The Montgomery County Council put to rest this week its recurring debate over rent control by postponing consideration of a rent stabilization bill until January.
The below to tenants' hopes for relief from rising rents followed Council President Elizabeth Scull's attempt to reintroduce rent control for the second month in a row.
A five-member council majority, tired of constant hammering at the issue by Scull and council member Jane Ann Moore, voted for the postponement offered by council member Dickran Hovsepian. Scull had promised previosly to try to introduce the measure monthly until it was passed.
"One-third or our people are tenants, and this issue won't go away," warned Moore after the vote.
Rent controls ended in the county at the close of 1977, when a voluntary system asking lanlords to hold their in-creases to 6.1 percent annually went into effect.
However, Scull and Moore have contended were not complying with the voluntary guidelines and pointed to an average rent hike of 12 percent since January.
The end of rent control did not lead to private construction of new apartments as the council had hoped, said Scull. She asked for a rent ceiling for another "two or three" years when a new supply of subsidized apartments will be available.
But council member Neal Potter, who spent several days of the recent council vacation studying files in the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs, said the evidence shows that the "very high increases" are only "few in number" and usually in projects that had extremely low rents before.
"If there are gougers," he said," they are a very small percentage."