Did you know that Montgomery County has enacted a new Landlord-Tenant Bill?
February 7, 2020
On January 24, 2020, the Montgomery County Council signed Bill 18-19 into law, which requires landlords to provide certain accommodations to tenants who are displaced due to condemnation of a rental home. Specifically, the bill requires a landlord to cover certain relocation expenses for a tenant who has been displaced due to the home being classified as being condemned or unfit for human habitation under certain circumstances by the county’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA). The law also entitles a tenant to a right-of-first refusal to reoccupy the rental property once it becomes habitable. The aforementioned requirements do not apply, however, if the Director of DCHA determines the condemnation resulted from events or circumstances that were beyond the landlord’s control, which according to Councilmember, and lead sponsor of the legislation, Will Jawando, include: damage caused by the tenant and “acts of God” like major weather catastrophes.
According to the law, a landlord must comply with the following requirements for “temporarily displaced tenants” – tenants who are forced to move out of the condemned property for 30 days or less:
- Within 24 hours of the posting of the condemnation, provide the tenant with “alternative, safe, legal, comparable housing, as determined by the DHCA” during the term of the displacement period, as well as cover the costs for the immediate relocation of the tenant and their belongings;
- At the end of the displacement period, pay the costs to move the tenant and their belongings back into the rental property;
- Pay an approved allowance as determined by the regulation in the event the replacement housing is not comparable to the condemned property; and
- Ensure that the lease in effect at the time of the displaced tenant’s return to the original rental property is substantially similar to original lease at the time of displacement, specifically the lease term and rent amount.
As for “permanently displaced tenants” – tenants who are forced to move out of the condemned property for more than 30 days – the landlord must within 72 hours of posting the condemnation:
- Return the tenant’s security deposit with interest and any prorated rent for the remainder of the month; and
- Pay the tenant the greater of: 3 months’ fair market value rent for a unit that is comparable in size; or 3 months of the tenant’s actual rent at the time of relocation.
In the event a tenant is forced to move out of the property with less than 30 days’ notice, the landlord must pay an additional month’s fair market value rent or provide alternative housing for 30 days after the tenant vacates.
The law also allows for the landlord and tenant to agree to an “alternative arrangement”, so long as it is by written agreement, that meets certain criteria set forth in the law, between the landlord and tenant, and is of equal benefit to the tenant when compared with the aforementioned relocation payment.
The Montgomery County Council has emphasized that the key purpose of the law is to ensure the safety of tenants throughout Montgomery County, not to be punitive or create a financial hardship to landlords.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of our real estate attorneys.
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