Montgomery County surveys indicate an estimated 20,000 households, or 15 percent of the 130,000 rental households in the County, are behind on their rent and at risk of eviction due to the COVID-19 health crisis. County Executive Marc Elrich is encouraging all concerned renters to take advantage of available financial, legal and counseling resources to help avoid eviction actions.
“We are offering a coordinated package of supports to help renters take action to stay in their home,” said County Executive Elrich. “I urge all affected renters to apply now for rent payment assistance; contact Maryland Legal Aid if you receive a court notice; and, access free services to learn your options, get answers to your questions and help you take steps to avoid eviction.”
Rent support (a total of $20 million) is available. Renters are urged to Apply Now! for the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program – Phase 2. Renters also can call 311 (240-777-0311) to apply for rent payment assistance. Approved households may receive up to $4,000 toward rent. The program continues to accept applicants and anticipates serving 5,000 households by Dec. 30. Assistance is based on availability of funds.
Program eligibility requirements include:
- At least one month behind on rent.
- Income loss related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Modest income over the past 30 days.
- Rent payments that represent at least 50 percent of income.
Additionally, if renters receive a summons for a court hearing or a decision on an eviction case from the courts, they should call 311 (240-777-0311) and ask for Housing Stabilization to discuss their options.
Maryland Legal Aid can help. During the COVID-19 pandemic, renters have additional protections from eviction. Tenants cannot be evicted without a court order. Any renter who receives a court summons or a termination notice from their landlord (notice to vacate) is urged to call Maryland Legal Aid at 240-314-0373 to request free advice about their rights and how to gather their documents to prepare for court.
Tenants summoned to court should attend on the scheduled day to tell their side to the judge and present documents of COVID-related income loss, which can stop evictions in many cases. Maryland Legal Aid and Maryland Bar Foundation volunteer attorneys are scheduled to be at the courthouse to help qualified tenants.
Free Services are available to answer renter questions and help reduce evictions. Every tenant concerned about their rent should find out how to apply for available rent payment assistance; take advantage of counseling and legal aid to forestall eviction; and, get counseling support to work with their landlord on a payment arrangement.
Free counseling supports for renters struggling to pay rent include understanding rights and options (and how to use them); learning about available resources; receiving guidance in working with landlords; and, getting help in responding to any eviction notice.
The best time for tenants to begin working on their situation is before they receive a court notice. Supports for renters can be accessed through montgomerycountymd.gov/renters. The package of supports for renters is being promoted online, in person, and via a multilingual flyer with distribution throughout the County.