SILVER SPRING, Md. - A Montgomery County councilmember introduced a bill on Wednesday that would extend the limitation on rent increases from 90 days to one year after the expiration of the public health emergency.
The bill would also prohibit charging late fees accrued during, and for one year after the emergency. Councilmember Will Jawando is the lead sponsor of Bill 30-21.
Labeled Expedited Bill 30-21, the measure would build upon the COVID-19 Renter Relief Act, which limited the increase of residential rents during the pandemic.
Under the 2020 legislation, the limitation on rent increases lasts for 90 days after the emergency expires; the expedited bill prolongs it to a year.
"When we were thrust into COVID-19 in March 2020, we had no idea how long it would last. Now, almost 18 months later, we are on our way back, but the economy has a long way to go toward a full and equitable recovery. Many of our residents who lost jobs are behind on rent, bills and are searching for employment and stability. Bill 30-21 will provide critical relief to help folks remain stable in their homes as we recover," said Jawando, who serves on the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee.
In addition to limiting rent increases, the bill would prohibit landlords from charging fees accrued for late rent payments during the emergency and for a period of one year after the expiration of the emergency. The bill would not require landlords to refund late fees that have been paid already, but it would apply to any uncollected late fee for rent that became due on or after the date of the emergency. Such fees include rent that became due on or after the date of the emergency and before the effective date of Bill 30-21.
The bill also would extend the sunset of the COVID-19 Renter Relief Act. While the Act currently is scheduled to sunset 181 days after the expiration of the emergency, Bill 30-21 would extend the sunset until 18 months after the expiration of the emergency.
A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 14 at 1:30 p.m.