Multifamily Members Urged to Contact MD Legislators on Problem Bills

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With three weeks remaining in the Maryland General Assembly session, two bills harmful to AOBA members have passed the House and will be assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  We urge members to review the following information and make your opposition to these bills known to Committee members .  Bill hearings will also likely take place on the bills next week for members interested in offering testimony.  Please contact Ron Wineholt, rwineholt@aoba-metro.org, for further information.

 HB 172 – Source of Income – Vouchers

This bill would make it a discriminatory housing practice for a rental housing provider to refuse to rent to a prospective tenant based on their “source of income”.
 

  • “Source of income” would include income from, among other sources, any government or private assistance, grant, loan, or rental assistance program, including low-income housing certificates and vouchers issued under the Housing Act of 1937.
  • Rental housing providers would still be able to verify the source and amount of the potential tenant’s income in a commercially reasonable and nondiscriminatory manner.
  • Certain Zip Codes in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George’s County would be exempted from the provisions of the bill if they had more than six percent of the  housing assistance vouchers for that jurisdiction.
  • Apartment complexes with seven or more rental units would be required to rent, or make available for rent, at least 15% of their units for persons who receive housing assistance vouchers.  This provision would not apply in localities that currently have local source of income laws (Cities of Annapolis and Frederick, and Frederick, Howard and Montgomery Counties).
  • The bill would be effective October 1, 2017.

 

Comment – Members that object to being forced to accept Housing Choice Vouchers should state the problems that they have experienced or expect to experience as a result of participating in that program.

 

HB 1487 – Repossession for Failure to Pay Rent – Procedures

 This bill would make a series of changes to the procedures governing Failure to Pay rent cases.
 

  • A court would be directed to dismiss or adjourn a case in which the landlord failed to state on the complaint form the required lead registry information.
  • Courts would be directed to hear cases by the 14th day following the filing of the complaint, rather than the 5th
  • Sheriffs would be directed to serve summons to tenants no later than four days prior to the trial date, or else the trial would be rescheduled and the service fees refunded.
  • Adjournment of trials to obtain documents would be for up to seven days, rather than one day.
  • Landlords would be precluded from filing a complaint for repossession:
    • Before an existing judgment or writ for that same rental period had expired; or
    • After one year from the date of the tenant’s failure to pay rent.
  • The bill would be effective October 1, 2017.

 NOTE: Based on member feedback, the main problem with this bill is the third item – postponement of cases if the Sheriff fails to serve the tenant at least four days before the trial date.  Surprisingly, sheriffs have taken no position on the bill – but also have offered no assurances that they can serve all summons by the new deadline.  We are anticipating numerous cases being postponed as a result of this requirement.