ROCKVILLE, Md. - As of Monday, a cap on rent increases expires in Montgomery County leaving some renters fearful of what kind of price hikes could come.
The county has had significant rent controls in place for some time due to COVID-19, first a 1.4 percent cap and, more recently, the county council imposed a .4 percent cap on landlords. That regulation ended May 15.
Chris Perry, a veteran who said he's been renting in the county for 13 years, said he and his wife are worried, especially as food and gas prices continue to spike.
"My income isn't going to go any higher," Perry said. "It means if they increase my rent, something's going to have to give."
Matt Losak, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance, said about 40 percent of people in the county are renting.
"It could be devastating for a lot of renters, particularly middle and low-income families who've been hanging on by their fingernails in the pandemic," Losak said.
He said he's concerned about how high price hikes could climb.
"If you get a renewal notice (Monday), it can be any amount that the landlord demands without being overly excessive," Losak said.
He said that could be as high as 10 percent. Even when the .4 percent cap was in place, Losak said there were landlords who violated the county's regulation. FOX 5 talked to Chevy Chase renters who said they got notified of an 8 percent rent increase. After the story, residents said the hike was rescinded.
Property owners have argued the county's cap went too far.
Alex Rossello with the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington said rents will likely rise in the county although the goal is not to push people out of their homes.
".4 percent was extremely low considering operating expenses that have continued to rise, including water, sewer, insurance and property taxes," said Rossello. "The only way to balance those is to increase rent."
On Monday, Montgomery County will re-open its COVID-19 rent relief program, providing up to $12,000 in rent relief for eligible households. Click here for more information.