To the Montgomery County State Delegation,
Thank you for this opportunity to submit written testimony concerning an important priority of the Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC) for the 2019 legislative session. WDC is one of the largest and most active Democratic Clubs in our County with more than 600 politically active women and men, including many elected officials.
WDC supports passage of MC 22-19 Montgomery County-Residential Leases-Just Cause Eviction. This bill will prohibit a landlord from evicting a tenant from a leased premise in Montgomery County in the absence of just cause. Without this protection, a landlord could terminate a tenant’s lease with only 60 days notice, or at the end of the lease term. The current situation discourages tenants from seeking needed repairs or maintenance for fear of not having their lease renewed.
Strengthening housing stability for all renters must be a priority. Around 40 percent of Montgomery County housing is rental housing. Our County is experiencing a rental housing crisis for low-and-moderate income households, especially families. Montgomery County’s vacancy rate is only 6 percent, which severely limits affordable options for renters. Half of the County’s rental population is overburdened by housing costs, some paying dramatically more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Evictions without cause exacerbate this crisis.
In 2017, there were 10,451 eviction orders. The majority of households receiving these eviction orders were low-income, mostly minority renters, many of whom were families with children or senior citizens. Evictions have substantial social costs, including reduced student achievement, job loss, exacerbated mental and physical health issues, loss of property, community economic instability, and homelessness.
WDC has a particular interest in this bill because 52.8 percent of Montgomery County renters are female-headed householders, many of whom have children. While finding a new home is disruptive for everyone concerned, children and their academic progress can be particularly adversely affected when changing homes also involves changing schools. In addition, despite the workplace progress that has been made, women continue to face employment discrimination and wage and salary disparities, making it all the more difficult for them when housing loss causes them to have to change jobs.
Most Montgomery County landlords and property owners treat their tenants fairly, but some do not. This bill will not impact a landlord’s ability to raise rent, or evict a tenant who fails to pay rent or breaches the lease terms, including engaging in criminal activity and endangering other tenants. What this bill will do is ensure that no tenant is evicted from her or his home without a justifiable reason.
We ask for your support for MC 22-19 and strongly urge a favorable vote
Fran Rothstein, President