Rockville residents won’t see an increase in their residential rent for the next few months.

The Rockville City Council unanimously passed an ordinance on Monday that freezes residential rent increases through July 31. Starting Aug. 1, landlords can increase rent by a maximum of 2.6%.

Under the law, landlords can’t send a notice of a rent increase greater than 2.6% until 90 days after the end of Maryland’s state of emergency. Therefore, rent increases greater than 2.6% could not go into effect until 180 days after it ends.

Rockville officials considered requiring either no rent increases at all or a 2.6% cap during the health crisis. The ordinance was amended to include both, within certain time periods.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Council Members Monique Ashton, David Myles and Mark Pierzchala were initially in favor of mandating no rent increases at all.

Council Member Beryl Feinberg initially supported a 2.6% cap.

Some rental units in the city are not individually metered for water and sewer rates under the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which has a rate increase of 6% for the next fiscal year. For those residents, water and sewer rates can be included in their rent bills, she said.

Not allowing any rent increases would give little leeway to landlords who have to pay the water and sewer rate increases, as well as any property tax increases, Feinberg said. Because of that added cost, landlords could stop maintaining units and landscaping, she added.

Newton suggested a combination of no rent increases and a 2.6% cap increase during the public health crisis.

Feinberg initially said she didn’t support the combination.

“I think we’re giving a mixed message. We want them to maintain the property, replace a refrigerator when it’s needed, fix plumbing expeditiously, but we’re also squeezing them,” she said. “I cannot support that.”

The mayor and council voted 4-1 to direct the city’s staff to redraft the ordinance to include both rent restrictions within certain time periods. Feinberg voted against the motion, but voted to approve the ordinance when it was introduced.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.