A Maryland lawmaker has introduced a bill that would buy renters a little more time to make a decision before their rents go up.
Del. Melissa Wells introduced HB 151 in the Maryland General Assembly last month, which would require a landlord to notify a tenant of rent increases of 4% or more with at least 120 days’ — or four months’ — notice.
Wells said she introduced the bill after hearing about the large rent increases that many Marylanders were seeing.
“I saw some people in Baltimore whose rents went up by like $1,000 a month,” she told WTOP.
Wells said she is hoping that the bill will give renters more time to make a decision and to potentially find a new, more affordable home.
“This would also help individuals basically be able to make a decision not from a point of crisis about whether they should stay in their existing lease,” she said.
Wells previously introduced the bill in 2022, but said it did not pass in the Senate.
There is no statewide law requiring notice of rent increases in Maryland. Montgomery County requires landlords to give 90 days’ notice when raising rents. Takoma Park and Baltimore City landlords are required to provide 60 days’ notice before increasing rent.
Wells also said the bill is not about rent control, but she will be working on other ways to address affordability issues.
“We need to also address affordability, but like, this is probably the one of the lowest cost ways that we can maybe help address individuals that might end up in the revolving door of the failure to pay rent and eviction court process,” she said.
During a hearing about the bill Feb. 7, Economic Action Maryland Tenant Advocacy Coordinator Michael Donnelly said the measure is needed.
“They get a lease proposed to them for another … year but it’s massively unaffordable and without enough time to find alternative housing to like, get moving, to change where they live and find other affordable housing, they’re stuck either paying much higher unaffordable rents or they shift to a month-to-month and it’s even higher — and at that point they have even less security than on a one-year lease,” Donnelly said.
Laura Graziano of the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, an association for owners and managers of multifamily homes and apartments, said during the hearing that MMHA is requesting an amendment to the bill that would change the proposed requirement of notice to 60 days. She also said the association like to remove any reference to an increase cap and would be willing to provide notice to tenants of any rent increase.
She said the amendment would be consistent with an existing law which requires landlords to give notice if they do not want to renew a tenant’s lease in a year-to-year lease, at least 90 days before.
“The current proposal of 120 [days] is a little unworkable,” she said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to notify someone of a rent increase at 120 days if we as the landlord haven’t determined that we’re going to continue on with this relationship, which we’re required to do at 90 days.”