The Prince George’s County Council is considering an emergency authorization to extend a temporary rent stabilization bill through October.

The 2023 Rent Stabilization Act, which is set to expire April 17, limits landlords from increasing rents by more than 3 percent per year. Council members and local activists are also pushing for permanent rent stabilization in the county to further housing security and affordability.

Some Prince George’s County residents saw their rent increase by hundreds of dollars after the county’s emergency rent cap from the pandemic expired in July 2021.

District 7 council member Krystal Oriadha, who proposed the extension, was concerned for her constituents when she saw the sudden uptick in their rent prices.

“Before I even got in office, there had been a huge outcry from community members around raising rents,” Oriadha said. “I knew we had to do something.”

Oriadha’s emergency authorization passed out of a council committee and will be discussed in a public hearing soon.

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Jorge Benitez-Perez, the lead organizer for CASA in Prince George’s County , also noticed drastic increases in rent prices when the emergency rent cap expired. CASA supports low-income families and immigrants in the area and is a part of Prince George’s for Housing Justice Coalition.

“Landlords are still in business,” Benitez-Perez said. “They’re still thriving. They’re still making money.”

He emphasized that a rent cap would not put landlords out of business.

In 2022, 38 percent of the county’s households were renters and over half of these renters faced unaffordable housing costs, according to data from the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developer’s Housing Indicator Tool.

Many county residents are living below the poverty line and are at risk of being displaced from their homes due to rising rents, according to PG ChangeMakers deputy executive director Janna Parker. PG ChangeMakers works alongside CASA on the county housing justice coalition and is working to bring awareness to racial and social justice issues.

“We’ve heard a lot from seniors who are… basically having to decide whether they’re going to eat or pay their rent,” Parker said.

Oriadha said she is also working on drafting a permanent rent stabilization bill. She hopes extending the temporary bill will provide enough time to build a policy based on recommendations and similar bills in other counties.

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It was necessary for the council to extend temporary rent stabilization so landlords don’t have time to hike up rent costs before a permanent rent stabilization plan is put in place, Oriadha said.

“We don’t want to rush that process,” she said. “But we also know we can’t afford for there to be a gap between the temporary and permanent [acts].”

Neighboring Montgomery County saw a year-long gap with no rent stabilization policies starting in July 2022. This allowed landlords to increase their prices without limits until permanent rent stabilization was passed the next July.

“There was nothing they could do to stop it,” Oriadha said. “That is why the extension is so important.”

Benitez-Perez said he is optimistic the council will pass permanent rent stabilization by the time the extension expires in October.