option that landlords can offer renters, and it satisfies that requirement set by Renter’s Choice. Our security deposit insurance protects property owners in case of damage to the unit, or unpaid rent payment, and is an alternative to renters who want more control of their money and avoid a large cash deposit upfront. 

By making moving more affordable with Rhino, renters can spend their money more wisely, as well as access more space, amenities, and neighborhoods. All of which are important to renters, especially those who may not have a large cash deposit on hand or need to move unexpectedly. 

Joshua Massey is new to Baltimore, having relocated in January to be a medical assistant at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The reason for the move? To be closer to his young daughter and start a new job. While Joshua had the first and last month's rent, it was a relief to him to find a property that offers Rhino instead of a cash deposit.

His cash deposit would have been close to $3,155 without Rhino. He was able to spend his cash deposit on bills. Staying ahead of expenses can be particularly difficult during a pandemic. 

Graphic including a quote from Rhino renter Joshua about Renter

Baltimore renter Samantha Barney also benefited from Rhino as she wasn’t able to plan ahead of her move. She was in an abusive relationship and needed to relocate quickly, and during a pandemic. With her dog Bodhi in tow, Samantha didn’t have the money for a cash security deposit, and she felt discouraged by Baltimore’s rental market initially, especially when trying to find an affordable neighborhood.  

A graphic including a headshot of Rhino renter Samantha Barney and her quote about Renter

Luckily, Samantha was able to find a property owner in Baltimore that offered Rhino in just one week, which allowed her to move quickly and cover her pet rent more easily. Now, she and Bodhi love their community and neighbors in idyllic Rodgers Forge. 

Like Samantha, Rhino renter and neuroscience nurse Lindsey Lauder relocated to Baltimore, to raise her kids and continue her education in graduate school. Lindsey was able to settle in Baltimore, but the pandemic made affordable childcare a challenge. Lindsey told Rhino that “finding childcare for someone who works with COVID patients was difficult and expensive. I knew I needed to move, but I didn’t know if I could.” 

“How are we going to find a place that’s safe and where we enjoy our quality of life even with COVID? I needed to find an apartment that I could afford and downsize.” - Rhino Renter Advocate Lindsey Lauder, saved $1,610 with Rhino 

With Rhino, Lindsey didn’t have to compromise. She found an apartment that offered Rhino in Inner Harbor, assuring that her kids have access to good schools and a safe place to grow up. She was able to use the money saved on the cash deposit on stable childcare, and enjoy Postmates for the first time with her family. She and her twin boys like to frequent the Maryland Science Center, where she volunteers often.

While Rhino is offered for thousands of no-fee apartments and rental units in Baltimore, renters must be offered security deposit insurance by their property manager. Through Renter’s Choice legislation, more renters in Baltimore will have access to these alternatives.

Renters will have more options with Renter’s Choice

Renter’s Choice legislation would require property owners to give all renters the option to use affordable alternatives in lieu of traditional cash security deposits. These alternatives will put cash back in renters’ pockets, and back into the city’s economy, freeing the $275 million of cash security deposits that sits in escrow bank accounts in Baltimore. Which means no more waiting for your deposit to be refunded after your lease.  

A graphic including a quote from a Rhino renter about Renter

As we know from Rhino renters, security deposit insurance relieves the financial burden of moving. By purchasing security deposit insurance, selecting an installment plan, or selecting another security deposit alternative, renters protect their rental unit the same as they would with a cash deposit without impacting their moving budget. This allows renters to hunt for rental units more specific to their needs—more space, the right amenities, and the right neighborhoods—which ultimately leads them to finding better homes.

Rhino is excited to see Renter’s Choice become law in Baltimore, and for housing accessibility and affordability change as a result. 

You can help usher in a new era in Baltimore. Learn more about Renter’s Choice.

a headshot image featuring kt heins-nagamoto
KT Heins-Nagamoto

KT Heins-Nagamoto is a senior brand writer at Rhino. They advocate for security deposit alternatives and renter rights in everything they write.