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Prince George's County Council Introduces Landlord/Tenant Legislation for COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted By: Erin Bradley Headlines ,

Yesterday, the Prince George's County Council introduced CB 16-2020 an emergency bill to address Landlord/Tenant issues associated with COVID-19. This bill would prohibit rent increases and late fees; establish a County eviction moratorium; and require housing providers to create rent payment plans. While the Montgomery County version of a similar bill authorized a  rent increase to the Voluntary Rent Guideline (currently 2.6% for 2020), this bill follows the Baltimore City and Howard County model of prohibiting all rent increases. As in the District of Columbia law, this legislation limits the prohibition of late fees to the duration of the public health emergency.

As of the introduction date, the bill is sponsored by 9 of 11 Councilmembers and there is widespread support for the legislation.
 
Please review provisions of the bill and provide Erin Bradley feedback, questions and concerns by Thursday, May 14.
 

Bill Overview

 
Rent Increases and Late Fees Prohibited

  1. A landlord shall not increase a tenant’s rent nor impose late fees or penalties if the rent increase would take effect during an emergency.*
  2. A landlord shall not provide notice of a rent increase, late fees or penalties during an emergency.
  3. During an emergency and within 90 days after the expiration of an emergency, a landlord shall not notify a tenant of a rent increase.
    • Landlord notices: A landlord shall inform a tenant in writing to disregard any notice of a rent increase if:  (1) it provided the notice to the tenant prior to the emergency; and (2) the effective date of the increase would occur on or after the date the emergency began.
  4. Late fees or penalties – when prohibited: A landlord shall not charge late fees or penalties if they apply to payments required during the emergency. It must also inform tenants in writing to disregard any late fee or penalty notice if the landlord provided the notice to the tenant during the emergency.
  5. Definition of covered tenant: The bill would apply to existing tenants and like the Montgomery County law, exclude prospective tenants.

Evictions for Non-Payment of Rent Prohibited

  1. A landlord shall not evict, lockout, or threaten to evict or lockout for non-payment of rent.
    • This new provision shall apply to any pending eviction proceedings. As a result, any pending eviction proceedings shall be suspended for the duration of the emergency.
    • New complaints filed against tenants for failure to pay rent shall be prohibited during the duration of the emergency.
    1. This provision shall remain effective for 90 days after the Governor’s Executive Order Number 8 20-04-03-01 expires.

Rent Payment Plans Required

  1. A landlord shall enter into rent payment plans with tenants that are unable to make timely rent payments due to illness, job loss, or any issue or incident related to the COVID-19 statewide emergency.

 
*Emergency is defined as the catastrophic health emergency declared by the Governor of Maryland on March 5, 2020, as amended or extended by the Governor, by Executive Order Number 20-04-03-01 and under Section 14-3A-02 of the Public Safety Article of the Maryland Code.