CHILLUM, Md. (DC News Now) — Renters in Prince George’s County will now have some relief from gouging price hikes from landlords. This rent cap bill was the only hope for some tenants, but for others, it may have come too late.
The new temporary rent stabilization bill puts a 3% cap on how much landlords can increase rent.
It’s something tenants like Jeannete Kenne spent years fighting for, but now she’s not even sure if it will apply to her. She was supposed to move out of her Takoma Park apartment, where she has lived for 16 years, by Wednesday.
“Since then, every year there has been a rent increase. Today I’m paying around $2,000 with utilities — and without utilities, it’s $1,849,” she said.
Kenne said the Takoma Towers conditions don’t match the rent increase. Over the years, she’s dealt with flooding and mold, which has impacted her health. She said when she reports problems in her unit, the complex takes its time to fix them.
“I started having problems with my lungs. I was coughing… and then the doctor said it was mold,” said Kenne.
Broken elevators have also been a problem. DC News Now reporter Ya-Marie Sesay had to climb several steps to meet Kenne at her apartment since the elevators were down.
Kenne lost her job as a cleaner during the pandemic, and she hasn’t been able to pay rent for the past few months. She’s tried to find a new job, but due to her illness and age, she can’t work as much. She said she applied for rental assistance but had no luck.
“They told me that they are not accepting it. My case manager said that I should send in the tenant certification. I went to the office, I told them that I needed a tenant certification and they refused to give it to me,” she said.
Kenne’s complex is owned by Schweb Partners, a company known for increasing rent prices. She was told her apartment is choosing not to renew her lease since she couldn’t afford her rent, and now she has to move out. She said she’s not going down without a fight.
“I think it’s only the judge who has to do to decide for me to move out of here,” she said.
Despite her circumstances, Kenne said she is happy the county is stepping in and doing something to make a difference for renters.
During Tuesday’s Prince George’s County Council meeting, Kenne testified in favor of the recently passed rent stabilization bill.
“I’m happy that they passed the bill, even if I do not live here anymore. Those who come after me will benefit. I fought for them, it was not my fight alone,” she said.
DC News Now reached out to the company that manages Kenne’s building for their response to her complaints but did not hear back as of Wednesday evening.