Last year, the Montgomery County Council passed legislation prohibiting landlords from increasing rents above 1.4% and from imposing late fees on tenants. The limitations on rent increases were scheduled to expire on November 15, 2021; however, earlier this month, the Council extended the protections through May 15, 2022.
Here’s what you need to know about the law:
- Rent Increases – prohibits landlords from notifying tenants of a rent increase greater than the Voluntary Rent Guideline (VRG) (currently 1.4%) until May 15, 2022 and;
- Late Fees – if a tenant signs and gives the Statement of Eligibility for Waiver of Late Fees attestation form of low household income and COVID impact to their landlord, the law requires the landlord to waive late fees charged to a tenant since March 5, 2020 and prohibits the landlord from charging late fees until May 15, 2022.
Limit on Rent Increase Notices
A notice of rent increase for any lease provided prior to May 16, 2022 cannot include an annual rent increase greater than the Voluntary Rent Guideline (VRG), which currently is 1.4%. The VRG is updated annually (generally in February) to represent the prior year increase in the rental component of the Consumer Price Index for the Washington metropolitan area.
Each written rent increase notice from a landlord must contain the following information:
- The current (old) rent amount; the proposed new rent amount; and, the percentage increase in monthly rent;
- The effective date of the proposed increase;
- The applicable rent increase guideline (e.g., 1.4% on Feb. 5 or later); and,
- A notice that the tenant may ask the Department to review any rent increases that the tenant considers excessive.
Waiver of Late Fees
Beginning November 9, 2021, landlords must not charge a fee to a tenant for nonpayment or late payment of rent due between March 5, 2020 and May 15, 2022, unless the landlord provides to the tenant the DHCA notification and attestation form “Statement of Eligibility for Waiver of Late Fees,” making the tenant aware:
- that the tenant may qualify for the waiver of late fees;
- that the tenant can sign and submit the form to their landlord to receive the waiver and
- that the tenant has 90 days to submit the waiver back to the landlord
The attestation form states that the tenant:
- has experienced a COVID-19 related financial hardship;
- has a gross household income at or below 50% of the area median income for the previous 30 days or for the 2020 tax year; and
- has been a Montgomery County resident since August 2020 or earlier.
A landlord must not request proof of, nor challenge the authenticity of, a tenant’s attestation.