On Tuesday we unanimously approved amended Bill 19-15 that addresses issues with landlord-tenant relations. The Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee held five worksessions on the bill that would make several changes to the landlord-tenant law principally aimed at enhancing the existing rights of tenants and improving the quality of rental housing through increased inspections.
The major provisions of approved Bill 19-15 will:
- Provide tenants with greater transparency about their rights and obligations under a lease.
- Require the Department of Housing and Community Affairs to inspect a sample of every multi-family rental property over the next two years to establish baseline information about the condition of the County’s rental housing stock.
- Focus ongoing enforcement resources on properties with significant health and safety issues and properties with numerous code violations.
- Provide clearer information about the state of rental units in the County via improved data collection and publication.
- Provide many benefits to tenants that should improve the stability and quality of their living arrangements.
- Require each lease to include a plain language summary of a tenant’s rights and responsibilities.
- Require DHCA to conduct a two-year intensive inspection schedule (twice the current number of inspections, prioritized by need).
- Require DHCA to provide annual reports to Council and County Executive about past and upcoming year inspections.
- Require certain properties to be inspected more frequently than the current triennial schedule (based on type and severity of violations).
- Require landlords to pay the cost of subsequent inspections, if a property needs multiple inspections for uncorrected violations.
- Require that tenants can make certain repairs when authorized by the DHCA director or his designee, if DHCA orders a repair and the landlord fails to correct the issue in the allotted time.
- Requires lease renewal terms of two years, if the landlord is offering renewal.
- Improvement of the availability of landlord-tenant handbooks.
- Requiring landlords to provide tenants with more information about utility bills in older buildings.
- Requiring landlords to give 60 days’ notice if the landlord intends to terminate the tenancy at the end of a lease term, and 90 days’ notice for all rent increases.
- Requiring DHCA to publish certain data from the annual rental housing survey on its web site.
- Requiring that tenant organizations be allowed to use available meeting space for free once per month.