Welcome County Candidates

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County Candidate Basic Information

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Candidate Type: County ExecutiveCounty Council

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County Candidate Questionnaire

Question 1: Rent Stabilization

Rents across Montgomery County and other regions are skyrocketing. While the county's 2014 Voluntary Rent Increase Guidelines allow for a 1.5% increase, landlords in some areas are seeking annual increases of between 3 and 12% percent each year, forcing a growing number of renters to move from their homes. In Montgomery County more than 30% of residents live in rental housing. Many are long-term residents, seniors and working families with children in local schools. Do you support county-wide legislation that would stabilize rent increases similar to the successful programs in Washington D.C., or Takoma Park, MD, by establishing a reasonable annual cap based on the Consumer Price Index, or some other measure?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

a) Annual lease renewals often come with the stipulation that should a renter decide to renew for a short term, either a few months or on a month-to-month basis, their rent increase can be as high as 40%. Would you support a county law which forbids treating short-term lease rent increases from being treated differently from annual lease renewals?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

b) Like renters, businesses are often faced with skyrocketing rents that force good businesses to close their doors, or move elsewhere. In many cases, there are no other businesses to replace those departing commercial space and storefronts leaving them empty for months and, in some cases, years at a time, reducing overall economic activity and stifling community economic development. Do you support commercial rent stabilization, or some form of tax incentives and/or penalties for landlords who either price out businesses or fail to rent out commercial spaces over a reasonable period of time due to excessive rent demands?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 2: Just-Cause Eviction Law

With as little as 60 days' notice and with no explanation provided, renters in Montgomery County can be told that their lease will not be renewed and that they must leave their rental The result keeps renters in a constant state of uncertainty and in fear of losing their homes, possibly as a result of demanding promised services or maintenance, or organizing tenants or any other reason the landlord may have, but not state. Just-cause eviction law requires landlords to automatically renew a lease under substantially the same terms, with the exception of a reasonable and fair rent increase absent just-cause, e.g., failure to pay rent, criminal activity, taking the apartment off the market or other substantial breaches of a lease. Do you support just-cause eviction legislation, and, if so, would you ask the state for enabling legislation?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 3: Forced Renters Insurance

Recently, an increasing number of landlords have been demanding that tenants purchase renters insurance and name the landlord as a beneficiary of the liability protection in the event of a law suit. Failure to do so, say the renewal notices, will constitute a substantial breach of lease and grounds for eviction. While the Renters Alliance and other renter protection advocates encourage renters to purchase renters insurance, we believe that it must be the renter's choice. Furthermore, we oppose the practice of forcing renters to name the landlord, property managers and building staff as beneficiaries of renter's insurance policies, thus shifting part of the cost of insuring the building from the owners to the tenants. Would you support legislation making such practices illegal?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 4: Landlord Status

Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 5: Campaign support

Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

a) If yes, please provide the approximate amount of such donations and the percentage those donations represent against the rest of your campaign funds for this campaign.

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 6: Renter Education and Advocacy Fund

For decades, well-financed landlord and other interested industry organizations have been able to lobby state and local legislatures, take legal action against tenants and defend against tenants seeking promised services, code-required maintenance and quality living environments. To ensure that tenants have a voice in public affairs affecting their housing, and can reasonably act to secure their homes, do you support adequate county funding for renter education and advocacy?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

a) If yes, would you support the establishment of a per unit fee on licensed landlords with six units or more to support education, outreach and other services through government, nonprofit advocates and other community organizations?

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 7: Personal and Professional Support for Renters Rights

Describe any specific actions you have undertaken in your career to protect tenants' rights, rent regulation, or the preservation and/or advancement of affordable rental housing.

Response (30 word maximum):

Question 8: Expanding and Protecting Below Market Rate Rental Housing

What steps would you take to increase the availability of below market rate, affordable rental housing and ensure that there is no loss of existing lower income rental housing, for example due to the building of the Purple Line?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 9: Ending Deceptive Business Practices by Landlords

In some rental communities, landlords promise, deceptively, to make repairs, provide services or building improvements, charge unfair and undeclared fees and other questionable and deceptive business practices.

Do you support expanding the Consumer Protection Act to prohibit all landlord deceptive and unfair practices and provide renters with a legal remedy?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 10: Code Enforcement and Landlord/Tenant Dispute Resolution

For many years the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) and the Office of Landlord and Tenant Affairs (OLTA) and Code Enforcement (CA) have come under criticism for not being responsive enough to renter concerns and complaints while working closely with landlords and their representatives. One analysis of this criticism holds that DHCA's responsibility to promote building and construction of rental housing, thus working directly with landlords and developers to encourage such activity, inevitably leads to a conflict of interest when its other mission is to penalize landlords who are abusive or negligent in managing their properties. Would you support restructuring DHCA so that OLTA and Code Enforcement responsibilities are moved into the Office of Consumer Affairs?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

Question 11: Shifting Utility Charges and Cost Information

While many landlords include utility charges in monthly rent, an increasing number of landlords have begun to shift those charges to renters in addition to their rent. Title 20, Subtitle 25, Section 6 of the Maryland Code requires that landlords make average costs of utilities and meter readings for the past 24 months available to renters. Should landlords be required to provide this information to prospective renters as part of the original lease prior to its execution?

YesNo

Comments (30 word maximum):

a) In some cases, landlords have provided verbal estimates of typical utility costs per unit that prove substantially underestimated. Should landlords be penalized for failing to provide accurate utility cost information?

Comments (30 word maximum):

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The Montgomery County Renters Alliance, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible.