Renters to Pack Council Hearing

Renters are expected to pack the Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development committee (PHED) hearing on Monday, Feb. 25  as it considers at least two proposals stemming from the county’s Tenant Work Group (TWG) report and two new proposals by Council member Marc Elrich and Leggett.

The County Executive’s proposal calls for publicizing landlords who raise rents above the County’s Voluntary Rent Increase Guideline (VRG). The VRG, which has no force of law, is frequently ignored by landlords who raise rents many times more than the VRG requests. Last year’s VRG was 2.8 %, while thousands of renters saw increases of 5-12 percent or more.

Leggett also supports the TWG’s recommendation to make mandatory the county’s annual rental housing survey. Currently, the rental survey, conducted by the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, is a voluntary survey with no penalty for landlords providing false information. Leggett’s proposal makes the survey mandatory and provides penalties for landlords who do not supply accurate data. Elrich’s “Anti-Rent Gouging” proposal takes Leggett’s one step further by placing a cap on how much landlords can raise rents above the VRG without justification. Landlords raised objections to both proposals prior to a PHED working session scheduled for November forcing the session’s reschedule for Monday.

“Rental housing is not a temporary condition for tenants,” said Matt Losak, executive director of the Renters Alliance. “We must change the idea that it’s OK for renters to be priced out year to year with excessive rent increases, or evicted either through non renewal of their leases, or through the heavy-handed actions of a landlord moving faster than due process. The stability and strength of our communities depends on changing this point of view.”

For more information, visit the Renters Alliance website.

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