For Montgomery County, Maryland
By: Council President at the request of the County Executive
AN ACT to:
(1) clarify the authority of the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs and the
Department of Housing and Community Affairs;
(2) provide for the award of certain damages under certain conditions;
(3) change certain landlord-tenant notice and lease content requirements;
(4) restrict the practice of retaliatory eviction and self-help eviction;
(5) delete certain authority to provide assistance to transport and store evicted tenantsí property;
(6) repeal obsolete provisions of law ;
(7) make conforming, stylistic and technical changes; and
(8) generally amend County law regarding landlord-tenant relations.
Montgomery County Code
Chapter 29, Landlord-Tenant Relations
Chapter 2A, Administrative Procedures Act
The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland approves the following Act
Sec. 1. Chapter 29 is amended as follows:
ARTICLE I. IN GENERAL.
In this Chapter, the following words and phrases have the following meanings:
Accessory apartment: A residential unit that is:
(1) In or added to an existing one-family dwelling, or
(2) In a separate accessory structure on the same lot as an existing one-family dwelling; and
(b) For use as a complete, independent living facility with provision within the accessory apartment
for cooking, eating, sanitation, and sleeping.
Affected tenant: Any tenant whose health, safety and welfare is, or reasonably may be, impaired by
a defective tenancy.
Apartment complex: A set of related buildings that have the same landlord and that all contain multifamily
rental dwelling units.
Apartment hotel: Any building or portion of a building designated for or containing both guest rooms
and dwelling units.
Commission: The Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs.
Common ownership community:
(a) a development subject to a declaration enforced by a homeowners' association, as those terms
are used in State law;
(b) a condominium, as that term is used in State law; and
(c) a cooperative housing project, as that term is used in State law.
County laws: Unless otherwise indicated, Chapter 27, Article II of Chapter 8, Chapter 22, Chapter 26
and Chapter 59 and all other housing-related laws and regulations.
Defective tenancy: Any condition in rental housing that violates a term of the lease,
this Chapter, or any other law or regulation.
Department: The Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
Director: The Director of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs or the Directorís designee.
Dwelling unit: That portion of a building that is designated, intended, or arranged for use or
occupancy as a residence by one or more persons. Dwelling unit includes:
(a) personal property, including a mobile home as defined in Section 29-66, located in the
County if the personal property is offered for lease as a residence;
(b) real property on which the personal property is situated (or will be situated) and that is
necessary for the convenient use of the personal property; and
(c) property owned by the landlord that is available for use by the tenant in connection with
the tenant's occupancy for which the tenant must pay rent.
Dwelling unit does not include a rented room in a single family dwelling unit,
Dwelling unit, multifamily:
(a) a dwelling unit that shares a common entrance from the outside with other dwelling units
in the same building;
(b) a dwelling unit in a structure where units are arranged above or below, or next to,
another dwelling unit;
(c) an accessory apartment; or
(d) an individual living unit.
Dwelling unit, single-family: A dwelling unit that has at least one direct entrance from the outside
for the exclusive use of its occupants. A single family dwelling unit may be detached from other dwelling units
or share a side or rear wall with another dwelling unit.
Governing body of a common ownership community: The council of unit owners, board
of directors, or any other body authorized by an association document to adopt binding rules or regulations.
Individual living unit: A private living accommodation, located in a personal living quarters building,
that a tenant must agree to occupy for longer than 30 days, that may contain complete sanitation facilities
and equipment for incidental food preparation, such as small portable kitchen appliances, but must not contain
complete cooking facilities, such as a stove, oven, or similar device.
Landlord: The owner, the owner's agent, lessor, or sublessor of the dwelling unit authorized to exercise
any aspect of the management of the premises, except persons engaged solely in custodial and maintenance
functions. In a condominium housing structure, the owner of any dwelling unit that is designated, intended,
or arranged for use or occupancy as a residence by one or more persons and for which the owner receives
consideration, and the owner's agent, is a landlord. In a cooperative housing structure, any person having an
ownership interest in the legal entity that holds title to the cooperative housing structure and enjoys exclusive
use of a dwelling unit and for which the party who has an ownership interest in the legal entity receives
consideration for leasing the dwelling unit is a landlord.
Lease: Any written agreement that establishes or modifies the terms, conditions, rules, regulations
or any other provisions concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit.
Personal living quarters building: Any building or portion of a building that;
(a) contains at least 6 individual living units,
(b) has cooking facilities that the residents may share, and
(c) may also have shared sanitation facilities.
Rental housing: Any structure, or combination of related structures and appurtenances, including
a personal living quarters building and a mobile home park as defined in Section 29-66(1), in which
a landlord provides to a tenant for consideration one or more dwelling units. Rental housing does not include:
(a) any transient housing, such as a guest room in an apartment hotel, boarding house, tourist home,
inn, motel, hotel, school dormitory, hospital, or medical facility; or
(b) any housing operated for religious or eleemosynary purposes.
Security deposit: Any payment of money, including the payment of the last month's rent before it
is due, given to a landlord to offset nonpayment of rent or damage to the leased premises.
Tenant: Any person who occupies a dwelling unit for living or dwelling purposes with the
29-2. Legislative findings.
The County Council finds that there is often unequal bargaining power between landlords and tenants; that
the common law principles under which leases are interpreted as grants of right of possession rather than mutual
and dependent covenants evolved in an agricultural setting and are ill-suited to the modern residential setting
of this urban county; that, in order to facilitate fair and equitable arrangements, foster the development of
housing that will meet the minimum standards of the present day and promote the health, safety and welfare
of the people, it is necessary and appropriate that the County appoint a commission and assign responsibilities
to the Department to determine certain minimum rights and remedies, obligations and prohibitions, for
landlords and tenants of certain kinds of residential property.
29-3. Purposes and policies.
(a) This Chapter must be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes and policies.
(b) The underlying purposes and policies of this Chapter are:
(1) To simplify and clarify the law governing the rental of dwelling units.
(2) To encourage landlords and tenants to maintain and improve the quality of housing in this county.
(3) To assure fair and equitable relations between landlords and tenants.
(4) To revise and modernize the law of landlord and tenant to serve more realistically the needs
of an urban society developing in the County.
29-4. Applicability of Chapter.
(a) Subject to State law, this Chapter regulates and determines the legal rights, remedies and
obligations of the parties and beneficiaries of any rental agreement concerning any rental
dwelling unit located in the County.
(b) Any provision in a rental agreement, whether written or oral, that conflicts with this Chapter is
unenforceable under Section 29-28. An unenforceable provision does not affect other
provisions of the agreement that can be given effect without the unenforceable provision.
(c) Any dwelling unit occupied by a person who has an ownership interest in the unit or by a
person who is a relative of the landlord is exempt from this Chapter. In this subsection,
an ownership interest includes an interest owned by the landlord, the landlord's spouse
or a minor child of either, jointly or severally, that exceeds in value 3 percent of the
invested capital or capital stock of any business entity that owns or manages the dwelling
unit. In this subsection, relative means:
(1) the landlord's siblings, parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren, and their
(2) the landlord's spouse and the spouse's siblings, parents, grandparents, children,
and grandchildren, and their spouses.
(d) Limited equity cooperatives are not subject to this Chapter.
29-5. Landlord-tenant affairs.
(a) In selecting staff to carry out the responsibilities of the Department under this Chapter,
the Director should consider the recommendations of the Commission. In proposing a budget
to carry out this Chapter and in authorizing personnel and facilities, the County Executive should
consider the recommendations of the Director and the Commission.
(b) The Department has jurisdiction over all complaints filed under this Chapter except as
provided in Section 29-38.
(c) The Department has jurisdiction over all licenses granted, denied, revoked, suspended, or
refused under this Chapter. In connection with this authority, each landlord must make available
to the Director for inspection at reasonable times all rental housing and records necessary to
enforce this Chapter or investigate any complaints filed under this Chapter.
29-6. Duties of Director.
In addition to any other power, duty, or responsibility assigned in this Chapter, the Director
has the following duties:
(a) The Director may initiate investigations and conciliations of any alleged or apparent
violation of this Chapter. In connection with this authority, all landlords must make available to
the Director for inspection at reasonable times all rental housing and records necessary to enforce
this Chapter or resolve any complaints filed under it.
(b) The Director must encourage landlords to meet with bona fide tenant associations or
organizations upon a good faith request by an association or organization.
(c) In addition to any other duties, the Director must assist the Commission in carrying out
its duties and implementing Commission regulations adopted under Section 29-10.
(d) In the case of condominium and cooperative rental units, the Director must encourage
complaining parties to contact the council of unit owners or its designated agent or the board
of directors of the condominium or cooperative, when appropriate, to attempt to resolve the
dispute before filing a complaint under Article V.
(e) The Director may issue a subpoena to compel a landlord or tenant to produce relevant
documents, papers, books, records or other evidence when a complaint has been filed under this Chapter.
29-7. Cooperation in administration of Chapter.
The Commission, Department, and all County governmental agencies concerned with housing and
real property must cooperate in the administration of this Chapter. The Commission and Department may,
subject to the approval of the Chief Administrative Officer, use employees and facilities of other County
departments in carrying out this Chapter, and these departments must make their resources available to the
Commission and Department as approved by the Chief Administrative Officer.
29-8. Enforcement procedure.
(a) Any violation of this Chapter, unless expressly specified otherwise, is a class A violation.
(b) If enforcing this Chapter requires the County to initiate criminal or civil proceedings, the County
Attorney must initiate those proceedings after receiving a referral from the Commission or the
Department. After the Commission or the Department has referred a matter to the County
Attorney, the County Attorney must initiate appropriate legal action, as provided under this Chapter
or any other applicable law, against any person that the Commission or the Department finds to be
in violation. However, if the County Attorney believes that additional information or action by the
Commission or the Department is necessary to enable the County Attorney to take appropriate
action, the County Attorney may refer the matter back to the Commission or the Department.
Nothing in this Chapter limits the authority of the County Attorney to initiate prosecution or
bring a civil action for violation of any County law or regulation whether or not the Commission
or the Department has noted a violation of this Chapter.
ARTICLE II. COMMISSION ON LANDLORD-TENANT AFFAIRS.
29-9. Creation; composition; applicant disclosure; term of office; compensation.
(a) Creation. The County Executive must appoint, subject to confirmation by the County Council,
a Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs.
(1) The Commission has 12 members and 3 alternate members.
(2) Four members and one alternate member each must be:
(A) the owner of rental housing located in the County;
(B) a manager, or an employee of a manager, of rental housing located in the County; or
(C) nominated by an organization that represents owners or managers of rental housing
located in the County.
(3) Four members and one alternate member each must be:
(A) a tenant of rental housing in the County, or
(B) nominated by an organization that represents tenants of rental housing
located in the County.
(4) Four members and one alternate member must be selected from the public at large.
A member appointed to represent the public at large must not be qualified for appointment
under subparagraph (2)(A), (2)(B), or (3)(A).
(c) Applicant disclosure.
(1) Each applicant for membership on the Commission must, when applying, submit the
confidential financial disclosure statement required of Commission members under
Chapter 19A. After reviewing the disclosure statement, the Executive or a designee
may interview the applicant regarding any potential conflict of interest.
(2) The Council may review the financial disclosure statement submitted by each person that
the Executive appoints to the Commission. The Executive must destroy all statements
submitted by other applicants after the Council confirms the Executiveís appointment.
(d) Term. The term of each member of the Commission is 3 years. Each member continues
to serve until a successor is appointed and confirmed.
(e) Compensation. Members of the Commission serve without compensation, except
reimbursement for expenses as appropriated.
(f) Termination of Term. The term of a member terminates immediately if the member no
longer qualifies to serve under subsection (b). In that case, the alternate for the category
under which a member was appointed automatically succeeds to the remainder of that memberís term.
(g) Vacancy. The Executive must appoint a qualified person to fill each vacancy on the
Commission within 30 days after the vacancy occurs. The Council must decide whether to
confirm the person that the Executive appoints within 30 days after the Executive submits
the appointment to the Council. A vacancy occurs when a memberís term expires or a
member resigns, dies, or is removed from office.
29-10. Powers and duties generally.
In addition to any other power, duty, or responsibility provided in this Chapter, the Commission
has the following powers and duties:
(a) The Commission may adopt regulations under method (2) as necessary to carry out this Chapter.
(b) The Commission may enforce this Chapter through any appropriate means, including:
(1) providing any services available through the Department;
(2) awarding money damages against a landlord or tenant for the benefit of either,
as provided in this Chapter;
(3) ordering repairs by a landlord or tenant;
(4) investigating and conciliating any violation of or complaint filed under this Chapter, and
investigating any matter relating to a license to operate rental housing; and
(5) imposing a monetary penalty against a landlord or tenant when a penalty is specified in
a law enforced by the Commission, including an award up to three times the amount
of any part of a security deposit withheld by a landlord without a reasonable basis.
(c) The Commission must provide information that the County Council or County Executive may require.
29-11. Officers; meetings; quorum; voting.
(a) Officers. The Commission must elect from its members a chair, vice-chair, and any other
officers the Commission deems necessary. Each officer serves at the pleasure of the Commission.
(1) The chair calls all Commission meetings.
(2) The Commission must meet as often as necessary to perform its duties, but not less often
than once each month.
(3) The chair must call a meeting within 10 days after receiving a request from a majority of the members.
1) A majority of the members of the Commission is a quorum for the transaction of business.
(2) Any official action of the Commission requires a majority vote of the members present at
the meeting, but not less than 5 members.
(d) Alternates. If a Commission member is absent from a meeting, the alternate for the category
under which the absent member was appointed may participate and vote at that meeting in
place of the absent member.
29-12. Staff services.
The Department must provide staff support to the Commission.
29-13. Ex-officio members; committees; advisory committees.
(a) The Commission may, in its discretion, appoint non-voting ex-officio members to assist
in the performance of its duties.
(b) The chair of the Commission may, with the approval of the Commission, appoint
committees from its members to assist in carrying out any function of the Commission.
Any committee appointed must consist of not less than 3 members, and no more than 2
members of any committee may be from any group listed in Section 29-9(b)(2), (3), or (4).
Committee actions are not the actions of the Commission and do not bind the Commission
or its members.
(c) The chair of the Commission may appoint advisory committees of citizens and at least one
Commission member who in the judgment of the chair will aid the Commission in carrying out
this Chapter. Advisory committee actions are not the actions of the Commission and do not
bind the Commission or its members.
29-14. Commission panels authorized; decisions; appeal.
(a) When warranted by the size of the caseload or length of required hearings, the chair of the
Commission may designate 3 members of the Commission, one of whom must be a tenant
member, one of whom must be a landlord member and one of whom must be a public at large
member, to sit as a panel to conduct a hearing on any complaint or appeal pending before
the Commission. The chair must designate one panel member to serve as panel chair.
Depending on the extent to which panels are used, the chair of the Commission must rotate
panel membership among members of the Commission.
(b) If a Commission panel hears a matter, any panel member must not participate in the final
decision if the member has not attended each session of the hearing. All official action by
the panel must be taken by the vote of not less than 2 members of the panel. If a Commission
memberís term expires while the member serves on a hearing panel, that member may
continue to participate in the panel until the panel has rendered a final decision.
(c) Except as otherwise provided in this Section, the provisions of this Chapter pertaining to
the conduct of hearings before the Commission apply to hearings conducted by Commission
(d) Decisions of a Commission panel are final and may be appealed to the Circuit Court as if they
were decisions of the full Commission.
(e) If a Commission panel is unable to decide any complaint or appeal pending before it due to a tie
vote resulting from the failure of any panel member to vote, the complaint or appeal must be
referred to the entire Commission for the Commissionís decision, based on the record
established before the Commission panel, without further hearing.
29-15. Reports to County Executive and County Council.
The Commission must, within 30 days following each quarter of the calendar year, report to
the County Executive and County Council on the number of complaints filed during that quarter, and the
nature and disposition of each complaint. This report must list all court cases arising under this Chapter.
ARTICLE III. LICENSING OF RENTAL HOUSING.
(a) The owner of a dwelling unit must obtain a rental housing license before operating the
dwelling unit as rental housing. If the owner is a corporation, the corporation must be
qualified to do business in Maryland under state law. Each owner must certify to the
Department the name, address and telephone number of an agent who resides in
Maryland and is qualified to accept service of process on behalf of the owner.
(b) The Director must issue two classes of rental housing licenses. Class 1 is a multifamily
rental housing license. Class 2 is a single-family rental housing license.
(c) A Class 1 rental housing license is required for each apartment complex and personal
living quarters building, and for each multifamily dwelling unit operated as rental housing.
A Class 2 rental housing license is required for each single-family dwelling unit operated
as rental housing.
29-17. Notice of Chapter 53A required.
The Director must not issue a license to operate rental housing that is subject to Chapter 53A
unless a notice is recorded in County land records that transfer of an interest in the rental housing is
subject to Chapter 53A .
29-18. Penalty for failure to license or to comply with Commission orders or summons.
(a) Any person has committed a class A violation if the person:
(1) operates, attempts to operate, or permits the operation of rental housing that the person
owns without first having a rental housing license, or
(2) does not comply with a Commission order or summons. If a person stops operating
rental housing, no penalty will apply during the sixty-day period that tenants have to
vacate the housing as specified in Section 29-25.
(b) In addition to any criminal or other penalty provided in this Chapter, the County Attorney
may initiate an appropriate civil action to correct any violation of this Article under Section 29-8,
and any court with jurisdiction may issue restraining orders, temporary or permanent injunctions
or other appropriate relief.
29-19. Licensing procedures.
(a) To obtain a rental housing license, the prospective operator must apply on a form furnished
by the Director and must pay the required fee. If the Director notifies the applicant of any
violation of law within 30 days, the Director may issue a temporary license for a period of
time the Director finds necessary to achieve compliance with all applicable laws.
(b) An owner of an accessory apartment may obtain and keep a license to operate an
accessory apartment if the occupancy of the accessory apartment is limited to:
(1) One or more individuals who live and cook together as a single housekeeping unit
and are related by:
(B) Marriage; or
(C) Adoption; or
(2) No more than 2 individuals who live and cook together as a single housekeeping unit.
(c) Where a rental building has not been completely constructed or renovated, the Director
may issue a temporary license for that part of the building that has been completely
constructed or renovated if the landlord has:
(1) obtained a temporary certificate of occupancy under Chapter 8 ; and
(2) complied with all other applicable laws. However, the temporary license expires
when a license to operate the entire building is issued.
(d) The Director must not issue a rental housing license for a personal living quarters building
unless the applicant has submitted a satisfactory management plan. The plan must specify who will
manage the building and explain what the manager will do to achieve acceptable levels of safety,
sanitation, and security in the building's common areas.
(e) Each licensee must give the Department a current address for the receipt of mail. If the
Department sends first class or certified mail to the licensee at the designated address
and the mail is returned as undeliverable, the Department may treat the mail as having been received.
The County Executive must establish an annual license fee per dwelling unit for each class of rental
housing license by regulation under method (3) in an amount sufficient to pay the costs of administering this Chapter.
29-21. Display of license.
The licensee for an apartment complex or a personal living quarters building must display the
rental housing license in the lobby, vestibule, rental office, or other prominent public place on the
premises during the entire period the license is effective. In all other licensed rental dwelling units
the landlord need not display the license.
29-22. Inspection of rental housing.
(a) The Director must inspect each apartment complex and personal living quarters building
licensed as rental housing at least once every three years to determine if it complies with all
applicable laws. The Director may inspect an apartment complex or personal living quarters
building more often than the triennial inspection.
(b) The Director may inspect any other rental housing if the Director receives a complaint or a request from a landlord or tenant, or believes that the rental housing does not comply with all applicable laws.
(c) As a condition of receiving a license under this Chapter, a landlord must agree to:
(1) allow access to the Department for any inspection required under this Chapter or
Chapter 26; and
(2) notify any affected tenant whose unit requires inspection.
(d) If an inspection indicates that any rental housing does not comply with all applicable laws,
the Director may revoke the license or take other remedial action under Section 29-25.
29-23. License terms and renewal.
Each license must be issued for a term of one year, renewable for additional one-year terms, subject
to payment of the license fee and compliance with all applicable laws. Renewal of licenses must follow
procedures established by the Director.
(a) If an applicant for or holder of a license transfers ownership or no longer is an agent for
the licensed rental housing or changes address, the applicant or licensee must notify the
Department within 10 days of the change. The Director may reject an application or
suspend or revoke a license if the applicant or licensee does not notify the Department
as required by this subsection.
(b) Any person who takes over the operation of licensed rental housing may transfer the license
for the unexpired portion of the term for which it was issued by applying to the Director within
15 days after taking over operation and paying a license transfer fee of at least $5 per
dwelling unit, but not exceeding $25. Nothing in this Section affects the validity of
any sale, transfer, or disposition of any interest in real estate. This subsection does not
apply to accessory apartments.
(c) Whenever the ownership of any rental housing changes hands, the transferor must notify
all tenants of the name, address and office location of the transferee. If the transferee is
a corporation, the transferor must list the name and address of the resident agent of the transferee.
29-25. Denial, revocation or suspension.
(a) The Director may revoke, deny, or suspend a license for all or part of any rental housing
at any time if the landlord, after 10 days' written notice, does not eliminate or initiate bona fide efforts
to eliminate violations of applicable laws. Revocation, denial or suspension of a license is in addition to,
and not a substitute for, any other penalties provided for the violations.
(b) If a license is revoked or any application, including an application for license renewal,
is denied, and the landlord stops renting the housing, the landlord must give any tenants occupying
the housing 2 months written notice to vacate the premises. The 2 month period must begin on the
first day of the month after service of the notice. In addition, a copy of the notice must be
delivered to the Director.
(c) Any person aggrieved by an action of the Director under this Article may, within 10 days
after receiving written notice of the action, appeal that action to the Commission by filing
a notice of appeal with the Director. Except for the revocation of a license, an appeal does
not stay the Directorís action unless the Commission stays the action for good cause .
An appeal does not stay revocation of a license.
(d) Within 15 days after a notice of appeal is filed, the Commission or a panel designated under
Section 29-14 must conduct a hearing, at which the person aggrieved must have an opportunity
to be heard. The hearing must be open to the public and the Commission must maintain records
and minutes. The Commission may summon all witnesses it deems necessary. A summons so
issued must be signed by the chair of the Commission or the chairís designee and requires
the attendance of named persons and the production of relevant documents and records.
Failure to comply with the summons is a violation of this Chapter.
(e) Within 10 days after the hearing, the Commission or Commission panel must, by order,
either reverse, modify, or affirm the action appealed. The Commission or Commission panel
must issue its findings, opinions, and orders in writing and provide a copy to the person
aggrieved. The Commission may extend the time for any hearing and the issuance of
any findings, opinions, and orders.
Any person aggrieved by a final action of the Commission rendered under this Article may appeal to
the Circuit Court in accordance with the Maryland Rules of Procedure for a review of the action.
An appeal does not stay enforcement of the Commissionís order.
ARTICLE IV. LANDLORD-TENANT OBLIGATIONS.
29-27. Contents of lease.
Each lease for rental housing located in the County must:
(a) Not contain a waiver of notice to quit.
(b) Contain no waiver of the landlord's liability for damage caused by the landlord's negligence or
violation of any applicable laws, and provide for reimbursement to the tenant for any damage
sustained by the tenant due to the negligence of the landlord.
(c) Acknowledge the landlord's responsibility for maintenance of the rental
housing and incorporate by reference Chapter 8, Chapter 22, Chapter 26,
and Chapter 59, as an express warranty of habitability and covenant to repair.
(d) Except as provided in subsection (c), incorporate no collateral agreement or
provision by reference unless a copy of the collateral agreement or
provision is attached to all copies of the lease.
(e) Not authorize any confession of judgment for rent due.
(f) Contain no provision for penalty for late payment in excess of 5 percent of
the amount of rent due for the rental period for which payment is
(g) Contain no waiver of any right or protection afforded under this Chapter.
(h) Contain no provision authorizing the lessor to take possession of the leased
premises or the tenant's personal property on the premises without formal
(i) Require itemization of all charges for repair of damages to the premises,
claimed by the landlord or tenant, and providing that the charges must be
substantiated upon written request.
(j) Require the deposit of all security deposits in accordance with state law.
(k) Notify the tenant where the tenant can inspect a copy of the rental housing license.
(l) Require a minimum of 10 days before late fees may be charged.
(m)Contain a covenant that the landlord will deliver the leased premises and
all common areas in a clean, habitable and sanitary condition, free of
rodents and vermin, and in complete compliance with all applicable laws.
In a condominium or cooperative housing structure, the landlord is
required to deliver only the dwelling unit in a clean, habitable and sanitary
condition, free of rodents and vermin, and in complete compliance with all
(n) Contain no agreement by a tenant to:
(1) waive the right to a trial by jury;
(2) pay court costs that exceed actual costs awarded by a court; or
(3) pay legal costs or attorney fees other than those awarded by a court after the court
finds that the fees and costs are reasonable.
In addition, any agreement obligating a tenant to pay a landlord's attorney's fees must:
(4) provide that attorney's fees are not part of the tenant's rent and need not be paid to
redeem the premises in nonpayment of rent action; and
(5) obligate the landlord to pay the tenant's attorney's fees if the tenant is the prevailing party
in the legal action and fees are awarded by a court.
(o) Require written receipts for all cash or money orders paid by the tenant to
the landlord for rent, security deposits or otherwise.[These provisions regarding the
payment of attorney fees expire on April 1, 2003.]
(p) Specify that the landlord may enter any dwelling unit if the landlord has given due notice
to the tenant and the tenant has not reasonably objected, to:
(1) make necessary repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements;
(2) supply services only by mutual agreement during normal business hours, except
in an emergency; or
(3) exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective buyers, mortgagees, or tenants only during
normal business hours, including weekends, except as the landlord and tenant otherwise
agree; but nothing in this subsection prevents the landlord from entering any dwelling unit
in an emergency situation or, after due notice, when the landlord is required to allow
the Department access for an inspection under this Chapter or Chapter 26, or when
the landlord has good cause to believe the tenant may have damaged the unit or may be
in violation of this Chapter.
(q) Permit the tenant to sublease the dwelling unit with the landlord's written permission,
which the landlord must not unreasonably withhold.
This subsection does not apply to:
(1) a rental dwelling unit in a common ownership community if a valid legal restriction
(2) an accessory apartment;
(3) a mobile home under Section 29-66; or
(4) an individual living unit.
(r) Contain no provision for a lien on behalf of the landlord on the tenant's chattels, except
as provided by state law.
(s) Allow the tenant to terminate the lease upon 30 days' written notice to the
landlord due to an involuntary change of employment from the Washington metropolitan
area, death of major wage earner, unemployment, or other reasonable cause beyond
the tenant's control. The lease may provide that in the event of termination under this
provision, the tenant is liable for a reasonable termination charge not to exceed the
lower of one month's rent or actual damages sustained by the landlord.
(t) Notify the tenant that general information and assistance regarding
evictions are available from the Department .
29-28. Leasing requirements generally.
(a) A copy of each written lease form used by a landlord must be filed with the Director.
(b) Each landlord must give each prospective tenant a copy of the proposed lease.
Prospective tenants must have the right to examine the proposed lease at any
location the tenant chooses.
(c) The landlord must offer each lease for an initial term of 2 years unless the
landlord has reasonable cause to offer a different initial term.
(1) This subsection does not apply to:
(A) a rental unit located in a common ownership community if an applicable legal
restriction prohibits a 2-year lease;
(B) an accessory apartment;
(C) a mobile home under Section 29-66; or
(D) an individual living unit.
(2) As used in this subsection, reasonable cause means a situation in which a 2-year lease would
create undue hardship or expense for a landlord. Reasonable cause includes the sale of a
dwelling unit if settlement is likely to occur within 2 years, a bona fide contract to sell the
dwelling unit within 2 years, or a planned conversion to a condominium or cooperative within
2 years. If the landlord claims reasonable cause exists under this subsection, the landlord must
attach to the lease a statement explaining the reasonable cause and advising the prospective
tenant of the tenant's right to challenge the cause by filing a complaint with the Department.
(3) The landlord must include the following statement in each lease, or as an addendum to
an oral lease, and assure that it is signed and dated by the parties:
Montgomery County law requires each landlord to offer each prospective tenant a
lease for an initial term of 2 years unless the landlord has reasonable cause to do otherwise.
The tenant may accept or reject this offer. Before signing this lease, the tenant confirms that
(initial and date one option):
(A) The landlord offered me a 2-year lease term and I accepted it.
(B) The landlord offered me a 2-year lease term but I rejected it.
(C) The landlord gave me a statement:
(i) explaining why the landlord had reasonable cause not to offer me
a 2-year lease term; and
(ii) telling me that I can challenge the landlord's action by filing a complaint
with the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
(4) Nothing in this subsection precludes a landlord and tenant from negotiating a lease for a term
longer or shorter than 2 years after the prospective tenant has been offered and has rejected
a 2-year lease term.
(5) A complaint alleging a violation of this subsection must be filed not later than 180 days
after the first day of the tenancy that is the subject of the complaint.
(d) Any lease term that contradicts this Chapter is not enforceable by the landlord.
(e) Before giving a notice of past-due rent, issuing a written quit and vacate notice, or
beginning any judicial proceeding to regain the leased premises, a landlord must notify the
tenant that general information and assistance regarding evictions are available from the Department.
29-29. Obligations of tenants.
Each tenant must, in addition to all other applicable legal requirements:
(a) Keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean, sanitary,
and safe as the conditions of the premises permit. A tenant of a single-family
dwelling unit must cut any grass and weeds periodically and must not allow grass and
weeds to grow more than 12 inches high.
(b) Dispose from the dwelling unit all rubbish, garbage, and other organic or flammable
waste in a clean and sanitary manner. A tenant of a single-family dwelling unit also
must provide and maintain appropriate receptacles to remove ashes, rubbish, and garbage.
(c) Keep all plumbing fixtures as clean and sanitary as their condition permits.
(d) Properly use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures.
(e) Not permit any person on the premises with the tenant's permission to willfully or
wantonly destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the structure or
dwelling unit or the facilities, equipment, or appurtenances.
(f) Comply with all covenants, rules, and requirements that are brought to the attention
of the tenant, that the tenant consents to in writing, and that are reasonably necessary
to preserve the property of the landlord, other tenants, or any other person.
29-30. Obligations of landlords.
(a) Each landlord must reasonably provide for the maintenance of the health, safety, and
welfare of all tenants and all individuals properly on the premises of rental housing. As part
of this general obligation, each landlord must:
(1) Comply with all applicable provisions of any federal, state, or county law or regulation
governing the maintenance, construction, use, or appearance of the dwelling unit and
(2) Keep all areas of the building, grounds, facilities, and appurtenances in a clean,
sanitary, and safe condition.
(3) Make all repairs and arrangements necessary to put and keep the dwelling unit and
the appurtenances in as good a condition as they were, or should by law or agreement
have been, when the tenancy began. However, a lease for a single-family dwelling unit
may provide that a tenant must pay, up to a maximum annual amount set by executive
regulation, for the costs of maintenance of the dwelling unit, but not for replacement of
or repairs to structural elements of the building, major appliances, or electrical, plumbing,
heating, or air conditioning systems unless replacement or repair of these items is required
because of actions of the tenant or any person for whom the tenant is legally responsible.
(4) Maintain all electrical, plumbing, and other facilities and conveniences supplied by the landlord
in good working order.
(5) Supply and maintain appropriate receptacles to remove trash, and pay for its frequent
removal. However, the landlord of a single-family dwelling unit must pay for the frequent
removal of trash, but need not provide or maintain appropriate receptacles. A lease for a
single-family dwelling unit may require a tenant to pay for trash collection service if that
service is provided directly by a private trash hauler and the dwelling unit is not located
in a County collection district.
(6) Supply water and hot water as reasonably required by the tenant and adequate heat as
required by Chapter 26. In a dwelling unit located in a common ownership community,
the landlord must provide water, hot water and adequate heat to the extent that the
landlord is responsible for providing these services. This subsection does not impair
any provision in a lease that obligates a tenant to pay for gas, heating oil, electricity,
water, or sewer service that the tenant uses.
(b) If the duty imposed by subsection (a)(1) is incompatible with, or greater than,
a duty imposed by any other part of this Section, subsection (a)(1) governs.
(c) Subsections (a)(2) and (a)(5) do not apply to a dwelling unit located in a
condominium or cooperative housing structure.
29-31. Landlord notice requirements.
(a) Each landlord of an apartment complex in the County must
(1) post a durable notice in an accessible, conspicuous and convenient place in
each building to which the notice applies, or
(2) distribute the notice directly to all tenants.
The notice must contain the name or title and telephone number of at least one
responsible representative of the building management who may be reached at all
times in an emergency.
(b) A landlord renting any dwelling unit that is not located in an apartment complex must give
the lessee the name, title and telephone number of at least one responsible representative
of the landlord who may be reached at all times in an emergency.
(c) Before a tenant executes a lease for an initial term of 125 days or longer, the owner of the
dwelling unit must give the tenant a copy of any rule, regulation, declaration, or covenant
that binds the owner and affects the use and occupancy of the unit or any common area
associated with the unit. The lease must expressly state that any obligation of the owner
that affects the use and occupancy of the unit or any common area associated with the unit
is enforceable against the tenant.
29-32. Prohibited practices.
(a) No landlord may make any changes in the landlordís leasing or business practices
with respect to any dwelling unit subject to this Chapter to avoid compliance with
any provision of this Chapter.
(b) A landlord must not evict or attempt to evict, or take any other retaliatory action against,
any tenant who exercises any rights conferred upon the tenant by this Chapter or any
tenant who assists another tenant in exercising those rights. As used in this subsection,
"other retaliatory action" includes any unreasonable rent increase, threat, coercion, harassment,
or violation of privacy, and any reduction in the quality or level of services available to the
tenant that is not authorized by this Chapter or state law. Evictions or attempted evictions
prohibited by this subsection are "retaliatory evictions".
(c) A landlord must not actually or constructively evict or attempt to evict a tenant from,
or deny a tenant access to, the dwelling unit occupied by the tenant without following
the judicial process authorized in state law to obtain possession of the dwelling unit.
29-33. Rights of tenants generally.
(a) Tenants have the right to self-organization; to form, join, meet, or assist one another within
or without tenant organizations; to meet and confer through representatives of their own choosing
with landlords; to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid and protection;
to refrain from any such activity.
(b) Tenants and tenant organizations have the right of free assembly in the meeting rooms and
other areas suitable for meetings within rental housing during reasonable hours and upon reasonable
notice to the landlord to conduct tenant organization meetings. The landlord may charge a
reasonable fee for the use of the meeting rooms or common areas, but the charge must not
exceed the regular schedule of fees for the facility to other groups. The landlord may also
impose reasonable terms and conditions on the use of the meeting rooms or common areas
if those terms and conditions do not undermine the purposes of this Section.
(c) Tenants and resident tenant organizations have the right to distribute freely and post in centrally
located areas of rental housing literature concerning landlord-tenant issues if the origin of the
literature is properly identified .
(d) Tenant organizations may file complaints under any provision of this Chapter in a representative
capacity on behalf of those tenants who have authorized representation. Nothing in this Chapter
permits any tenants' organization to represent exclusively any tenant or class of tenants unless
specifically authorized to do so.
29-34. Reduction in service or equipment.
(a) Any tenant subject to a reduction or elimination of service or equipment which the landlord
is required to maintain and that the provided when the tenancy began may file a complaint under
this Chapter, alleging breach of the lease. The Commission, after completing the administrative
process specified in Article V and finding such a breach, may award damages, order the landlord
to reduce the rent in an amount commensurate with the actual cost savings accruable to the
landlord as a result of reducing the service or equipment, or both.
(b) Any transfer or conversion of responsibility from the landlord to the tenant of any utility
payments, including submetering and individual metering systems, must comply with the following process:
(1) A landlord must not transfer responsibility for utility payments to an existing tenant unless
the affected tenant receives written notice of the transfer at least 2 months before the conversion
takes effect. The date of receipt must not be counted as part of the 2-month period. Written
notice may be delivered to the tenant by any reasonable means. However, a notice has not
been delivered unless the notice was mailed via the United States Postal Service to the tenant's
dwelling unit or a signed receipt is obtained from the tenant or the tenantís representative. If the
tenant is notified by mail, the landlord must certify, by affidavit dated at the time of mailing, that
the landlord has mailed the notice. The landlord must retain a copy of the affidavit in the
landlordís records. For the purposes of these notice requirements, the day after the postmark
date is the date of delivery if the notice was delivered to the proper person by the Postal
Service. It is presumptive evidence in favor of the landlord that proper notice was given if
these procedures are followed. There is a rebuttable presumption that proper notice was
not delivered if these procedures are not followed.
(2) The notice of the utility conversion must be accompanied by an offer to reduce the affected
tenant's rent in an amount commensurate with the actual utility consumption experienced
by the landlord during the previous 24 months at the utility rate in effect at the time of the
conversion. The offer of reduced rent must be based on the average actual utility
consumption at the property, less common area utility expenses. The offer may also be
based on reasonable factors such as unit size, unit location, and, at the discretion of the
landlord, other unusual circumstances. The offer must be made in the form of a monthly
reduction in rental rates effective on the date of the conversion.
(3) Any lease or renewal lease must disclose the landlords' intent, if any, to transfer or convert
responsibility for utility payments to the tenant during the term of the lease. Failure to
make this disclosure allows a tenant to terminate the lease . For the purpose of this
Section, the term "intent" means that the landlord has entered into a contract to install
submeters or individual meters or applied for electrical permits for their installation.
(4) The transfer of financial responsibility for utilities must take effect at the start of a rent
(5) After completing the notice procedures in subsection (b)(1), the landlord during normal
business hours may enter the tenant's unit, after a two-day written notice and without
reasonable objection from the tenant, to install metering, wiring, and other equipment
necessary to the utility conversion. Access for all other purposes is governed by Section 29-27(p) .
(6) Any submetering action must comply with regulations of the state Public Service Commission.
(c) Subsections (a) and (b) do not allow a landlord to reduce or eliminate any essential service or
equipment required by law. Subsections (a) and (b) do not apply to temporary interruptions
of service or equipment otherwise maintained by the landlord. In the case of temporary interruptions
of service or equipment, the Commission may award the tenant actual damages, if any, that
resulted from a breach of the lease or the negligence of the landlord.
29-35. Keeping of household pets by elderly or disabled tenants.
(a) Definitions. In this Section, the following words have the meanings indicated.
(1) Disabled means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more
major life activities, or a person who has a record of such an impairment or is regarded
as having such an impairment.
(2) Elderly means at least 60 years old.
(b) Prohibition. A landlord must not prevent or attempt to prevent an elderly or disabled
tenant from keeping a household pet unless at the time occupancy begins the landlord gives
the tenant a written lease that specifically prohibits the tenant from keeping a household pet.
(c) Liability. A tenant is liable for damage that the tenant's household pet does to the premises.
(1) A landlord may make reasonable rules governing the type, size, and number of pets
allowed, disposal of pet waste, and aspects of pet conduct and pet control related
to protection of the health, comfort, and safety of other tenants and the property of the landlord.
(2) Even if a landlord has not prohibited household pets under subsection (b), a landlord may
require a tenant to remove a household pet from the premises if:
(A) The landlord gives the tenant written warning of a violation of rules made under
this subsection; and
(B) The tenant does not correct the violation within 7 days after the landlord gives the warning.
(3) The Executive may issue a regulation under method (3) to specify what are reasonable rules
under this subsection.
ARTICLE V. COMPLAINTS.
29-36. Tenants' complaints.
(a) If any affected tenant has reason to believe that a defective tenancy exists, has given the
landlord notice of the tenantís complaint alleging a defective tenancy, and the landlord does
not make a bona fide effort to rectify the defective condition within one week after the notice
has been given, the affected tenant may file with the Director a complaint in writing. The
complaint must state the name and address of the landlord, the premises in question, and
the particulars of the alleged defective tenancy.
(b) If any prospective tenant believes that a landlord has violated Sections 29-27 or 29-28,
the prospective tenant may file a written complaint with the Director stating the name
and address of the landlord, the premises in question, and the details of the alleged violation.
29-37. Landlords' complaints.
If any landlord has reason to believe that a tenant has created or permitted the existence of a defective
tenancy, has given the tenant notice of the landlordís complaint alleging a defective tenancy, and the tenant does
not make a bona fide effort to rectify the defective condition within one week after the notice has been given, the
landlord may file with the Director a complaint in writing. The complaint must state the name and address of the
tenant and the particulars of the alleged defective tenancy.
29-38. Joint and concurrent jurisdiction.
(a) The Department must refer any complaints that allege in substance any violation of Chapter 8,
Chapter 22, Chapter 26, Chapter 59, or any other law enforced by any other County department,
agency, or office to the appropriate department, agency, or office. The other department,
agency, or office must keep the Department informed of any action taken .
(b) If the complaint contains allegations that fall jointly within the jurisdiction of 2 or more County
departments, agencies, or offices and the allegations are nonseverable, the Department
must investigate the complaint with the assistance of the other department, agency, or office.
29-39. Investigation of complaints.
(a) After the filing of any complaint, the Director must investigate whether there are reasonable
grounds to believe that the allegation is true and decide whether a violation of this Chapter has
occurred or a defective tenancy exists.
(b) If at any time after a complaint is filed, the Director believes the health, safety, welfare, or well
being of a tenant is placed in immediate danger, the Director may take immediate action to
provide appropriate relief, including notifying the chair or vice-chair of the Commission who must
decide whether an emergency meeting of the Commission is necessary.
29-40. Procedure when violation of Chapter or defective tenancy not found.
If the Director, after investigating a complaint, finds no reasonable grounds to believe that a violation
of this Chapter has occurred or a defective tenancy exists, the Director must so inform the Commission.
The Commission may, in its discretion, dismiss the complaint or order further investigation.
29-41. Procedure when violation of Chapter or defective tenancy found.
(a) If the Director, after investigating a complaint, finds reasonable grounds to believe that a
violation of this Chapter has occurred or a defective tenancy exists, the Director must
attempt to conciliate the matter by initial conference and persuasion with all interested parties
and their representatives.
(b) The initial conciliation conferences must be informal and confidential, and nothing said or
done during the initial conferences may prejudice the rights of any party. The initial conciliation
conference must occur within 30 days after the complaint is filed unless the Director finds good
cause for delaying it.
(c) The Directorís obligation to conciliate a complaint under this Section is satisfied if either party
does not appear at a scheduled conference after receiving at least 10 days' notice.
29-42. Conciliated complaints generally.
(a) If a complaint is conciliated, the terms of conciliation agreed to by the parties may be reduced
to writing and incorporated into a consent agreement to be signed by the parties. The
agreement must be for conciliation purposes only and is not an admission by any party that
a violation of this Chapter has occurred or a defective tenancy exists. Consent agreements
must be signed on behalf of the Director.
(b) It is a violation of this Chapter to fail to adhere to any provision of a consent agreement.
Any failure by the Commission to enforce a violation of any consent agreement does not waive
any rights contained in the agreement of the nonviolating party or the Commission.
29-43. Failure to conciliate complaints.
If the Director (1) does not conciliate a complaint after the parties have, in good faith, attempted
conciliation, (2) does not effect an informal conciliation agreement or formal consent agreement, or
(3) finds that a complaint is not susceptible of conciliation, the Director must notify the Commission
immediately. The Commission may thereafter schedule a hearing to decide whether a violation of this
Chapter has occurred or a defective tenancy exists.
29-44. Commission hearing.
(a) When a hearing before the Commission or a Commission panel deals with a controversy
arising under this Article, the Commission must serve on the person against whom a complaint
has been filed (the "respondent") a summons describing the nature and specifics of the complaint,
the provision of law allegedly violated, a concise factual statement of the acts alleged to
constitute a defective tenancy, and the relief sought. The Commission must serve on all
interested parties a notice of the time and place of hearing. The respondent or an authorized
representative may file a statement with the Commission before the hearing.
(b) The hearing must be open to the public. However, either party may request, in writing, a
private hearing that may be granted at the discretion of the Commission. The Commission
may subpoena all witnesses it deems necessary. The hearing must be held not less than 30
days after service of the statement of charges and summons.
(c) Any summons must be signed by the chair of the Commission or the panel and must
require the attendance of named persons and the production of relevant documents and
records. Failure to comply with a summons is a violation of this Chapter.
(d) The parties may present testimony and evidence under oath, or by affirmation. The
Commission must keep a full record of the hearing. The record, if the hearing is public,
must be open to inspection by any person. On request by any party to the proceeding,
the Commission must furnish that party a copy of the hearing record, if any, and the
charges to meet costs.
(e) The Commission may, on its own motion, after notifying all parties, extend the time for
any hearing and the issuance of any findings, opinions, and orders.
29-45. Relief pending Commission hearing.
If, at any time after a complaint has been filed, the Commission believes that appropriate civil action
to preserve the status quo or to prevent irreparable harm appears advisable, the Commission may refer
the matter to the County Attorney to bring any action necessary to preserve the status quo or to prevent
such irreparable harm, including temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions.
29-46. Commission action when violation not found.
If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the Commission or panel finds, based on a preponderance of the
evidence of record, that the respondent has not violated this Chapter or caused a defective tenancy or has
not allowed a defective tenancy to continue for an unreasonable period of time, the Commission or panel
must publish written findings of fact and conclusions of law based on the record and dismiss the complaint
or order any other appropriate action.
29-47. Commission action when violation found.
(a) If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the Commission or panel finds, based on a preponderance
of the evidence of record, that a violation of this Chapter has occurred or a defective tenancy
exists, the Commission or panel must publish written findings of fact and conclusions of law
based on the record and issue an order. The order may require the respondent to stop any
unlawful conduct and take appropriate action to comply with this Chapter. The order may
also contain a notice that if the Commission determines that the respondent has not, after
30 calendar days after service of the Commission's or panel's order, made a bona fide
effort to comply with the order, the Department may take appropriate action and the
Commission may refer the matter to the County Attorney for enforcement.
(b) If the Commission or panel finds that a landlord has caused a defective tenancy, it
may award each party to the complaint one or more of the following remedies:
(1) Immediate termination of the lease, and relief from any future obligations under
the terms of the lease;
(2) Return of the partyís security deposit or any part of the deposit that the landlord
has wrongfully withheld;
(3) An award under Section 29-10(c) of up to three times the amount of any security deposit
that the landlord has wrongfully withheld. When making this award, the Commission must
consider the egregiousness of the landlordís conduct in wrongfully withholding all or part
of the deposit, whether the landlord acted in good faith, and any prior history by the
landlord of wrongful withholding of security deposits;
(4) Return of all or part of any rent already paid to the landlord after the landlord was notified
of the condition.
(5) An award of damages sustained by the tenant as a result of the defective tenancy, limited
to actual damage or loss incurred by the tenant. The award must not exceed $2,500 per
affected dwelling unit.
(6) A reasonable expenditure to obtain temporary substitute rental housing in the area.
(7) After a retaliatory or illegal eviction as defined in Section 29-32 reasonable attorney's fees
incurred by the affected tenant in defense of the retaliatory or illegal eviction. The award
must not exceed $1,000.
(c) If the Commission or panel finds that a tenant has caused a defective tenancy, it may
award the landlord one or more of the following remedies:
(1) The landlord may immediately terminate the lease and gain possession of
the premises under state law.
(2) An award of damages to be paid by the tenant sustained as a result of a defective tenancy,
limited to the landlord's actual damage or loss. The award must not exceed $2,500, with
a credit for any damages deducted from a security deposit.
(d) Any award of damages under this Section not paid within 30 days after the award may be enforced
by the person to whom the award was granted in any court of competent jurisdiction. Any
court of competent jurisdiction may grant judgment plus interest from the date of the award.
29-48. Penalty for failure to comply with Chapter requirements, Commission orders, or summonses.
(a) Any person who does not comply with any Commission order or summons issued under this
Article has committed a class A violation.
(b) If a Commission order does not award monetary relief and a person, rather than comply with a
Commission order, stops operating rental housing, that person must give any tenants occupying
the premises in question 60 days' written notice to vacate the premises, beginning on the first day
of the month after service of the notice. A copy of the notice must be delivered to the Director.
No penalty applies during the 60-day period that tenants have to vacate the facility if the holder
of the license to operate the rental housing returns it to the Director.
(c) In addition to any criminal or other penalty provided in this Chapter, compliance with an order
of the Commission may be enforced by injunctive or other appropriate legal action to correct any
violation of this Article, and any court with jurisdiction may issue restraining orders, temporary or
permanent injunctions, or other appropriate relief.
Any person aggrieved by a final action of the Commission under this Article may appeal to the Circuit
Court under the Rules of Procedure for a review of those actions. If the Commission has ordered a monetary
award, the person appealing the Commissionís order must post a bond with the Circuit Court in the amount
of the award if the appellant seeks a stay of enforcement of the award.
29-50. Alternative relief.
Nothing in this Chapter prevents any person from exercising any right or seeking any remedy to which
that person might otherwise be entitled, or from filing any complaint with any other agency or court.
CENTRAL DATA COLLECTION AND RENT GUIDELINES.
29-51. Rental housing data collection.
(a) The County Executive must establish procedures to collect and analyze housing data for rental
dwelling units in the County, and must make every effort to centralize the data collection functions
to minimize the burden for landlords.
(b) The reporting process is mandatory for landlords of licensed rental housing, including new,
dwelling units as they come on the market and all vacant units.
(c) The data collection frequency must be on an annual basis.
(d) The Director must use a survey form for collecting data designed to minimize the repeated
reporting of unchanged information, while maintaining an accurate data base.
(e) The housing data collected must be used to ascertain the supply and availability of rental
housing, as well as other operating characteristics. Each landlord must provide the following
information as requested by the County:
(1) The location of the rental facility;
(2) Structure type;
(3) Year built;
(4) Distribution of units by standard bedroom sizes;
(5) The number of units by bedroom size that were re-rented during the month;
(6) The number of vacant days applicable to those units;
(7) The rent charged for each rental unit;
(8) The rent charged for each re-rented unit before vacancy; and
(9) The new turnover rent charged for each re-rented unit.
(f) Each landlord must maintain records for each project on an aggregate basis containing the
following information, that must be made available to the County upon request:
(1) A description of utilities that are included in the rent;
(2) The landlord's actual monthly utility costs, including gas, electric, heating, fuel, trash
removal, and water and sewer;
(3) The availability of certain amenities, including air conditioning, wall-to-wall carpeting,
dishwasher, garbage disposal, washer/dryer in apartment unit or on the site, patio-balcony,
swimming pool and tennis courts;
(4) The actual operating expenses, by category;
(5) The actual operating revenues, by category;
(6) A schedule of any other fees and income; and
(7) Tenant rent/income ratio for prospective tenants that protects the confidentiality of
personal income information and that is available to the landlord as part of the normal renting process.
(g) Each landlord of a rental dwelling unit in a common ownership community must report to the
governing body of the common ownership community the rental status of each unit owned by
the landlord. Any status change must be reported to the governing body, or its delegated
agent, within 10 days after the change.
(h) The governing body of a common ownership community must file with the Department information
provided by the landlord identifying each dwelling unit in the community that is rented by the owner to
another person. The information must identify the unit and the name and address of the landlord to the
extent that the landlord provides this information.
(i) The Director is primarily responsible for controlling rental housing data surveys for the County.
The Director must share this information with other governmental agencies that need it without
invading individual privacy. In this regard, the Director must coordinate survey activities with
other County departments, and make available to the departments the results of all surveys
in accordance with executive procedure.
(j) Any landlord who violates any provision of this Section is liable for payment of a civil penalty
in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.
29-52. Referral services.
(a) The County Executive must develop and operate a central referral service for the use of tenants,
landlords, and government agencies. The operation of the referral service may be contracted to
the Housing Opportunities Commission.
(b) Housing information and referral services to be offered must include, but are not limited to:
(1) Counseling services to tenants who need alternative housing or financial assistance;
(2) Validation of tenants' need for alternative housing;
(3) Determination of eligibility for available financial assistance for housing programs based upon income;
(4) Listing of agencies that can assist in locating housing;
(5) Listing of available financial assistance programs.
(c) In coordination with other public and private agencies, the Director must maintain a listing of the
location and characteristics of vacant dwelling units, and their rent rates.
29-53. Voluntary Rent Guidelines; review of rent increases.
(a) The County Executive must issue annual voluntary rent increase guidelines not later than March 1
of each year. The Executive must publish the guidelines in the County Register.
(b) The guidelines must be based on the increase or decrease in the residential rent component of the
Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers for the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area,
or any successor index, for the preceding calendar year.
(c) The Department should encourage landlords to hold rent increases at the lowest level possible.
The Department may review any rent increase that appears to be excessive and encourage the landlord
to reduce, modify, or postpone the increase.
29-54. Rent adjustments; notice requirements.
(a) A landlord must not increase the rent until 2 months after the landlord gives the tenant written notice
of the increase. 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:
(1) The amount of monthly rent immediately preceding the effective date of the proposed increase
(old rent), the amount of monthly rent proposed immediately after the rent increase takes effect
(new rent), and the percentage increase of monthly rent.
(2) The effective date of the proposed increase.
(3) The applicable rent increase guideline issued under Section 29-53.
(4) A notice that the tenant may ask the Department to review any rent increase that the
tenant considers excessive.
(5) Other information that the landlord deems useful in explaining the rent increase.
An otherwise valid notice of a rent increase is not invalid because the notice contained an
incorrect rent increase guideline number if the landlord reasonably believed that the number
(b) Written notice may be delivered to the tenant by any reasonable means. However, a notice has
not been delivered unless the notice is mailed via the United States Postal Service to the tenant's
dwelling unit or unless a signed receipt is obtained from the tenant or the tenantís representative.
If the tenant is notified by mail, other than registered or certified mail, the landlord must certify, by
affidavit dated at the time of mailing, that the landlord has mailed the notice. The landlord must retain
a copy of the affidavit in the landlordís records.
(c) For the purposes of these notice requirements, the day after the postmark date is the date of
delivery if the notice was delivered to the proper person by U.S. mail. If any notice is sent by
U.S. certified or registered mail, the receipt or registration is presumptive evidence that the
notice was delivered to the party to which addressed, and the date of the receipt or registration
is the postmark date.
(d) When the last day for performing any act prescribed under this Chapter falls on a Saturday,
Sunday or legal holiday, the performance of that act is timely if it is performed on the next day
that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.
* * *
Sec. 2. Section 2A-2 is amended as follows:
This Chapter governs the following administrative appeals and proceedings and applies whether a hearing is
conducted by a hearing examiner or another designated official.
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(b) Complaints and actions arising under Chapter 29, for which hearings are held by the Commission on
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Sec. 3. Effective Date. This Act takes effect on April 1, 2001.
Sec. 4. Transition. Until superseded, an Executive Regulation issued under Chapter 29 before this Act took effect remains in effect except when the regulation is clearly inconsistent with Chapter 29 as amended by this Act.
Sec. 5. Amendment. Section 29-27, as amended by Section 1 of this Act, is further amended, effective April 1, 2003, as follows:
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(n) Contain no agreement by a tenant to:
(1) waive the right to a trial by jury;
(2) pay court costs that exceed actual costs awarded by a court; or
(3) pay legal costs or attorney fees.
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Michael L. Subin, President, County Council Date
Douglas M. Duncan, County Executive Date
This is a correct copy of Council action.
Mary A. Edgar, CMC, Clerk of the Council Date