The state of Maryland is currently under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Important things for Montgomery County tenants to know while the state of emergency is in effect:
- Utility companies must provide notification to customers 45 days in advance that services will be terminated, and are required by law to offer a payment plan.
- For questions or if you need help paying your utilities, call the county at 311.
- Landlords can never evict a tenant without a court order and the presence of the sheriff.
- The CDC's national eviction moratorium protects tenants from evictions for Failure to Pay Rent until January 31, 2021. The most recent order from the Maryland Court of Appeals states that Phase II will be in effect from November 30, 2020, until March 14, 2021. During Phase II, the court will not hold hearings on new Failure to Pay Rent cases. Breach of Lease, Tenant Holding Over, and Wrongful Detainers will proceed to a hearing only if there is an emergency. Landlords may file new eviction cases but courts will only see Emergency Cases after March 14.
- If a landlord attempts to forcibly evict a tenant during the state of emergency, the tenant should call the police non-emergency number (301-279-8000).
- Please be aware that the national moratorium is not automatic. You and every adult listed on your rental agreement or lease must submit a Declaration to your landlord.
Landlord-tenant court RE-OPENED on July 25, 2020. Please read these updates carefully:
- Pending eviction orders filed prior to May 22, 2020, started being heard on July 25, 2020. Failure to Pay Rent actions filed from May 22 through July 25, will start being heard starting August 31, 2020.
- The landlord may sue you for unpaid back rent — even rent that became due during the state of emergency.
- ALWAYS GO TO COURT. Failure to appear may result in a default eviction order. Bring all documentation with you, INCLUDING PROOF THAT YOU WERE OUT OF WORK BECAUSE OF THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY.
- IMPORTANT: Make sure you understand what the judge has decided. It is fine to ask questions if you need to!
- If you have COVID-19 or are being investigated (tested) for COVID-19: Tenants and/or authorized occupants cannot be evicted under Maryland’s “imminent danger” law for having COVID-19 or for being investigated/tested for the virus. If your landlord asks you to move because you have or are being investigated/tested for the virus, call the county at 311 and/or seek immediate legal advice.
- During the state of emergency, the landlord is still responsible for repairing conditions that threaten life, health or safety. Notify your landlord about these situations immediately and about any other repairs that are needed. Put your notice in a dated letter and deliver/mail to the landlord or rental office.
- You can report/complain about the conditions by calling the county at 311.
- During the state of emergency, county inspectors are only handling emergency cases. When you call 311, ask how long it will take to have an inspector come to your residence.
- During the state of emergency, the county is not conducting housing inspections and landlords are being given extensions for making non-emergency repairs.
- IMPORTANT: County inspectors are neutral parties. They have the authority to also issue citations to tenants who are violating the county housing code, such as keeping the premises clean and using plumbing and appliances in the right way.
The Public Charge Rule and how it might impact your eligibility for public programs during COVID-19:
- The Public Charge Rule was recently updated by the Trump administration to make it more difficult for immigrants who have relied on public assistance programs from getting a green card or a visa.
- If you are a permanent resident (green card holder), you DO NOT need to worry about using government services due to COVID-19.
- Filing for unemployment does NOT put you at risk under public charge because it is an “earned benefit” that you pay into with your paychecks.
- Receiving government support to acquire a coronavirus test will NOT be used against you in a public charge test. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, “USCIS will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination.”
If you have a housing issue and need legal advice during this time, below are some FREE and CONFIDENTIAL resources:
Montgomery County Residents:
- LEDC Housing Hotline: (202) 540-7438
- Montgomery County Pro Bono Program: (301) 424-7651
- Montgomery County Legal Aid: (240) 314-0373
- Maryland District Court Self-Help Center: (410)260-1392)
- Public Justice Center: (410) 625-9409
For updated information and links to the Courts and other organizations, go to:
- English: www.peoples-law.org