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Montgomery County Passes Rent Control Bill With 6% Cap

Montgomery County, a D.C. suburb with a population of over 1 million, will soon enact a rent control policy with a 6% cap on increases for apartments built before 2000. 

The Montgomery County Council at its Tuesday meeting

The Montgomery County Council passed the rent stabilization bill Tuesday, four months after competing bills on the hotly debated issue were introduced. 

The legislation allows landlords to increase rents by the rate of inflation plus 3%, but it sets a maximum of 6% on most apartments countywide.

Passed by a 7-4 vote, the measure will go into effect 91 days after it’s signed into law. County Executive Marc Elrich said he plans to sign the bill when it reaches his desk, The Washington Post reported

The cap falls in between the levels sought by two competing bills introduced in March, with lawmakers proposing caps of 3% and 8% plus inflation. 

The bill sets multiple exemptions for units that won't need to comply with the cap, including apartments owned by landlords with four or fewer units in the county, licensed assisted living facilities and nursing homes, and buildings that came to the market within the last 23 years.

“The Council has balanced the need for strong renter protections and important incentives for landlords and builders,” Council Member Will Jawando said in a press release. “I appreciate my colleagues’ dedication to working on a compromise bill that is responsive to the needs of our communities. ... We now have a rental framework that creates stability and predictability for renters and landlords.” 

The Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington called the legislation “disappointing” in a statement released Wednesday. 

“By severely disincentivizing investment in new and existing residential real estate, the Council has ensured that housing affordability challenges for renters will only continue to grow," AOBA said in the statement.

Council Member Dawn Luedtke, who voted against the bill, expressed a similar sentiment. 

“The rent control approved by a majority of the Council today – the strictest of any major jurisdiction in the region – will not make rents more affordable and will likely only exacerbate our housing issues by disincentivizing new housing supply,” Luedtke said in the county's release. 

In February, Prince George's County set a 3% increase cap for one year. In June, the D.C. Council voted to cap rent increases at 6% on rent-stabilized buildings for the next two years. 

Rent control is a topic of nationwide debate, with other major cities like Chicago and Boston considering measures to limit rent increases. New York landlords are petitioning the Supreme Court to strike down the city's 2019 rent stabilization laws as unconstitutional.