Many states have strange landlord-tenant laws. For example, in Maine it is a crime to bite your landlord. This law just criminalizes biting your landlord, not kicking, stabbing, or punching him. (I wonder what incident led to the passage of this law.) In every state in the U.S., a landlord can evict a tenant for non-payment of rent. A landlord can also sue a former tenant for unpaid rent after the tenant has moved out. However, in my home state of Maryland and a few other states, landlords and real estate investors can also have former tenants arrested and sent to prison for non-payment of rent. (Sounds medieval, doesn’t it?)

As Robert Reich recently wrote: “Jared Kushner’s real estate company uses arrest warrants to collect debts owed by low-income tenants. In recent years, the firm has sought 105 warrants for former tenants in Maryland, more than any other landlord in the state, according to the Baltimore Sun. The debts average less than $5,000, but Kushner tacks on thousands of dollars in legal fees. In some cases, people aren’t even aware they owe Kushner money because his company purchased the debt from a previous owner. When a tenant fails to pay, the company seeks an arrest warrant in a process known as ‘body attachment.’ This predatory practice can result in jail time. Kushner owns 9,000 properties in Maryland, which turn a $30 million annual profit. Since 2015, the company also received $6.1 million in rental subsidies from the federal government.”

Baltimore Sun Article on Kushner.  Donald Trump also uses this same practice in his business, having people arrested and sent to jail for non-payment of rent.

The penalties for non-payment of rent have been much harsher at various times in history. For example, in ancient Rome, a landlord could have a tenant sold into slavery to recover unpaid rent. Incredibly, there are some places in Asia where this practice is still going on. In medieval England, if a serf’s house burned down, he was still obligated to pay his landlord the same amount of rent, and if he refused to pay the rent or ran away, he could be hanged. Now just in case you were wondering….In California, you cannot be arrested, sent to jail, hanged, or sold into slavery for non-payment of rent. However, you can go to jail in California for biting your landlord. That’s assault.


Do You Have A Legal Right To Keep A Kangaroo In Your Apartment?

Maybe. I’m not sure. In 2011, I covered a story about a woman in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma who was fighting her landlord’s efforts to evict her – and her kangaroo. The woman had an Australian red kangaroo in her apartment. She said she had a legal right to have a kangaroo in her apartment under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act.) She has a letter from a therapist who says that due to her depression, she needs a ‘therapy kangaroo.

After fighting her landlord and the city of Broken Arrow for several years, the kangaroo’s owner has finally thrown in the towel. In August, 2013; she turned over the kangaroo to an exotic animal park, The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park, located about 60 miles south of Oklahoma City. To see photos of the ‘therapy kangaroo’, go to: Therapy Kangaroo.

Kangaroos and Twizzlers. This ‘therapy’ kangaroo’s name is Irwin. According to his owner, Irwin’s favorite food is strawberry flavored Twizzlers, which I think is appropriate considering that he is a red kangaroo. I doubt that kangaroos in the wild eat Twizzlers, but if they do, that might explain why red kangaroos are red. I don’t know enough about Australia or kangaroos to be sure about this. Apparently, Irwin isn’t the only kangaroo who eats Twizzlers. There are several videos on You Tube of kangaroos eating Twizzlers. Here is one of them. Kangaroo Eating A Twizzler. I know an executive at Hershey, the company that makes Twizzlers. I will ask him about this when I see him next week.

Can you imagine what it would be like to live directly underneath an apartment with a kangaroo in it? Boing! Boing! Boing! I wonder if this woman’s landlord was able to rent that apartment. I have never personally received a rental application from someone with a ‘therapy kangaroo‘, but I did once get an application from somebody with a ‘comfort pig.’ I have often wondered if there is a therapy animal that a landlord can refuse to allow in his building on the grounds that the animal is inherently too dangerous. Is there a point at which the safety of the other tenants in the building and the neighbors trumps the ADA? I have asked this question to a number of lawyers who specialize in disability law, including government lawyers, and none of them had an answer. Frankly, I am not sure what I would do if I got an application for an apartment from somebody with an obviously dangerous animal, like a ‘comfort rattlesnake’ or a ‘therapy grizzly bear.’ What would you do in that situation if you were the landlord?