County Residents Testify in Support of Bill to Prohibit Rent Increases

Montgomery County residents testified in support of the COVID-19 Renter Relief Act at a virtual county council meeting Tuesday. 

The bill would prohibit rent increases during and for some time after certain states of emergencies. It would require certain notices to go out to tenants and prohibit others. A final vote is scheduled for Thursday. 

Amarillis Castellon-Vargas is a mother and Silver Spring resident. Last week, she said she received a letter from her rental office telling her that her rent will increase from $1,581 to $1,641 in the next three months. 

“Financially, we can no longer continue living in this apartment,” she said. Castellon-Vargas said she’s moving to a cheaper apartment, and gave her full support to the bill. 

“I know it will help us a lot during this period of emergency and uncertainty.” 

Matt Losak, executive director of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance, said people should not have their rent increased in a way that would prompt them to move out during a state of emergency that requires them to stay home as much as possible. 

“We are sympathetic with the landlords’ need to make a profit, but at this time everyone is hurting,” he said. 

Hyun Martin, a small business owner, said her family moved to Montgomery County nine years ago. She’s lost one-third of her income due to COVID-19. Her husband, a small business consultant, has had no income since March. Martin said she is able to pay rent, but has little money left for other bills, and supports the relief act. 

“There are too many families that have been affected by the shelter-in-place,” she said. 

“My family will continue to be able to make it in Montgomery County, but I want all families to be able to make it.”

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