Prince George’s Council Approves COVID-19 Landlord Tenant Bill CB 16-20
On June 9, the Prince George’s County Council unanimously passed emergency bill CB 16-20, to prohibit rent increases and late fees, establish a County eviction moratorium, and require housing providers to create rent payment plans.
Prior to the hearing, AOBA worked with councilmembers and staff to advocate for modifications to the bill that ensure the new protections outlined in the bill are narrowly tailored to help those in need due to COVID-19. The Council agreed to modify the definition of tenant. As passed, tenant is defined as:
Tenant shall mean any person who occupies:
- a rental dwelling unit for living or dwelling purposes and;
- tenant shall mean an existing tenant and does not include a prospective tenant and;
- this new provision is provided for tenants that are able to provide proof or documentation that they are unable to make rent payments as a result of the emergency, as defined by the Governor of the State of Maryland’s Executive Order…
As passed, the bill also codifies the administrative order of Chief Judge Barbera to prohibit eviction proceedings until August 31; as such evictions are stayed until August 31 in the enrolled version of CB 16-20. Members may remember that the initial bill language prohibited evictions for the duration of the state of emergency plus an additional 90 days.
AOBA successfully argued that the County Council could not legally mandate terms of private financial contracts and that the mandated terms in repayment plan section of the bill were inappropriate. The Office of Law weighed in to agree with AOBA’s interpretation. Thus, the bill no longer mandates housing providers offer rent repayment plans.
One thing that remains unchanged in the bill is the prohibition on rent increases and late fees. Rent increases and late fees are prohibited for the duration of the state of emergency plus 90 days, for tenants afforded protections under this bill as defined in the definition of tenant.
Also, while the Council ultimately rejected proposed language to clarify that the bill would apply prospectively, Chair Turner acknowledged during the hearing that the County cannot retroactively enforce the provisions prohibiting rent increases or late fees. The Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement testified that they were not prepared to enforce the provisions of the bill.
AOBA staff will provide updated information once the text of the enrolled bill is available.
Please contact Erin Bradley with questions or concerns.