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Rent increases will be allowed in Montgomery County next month

The development comes after the Montgomery Council decided not to vote on a measure that would have capped rent increases for another six months.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — The Montgomery County Council decided not to vote on a measure Tuesday that would have continued to limit rent increases.

Earlier this summer, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich proposed limiting rent increases in Montgomery County to 4.4% for six more months.

Elrich argued locals were suffering from the effects of high inflation and continued financial hardships brought about by the pandemic. A representative from his office said Tuesday, at a Montgomery Council meeting, that they routinely hear of rent increases hovering around 20% in the county.

“COVID-19 economic hardships are currently being compounded by the inflationary spike in consumer prices and the rental market pressures from low vacancies and increased demand,” Elrich said.

However, the Montgomery Council decided not to vote on the measure Tuesday, which basically will allow higher rent increases to go into effect next month while the council is in summer recess.

Council President Gabe Albornoz said most council members agreed in November the 6-month rent cap extension they agreed to, at that time, would likely be the last one they approve.

Still, the council’s decision was not well received by some locals.

Rockville resident Laura Wallace, of the group Jews United for Justice, testified that she had received notice that rent at her townhouse would soon increase by 10%.

“We don't want to uproot our family,” she said. “We really like our house.”

Matthew Losak, of the Montgomery County Renters’ Alliance, said he fears more people will be priced out of the region as a result of the county’s decision.

Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia have already let rent increases expire in their jurisdictions.

“We're seeing a real forced migration of working families and low-income families and seniors and vulnerable populations that are on fixed incomes,” he said. “It's a tragedy.”

Councilmember Will Jawando sponsored legislation earlier during the pandemic lockdown to cap rent increases in Montgomery County. He said he thought the legislation before the Montgomery Council this month was reasonable because it still allowed landlords to increase rent at a modest level.

He said the county needs to find a permanent solution to address displacement.

“This [legislation] would have just given us the time and space to figure out a more permanent stabilization regime,” he said.

However, the Small Multifamily & Rental Owners Association welcomed the council’s decision Tuesday. Its CEO Dean Hunter said many small landlords had been hurt during the pandemic.

“Small providers are not capitalized like large providers,” he said. “Therefore, the pandemic had a more disparate impact upon them.”

Albornoz said when the council reconvenes in September it will likely look at structural issues that lead to displacement in the county. Meanwhile, Losak said he still wants the county to take up the issue of rent stabilization during that time.


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