District 20 Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins is spearheading an effort to re-introduce a bill to implement Just Cause in Montgomery County. If successfully passed by the State Legislature and signed by the next Governor, it would require Montgomery County landlords to give a reason for suing a tenant for eviction. Current law does not require a landlord to explain to a tenant why they are being evicted.
Wilkins introduced a bill late in the previous session, which failed to get past the preliminary vote taken by Montgomery County Delegates before a bill is even brought to the State House of Delegates. Delegates like Kumar Barve, whose campaign contributions are said to be a “who’s who” of the landlord-developer community, crushed the bill. On top of that, backwards-facing liberals like Seventh State’s Adam Pagnucco falsely presented the bill as a “backdoor effort for rent control.”
The bill will be no easier to pass this upcoming session. During the last months, Del. Wilkins held public hearings in Rockville and Silver Spring discussing the legitimacy of Just Cause eviction. Speakers included tenants who would be directly affected by such legislation, as well as professionals from Maryland Legal Aid and Montgomery County Renters’ Alliance.
But the lapdogs of capital, such as lobbyists like Ronald Wineholt, also have an invitation to the discussion, where they can perpetuate lies like Just Cause being equivocal with rent control. Wineholt is paid by the Apartment & Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, who just came out in favor of Nancy Floreen for County Executive.
At Silver Spring’s Just Cause hearing in August, Wineholt whined, “This, we think, is very much one-sided,” referring to his position as sole-representative of the landlords’ position in the Just Cause debate. Greg Countess, of Maryland Legal Aid rebutted that, as the inherent power differential between landlords and tenants is likewise one-sided, Just Cause legislation is an attempt to balance the playing field.