As of the middle of April, Prince George’s County renters will not be subject to any rent increases greater than 3% for a period of one year. 

The county council passed this rent-stabilization law on Feb. 28, to take effect 45 days after it is signed by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. She was expected to sign the bill by March 6, according to the office of County Councilmember Krystal Oriadha (District 7), who spearheaded the bill. 

The council, which passed the measure on a 9-1 vote after more than 100 people crowded the room for a public hearing that lasted more than three hours, made clear that this is a pilot program and they intend to spend the coming year crafting another measure to replace it. “We know that this is not a long-term solution,” Oriadha said. “This is to stop the bleeding.”

The one vote against was by Councilmember Mel Franklin (At-Large), who said such rent caps don’t work and were being abandoned by the few jurisdictions across the country that had adopted them. Councilmember Ingrid Watson (District 4) was absent.

The new law exempts rental units from the cap during their first five years of use. Apartments that are part of a government affordable-housing subsidy program, such as federal Section 8, would also be exempt. 

The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 37% of county dwellings are rentals. Under the new law, landlords violating the cap will be subject to a $500 fine for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent infraction. Oriadha noted that if a rent cap is retained after this law sunsets in a year, the county will need to spend money on increased personnel to enforce it. 

On Feb. 21, the Mount Rainier City Council approved its own rent stabilization plan, limiting rent increases to 60% of the Consumer Price Index annually. Hyattsville is currently weighing its own rent stabilization and assistance fund programs.