Your Voice Mattered

Renters in Montgomery County will now have financial assistance in the event they lose their home due to a landlord’s neglect. 

The Montgomery County Council voted today to pass Bill 18-19 – Landlord Tenant Relations – Relocation Expenses. The legislation requires a landlord to pay a tenant a relocation payment if the tenant’s housing is condemned as unfit for habitation.

Bill 18-19 faced sharp opposition during the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development committee hearings, particularly from District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson. CM Friedson claimed the legislation may be a potential “windfall” for tenants and introduced a successful amendment to reduce the amount of relocation assistance from three-months fair market rent down to two-months fair market rent.

Many readers of our weekly #TenantTuesday emails took advantage of our sample letter to write their elected county representatives requesting a stronger renter relocation assistance bill.

Though I have no information to confirm this, my intuition is our voices had an impact on the final bill.

The County Council voted 7 to 2 against CM Friedson and in favor of Councilmember (and Bill 18-19 sponsor) Will Jawando’s amendment to revert the two-months fair market rent relocation assistance back to three-months fair market rent.

Councilmembers: Albornoz, Glass, Hucker, Jawando, Katz Navarro, and Riemer, stood up for renters and voted to require landlords pay three-months fair market rent as relocation assistance to displaced tenants.

Dissenting votes included:

(1) District 4 Councilmember Craig Rice, who claimed he wanted to “respect the process” of the PHED committee’s “compromise.”

(2) District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson silently voted against the amendment when vote was called.

In fact, Councilmember Andrew Friedson was unusually silent during the final reading of Bill 18-19 before the full County Council. If memory serves correctly, every councilmember gave a short speech praising the bill [watch 01/14/20 Council hearing]. Praise duly deserved as very few jurisdictions have a such a progressive law in favor of renters on the books.

At-Large Councilmember Hans Riemer spoke highly of the bill after voting in favor of CM Jawando’s amendment (a reversal of his actions during PHED committee deliberations). Even CM Craig Rice, who voted against the Jawando amendment described above, spoke favorably of the bill.

In contrast, District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson said only a barely audible “yes” to the roll call vote that finally passed Bill 18-19.

During the final roll call for Bill 18-19. Coucilmember Friedson (third from left) never lifts his head, gives barely audible “yes,” vote as the bill he worked so hard to undermine passes the Montgomery County Council.

We also learned during the Council session, from CM Will Jawando, that there will likely be a vote on Bill 24-19 Landlord-Tenant Relations – Obligations of Landlord – Air Conditioning next week.

Readers can find our sample letter urging the Marc Elrich administration to reverse the Department of Housing and Community Affairs position favoring a so-called “opt-out” provision (a creation of CM Friedson). Please send a letter if you have not already.

A new advocacy letter to the whole County Council on Bill 24-19 is forthcoming.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading

ProblemTenant

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