County Candidates

County Executive Candidates

County Council Candidates


County Executive Candidates


Phil Andrews

Phil Andrews

Candidate for County Executive

Website: http://www.philandrews.com

Bio:
Phil Andrews is a four-term member of the County Council, led the Council as president during the Great Recession of 2008-09, and has chaired the Public Safety Committee since 2000. He refuses campaign funds from developers, PACs, unions and corporations, and is the former executive director of Common Cause MD, and former managing director of the County’s AmeriCorps program. Andrews was chief sponsor of the County’s Smoke-free Restaurant law, Living Wage law, the law that reformed the police disability retirement program, the law expanding job opportunities for people with disabilities, and laws improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety and access. Andrews, a Democrat, is running for County Executive to restore the County’s competitive edge, and has issued a strategic plan, “Securing our Future, to do so (see full plan at www.philandrews.com): 1) recover the County’s fair share from Annapolis; 2) control County spending to make taxes reasonable; 3) grow “green” jobs to protect the environment; 4) expand life-long educational access; 5) reduce special interest money in elections.

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?

Answer: No. I support addressing excessive increases in rents by increasing the supply of rental housing, and increasing permanent affordable rental housing through County partnerships with non-profits.

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?

Answer: a) No. This issue is best addressed through negotiations between tenants and landlords to reach a mutually agreeable solution.

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?

Answer: No. I understand that longstanding vacant properties create problems for neighboring properties and communities. In such cases, the County should prod and assist the landlords in finding tenants.

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?

Answer: No. I support vigorous County enforcement of health and safety laws to protect tenants. As County Executive, I’ll propose adequate budgets for staffing and training for code enforcement.

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?

Answer: Possibly. I am concerned about landlords requiring tenants to purchase renters insurance AND to name the landlord as beneficiary.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No. As a former tenant in the County, I understand the concerns that renters have about excessive rent increases, lack of code compliance, insufficient information, and unjustified evictions.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: No. I am the only candidate for County Executive who refuses campaign funds from developers, PACS, unions and corporations. I’ve introduced legislation for public financing of County elections.

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: N/A

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?

Answer: Yes. Everyone should have a voice and public officials should listen. As County Executive, I’ll champion funding for the Office of Consumer Protection for renter education and code-required maintenance.

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: I support adequate County funding of the Office of Consumer Protection to accomplish this important objective. A per unit fee would be passed on to tenants by landlords.

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: Since I was elected to the County Council in 1998, I have supported increased funding for affordable housing from the $2.5 million in 1998 to the current $50 million annual level.

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?

Answer: Yes. I voted to retain current zoning for the Long Branch Sector Plan for the large affordable housing properties along Piney Branch Road so they remain affordable.

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?

Answer: Yes. As chair of the Public Safety Committee since 2000, I have championed consumer protection for many years. I support funding to ensure vigorous code enforcement, and legal remedies for tenants.

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?

Answer: Yes. The current structure creates a conflict of responsibilities. The Office of Consumer Protection is best place to relocate OLTA and Code Enforcement.

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?

Answer: Yes. It’s very important that prospective renters have accurate information upfront about the total cost of renting from a landlord so they can make an informed decision.

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: Yes, if written estimates that landlords provide are substantially less than utility costs have averaged for the building’s rental units for the past year, and absent extraordinary utility rate increases.


Douglas M. Duncan

Douglas M. Duncan

Candidate for County Executive

Website: http://www.dougduncan.com

Bio:
Hello, I’m Doug Duncan and I’m running to be your next County Executive because we need strong leadership to get Montgomery County working again for everyone in our community.

As a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, and as someone who is proud to have served previously as County Executive, I know what a special place this is. I’m very proud of the track record of accomplishments and the success we had together during my years in office. But this election is about the future, not the past. My Leadership In Action plan is a detailed outline of my vision for Montgomery County and my plans for making that vision a reality. I invite you to go to my website, DougDuncan.com and read it. Let me share with you some thoughts on my top priorities: Education, Jobs, and restoring the public’s faith in Montgomery County government to get things done in a timely, safe and effective manner.

The key to any successful community is a successful school system and a steadfast commitment to educational excellence.

Montgomery County has always taken great pride in our schools and with good reason. But we are facing challenges from a growing population and we need to be focused on solutions.

What may be of greatest concern is the fact that the minority achievement gap that we were closing during my years as county executive has begun to widen again. That is simply unacceptable and I will work with the school system to ensure that we are doing all we can to reverse this trend. That means going to Annapolis and fighting for our rightful share of education funding. My nickname used to be Delegate Duncan because I was down in Annapolis so much, standing up for our students and teachers. It is that kind of leadership in action that allowed Montgomery County to receive hundreds of millions of additional dollars for education funding from the state.

Another very important key to funding our schools – and the other services Montgomery County residents deserve – is finding ways to expand our tax base and bring more jobs back to the county. Since July of last year, Montgomery County leads Maryland in job LOSS. We are no longer the economic engine we once were, trailing Fairfax County, Washington D.C., Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County and Howard County in job creation since 2007. I am proud that by working together during my years in office as County Executive, we LED Maryland in job creation.

We also took on tough challenges that some people said were lost causes, such as revitalizing downtown Silver Spring. I want to see that we do that again in communities like Wheaton and Clarksburg. We also need to bring Gigabit internet speeds to the county. In addition, I will revitalize our business incubator program. Instead of shutting down our business incubators and evicting start-up biotech firms, as the current administration is doing, I want to see Montgomery County become the start-up center of this region. The key is adding more jobs to the economy and growing the tax base.

That brings me to another of my top priorities, restoring the faith you have in Montgomery County government. Perhaps the most glaring and outrageous example of the current administration’s mismanagement is the Silver Spring Transit Center. In 2008 the construction contract was signed and was supposed open in 2010. Today, it is years behind schedule and tens of millions of dollars over budget and we still can’t get an answer as to when it will safely open and how much more it will cost. Reports and studies have been commissioned and delivered, and still the public has no idea when this eyesore will be completed. As your next County Executive, I will make sure we open the Silver Spring Transit Center safely.

It’s about leadership in action. That’s how we revitalized Silver Spring. That’s how we built the Strathmore Music Center, the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center, and town centers in places like Rockville and Germantown. And it’s how we are going to get Montgomery County moving again.

Please check out my website DougDuncan.com and I urge you to read my full Leadership in Action plan. If you want a clear vision and strong leadership in order to ensure Montgomery County’s future is brighter than our past, I ask you to vote for me on June 24. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.

I’m Doug Duncan and I ask you for your support on June 24th. Thank you.

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?

Answer: No.

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?

Answer: N/A

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?

Answer: No.

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?

Answer: No. There are many protections in Montgomery County’s landlord tenant law already in place.

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?

Answer: Yes.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes.

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: N/A

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: N/A

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: As County Executive we created or preserved 36,000 affordable housing units. I also worked to make it more affordable to live here by creating the Local Earned Income Tax Credit.

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?

Answer: By increasing the supply of housing especially around transit hubs, we can decrease the price demanded for it.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: No.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: N/A


Ike Leggett

Ike Leggett

Candidate for County Executive

Website: http://www.ikeleggett.org

Bio:
Education:
I hold four education degrees: Bachelor of Arts from Southern University, a Master of Arts degree and a Juris Doctorate degree from Howard University, and a Master of Laws from George Washington University. I graduated from Southern University in 1967 as a Distinguished Military Graduate. In 1981 I was selected as the Southern University Outstanding Alumni, and finished first in my class from Howard University Law School, graduating Magna Cum Laude. At the time of my Howard Law School graduation, I held the third highest academic average in the law school’s history. In 1985, I received the Outstanding Alumni Award from Howard University Law School.

Relevant Experience:
I am currently in my second term as the County Executive. I also served four terms as an At-Large Member (1986 – 2002), and served as the Council’s President three times (1991, 1998, 1999) and as its Vice-President three times (1990, 1997 and 2002). As a Council Member I chaired the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee and served on the Education Committee. Currently, I am the President of the County Executives of America and incoming President of Maryland Association of Counties.

My other political service includes chairing the Maryland Democratic Party from December 2002 – December 2004, which involved working with local officials throughout the State of Maryland.

In earlier leadership experience I served as a Captain in the United States Army, where my service in Vietnam War earned me the Bronze Star Medal, the Vietnam Service, and Vietnam Campaign Medals. As an administrative aide I specialized in small business concerns for Congressman Parren Mitchell of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, and also worked as a Social Security Administration claims examiner and as a staff attorney for the Department of the Navy.

In 1977, I was selected as a White House Fellow, one of a small number of citizens selected from across the country for their exemplary civic, professional and educational achievement. I served as a Professor of Law at the Howard University Law School from 1975 – 2006. I ran the day-to-day operations of the Law School as its Assistant Dean from 1979 – 1986.

Significant Accomplishments:
• During the recent unprecedented recession, I was able to close $2.7 billion in budgetary gaps and now, our County is on the road to financial health. Today Montgomery County has the highest financial reserves in its history, and its coveted Triple-A bond rating is secure.

• Because of our solid Triple-A bond rating, and the real savings it generated, the County has been able to build an unparalleled number of schools, libraries, recreation centers, roads, and other public facilities in our community over the last seven years.

• My Smart Growth Initiative is fostering development in our life sciences centers and will grow more than 100,000 jobs – creating by far more jobs than at any other period in the County’s history. This Smart Growth initiative is bringing vibrant walkable communities to the Shady Grove, White Flint, Great Seneca Science Corridor and White Oak Science Gateway areas.

• Because I have always believed that affordable housing is critical to our success as a community, even during the difficult times during the Great Recession, the County built or acquired over 9,100 affordable housing units—this is more than any other amount in a similar period in our county’s history. Our business community and our entire county benefit when workers can find affordable housing.

• I worked aggressively to help secure over a billion State dollars to move our major county transportation projects forward.

• Under my administration, we have worked to significantly reduce crime and improve our fire and rescue response times to emergencies.

• I spearheaded a streamlining initiative that has shaved nearly a year off of the County’s development review and approval process, saving our commercial and residential builders valuable time and money.

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?

Answer: No. Rent stabilization will ultimately reduce the amount of affordable rentals which could increase rental costs. Developers will build outside of the county if we had rent stabilization.

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?

Answer: Yes. In certain cases there may be a justification for some increase but 40% is excessively high.

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?

Answer: No. I support efforts to provide some tax relief and some incentives to help struggling commercial entities but I do not believe that outright rent stabilization is the way to go.

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?

Answer: No. I believe that we should be able to find a balance that could work between tenants and landlords that provide some protection but not the current law.

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?

Answer: Yes.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes. While most of my contributions come from individuals including many renters in the county, I do not reject contributions from businesses in the county.

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: About 25%.

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?

Answer: Yes. I have recommended grant funding for the Renters Alliance in my budget for the last several years. I look forward to working with stakeholders and the County Council to achieve this.

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: This is a reasonable approach. I would like to explore others as well before making a decision.

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: I chaired the Human Rights Commission where I fought discrimination in many areas. As County Exec, I formed the first Renters Work group in the county to provide a voice for renters.

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?

Answer: Since becoming County Executive I have approved over 300 million dollars in funds for affordable housing, much of it rental and built or preserved 12,000 units.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: This change has merit, however, I would like to explore this and other alternatives to increase the county’s effectiveness in code enforcement.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: Yes.


Jim Shalleck

Jim Shalleck

Candidate for County Executive

Website: http://www.voteshalleck.com

Bio:
I moved to Montgomery County 25 years ago to work at the U.S. Justice Department. Prior to that, I was an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx, N.Y.;and Assistant Attorney General of New York State. I prosecuted David Berkowitz “The Son of Sam ” for 3 Bronx murders. Since 1994, I have been in private law practice in the County. My number one priority is public safety, keeping our children safe at school. I want to have a police presence at all of our schools. We have to eliminate trailers being used as classrooms for over 10,000 of our children. There are many other issues to address but I wanted to highlight my priority for the County.

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?

Answer: No. I am against rent control. It will drive developers away from the County. We need to work with the developers and real estate industry to address our affordable housing needs.

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?

Answer: No. Leases must be clear, specific and easy to read so that tenants are fully aware of rent increases that may occur upon renewal. This is a private contract.

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?

Answer: No. I do not support commercial rent stabilization. Tax incentives should be used to encourage fair and expedited rentals. These issues are private contractual arrangements between private parties.

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?

Answer: Yes. I do support legislation to require leases to clearly, simply, and specifically list reasons for eviction. Also, I believe tenants should be given 90 days notice.

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?

Answer: Yes. This should be the renters decision. Renters are liable for damages and breaches, they should decide on insurance.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes. I will accept contributions from real estate interests and tenant groups. They will never influence my decisions.

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: So far, neither groups have contributed to my campaign.

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?

Answer: Yes. I support reasonable funding for renter education. Advocacy should come from private individuals and groups.

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: No. This should be a reasonable general fund expenditure.

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: I was previously elected to the Montgomery Village Board of Directors (approximately 40,000 residents) and when I previously served my three year term I was always concerned with protecting tenants.

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?

Answer: Yes. I would work with developers to encourage this needed housing by providing tax and other incentives (road enhancements if necessary).

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?

Answer: Yes. These prohibitions should apply to all businesses. Deceptive and unfair practices should be sanctioned in all industries.

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?

Answer: No. We have the existing Agencies to address these issues. If they are not responsive to tenants, or not perceived to be responsive, then the culture must be changed.

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?

Answer: Yes. The more information that is available to renters before they sign a lease the better. It makes the renter more informed before they decide on renting.

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: They should be penalized if they intentionally mislead a tenant.


County Council Candidates


Beth Daly

Beth Daly

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.bethdaly.org

Bio:
The most important reason for people to vote for me is that I want to change the way the county council does business – especially when it comes to land use issues and transparency. I was prompted to run by school overcrowding and the excessive number of portables. I will insist on balanced development by making sure the school and traffic tests in the Subdivision Staging Policy reflect what actually is happening on the ground, and I will work to ensure that there is adequate funding for school construction ahead of development, not years later.

Currently, three of the four at-large members reside in Takoma Park – and all four live south of White Flint Mall. I am uniquely positioned to run for an at-large seat on the council because I have lived both upcounty (14 years) and downcounty (ten years). As an apartment dweller in downtown Bethesda, a new mother of two boys in a single-family home in Kensington, and now as an empty nester in the heart of the Agricultural Reserve, I have experienced Montgomery County’s variety, and I appreciate that we are all – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or any other difference – in this together.

Although this is my first run for public office, I have more than 20 years of experience working in Democratic politics, first for U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), then as a media professional for Democratic candidates and progressive causes, and most recently for Telemundo, promoting political messaging to its Spanish-language viewers. I was named “Media All Star” by Media Week magazine in 1993 for my team’s work on the Clinton-Gore 1992 campaign. I am legislative director of the Sugarloaf Citizens Association; was appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett to the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board where I am land use chair; and served as a community leader on the regional Transportation Planning Board. I am active on the Save Ten Mile Creek Coalition, Dickerson Facilities advisory board, PTA, within my church and as a hospice volunteer.

I know how budgets work and respect budgetary accountability. While directing the advertising placements for President Clinton’s first campaign, I managed tens of millions of dollars and had to account for every penny. I know how to spend other people’s money and to be accountable for it. I will do the same as a county councilmember.

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?

Answer: I support predictable rent increases along the lines of current voluntary guidelines. Will discuss with all stakeholders before deciding on rent stabilization. Need to ensure that landlords reinvest in properties.

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?

Answer: Yes. Month-to-month rentals are a necessity for many, especially working class families, and should not be treated differently. I will work to reduce price gouging on short-term rental contracts.

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?

Answer: Need more information. I want to allow both for small businesses to thrive under reasonable, predictable rents, and for landlords to realize a fair return on their buildings.

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?

Answer: Yes. I supported Sen. Jamie Raskin’s legislation on just cause eviction and anti-retaliation (unduly affecting lower income residents). We should explore economic or tax incentives for landlords to maintain units.

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?

Answer: Yes. I oppose landlord efforts to require tenants to purchase renters insurance making the landlord the beneficiary, and would introduce or support such legislation.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes. It’s a big county and I have broad-based, grassroots support, the vast majority individual citizens. I am a first-time candidate, and accept support from all those who share my vision.

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: Less than two percent (2%) of total contributions are from individuals with declared or known real estate interests.

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?

Answer: Yes. I will ensure that the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) and particularly the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs (OLTA) is adequately funded and supported.

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: I am not familiar with this funding. I will study this further and look at other jurisdictions and investigate other possible revenue streams to fund renters’ advocacy programs.

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: I lived in rented apartments as a child and as an adult. I support creation of new and preservation of existing affordable housing. See www.bethdaly.org/housing.

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?

Answer: The council should add incentives to increase MPDUs in new developments. I also will work to increase funding for affordable housing initiatives and nonprofits such as Montgomery Housing Partnership.

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?

Answer: Renters should have an avenue for legal remedy for unfair or deceptive practices. I need more information about specifics to determine the best solution.

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?

Answer: I believe that the council must exercise its oversight responsibility forcefully and, if I find that DHCA and OLTA are not performing as tasked, I will demand change.

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?

Answer: Yes. Landlords are maintaining the information under existing law, so should be able to easily provide it in advance of new leases. Just as rent increases should be predictable, utility charges should be as well.

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: This problem is eliminated by requiring written disclosure of average utility costs.


Robert Dyer

Robert Dyer

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.robertdyer.net

Bio:
Robert Dyer is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County. He is a professional musician and internationally-distributed recording artist. Robert is also founder and publisher of Suburban News Network, which publishes hyperlocal news blogs covering Bethesda (“Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row”), Rockville (RockvilleNights.com) and Silver Spring/Wheaton/Glenmont/Aspen Hill (“East MoCo”).

Robert is an activist on development and transportation issues, and an advocate for the disabled and victims of domestic violence.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: No.

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: N/A

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: I would have to know what the fee amount would be, before supporting it.

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: I testified against the rezoning and demolition of affordable rental housing in Wheaton, Glenmont and Long Branch. Unfortunately the council disregarded those concerns!

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?

Answer: Yes. Moratorium on rezoning and demolition of affordable housing countywide, and restricting what the Purple Line will allow to be built in already-developed neighborhoods.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: Yes – “get it in writing” is always important!


Marc Elrich

Marc Elrich

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.marcelrich.com

Bio:
Marc has lived in Montgomery County since 1960 and attended Montgomery County Public Schools. He has a BA degree in history from the University of Maryland and an MA degree in teaching from Johns Hopkins University. Before being elected to his first of two terms on the County Council in 2006, he was a teacher at Rolling Terrace Elementary School for 17 years and served ten terms (19 years) on the Takoma Park City Council from 1987-2006. Since his election to Council, he has served on the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee and the Public Safety Committee.

As a member of the County Council his goal has been to promote policies that continue to offer real opportunities for an increasingly diverse population, including housing and job opportunities, libraries and recreation programs, an improved transit system, and a robust social services safety net, all of which directly affect the quality of life for Montgomery County residents. His proposal for a countywide Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system was recently added to the County’s master plan of highways and transitways. He introduced legislation to increase the minimum wage and led the successful effort that resulted in its adoption. He was also a leader in the fight to save Ten Mile Creek, one of the County’s last best streams.

To date he has been endorsed by the MCPS Retirees Association, Progressive Democrats of America, Sierra Club, SEIU Local 500, CASA in Action, UFCW Local 400, Progressive Neighbors, MCGEO UFCW Local 1994, Green Democrats, Brickyard Coalition, Hispanic Democratic Club, African American Democratic Club, GCAAR, NOW Montgomery County, MC Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, AFL-CIO DC Labor Council, Progressive Maryland, NARAL, One Montgomery, the Gazette, and MCEA.

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?

Answer: Yes. Rent stabilization can be structured to provide a fair return for landlords without gouging the tenants. It is good for neighborhoods, allowing families to stay in their units and be part of the community.

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?

Answer: Yes. I have legislation drafted to address this issue, which I intend to introduce in the coming weeks.

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?

Answer: Yes. I am interested in measures to help businesses whose leases and locations are threatened due to sky-rocketing rent increases. Our “revitalization” plans shouldn’t displace existing small businesses.

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?

Answer: Yes. Well-written just cause eviction laws balance the landlord’s need to remove problem tenants while protecting tenants who may displease the landlord because they speak up about problems with the building.

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?

Answer: Yes. This is straightforward. Tenants should not be required to name the landlord as a beneficiary.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes. I don’t take money from developers. The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors has endorsed me. At least one landlord has donated to my campaign; there may be others.

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: About $1,400 so far in the 2011-2014 election cycle. I expect to receive some more, which all total will be less than 2% of the total campaign funds.

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?

Answer: Yes. Tenants face difficult situations – rising rents, added fees that increase rents – and need resources that educate them on their rights and options. The County does this for condo associations.

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: The fee per unit could be small but generate enough funds to provide some meaningful help for tenants.

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: I improved Takoma Park’s rent stabilization and testified in Annapolis for tenants. I fought to preserve Glenmont’s and Long Branch’s existing affordable housing and worked on the Tenant Work Group.

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?

Answer: No. Preserve existing affordable housing. We can proactively protect the housing stock and adopt a “no net loss of affordable housing” policy. We cannot build enough units to replace existing ones.

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?

Answer: Yes. Those landlords must be held accountable for deceptive actions.

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?

Answer: Yes. I am considering legislation to do this.

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?

Answer: Yes. I will propose legislation that landlords use a standard lease so that renters can more easily understand what they’re signing. Such a lease should include this information.

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: After establishing clear reporting requirements, there should be penalties for misrepresentation of utility costs.


Tom Hucker

Tom Hucker

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.tomhucker.com

Bio:
Tom’s entire career has focused on helping bring people together to make government more responsive and effective — first as a community organizer and environmental advocate, then as founder of Progressive Maryland, and currently as a delegate in District 20. In addition to the General Assembly, Tom serves as a Trustee on the Montgomery Parks Foundation, a board member of the Progressive States Network, and a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

At an early age, Tom learned that government could provide critical opportunities for hardworking individuals to succeed and contribute to their communities and their country.
After graduation from college with honors, Tom moved to Washington, DC to run field campaigns for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (now Environment America) and the Sierra Club on efforts to reauthorize the federal Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and other federal legislation. He later worked as a community organizer, helping low-income residents fight for neighborhood improvements.

In 1999, Tom founded Progressive Maryland, one of the state’s largest grassroots advocacy groups, uniting thousands of individual members with many community, labor, civil rights, and faith-based groups to improve the lives of working families. After winning several successful campaigns with Progressive Maryland, Tom was elected to serve as State Delegate from District 20 in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

Since 2006, Tom has authored and passed over 40 major bills, including authoring renter protection legislation, historic living wage laws, employee discrimination protections, public health improvements, environmental reforms, and more.

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?

Answer: I agree that steep rent increases have damaging, unintended consequences for the County. They can destabilize communities, increase homelessness and push additional costs onto other County taxpayers. Stable, affordable rents, fair rent increases and a profitable rental housing industry are not mutually exclusive. I support developing a county-wide policy that makes both possible. I will work with landlords, renter, housing policy experts and my fellow council members to make this happen.

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?

Answer: I’m open to it. I’ve never heard an argument about why a such a rent increase would be justified.

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?

Answer: I’m committed to work with the same stakeholders to look at this problem as well.

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?

Answer: Yes. There is no good reason to fail to renew a responsible tenants’ lease without just cause. I have supported such legislation as a state lawmaker and will continue to see that Montgomery County receives support to provide just-cause eviction protections for tenants.

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?

Answer: Yes. Renters insurance is a good idea and all renters should be encouraged to purchase it. However, we are seeing a growing number of landlords requiring tenants to purchase renters insurance that names the landlord as co-insured. This practice undoubtedly lowers a landlord’s potential liability and perhaps their own insurance premiums. This is another example of landlords shifting the cost of doing business onto our renter population who face losing their homes if they do not comply. If landlords truly cared about renters having renters insurance, they should provide a rent discount for those who choose to purchase renters insurance. As a state lawmaker, I proposed statewide legislation to block this practice statewide and will continue to pursue it at the county level. As a result of the legislation, the State Insurance Commissioner is investigating this growing concern.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes.

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: I have a very broad group of supporters, and I don’t know the employment or personal financial interests of each of my contributors. Of the ones I’m aware of, they constitute well below 5% of my contributions.

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?

Answer: Yes. I support expanded funding for renter education and advocacy as well as fund to improve county responsiveness to renter concerns over maintenance, quality housing and code enforcement.

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: I’d like to learn more about this proposal.

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: As my biography briefly references, I have been a long-term advocate for progressive policies that protect consumers and common housing rights. I am the chair of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance Advisory Board and have worked closely with renters to mediate disputes and secure assistance for the thousands of renters seeking to protect their homes from unscrupulous landlord practices.

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?

Answer: Our primary approach to increasing affordable housing supply needs to begin by acknowledging the need to protect our current affordable housing. I was happy that the Council declined to upzone the current affordable apartments in Long Branch, and I will continue to protect that decision if elected. In many areas, we lose more affordable housing each year than we are likely to build. That’s one reason I’ve cosponsored legislation requiring a vote of tenants before allowing an apartment building to convert to condos. No matter how much we focus on building new workforce housing, we will continue to fall behind unless we redouble our efforts and strengthen the tools we have. We need to increase our work with County nonprofits like the Montgomery Housing Partnership to maintain the housing stock we have.

We also need to put more resources into the Housing Initiative Fund and to identify and reassess regulations that make affordable housing unprofitable to build.

We also need to look more closely at the draft zoning code. In particular, the Commercial-Residential zone used in mixed use centers often does not contain strong enough incentives for developers to provide affordable housing beyond the minimum 12.5% Moderately Priced Dwelling Units. We need to increase incentives for developers to build affordable housing.

In addition, too often the County Government does not apply for Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization grants from the State. I will make sure we don’t leave any resources on the table, and will use my experience and relationships with both State and Federal agencies to bring more money into Montgomery County to support affordable housing in both the Purple Line Corridor and other areas that are experiencing a dearth of affordable housing

And we need to reconsider our definitions of affordable housing to ensure it is actually affordable for the population we intend to serve.

Finally, in addition to focusing on the supply of affordable housing, we also need to vigorously enforce protections against housing discrimination. When I was on the Environmental Matters Committee, I served for years as the lead sponsor of the HOME Act to end discrimination against Section 8 tenants, as well as tenants on disability and veterans benefits.

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?

Answer: Yes. Renters should receive the services, amenities and maintenance promised when they sign their leases.

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?

Answer: Yes. I support evaluating OLTA functions and I support proposals to make Code Enforcement and other dispute resolution programs between landlords and tenants responsive, efficient and effective.

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?

Answer: I think landlords should provide accurate information on utility costs.

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: Information provided to renters and would-be renters should be accurate and verifiable.


George Leventhal

George Leventhal

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.georgeleventhal.com

Bio:
After nearly three terms as an at-large, Democratic member of the Montgomery Council, George Leventhal continues to distinguish himself as a caring, compassionate and accomplished leader for all of the citizens of Montgomery County.

George stands apart for his heart-felt commitment to helping those who cannot always help themselves. While some may cater to those with the most influence and funds, George has chosen to advocate for those with the least. Why? Because it makes a difference in people’s lives and most of all, it is right!

Serving as Chairman of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, George deeply embraced the Committee’s responsibility for developing programs affecting the sick, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, and abused and abandoned children.

Case in point: George led the way for one of his many signature initiatives, Montgomery Cares. This innovative and culturally competent program ensures access to health care for 30,000 uninsured county citizens per year through a user-friendly network of “safety net” clinics.

George saw this issue – access to care— to be one of vital importance to working families, many of whom are poor, beginning in 2005, long before today’s raging national debate on health care even began. Today, the county’s Montgomery Cares network of clinics serves 30,000 patients per year, often in their own languages, at 28 locations throughout the county. Each site also dispenses free prescription medicines.

George’s commitment to health reform will continue to dominate his work if elected to a fourth County Council term. George shares the view of Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, that “once we get everybody covered, our work has just begun.” Councilmember Leventhal is dedicated to the Triple Aim promoted by the Institute for Health Care Improvement: 1) improve patients’ experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); 2) improve population health; and 3) reduce the per capita cost of health care. He understands that the only effective way to reduce health care costs for all of us is to promote a culture of wellness that reduces utilization of our health care system and results in everyone feeling better and working more productively. This will not only improve our health care system, but also strengthen our economy.

To help achieve these objectives, George passed legislation requiring calorie labels on menus at fast food and chain restaurants, which enables consumers to make healthier choices. He co-chairs the Healthy Montgomery Steering Committee, which put healthymontgomery.org on the web to help the public monitor our progress in improving public health. The steering committee works to guide the county’s overall public health efforts. And he initiated the Task Force on Employee Wellness, which made recommendations for a culture of wellness among county government employees. Healthier and fitter county employees will bring down costs for taxpayers by utilizing less health care, and will be more productive. The culture of wellness we seek in county government, including the appointment of a wellness coordinator, can be a model for the private sector as well. George was also the prime sponsor of legislation banning smoking in hallways and lobbies of multi-family housing. This followed George’s earlier support for banning smoking in bars and restaurants.

In addition to access to health care for the uninsured, George has also been a doer, not a talker, in securing housing for the homeless through his Housing First initiative and the county’s participation in the 100,000 Homes Campaign. By aggressively matching the homeless with stable housing and necessary support services, rather than a temporary shelter, Housing First and the 100,000 Homes Campaign are successfully reducing homelessness throughout the county.

Among many other important laws sponsored by Councilmember Leventhal that ensure good government and protect the rights of individuals are:

• Legislation to require county council approval, with public input, before the County Executive can sell or lease public property worth millions of dollars;

• Legislation to assist seniors and disabled people to stay in their homes by providing property tax credits for accessibility improvements;

• and The Domestic Workers Employment Contracts Act which requires employers of domestics to negotiate and sign a written contract that specifies the terms and conditions of employment.

During his three terms in office, Councilmember Leventhal enthusiastically championed a number of programs to protect our environment and live sustainably. As a member of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee (2002-2010), he initiated Montgomery County’s purchase of clean, renewable energy to meet 30% of its electricity needs. He brought forth the county’s “Green Buildings” legislation that requires privately-constructed buildings over 10,000 square feet to be LEED certified, and county-constructed buildings to achieve a LEED-silver or equivalent rating. And he co-founded Bethesda Green, a public-private partnership that provides a living model of sustainability, promoting energy-efficiency, public recycling, public transportation, and cycling, as well as a community-wide environmental ethic. Most of the funding has come from the private sector, leveraging very small investments of taxpayer dollars. Bethesda Green is the firs
t green business incubator in the State of Maryland and provides support for small start-ups that could otherwise not afford their own space.

One of George’s top priorities over the past four years has been the creation of The Purple Line, an east-west transit link which will connect both legs of Metro’s Red Line, the Green Line and the Orange line, three MARC train lines and AMTRAK. George is a founder and ex-officio board member of Purple Line NOW. Ben Ross, former president of the Action Committee for Transit,has said, “No Montgomery County elected official has done more to advance the Purple Line than Councilmember George Leventhal.” George organized a statewide transportation summit in November, 2012 that helped build support for the Maryland General Assembly’s decision in 2013 to replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.

For his leadership and commitment to caring, George received such accolades as:

• The Public Partner of the Year Award from Mobile Medical Care, Inc.
• The Public Official of the Year Award from CHI Centers, Inc.
• The Climate Champion Award from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network
• Recognition of Leadership and Dedication for the well-being of seniors from senior advocacy group GROWS
• And the Recognition and Appreciation of Working Tirelessly on Behalf of Youth and Families in Montgomery County from YMCA Youth & Family Services

Councilmember Leventhal currently serves as Vice President of the County Council. His colleagues previously elected him Council President in 2006 and Vice President in 2005. From 1995 to 2002, George Leventhal was employed as Senior Federal Relations Officer for the Association of American Universities (AAU). Prior to working at the AAU, he served as legislative director and legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, and as a research assistant on the tax staff of the Senate Finance Committee under its then-chairman Lloyd Bentsen of Texas. From 1996 to 2001, Leventhal served as chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. He played a leading role in many other political and community activities in the Takoma Park-Silver Spring area and throughout Montgomery County.

He is also quite active in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), and served in 2011-2012 as the Chair of COG’s Human Services and Public Safety Policy Committee. George also served on the Greater Washington 2050 Committee, a regional initiative to improve the quality of life for Washington area residents.

George Leventhal received a Master’s degree in public administration from the Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition, he completed The Academy for Excellence in Local Governance; a voluntary certificate program administered by the University of Maryland to help local officials meet the challenges of their roles.

George’s family first moved to Montgomery County in 1964 when he was two-years old. He grew up here and has spent the majority of his adult life living and working in the area. Today, George and his wife, Soraia P. Leventhal live in Takoma Park, where they have resided since 1985. They have two sons, Daniel and Francisco. George is a member of Shirat HaNefesh synagogue.

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?

Answer: No. Price controls create shortages.

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?

Answer: No.

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?

Answer: No.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: Yes. We still own our first house and have rented it since 1996. It is the one rental unit we own.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes.

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: Campaign finance information is fully disclosed and available at http://elections.state.md.us/campaign_finance/index.html.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: N/A

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: I have introduced Bill 22-14 whereby property tax credits may be made available to landlords who rent apartments at below-market rent.

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?

Answer: I have strongly supported the county’s Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) requirements and have worked both to strengthen and modify them to adapt to economic realities and changing circumstances.

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?

Answer: N/A

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?

Answer: N/A

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?

Answer: N/A

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: N/A


Vivian Malloy

Vivian Malloy

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.vivianmalloy.com

Bio:
Vivian Malloy is a Democratic Candidate for the Montgomery County Council At-Large. She is an elected official on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and currently serving her second term as the At-Large Representative for Legislative District 14.

Vivian is a graduate of University of Maryland School of Nursing and was commissioned as a military officer in the Army Nurse Corps. She retired from her military career of 21 years at the rank of Major and her last assignment was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. She received numerous awards during her Army career for distinguished military service with the highest decoration being the Meritorious Service Medal.

As a professional nurse, Vivian has utilized her clinical and management expertise, and leadership skills to support her community and political affiliations, in addition to faith based programs. As a Certified Managed Care Nurse, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the coordination of the continuum of care. She continues to be a champion for quality health care and is currently employed in the health care insurance industry as a senior medical review nurse.

She has been an active grassroots supporter and a community organizer for the local Democratic Party since 1994. Vivian has served in various leadership roles in civic, political and religious organizations for the past 20 years in Montgomery County. As a community organizer she has held the following positions; Chairman of the Precinct Organization for Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, both Vice President and President of the District 14 Democratic Club, Board Member of the African American Health Program Executive Committee, County Council District 2 Representative on the African American Democratic Club and a Community Organizer for the Presidential Campaign 2008 and 2012, Obama for America (OFA).

Vivian resides in Olney, Maryland with her husband Wilbur and they have three adult sons; Michael, Jonathan and Kenneth. Vivian has demonstrated her passion for public service and is committed to making our community stronger by supporting working families across the county.

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?

Answer: Yes. I support rent stabilization legislation for Montgomery County which would provide a fair rate of return for property owners and reasonable rent adjustments for tenants.

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?

Answer: Yes. Annual and monthly leases must contain specific language regarding rent increases so that tenants are aware of the contractual agreement. County government has a responsibility to protect renters from landlords.

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?

Answer: No. However, it is important to stabilize our business community by providing some tax relief and incentives for economic development.

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?

Answer: Yes. I support the proposal of a “just-cause” eviction law which allows for evictions for specific reasons.

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?

Answer: Yes. I absolutely agree that this decision belongs to the renter, and determining who will be their insurance beneficiary is a personal choice.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: I am open to accepting contributions from the business community.

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: Currently, I have received contributions from small businesses. Approximately $3,000 and less than 10 percent of cumulative funding.

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?

Answer: Yes. When elected as your next council member, I will support grant funding for the Renters Alliance.

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: This is an issue that is open for future discussion with reference to the source of county funding and/or fee assessment.

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: I have previously lived in a rental apartment and participated in the Renter’s Association as an advocate for protection of renter’s rights and property maintenance.

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?

Answer: I recommend increasing our percentage of MPDUs and providing developers tax and other incentives to construct additional affordable housing units. I will support zoning codes that will protect and increase affordable housing units especially along our transit hub centers.

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?

Answer: Yes, there should be a zero tolerance of Landlords practicing deceptive behavior that adversely impact renters.

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?

Answer: N/A

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?

Answer: Yes. I believe that transparency of all expenses should be provided to prospective renters so that they can make an informed rental decision.

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: Yes. If there is credible evidence indicating deception by the Landlord then I would support the initiation of a penalty for failing to provide accurate utility cost.


Terrill North

Terrill North

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://terrillnorth.com

Bio:
After graduating from a high school labeled a “dropout factory” by Johns Hopkins University, Terrill North first arrived in the Washington, DC-Area in 1993 to attend Howard University. He later earned his law degree from Columbia University in 2000, graduating at the same time an older brother was released from prison.

As a senior staff member to two Democrats in Congress, Terrill led a successful 2-session effort to restore (and increase) annual funding of $20 million cut by the Bush administration for a national mentorship program serving nearly 75,000 at-risk youth partnering with over 50 colleges & universities across the country. As Policy Director to a Member from Massachusetts, Terrill managed House Democratic efforts of the bi-partisan McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan team working to drive corporate money out of politics. As Chief of Staff to a Member from New York, Terrill worked to secure federal funds supporting small businesses and science education for at-risk youth, pass legislation improving rail security, and build cross-cultural alliances supporting immigration reform.

Most recently, Terrill has served as a communications consultant advising the U.S. Navy on development of hybrid-electric propulsion, manufacturing from lightweight composite materials, and other green shipbuilding initiatives.

Terrill has the experience we need in our next County Council Member
– As President of Making a New United People (MANUP), Terrill leads a mentorship program serving 150 at-risk youth annually from Silver Spring/Takoma Park and introduced programs serving over 400 at-risk youth in East County and White Oak as Vice-President of Impact Silver Spring;
– As Vice-President of the ACLU of Maryland, Terrill worked to pass marriage equality and the Maryland Dream Act in 2012, and secure $60 million for school construction in 2013; and
– Secured over $1 million in federal funding for stormwater runoff mitigation in the Sligo Creek watershed, working with Takoma Park officials and the office of Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

Community Service is a Family Affair
Terrill is a homeowner in Takoma Park with his wife, Nana Yaa Bernice Mireku-North, a daughter of immigrants from Ghana. Bernice serves as Board President of the African Immigrant & Refugee Foundation, which manages programs in Montgomery County Public Schools helping immigrant children from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and Vice-Chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.

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?

Answer: Yes. Rent stabilization for seniors paying more than a third of household income in rent. Rent stabilization is a long-term issue, but I believe there are votes now to protect seniors.

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?

Answer: Yes. It’s time to cap month-to-month surcharges.

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?

Answer: Yes. I support tax incentives to protect small businesses from being priced out of a location.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes.

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: Less than 5%.

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?

Answer: Yes. I support creating an Office of Tenant Advocate to establish, support, and provide legal assistance to tenant associations.

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: The Office of Tenant Advocate would be funded by impact fees from developers similar to DC’s program.

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: 2009: Formed association of “rent-to-own” tenants in Takoma Park paying illegal rents. 2013: Reported code violations on behalf of fledgling tenant group fearing unjust eviction (which happened to previous leader).

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?

Answer: Yes. I support the Purple Line Compact, financing the purchase of more units by non-profit developers, and increasing density in higher income communities for more affordable units.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes. This may be acceptable, but the stronger solution is reporting directly to the county executive reorganized as Office of Tenant Advocate. Moving from one middleman to another is not optimal.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: Landlords should be provided estimates by a third party (e.g., utility companies).


Hans Riemer

Hans Riemer

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.hansriemer.com

Bio:
Hans Riemer, elected to an At-large seat on the Montgomery County Council in 2010, represents more than one million residents in a thriving and diverse community with a history of responsible government.

Hans’ passion for change comes from his roots in Oakland, California, a city of tremendous disparities, and a deep commitment to social justice that he learned from his family. Hans has dedicated his career to public service and his dream of creating opportunity for all people to achieve their potential.

As a Councilmember, he works towards his vision by advocating to fund public education and public transportation, early childhood programs, libraries, recreation, human services, housing and economic development. Thanks to countless hours spent in the outdoors, on foot and on bike, Hans is also a dedicated environmentalist and works hard to enhance the integrity and differing characters of Montgomery County’s rural, suburban and urban areas.

Hans was elected to the County Council as the worst effects of the Great Recession were taking hold, and he set to work with his colleagues to address some of the toughest problems that local governments face. Thanks to numerous tough fiscal and government reforms instituted by the council, county government has emerged from the crisis stronger and better prepared for the future.

Hans accomplishments so far in his first term demonstrate his ability to make a deep impact on a wide range of issues.

His background in public policy and campaign organizing prepared him well for the job of County Councilmember.

Hans was a senior advisor for AARP before joining the County Council, an organization that he has worked closely with throughout his career. A nationally recognized leader on Social Security, Hans played a pivotal role organizing the Democratic coalition that stopped President Bush from privatizing Social Security. Tom Matzzie, of MoveOn.org, called Hans “one of five people in the country most responsible for protecting Social Security from George Bush.”

Hans may be best known, however, for his work as National Youth Vote Director for Obama for America, where he was a key early staffer on President Obama’s 2007 primary election campaign. Starting with the landslide turnout of young voters in the Iowa Caucus and continuing through the Maryland primary, Hans helped young voters raise their voices for change. Hans was also instrumental in forming the Montgomery County and Maryland for Obama operations, bringing the new politics of the Obama campaign home to his community, where it thrives today as Organizing for Action.

In the 2004 election, Hans served as political director for Rock the Vote, as the group registered nearly a million young voters and broke new ground in online political engagement. He organized a Democratic presidential candidates debate with CNN, an advocacy campaign promoting the young adult health insurance option (which he later brought to the Obama campaign), and guided the organization’s strategy, including the controversial media campaign on the military draft that rocked the 2004 presidential election.

In 1996, as a recent college graduate, Hans founded a non-profit organization called the 2030 Center, which brought young people and all generations together to protect Social Security, boost health care, and support progressive solutions for fiscal challenges at the federal level. In recognition of the important voice that his group brought to discussions, Hans was invited to speak at the White House on panels with President Clinton and Vice President Gore; and he testified many times before Congress as well as at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

In Montgomery County, as a past board member and president of the Action Committee for Transit, Hans helped a strong grassroots citizen group work to prioritize funding for public transportation.

Hans serves on the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee as well as the Government Operations & Fiscal Policy Committee. He also serves as the council’s Lead for Digital Government, a role that he has used to push the county forward in its use of technology, innovation and citizen engagement.

Hans and his wife Angela, along with their young sons, Henry and Travis, live in Takoma Park, and are members of the MCCPTA. They love the community life that years of citizen engagement and great government has made possible in Montgomery County.

Hans graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1995.

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?

Answer: No. While I do not think rent control would be advisable for all of Montgomery County, I do think we should continue to create set-aside units through redevelopment and keep those under control indefinitely. We can also continue to increase the supply of housing under control through nonprofit housing developments, for example HOC and MHP. And of course we do have some rent control in the county as a result of the policy in Takoma Park.

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?

Answer: Yes. While some difference is acceptable, 40% is ridiculously high.

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?

Answer: No. There are many ways we can preserve thriving small business ecosystems but commercial rent control would have unintended consequences.

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?

Answer: No.

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?

Answer: Yes.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes.

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: That information is already publicly available through the MD Campaign Finance website.

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?

Answer: Yes. Our office of landlord and tenant affairs provides a great resource for tenants.

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: N/A

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: Increasing affordable set-asides in new development, more flexible rules for accessory dwellings, more housing near transit, and boosting the HIF.

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?

Answer: Yes. I agree with no net loss of affordable housing and I want to develop a plan for the Purple Line that would improve upon the approach taken in Arlington near the Columbia Pike transit line. I think their plan could be improved on though as their affordable set-asides expire after 30 years.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: I would need more time to consider this proposal.

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?

Answer: No.

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: N/A


Ryan Spiegel

Ryan Spiegel

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.ryanspiegel.com

Bio:
Ryan Spiegel has served as an elected City Councilmember in Gaithersburg for the better part of a decade. During that time, he has been a consistent and strong voice on a wide variety of important issues, from affordable housing to economic development, education to the environment, civil rights to open government. Ryan’s signature initiative, ‘Bank On,” is a coalition of local government, nonprofits, and banks and credit unions that work together to offer free financial literacy classes, starter accounts for people with little banking experience, and free tax preparation assistance. Often it is seniors, immigrants, and lower income families that need these services the most.

Before becoming a Councilmember, Ryan was chair of the county’s commission on crime victims, advocating for robust assistance to victims of fraud, violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, and other crimes. Ryan was also a member of Gaithersburg’s Education Committee, and he has served on the boards of a number of nonprofit organizations.

As an attorney in private practice, Ryan has performed countless hours of pro bono work representing tenants being wrongfully evicted, asylum seekers, Holocaust survivors seeking reparations, and a death row inmate in Alabama. Ryan is passionate about serving those in need.

Ryan is proud to have the endorsement of many progressive organizations representing teachers, police, firefighters, immigrants, women, working families, retirees, and county employees.

Ryan was born and raised in Maryland, and he attended the University of Maryland College Park and Stanford Law School. He has been a renter in Montgomery County. He lives in Gaithersburg with his wife Rachael, their two young children, and their dog.

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?

Answer: Yes. I am open-minded about a variety of additional protections for renters, including the possibility of a reasonable cap on increases, with some exceptions.

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?

Answer: No.

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?

Answer: Yes. I am not sure about commercial rent stabilization or penalties, but I agree that some form of tax incentives would be useful to help good businesses dealing with skyrocketing rents.

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?

Answer: No. I do not support this at this time, but I do strongly support improvements to notice requirements and other tenant rights, as well as better enforcement of those laws.

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?

Answer: Yes. Tenants should not be forced to subsidize insuring structural and other elements that are the landlord’s responsibility, but tenants also need to understand the risks of not carrying renter’s insurance.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes. I generally accept donations from any individual or group, but I have been a strong advocate for voluntary public campaign financing and would use such a system if it existed.

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: I don’t have a breakdown of those percentages but that information is publicly available via reports filed with the Board of Elections. I am not unduly influenced by such groups.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: I am not sure but am interested in learning more about this idea.

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: As an attorney, I have represented renters pro bono against landlords threatening wrongful eviction. As a councilmember, I have strongly advocated to preserve and expand affordable rental housing.

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?

Answer: Yes. My record on affordable housing is strong. I voted repeatedly to expand MPDU lifespans, create Housing Initiative Funds, and minimize exemptions. I support the 15% set-aside requirement used in Gaithersburg.

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?

Answer: Yes. As a former renter, former chair of the county’s commission on crime victims, and founder of “Bank On” financial literacy programs, I support tough consumer protection laws for tenants.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes. With some exceptions, I agree that landlords should be required to provide this information prior to signing. I am not sure it should be part of the actual lease though.

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: If there is evidence of deception or negligence, perhaps, but I wouldn’t penalize those who make a good faith effort to provide the information.


Jeffrey O. Thames, Sr.

Jeffrey O. Thames, Sr.

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.jeffreythames.org

Bio:
I care about you. I want to represent everyone in our community. Renters and Landlords. We all need each other to make sure we have a healthy, and thriving, community.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes. With conditions. We have to be fair to landlords. They need to know they have commitment. Maybe that would help get a commitment from the tenant to stay or go.

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?

Answer: Yes. However we have to make sure the penalties are warranted.

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?

Answer: I’m not sure I understand that question wholly. I’d need more guidance but given the attention to this matter I would stand with the recommendation of the Renters Alliance.

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?

Answer: Yes.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes.

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: The developer that has help my campaign financially has not helped me to help a development that he owns instead it’s to help all of Burtonsville.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: No. Because the reality of the matter is that the fee will some how, the renter will ultimately pay the additional fee. We can find another way for it.

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: I have proposed legislation that would give non – profit organizations a stock of affordable homes to be able to offer housing to families in need.

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?

Answer: I would find landlords that have been fair in the community and work with them to put more properties under their control. Properties from around the county.

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?

Answer: Yes. With the increasing number of renters needing a voice to remedy their concerns, I am all about making sure they have the means to have a fair shake.

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?

Answer: Yes. If that’s what the analysis will support to have a better level of responsiveness and accountability I would support it.

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?

Answer: Yes. It would help everyone involved in the transaction know if the rent is affordable based on more information.

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: If it is a repeat offender, there should absolutely be a penalty issued. However, if it appears to be an honest mistake it should be fixed immediately.


Duchy Trachtenberg

Duchy Trachtenberg

Candidate for County Council

Website: http://www.duchytrachtenberg.com

Bio:
The Honorable Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large) was elected to the Montgomery County Council in 2006. She was Chair of the Management and Fiscal Policy (MFP) Committee and also served on the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee.

Upon joining County Council, Councilmember Trachtenberg became the leading force in creating the Family Justice Center to bring coordinated and effective government services to domestic violence victims. The Family Justice Center is a one-stop-shop approach to responding to domestic violence, eliminating the burden on victims of time and travel to offices scattered throughout the County for different services, which can take days or even weeks to fully engage. The Montgomery County Family Justice Center opened in the summer of 2009 and in its first five years has served over 6000 families from 100 countries.

As a public health professional, Councilmember Trachtenberg had a special interest in mental health and addiction treatment services and public health policy. Her landmark regulation prohibiting the use of artificial trans fats in Montgomery County restaurants was the first such action in the United States adopted on a county level. She also passed a health board regulation requiring adequate disclosure at crisis pregnancy centers, again the first such action on a county level. Additionally, she charged a Reproductive Health Task Force chaired by Susan Wood, PhD (George Washington University School of Public Health, Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health) which issued a comprehensive needs assessment and set the stage for increased spending on reproductive health services on both a county and state level.

Ms. Trachtenberg has been an effective grassroots activist for over twenty years on women’s equality, mental health concerns and public health issues. She offers a strong track record of successful community networking and believes building coalitions is an effective tool in bringing about political reform.

Her dynamic leadership style reflects her genuine commitment to full equality for all women and she sat for several terms on the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director and also for six years as a Progressive Maryland board member.

Ms. Trachtenberg holds a Masters Degree in Social Work, and maintained a private practice specializing in adolescent addiction prior to her election. She is a past Governing Councilor and Chair of the Alternative Medicine Section within the American Public Health Association (APHA).

The Honorable Duchy Trachtenberg has received numerous honors and distinctions including the Spirit Award for Humanitarian Advocate from the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF), the “Heroes” Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) of Montgomery County, the “Ally for Equality” Award from Equality Maryland and recognition from Maryland NARAL. She was named as a 2010 Women’s Health Hero by Our Bodies Ourselves and received the Founders Award from the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation (a full list of awards and citations are attached). Ms. Trachtenberg has also completed the 2009 Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.

Ms. Trachtenberg currently sits on the boards of the National Research Center for Women and Families, Cornerstone Montgomery and the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation.

She lives with her husband, Dr. Alan Trachtenberg, a public health physician and Research Director for the Indian Health Service, in North Bethesda. Ms. Trachtenberg’s son, Walter, recovering from schizophrenia lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her daughter, Scarlett is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and a current graduate student at The Harris School, the University of Chicago.

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?

Answer: No. As a native New Yorker who grew up in rental buildings at times, I support measures to maintain reasonable rental costs. I do not believe rent stabilization is necessarily the right approach however I strongly support efforts between local government and the real estate sector to develop and maintain affordable rental units in Montgomery County. Affordable rental units are critical for seniors living on fixed incomes, those struggling with disabilities and working families. I also believe the development and maintenance of an adequate an affordable rental inventory must become a higher priority for the Council and Executive branches.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes. I support the tax incentives for landlords in these cases because I believe small businesses are essential for a stable community economy.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

Question 4: Landlord Status
Are you a landlord? Do you rent out apartments or space in your home to tenants?

Answer: No.

Question 5: Campaign Support
Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate, developer or landlord interested groups, associations or individuals.

Answer: Yes.

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: Less than 25% of accumulated funds reported early January through late May.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: No. County has the obligation to provide outreach supports.

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: While on Council, I introduced a budget measure ear-marking tax revenue for rental assistance. This occurred for several years and I’d like to see this re-introduced as I believe it’s an effective way to address eviction and foreclosure situations. In other words, this assistance served as a preventative measure and helped hundreds of families remain safely in their rental situations.

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?

Answer: Yes. It’s very important that our county government work closely with the development community to maintain existing housing and also develop new and affordable units for a growing and vibrant community.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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?

Answer: Yes.

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: Obviously requiring that accurate information be provided in written form to prospective renters is the simple solution here.


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