The Baltimore City Council passed Baltimore City Renter Relief Act last week, and yesterday, Mayor Jack Young signed the bill. The primary focus of the bill is to freeze increases on rental rates amid COVID-19.
What is the Baltimore City COVID-19 Renter Relief Act?
The Renter Relief Act protects tenants from rent increases during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many Baltimore city residents struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, this bill puts a freeze on rent increases throughout the city.
- Prohibits late fees
- Moratorium on rent increases
- Effective until 90-days after the state of emergency ends
Baltimore City COVID-19 Rent Resources
Do Maryland tenants have to pay rent amid COVID-19? The answer is yes! However, part of being a successful landlord right now includes being informed about available resources for your tenants and making sure your tenants are also aware of the resources available to them.
- CARES Act: The CARES Act was implemented back in March to assist those in need of unemployment to receive it. These are people that generally wouldn’t qualify for unemployment assistance like those that are self-employed or contractors. The act allows for up to $600 a week to be paid to unemployed individuals due to the virus. The exact amount an individual gets depends on their income previous to being unemployed. Learn more about the Cares Act here.
- Baltimore City Rental Assistance: In addition to the Rent Relief Act mentioned above, Baltimore City Counselman is pushing for a rental assistance program. This program is expected to be approved by the beginning of June and would allocate an additional $15 billion in rent assistance to those in need in the city.
- Unemployment: In addition to unemployment offered through the Cares Act and the possible rental assistance coming soon, the standard unemployment assistance provided is available to those that qualify. Apply for unemployment in Baltimore City here.
- Eviction Moratorium: The eviction ban is still in place throughout Maryland during the state of emergency. However, once the state of emergency is over, tenants will have 120 days to pay back the missing rent. This is why we are encouraging Baltimore City residents to pay rent if they can and use available resources to pay it if they can’t.
COVID-19 Tips for Landlords
As a landlord, it is essential to do what you can to retain residents, manage vacancies and tours, and still perform other property management duties during the pandemic. However, it is not easy to do all this, to begin with, and especially during a health crisis. The tips below could be beneficial for landlords to manage daily tasks during the pandemic.
- Go Virtual: Allow employees to work from home as much as possible to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Offer virtual tours for prospective tenants and send documents digitally.
- No Contact Tours: For times when a remote work or virtual tours are impossible, provide no tours. Allow self-showings, when possible, or have agents arrive ahead of prospects to open the unit and allow prospects to tour the property independently.
- Virtual Inspections: have tenants provide video inspections. If an employee must visit the property, have them wear a mask and gloves and sanitize surfaces. Safety should be priority one.
- Stay Informed: New assistance programs are evolving. It is crucial to keep up with these to help your tenants pay rent on time, even if they are unemployed during the virus.
- Work with Tenants: Work with your tenants when you can. This means making payment plans, being patient, and not harassing them about late payments. The more helpful you are, the more likely to get paid and not deal with tenant rent strikes.
Baltimore COVID-19 Update
While Governor Hogan has lifted the state-mandated stay at home order, Baltimore City is still under the stay at home directive. With many of the state’s cases in the densely populated Baltimore area, Mayor Jack Young has stated that Baltimore is not yet safe to resume regular activity. Baltimore is home to many wonderful hospitals like Johns Hopkins, UMD, and Mercy, where hospital staff is working hard to control the virus and promote social distancing. As of today (May 20th), the following is the up to date COVID-19 data:
- Baltimore has 4,001 confirmed cases with 202 reported deaths
- The state of Maryland has 41,456 cases and over 2,000 reported deaths
- Testing in the state is becoming more widely available which will show an increase in positive cases as well as more reliable data
Many Baltimore landlords are struggling to keep up with ever-changing laws and mandates amid COVID-19. If you need help, contact a Baltimore Property Manager. Bay Property Management Group Baltimore can help you navigate the new normal and stay in compliance with the new laws while maximizing rent collection to keep your rental property profitable.