MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - As so many of us face hard times financially because of the coronavirus pandemic, the last thing we need is to pay more for is housing.
That's why lawmakers in Montgomery County will take up an emergency bill that would put an immediate hold on all residential rent increases. A move made after some landlords notified tenants that rent would be going up despite the on-going crisis.
Montgomery County At-Large Councilmember Will Jawando says he decided to introduce the emergency legislation after hearing from tenants that some property managers were going ahead with plans to increase rents as much as 35 percent.
"This is not rent control or rent free," said Jawando. "This is a temporary authorization to stop rent increases during the crisis. The bill will sunset 121 days after the state of emergency as written and will no longer become law."
In Montgomery County, the law says tenants must be given 90 days notice of an increase in their rent and anything more than 10 percent would be considered a constructive eviction.
Jawando says some property management companies have already stepped up and announced they would not raise rents during the crisis while others said they would.
The Silver Spring Democrat named four companies he says were going to raise rents. Only one responded to FOX 5's inquiry on Tuesday.
A spokesman for Vantage Management said in a statement, in part:
"Gallery Bethesda I and Gallery Bethesda II observe Montgomery County renewal guidelines, distributing a renewal offer letter at least 90 days in advance of the expiration of a lease.... Over the last 12 months, the average rate of increase at Gallery I & II has been 2.3% on executed renewal leases."
The statement goes on to say, "Our management teams are speaking directly to residents financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, to discuss options on how we can best support them."
During an online news conference with reporters, Jawando said,
"This is not an authorization to stop paying rent. People are still required to pay their rent and they are encouraged, highly encouraged to contact their property managers, or landlords to work out arrangements if they are in trouble, as I mentioned, many are working with folks, what this is meant to do is try to ease some of the burden by stopping any type of increase during this very, very difficult time."
Following a public hearing on the bill the full council will take up the measure and if passed, it would immediately go into effect.