Multifamily Updates – Rent Control, Tax Increases, Condominium Warranties, FHFA Tenant Protections RFI
As a follow-up to our prior alert, we wanted to provide an update to legislative activities in the region:
- New Prince George’s County Updated Rent Control FAQs. We continue to receive many questions regarding the recently enacted legislation which limited rent increases to 3 percent through April 16, 2024. The Rent Stabilization Act of 2023 and the related Emergency Act Concerning Landlord Retaliation for Rent Stabilization (collectively, the Act) contemplated guidance being provided regarding the Act, and the County has done that through a series of FAQs. The FAQs, most recently updated on May 3, 2023, cover several topics; including stating that neither student or senior housing are exempt from the law. Additionally, although the Act required the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to review any request for exemption for qualified affordable housing projects before rent may be raised more than 3 percent, the FAQs more favorably provide that advance approval of qualifying projects is not necessary as long as the landlord maintains the appropriate documentation supporting the exemption. The landlord must also provide this documentation to DHCD upon request.
- Montgomery County Property and Recordation Tax Increases. Last week, the Montgomery County Council approved for a $6.7-billion Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2024. The budget includes a 4.7 percent increase in property taxes (less than half of the 10 percent increase County Executive Marc Elrich had proposed). The budget includes $77 million for the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, as well as $57 million for the County’s Housing Initiative Fund targeted to support new affordable housing, as well as the renovation and preservation of existing affordable housing. Funding for these initiatives is provided by an increase in County recordation tax rate, effective October 1, 2023. As of that date, the recordation tax for transfers valued at over $1 million will increase by about .92 percent.
- DC Rent Control. On May 24, 2023, Councilmember Robert White introduced B25-0293, the Rent Stabilized Housing Inflation Protection Emergency Amendment Act of 2023 (the Emergency Rent Control Bill) discussed in our prior alert. As currently drafted, the Emergency Rent Control Bill limits rent increases to the lesser of 6.9% or CPI-W plus 2% for two years. The DC Council is scheduled to consider the Emergency Rent Control Bill and possible amendments on June 6 at noon. If you would like to provide input, you may contact members of the Council.
- Rent Control Appeal to the Supreme Court. Earlier this month, The Community Housing Improvement Program, the Rent Stabilization Association and several individual landlords petitioned the United States Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of both New York’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 and rent stabilization laws in general (collectively, the Rent Control Laws). Petitioners argue that the Rent Control Laws violate the Fifth Amendment’s “takings clause” governing property seizures and the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause. Among other things, the petitioners request that the Court “clarify the framework that applies when a law places the burden of rectifying a societal problem on a select minority of property owners.”
- FHFA Tenant Protections RFI. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) just published this Request for Input (RFI) to solicit public input on issues faced by tenants in multifamily properties, and on any opportunities and potential impacts associated with requiring or encouraging specific tenant protections at multifamily properties backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Through this RFI, FHFA seeks feedback from a diverse set of viewpoints on issues related to multifamily tenant protections, no later than July 31, 2023. Input can be provided at FHFA’s website (select “Tenant Protections” from the “Select a Topic” menu) or via mail to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Multifamily Analytics and Policy, 400 7th Street SW, 9th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20219. The RFI includes a list of 28 questions, including topics like “How should the Enterprises protect tenants in multifamily rental housing?”, “What role should the Enterprises play in providing tenant protections at Enterprise-backed multifamily properties?” and “How might requiring tenant protections at Enterprise-backed multifamily properties impact housing supply, including new construction?” As noted in our prior Alerts, the FTC and the CFPB previously issued a Tenant Screening Request for Information about background screening issues affecting individuals who seek rental housing in the United States. The FTC/CFPB and FHFA collections are part of Administration-wide efforts to address tenant issues (e.g., the tenant bill of rights promulgated by the White House we included in a prior Alert). It is critically important for these agencies to hear from stakeholders about how these issues impact housing supply and productions (e.g., inadequate housing supply is a huge issue and over-regulation will stymie housing production; tenant screening is a very important tool to mitigate foreseeable risks associated with applicants, to confirm applicants can pay the rent, to avoid eviction, and overall to help foster successful tenant relationships; and state/local landlord-tenant law already covers many of these issues).
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