Mount Rainier city leaders vote to put a cap on rent increases

A victory for renters in one Prince George's County community after leaders of the city of Mount Rainier vote to put a cap on rent increases and to penalize landlords who raise rents over a certain amount.

FOX 5's Maureen Umeh reports that the controversial issue has been debated for months.

On Tuesday night the city council voted unanimously on the side of renters, offering what many say is much needed protection.

Right now, 77 percent of residents in the city of Mount Rainier rent. Under the new rules passed, landlords can only raise rents about three percent each year.

Landlords and property managers who raise the rent more than 60 percent of the consumer price index would be penalized, Umeh says.

According to the legislation, first offenders would be fined $500. An additional $1,000 would be penalized for every violation committed after that.

The legislation also creates a rent stabilization board to ensure that the new laws are followed.

Supporters of the legislation say it will help keep low-income residents in their homes while opponents argue that landlords need to have the ability to increase rent to cover the costs of maintenance and security.

Some say rental assistance programs instead of rent caps are a better option.

The new rent stabilization measure would only apply to rental properties less than 15 years old and rental units in buildings with two or fewer units.

Mount Rainier is the first municipality in Prince George's County to pass legislation capping rent increases