A proposal by Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando would require landlords of properties that have been condemned by the county as “unfit for human habitation” to reimburse tenants with up to three months’ rent to assist with moving expenses.
Jawando introduced the measure at Tuesday’s council meeting, the same day a county District Court judge was scheduled to hear a lawsuit in which the Department of Housing and Community Affairs is suing the owners of the Enclave apartments in White Oak due to an alleged failure to remediate 83 housing code violations.
Jawando said inspections that have revealed violations, such as those discovered earlier this year in the Enclave, prompted the bill.
“We’ve had people that had to move out, and had to do so at their own expense. Sometimes there’s correlation between affordable housing and not very good housing. People have had to dip into savings for something that wasn’t their fault,” he said.
Tenants would either be reimbursed for three months of the condemned complex’s rent, or three months’ worth “fair market value” rent based on federal housing standards. Exceptions to the rule would apply in the event that the condemnation of the housing complex was due to circumstances beyond the landlord’s control.
Jawando’s bill would also allow tenants the “right of first refusal” to move back to their original apartment complex once it becomes habitable.
The council is scheduled to take up the measure again at a public hearing on July 16.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org