Affordable Housing / Evictions: Ruth Crystal Team Leader
Of the many bills dealing with eviction and foreclosure that have been introduced this session, a housing justice coalition focused on 5 bills. Only one of those bills passed both houses:
HB18 Landlord and Tenant-Residential Tenants-Right to Counsel, will provide access to counsel for tenants earning up to 50% of area median income that are facing retaliatory evictions. Status: sent to Governor.
Many other bills were proposed in response to the COVID pandemic that has left many tenants struggling to pay rent – but differences between the House and Senate did not get resolved in time. We expect these issues will be addressed again in the 2022 session. These include:
HB52 Real Property- Eviction Actions- Alteration in Actions for Repossession would have required 7-day failure to pay notice by landlord filing for eviction and require the notice to include information about rental assistance, legal help, and contact information for the landlord.
HB1312 Landlord and Tenant-Eviction Actions-Catastrophic Health Emergencies would have made an affirmative defense available for ‘failure to pay’ evictions during a declared catastrophic health emergency and for 3-6 months after if tenant could show substantial income loss related to emergency. It would also have prohibited an increase in rent during the health emergency.
The federal American Rescue Plan will provide a second round of Emergency Rental Assistance funding to Maryland. Combined with the December COVID-19 Relief package, this will provide Maryland with $719 million in Emergency Rental Assistance funding. Eligible households must have a reduction in income or financial hardship due to COVID-19, demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability and have a household income below 80% of area median income. Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance. Application for assistance may be submitted by eligible household or landlord. The assistance program is expected to launch no later than May 1, 2021.