Ballard Spahr LLP

On April 24, 2020, the Montgomery County Council passed the COVID-19 Renter Relief Act (the Act), which prohibits landlords from increasing residential tenant rents above the County’s voluntary rent guidelines, currently 2.6 percent, during the COVID-19 emergency and for 180 days thereafter. TheAct is effective immediately and applies to all residential landlords in Montgomery County.

Under the Act, a landlord cannot provide a tenant with notice of a rent increase in excess of 2.6 percent over rents currently being paid during the catastrophic health emergency declared by Governor Hogan and for 90 days after the emergency period ends. Since Montgomery County law already requires landlords to provide tenants with 90 days advance notice of any rent increase, the Act effectively means that rent increases above 2.6 percent cannot take effect until 180 days after the emergency period ends. Any rent increase that took effect prior to April 24, 2020 (the effective date of the Act) is not subject to the Act. However, if a landlord provided notice of a rent increase on or after March 5, 2020, or if the rent increase effective date is on or after April 24, 2020 (regardless of when notice was provided to the tenant), then the landlord must rescind the notice or amend it to limit the increase to not more than 2.6 percent. The Act places no limitations on new leases.

This new law is in addition to existing statewide prohibitions on evictions pursuant to Governor Hogan’s Order No. 20-04-03-01 and nationwide eviction and late fee restrictions under The CARES Act that apply to certain multifamily properties, including those with federally backed mortgages.