Montgomery County lawmakers look to halt rent increases during crisis

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Local lawmakers say about one in ten Americans are without a job and that number is growing. For some, bills are piling up and even during a pandemic, rent is still due.

On Tuesday, councilmember Will Jawando introduced Expedited Bill 18-20 that would outlaw rent increases during the governor’s state of emergency and shortly after.

He says that about one third of county residents are renters, and in some parts of the county, that number is higher.

“In Downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda, those proportions are higher: closer to 40 or 50 percent. Our renters tend to be, in many cases, those who are more financially vulnerable, who don’t necessarily have the resources they need in a normal setting,” Jawando explained.

He says many property managers and local landlords have been forgiving, but county residents tell him that others have not. He called out a few specific locations during a virtual press conference Tuesday.

“The Gallery is a residence in Bethesda where we heard of increases of 35 percent. The Grand, which is in North Bethesda, has a constituent that said they were told about an increase from $1,600 a month to $2,200 a month,” he said.

He says those aren’t the only properties accused of notifying residents of large increases. He’s heard about some increases up to 60 percent.”What this bill is meant to do is try to ease some of the burden by stopping any kind of increase during this very, very difficult time,” Jawando said.

A public hearing and a vote on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21.

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