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Press Releases - County Council

Council Enacts Covid-19 Renter Relief Act

For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 23, 2020

Bill sponsored by Councilmember Will Jawando prohibits increasing residential rent beyond current rent guidelines during and for a period of 180 days after the current Maryland declared state of emergency

 

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 23, 2020—Today the Montgomery County Council enacted the Covid-19 Renter Relief Act, which prohibits landlords from increasing rent beyond the County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ (DHCA) rent guidelines of 2.6 percent for residential tenants during and for a period of 180 days after the Covid-19 public health emergency. Councilmember Will Jawando is the lead sponsor. The goal of the Covid-19 Renter Relief Act is to ensure tenants do not face major rent increases during the emergency caused by the global pandemic and to prohibit notices of rent increases beyond current DHCA rent guidelines during, and within a certain time period after, the emergency.

 

“This bill is an important step in helping our Montgomery County residents during this difficult time,” Councilmember Jawando said. “We have yet to know the full damage that will occur as a result of Covid-19 or what the actual recovery will be like for those who have lost jobs and their income. Our residents deserve the stability of knowing that their housing is protected. Today the Council has sent a strong message that our renters cannot be taken advantage of during this health crisis.”

 

Council President Sidney Katz and Councilmembers Craig Rice and Nancy Navarro are cosponsors of the Covid-19 Renter Relief Act. During the deliberative process, Councilmember Navarro offered edits to the original draft language of the bill restricting its scope to the current declared state of emergency.

 

As amended, the bill prohibits a landlord from notifying the tenant of a rent increase beyond the DHCA guideline of 2.6 percent during the emergency or within 90 days after the emergency expires. As a result, the earliest that a rent increase can go into effect is 180 days following the expiration of the emergency. Previously issued notices of rent increases beyond the County's current guideline of 2.6 percent will need to be brought in line with this rate or cancelled.

 

The Covid-19 Renter Relief Act also requires the Department of Housing and Community Affairs to post pertinent information on its website regarding the prohibition against rent increases during the emergency. The website must include information about the emergency, including its expiration date and the date that occurs 90 days after the expiration.

 

Councilmember Jawando’s remarks during the Council’s action on Expedited Bill 18-20 can be viewed here.

The Council staff report can be viewed here.

 

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Release ID: 20-169
Media Contact: Cecily Thorne , 240-777-7972