Montgomery County Council Votes on Rent Increase Cap

Posted By: Nicola Y. Whiteman, Esq. Headlines ,

On April 23, the Council will vote on a measure to amend allowable rent increases during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Bill 18-20E - Landlord-Tenant Relations - Rent Stabilization During Emergencies as introduced would have suspended all rent increases during the public health emergency declared by Governor Hogan on March 5. AOBA is supporting amendments to allow increases up to the current voluntary rent guidelines of 2.6%

  • Delete the reference to “rent stabilization” in the title of the bill. As with recently adopted DC emergency law, refer to the measure as the COVID-19 public health emergency. Any reference to “rent stabilization” will be viewed as an opening to rent control. Notably, Councilmembers and the Montgomery County Renters Alliance agree and have stated that this is a public health emergency measure NOT a rent control bill.
  • Friedson/Glass amendment: Support amendment to allow rent increases up to the voluntary rent guidelines during and for 30 days following the emergency. 
  • Hucker amendmentDo not support Hucker amendment to limit rent increases to the voluntary rent guidelines during and for 90 days following the emergency.
  • Friedson amendment: In addition to allowing rent increases up to the voluntary rent guidelines, support adding hardship exception as follows: 

    (1) The Director may grant an exemption from the requirements of subsections (b) and (c) to a landlord if the Director finds that: (A) the landlord demonstrates financial hardship; (B) the rent increase proposed by the landlord reasonably reflects increased costs to the landlord; and (C) the rent increase proposed by the landlord does not exceed 5% above the current rent. (2) If a landlord has an agreement with the County to follow Voluntary Rent Guidelines under Section 29-53, the Director may permit the landlord to issue a one-time fee that reasonably reflects increased operational costs to the landlord.
  • May 1 effective date/AOBA: Support providing that the proposed cap on allowed rent increases at the voluntary rent guidelines should apply beginning with May 1 rents.
  • Applicable to existing tenant: Support language defining “tenant” to mean an existing tenant only. Tenant does not include a prospective tenant.
  • Jawando/Limit late fees during an emergency: Support as AOBA members have proactively decided to waive late fees to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on their residents.
  • Rental assistance: Commend Council for the introduction of a measure to provide $2 million for rental assistance to residents impacted by COVID-19. 
  • Small housing provider assistance: Support AOBA amendment that would direct DHCA to conduct a public outreach campaign to this community which might be the source of any reports of rent increases.
  • DCHA: Support AOBA amendment directing DHCA to:
    • Notify landlords of the requirements of new requirements in writing and by electronic means; 
    • Notify tenants in writing of the new requirements in writing; and
    • Issue public announcements regarding the new requirements