Council Votes to Limit Residential Rent Increases During COVID-19 Emergency

The County Council voted to limit residential rent increases during the COVID-19 health emergency and for 180 days after the emergency’s expiration.

Expedited Bill 18-20, the COVID-19 Renter Relief Act, prohibits landlords from increasing rents on lease renewals more than the county’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ rent guidelines of 2.6 percent.

“This bill is an important step in helping our Montgomery County residents during this difficult time,” said lead sponsor Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At Large) in a press release. “We have yet to know the full damage that will occur as a result of COVID-19 or what the actual recovery will be like for those who have lost jobs and their income. Our residents deserve the stability of knowing that their housing is protected.”

As originally introduced on April 14, landlords would not have been permitted any increase in residential rents during and for 30 days after the COVID-19 emergency.

Council President Sidney Katz (D-District 3) and Councilmembers Craig Rice (D-District 2) and Nancy Navarro (D-District 4) are cosponsors of the bill.

Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-District 5) proposed the amendment permitting increases to the DHCA guidelines, along with an extension of the effective period for the law, according to council staff.

Yesterday’s action also requires landlords whom have previously issued notices of rent increases beyond 2.6 percent bring the increases into line with this rate or cancel them.

In addition, the DHCA must post pertinent information on its website about the prohibition against rent increases during the emergency, including its expiration date and the date that occurs 90 days after the expiration.

Image from Wikimedia Commons licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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