Agenda Item 5A
November 29,2016
Action
ADDENDUM #2
MEMORANDUM
November 29,2016
TO:
FROM:
SUBJECT:
Rental
County Council
Josh Hamlin, Legislative
Attom~
111
Action!ADDENDUM
#2: Bill 19-15, Landlord -Tenant Relations - Licensing of
Housing - Landlord-Tenant Obligations
Since the packet and first addendum went to print, Council staff has received a
memorandum from Councilmember EIrich describing certain amendments that he may offer when
the Council considers Bill 19-15. These amendments would, in large part, reinsert provisions .into
the Bill that the PHED Corrunittee recommended removing or modifying.
The possible amendments described in the memorandum are:
(1)
a prohibition on rent
surcharges when a tenant continues on a month-to-month basis for the first six months that a tenant
is month-to-month, but permitting a landlord to increase the rent after this six month period
notwithstanding the general limit on rent increases to once every 12 months; (2) a requirement that
a unique identifier be provided for each unit for which DHCA collects data, so that changes in rent
charged for the unit can be tracked over time; (3) a requirement that DHCA publish information
on rental housing units listing the average rent per unit type in each building and information on
the most recent rent increase relative to voluntary rent guidelines; and (4) requiring a "base lease,"
developed by DHCA, to be used in all leases for rental housing in the County, similar to the
"standard form lease" requirement in the introduced Bill. Councilmember Eirich's memorandum
is at ©1-4.
This packet contains:
Councilmember EIrich memorandum
Circle #
1
F:\LAW\BILLS\1519 Landlord - Tenant Relations\Action Memoaddendum 2.Docx
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MARC ELRICH
COUI'\:CI LMEM'8E.R A,T-LARGE
MEMORANDUM
Date: 11/28/2016
From: Councilmember Marc EIrich (At-large)
County Council Colleagues
To:
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am pleased that Bill 19-15 has passed out of the PHED Committee. The revised
legislation that the Council will be reviewing includes many of the important
provisions from the original legislation as well as some welcome additions.
However, I am asking that the following provisions be included in the legislation ­
these provisions were included in some form in the original legislation but the
proposals below have been modified to reflect suggestions and comments from our
colleagues and others.
Here are the following issues
l'd
like to add to the legislation:
1.
Limits on month-to-month surcharges.
Most (if not aU) of us have heard
from tenants who have been in the untenable position of having to choose
between a lease renewal with an unaffordable rent increase and a surcharge
on the monthly rent ranging up to 50%+ if the tenant chooses not to renew
and is allowed to continue on a month-to-month basis. The original
legislation would have permanently banned month-to-month surcharges.
During the PHED worksession, I proposed allowing the month-to-month rent
to increase by no more than the percentage of the offered lease. As a
compromise between time a tenant needs to find a new affordable unit and
the landlord's desire to encourage long term leases, I propose a 6-month ban
on month-to-month surcharges. After that time, the landlord would have the
option of imposing a surcharge. I believe this compromise would give the
tenant sufficient time to choose between committing to a lease with
increased rent or finding another, more affordable place to live.
Proposed legislative language:
Amend lines 349-355 as follows:
(a)_A landlord must not increase the rent until [[at least two]]
[2] [[months]] 90 days after the landlord gives the tenant
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written notice of the increase. [[A landlord must give the
tenant at least three months written notice before an
increase of more than 100 percent of the rent increase
guidelines.]] [[A]]
landlord must not impose more than one rent increase on
a tenant in any 12-month period._ Each written rent
increase notice must contain the following information:
AND amend lines 380-383 as follows:
29-56.
]J
~~Ii~~~~;;Rm~m~!L[[Rent
surcharges
prohibited.
2. Data coJIection for policy analysis. Accurate information is essential for
policy makers, advocates and others to assess and determine the state of rental
housing in our county. Are rents increasing rapidly or moderately? Is market­
rate rental housing affordable in all or parts of the county? The original
legislation would have required publication of rent increases for all units; the
revised legislation requires publication of the data per building and then
averaged per unit size (ie, the rent for
l-BR
units in building X is $y; the average
rent for
2-BR
units in building X is $z....) I support that revision but ask that the
per-unit data be collected with consistent (across the years), unique identifiers
be available to policy analysts and non-profit organizations upon request.
This requirement is more important than it may seem at first read. Currently,
we do not know the state of rental housing in our county. That lack of
information hinders our ability to craft targeted, effective policy solutions.
Anecdotally, we hear that rents are rising rapidly and repeatedly, but we cannot
confirm that. We know that rents in certain areas of the county are much higher
than other areas, but we do not know the size of the difference and how much it
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has changed over time. This information does not have to be published on the
website, and identifying factors (such as the actual unit number) should not be
available at all, but the specific data is essential to informed decision making.
Proposed legislative language:
Insert at line 305
(10) Each rental unit must have an identifier that is unique and
consistent year to year and protects the confidentiality of personal
rental information.
2.
Data publication for consumer knowledge.
While I am pleased that data
will be published about average rents per building by unit type, I would also
like to reinstate the directive from the original legislation that would also
publish that information in relation to the Voluntary Rent Guidelines (VRG).
The VRG is intended to be a good measure of a reasonable rent increase that
allows property owners to cover their expenses and make a profit. I realize
that sometimes increases are above the VRG for understandable reasons,
such as renovations or major maintenance for a building; however, it would
be helpful for prospective tenants to have a picture of the trends in various
buildings.
Proposed legislative language:
Replace lines 313-325
The Director must publish on the County website a table listing all
rental housing facilities consisting of two or more dwelling units listing
per unit type in each building the average rent. The building listing must
also include the most recent average rent increase by unit type by the
following categories:
0)
100 percent or less of the applicable rent increase guideline;
greater than 100 percent, up to 125 percent of the applicable
(2)
rent increase guideline;
(3)
greater than 125 percent, up to 150 percent of the applicable
rent increase guideline: and
(4)
greater than 150 percent of the applicable rent mcrease
guideline.
100 MARYLAND AVEI'oUE. 6TI-i
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4. Clear and understandable leases. I
would like to propose an amendment
regarding the leases. The original legislation would have required a standard
lease, which the Committee did not support. I would now like to suggest "base
lease language." The existing model lease from the Department of Housing and
Community Affairs could be the basis of the base lease language. Any additional
language for the lease would be clearly delineated as not part of the "base lease"
section. Before this provision is implemented, the first "base lease" would be
reviewed and commented on by the public, including tenant and landlord
representatives, and by the Council. Subsequent revisions ofthe base lease
would be publicly available 90 days before implementation. This provision
would replace the "summary sheet" proposal from the Committee.
Rationale for the proposal:
In practice, a lease is often offered and signed in
the leasing office with little time for review. If every lease had the same base
lease language, then once a prospective tenant has read it (available beforehand
on-line) and had time to understand it, she could be assured that this text would
be the same in each lease she was offered. She would then be able to
concentrate on any additional language or addendum added as being unique to
this specific building at the moment of choosing or deciding on a rental unit.
A clear and understandable base lease protects both tenants and landlords and
facilitates a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of each.
Proposed legislative language:
Sec. 29-27. Contents of lease
Inset at line 145
(t) include a base lease. as developed by the Director of Housing and Community
Affairs and published on the Department's website.
In sum, I believe that these proposals are reasonable and useful in providing
legislation that helps improve rental housing in our county. I hope you will support
these amendments Bill 19-15.
100 Mt:.RYLAND
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ROCKVILLE:, MARYU\ND 20850
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