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Baltimore City Council President Proposes Relief for Renters During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Baltimore City Council President Proposes Relief for Renters During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Legislation Prohibits Rent Increases During and After the State of Emergency, and Urges Congress to Directly Assist Renters

BALTIMORE, MD (April 28, 2020) — Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott introduced a package of bills at the City Council’s third virtual meeting that would provide much-needed assistance to renters during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Last evening, the Council President introduced an ordinance, the Baltimore City COVID-19 Renter Relief Act, and a resolution requesting federal action in Congress to provide direct rental housing assistance during the pandemic. 

“Residents across Baltimore pay rent. During a global health and economic emergency unlike anything we’ve experienced before, and when so many don’t know where they will get their next paycheck, no one should be facing the added stress of a rent increase,” said Council President Scott. 

“A moratorium on evictions during the state of emergency was an important first step, but we have to make sure renters don’t face insurmountable debt or housing instability once this pandemic ends. The Baltimore City Council will continue to lead during this crisis and ensure our most vulnerable residents are cared for,” he continued.  

The Baltimore City COVID-19 Renter Relief Act (Bill 20-0526) would prohibit landlords from announcing rent increases during a declared State of Emergency and within the 90-day period after the State of Emergency is lifted. If enacted, the legislation would also prohibit fees for late payment or no payment of rent and all rent increases scheduled to take place during the State of Emergency. The ordinance will be scheduled for a hearing in the Land Use Committee in the near future.

The Council President also introduced a resolution (Bill 20-0216R) that calls on Congress to create a direct Rental Housing Assistance fund to assist residents, protect landlords, and help stabilize communities. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the City Council.

“Many families in Baltimore are struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic, while keeping up with rent and other bills. Direct intervention in the form of financial assistance to renters is one way we can avoid devastating consequences and housing instability after the state of emergency is lifted,” said the Council President. 

In early April, the Council President introduced a resolution (Bill 20-0208R), which called on the State to declare a moratorium on rent increases for the duration of the State of Emergency. It asked that the moratorium be retroactive to the start of the State of Emergency, and asked the State to declare a moratorium on late fees for rent. 

“Our residents are my top priority, and I will continue to do everything in my power to support all Baltimoreans during this uncertain time,” said the Council President. 

You can watch yesterday’s City Council meeting and see an archive of past meetings here

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