In the three months since the Montgomery County Council replaced mandatory rent controls with voluntary guidelines, almost one-third of rent increases in the county have exceeded the guidelines.
According to Elise Hall, director of the office of Landlord-Tenants Affairs, 11,186 tenants have received rent increases. Of those, Hall said, 32.4 percent, of 3,619 tenants, had increases of 7 percent or more, all exceeding the guideline of 6.1 percent that was in effect for the first three months of this year.
According to Hall, 2,434 of those tenants received increases of 7 to 10 percent; 996 received increases of 20.1 ot 25 percent; 51 received increases of 25.1 percent to 30 percent; 41 received increases of 30.1 to 50 percent, and 17 received increases of at least 50.1 percent.
"The average rent increase for holdover tenants is 7.6 percent," Hall said, adding that the figure does not include the rent icnreases on newly vacated apartments. She said the majority of increases have been within the 6.1 percent guideline.
Hall's office licenses 45,000 rental units, or 570 buildings, in the parts of the county subject to county housing laws. (This excludes such incorporated cities as Gaithersburg, Rockville and Takoma Park.) Tenants in 291 of those buildings received rent increases during the past three months.
Hall's staff has begun reviewing the increases, beginning with the highest ones, to determone if they were justifies. So far, Hall has found one case her staff considers unjustified and has presented it to the county Landlord Tenant Commission. Her office is looking into five other cases of rent increases that Hall said may be excessive.
The Landlord Tenant Commission has set u public hearing for April 18 on rent increases at Wilrose Garden Apartments in Silver Spring, where rents have been raise from 50 to 90 percent for some tenants, according to Hall.
After the public hearing, the commission will issue a report on whether the increases are justified. at most, the commission can report that rents are unjustified, but cannot change the rents since there no longer are mandatory controls.