Gov. Larry Hogan extends order, allowing Montgomery County residents more time to pay utility bills

Hogan extends order to prohibit cutoffs, late fees for residential utilities

$30M in federal funds will be used for eviction prevention

| Published:

Gov. Larry Hogan extended an order to prohibit utility cutoffs and late fees for residents through Aug. 1.

Photo from Gov. Larry Hogan's website

Montgomery County residents will have more time to pay utility bills.

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan extended his emergency order that prohibits utility providers from stopping service or charging late fees for electricity, water, phone and internet services across the state through Aug. 1.

According to the order, it is “necessary and reasonable” for residential service companies to not “terminate service to dwellings or residents, or charge fees for late or untimely payments for services to residential dwellings, during the state of emergency and catastrophic health emergency.”

Hogan may rescind, supersede, amend or revise the order before Aug. 1.

On Friday, Hogan announced $30 million in funding to be used for eviction prevention assistance.

“Too many Marylanders have faced undue financial hardships during this unprecedented crisis, including the inability to pay their rent,” he said in a new release.

Of the $30 million, $20 million will be provided to local governments to address eviction prevention.

The remaining $10 million will go to the Assisted Housing Relief Program that will help tenants cover the cost of delinquent rent because of the health crisis. Payments will be made directly to eligible property management companies.

The funds are coming from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

Montgomery County Council Member Evan Glass wrote in a Twitter post on Friday that he was “glad to see the state now taking action” for residential rent relief.

Montgomery County has provided its own rent relief for residents.

The County Council approved spending $2 million for rental assistance and eviction protection on April 28.

The assistance went to residents who do not have eviction protection, such as those living under informal housing agreements. Under Hogan’s April 3 orders halting residential evictions during the health emergency, only those with formal agreements were protected.

Nearly a week prior to that, county officials also capped residential rent increases at 2.6% during the health crisis and 180 days after the state of emergency ends.

The COVID-19 Renter Relief Act only applies to residential lease renewals. Any rent increase notices that were sent and would go into effect during the health crisis had to be brought down to 2.6% or canceled. Landlords still can charge late fees.

At the time, Council Member Will Jawando, who spearheaded the legislation, said residents were reporting that landlords were trying to increase their rent up to 60%.

Of the county’s residents, about 33% are renters.

On May 11, Rockville officials temporarily prohibited residential rent increases until July 31. After that date, a 2.6% rent increase cap will go into effect until the end of the health crisis.

Landlords cannot enforce rent increases greater than 2.6% until 180 days after the state of emergency ends.

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

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