Appeals Court Sides with College Park Rent Control

College Park's government leaders will now form a board to examine
the fairness of rent within the city limits, after the Maryland Court of
Appeals agreed last week that city officials can impose limits on what
landlords can charge.

City officials plan to recruit members to the eight-member board
"within the next week or two," said District 4 Councilman Marcus Afzali,
to ensure that landlords comply with the city's rent stabilization
ordinance, which puts caps on the amount of money landlords can charge
for rent.

In April, the City Council rejected a proposal to lift the rent
restrictions. The landlords eventually filed suit against the city, and
that case was brought before the Maryland appeals court in May. With
Wednesday's decision, the city is now allowed to put rent caps on the
city's landlords.

"The highest court in Maryland has ruled in our favor, and now we can
move forward," Afzali said. As for backlash from landlords, "we'll have
to see what happens," he added.

City Councilman Patrick L. Wojahn (Dist. 1) agreed. "It was the right
decision to make," Wojahn said, adding that one resident has already
expressed an interest in joining the board.

The problem, Afzali added, was that property owners would purchase
multiple homes within city limits, turn them into rentals, and hike up
the rent to unaffordable rates for University of Maryland students.
Therefore, he said, city officials saw dwindling numbers of full-time

Last year, The Sage Policy Group conducted a study on College Park's
rent control, saying that the city has a rational basis for stabilizing
rent, especially since homeownership continues to falter. Rent
stabilization is a means of spurring homeownership in College Park, and
discouraging residents from converting their homes into rental units.

The board, according to city information, will ensure that city
landlords comply with the rent stablization ordinance, determine and set
rent levels, require registration on all rental units, and report to
the mayor and city council the status of all rental units in College
Park. The board could also remove rent controls within the city.

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