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Leggett Launches Outreach Campaign to Inform Tenants of Stepped-Up Apartment Inspection and Expanded Tenant Advocacy

For Immediate Release: Thursday, September 7, 2017

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett today launched a “Renters Have Rights” campaign of stepped-up inspections and outreach to tenants. The purpose of this campaign is to let renters know they have a voice and that the County Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) is here to listen.

 

“Due to our recently updated housing law, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs now has expanded responsibilities and resources to step up their housing inspections and tenant advocacy,” said Leggett. “I urge tenants to call 3-1-1 if they have any concerns so that our housing department can inspect and enforce fixes, if needed, or otherwise offer tenants the help they request.”

 

Leggett was joined by Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Tom Hucker, and Hans Riemer, as well as Department of Housing and Community Affairs Director Clarence Snuggs, and the Executive Director of the Housing and Opportunities Commission, Stacy L. Spann.

 

The County Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) will inspect every multifamily apartment building over the next two years. Renters can request their unit be inspected. Results of those inspections will be used to establish a list of problem properties that will be subject to at least an annual inspection, based on the responsiveness of the owner and tenants to address identified life and safety issues. The inspection process will begin with older properties, those that have received many tenant complaints, and those with a history of code violations – especially life and safety violations.

 

Increased inspections are a staple of the updated law, but this campaign is more than just announcing inspections. Renters are encouraged to contact DHCA to learn about their rights and DHCA is available to help mediate conflicts between renters and landlords.

 

The “Renters Have Rights” outreach campaign directs people to call 3-1-1 to learn how Montgomery County can provide free, confidential, anonymous help to ensure housing safety, mediate conflicts, and otherwise advocate for tenants. The updated law also includes funding for additional tenant advocacy staff.

 

“I am very happy to see both this public outreach campaign for renters and the stepped up inspection and enforcement actions taken by the Executive,” said County Councilmember Marc Elrich.  “This is the kind of pro-active approach that I hoped my tenant legislation would foster. I believe that this can make a meaningful difference for tenants, who account for one third of residents in our county.  I recently saw one of the signs on a Ride-On bus directing tenants to contact the county if they are having issues; in the past, tenants often did not know that the County could offer help. It is also worth noting that tenants can be anonymous even when interacting with the County.  This effort signifies a new prioritization for the safety and well-being of our County’s renters.”

 

“More than a third of residents in our county are renters and that number will continue to increase for the foreseeable future,” said Council President Roger Berliner. “Understanding your rights as a renter is an essential step to address issues of importance to your quality of life.  We must educate and empower our growing and diverse renter community and I am pleased that our county is playing a more proactive role in doing just that.”

 

“Renters Have Rights” Outreach Campaign Elements

 

·         Ads on interior (English, Spanish) and exterior Ride On buses, bus shelters and County facilities

·         Doorhangers regarding tenant rights and responsibilities to be distributed in multifamily apartment buildings

·         Online communications via social media (Twitter, Facebook) and the County website, electronic boards (English, Spanish)


and the Paperless Airplane

·         Lobby signs posted in every multifamily apartment building, in six languages

·         Upcoming County-wide training sessions for landlords and tenants

·         Flyer to be distributed via elementary school backpacks in communities where renters are primarily located

The updated housing law also encourages the formation of tenant associations that can develop a voice and establish a relationship with property owners. And, it assures that landlords must offer a two-year lease at signing and renewal. Updated tenant responsibilities are included in the enacted legislation, as well.


For more information visit DHCA’s Tenant Rights website, which includes tenant rights, responsibilities, DHCA services, and more.


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Release ID: 17-439
Media Contact: Lorraine Driscoll 240-777-6507