Counties Urge Eviction Procedure Pause to Pursue Available Assistance

On February 8, 2022, Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified before the House Environment and Transportation Committee in support of HB 367 – Landlord and Tenant – Repossession for Failure to Pay Rent – Rental Assistance Programs. This bill requires a landlord of residential property to follow certain processes and procedures concerning rental assistance programs in the State prior to filing a complaint to repossess for failure to pay rent against a tenant experiencing financial hardship, either directly or indirectly due to or during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Sanderson testified, “Counties are central players in administering emergency rental assistance, and we’re here to support all the tools you may need to provide the right balance for these programs to be successful.”

Delegate Nicole Williams, the bill sponsor, noted that the emergency bill (meaning immediate effect upon passage) is targeted to the current pandemic circumstances and is slated to expire after June 2023.

From the MACo testimony:

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland has experienced a record number of evictions. To stabilize the housing market, counties have been relied upon to distribute federal emergency rental assistance to qualified tenants experiencing financial distress. County agencies have worked diligently to ensure this assistance is provided in a timely manner. However, in the recent past, state and federal guidelines regarding payment distribution record-keeping, evidence of rental arrangements, and collection of qualifying income documentation contributed to delays in assistance payments.

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Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties