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 providers may not cut off residents' electric, water, gas, sewage disposal, phone, cable, and internet service.
- You will still owe the utility bill and cut-offs may be allowed after the emergency ends.
- For questions, call the county at 311.
- Landlords can never evict a tenant without a court order and the presence of the sheriff. If your landlord tries to evict you, you can call the police (911).
- The Montgomery County sheriff’s office will not be conducting evictions during the state of emergency, even if there is already a court order authorizing the eviction.
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 District Court will resume full operations starting October 5, 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.”
Montgomery County COVID-19: Rent Relief Program - Phase 2:
- The COVID-19 Rent Relief Program provides short-term rental assistance to eligible households who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and caused them to fall behind on their rent. While funds are available, the program will provide up to $4,000 to eligible households to cover the cost for back rent (arrears) and/or a rent credit for future months. The program is funded through a $20 million supplemental appropriation to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
- For Phase 2 of the program, DHHS has developed a Homeless Prevention Index to evaluate all neighborhoods in relation to COVID-19 impact, housing stress, and social determinants. Applications will be prioritized based on areas of highest COVID impact, with households outside of the initial “high impact” neighborhoods (map available here) placed on a waitlist and contacted as capacity allows. This will ensure that an equity lens is utilized, recognizing that communities of color have been significantly impacted by COVID, disproportionately experience homelessness, and are more likely to get evicted.
- If you are behind on your rent, assistance may be available! To apply, click here.
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