Article provided by Washington Post, September 30, 2016
Contrary to Matt Losak’s Sept. 25 Local Opinions essay, “Connecting the dots from complaints to disaster,” an expansive legal network provides numerous tenant protections. In Montgomery County, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs licenses and inspects rental housing and has authority to conduct more frequent, targeted inspections, which it has exercised. Tenants can request an inspection and call 311 to anonymously report housing complaints.
Of course tenants should first notify their housing provider of conditions warranting repair. And if the housing provider is unresponsive, tenants should contact the jurisdiction to trigger necessary enforcement action. State and local laws expressly prohibit retaliatory action, including evictions, against renters for exercising these rights, including filing complaints or participating in a tenants’ organization.
Because it is fundamentally unfair, the Maryland General Assembly has repeatedly rejected advocacy for a “just-cause eviction” bill. Legislators understand that a housing provider cannot require a tenant to stay forever, and a tenant cannot require a housing provider to rent to them forever. We must continue to foster greater awareness of housing provider and tenant rights and responsibilities and housing safety. The majority of rental housing providers provide quality housing for their residents and are committed to working with jurisdictions to ensure safe housing for all.
Nicola Y. Whiteman, Washington
The writer is senior vice president of government affairs for the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington.