The attorneys at Santoni, Vocci & Ortega have been testifying in Annapolis during the 2018 Maryland legislative session regarding bills that will help tenants, consumers, those experiencing poverty, disabled individuals and the elderly. We do not get paid as lobbyists and we do not represent entrenched corporate interests. We advocate on behalf of everyday Marylanders who need protection from those who would seek to take advantage and injure them financially.
A bill that we testified in favor of in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the House Environment and Transportation Committee, SB250 - HB580, would have allowed tenants who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), unemployment benefits, Social Security, temporary cash assistance, food stamps and other benefits that allow Marylanders to receive a short reprieve before a 5% late penalty on rent is imposed. As we wrote to the House Environment and Transportation Committee,
This is a common-sense bill that will positively impact the lives of Maryland tenants, including seniors, disabled individuals and those experiencing poverty, by delaying the imposition of late penalties by a few weeks. Tenants who receive their government benefits after the fifth day of the month will avoid a cycle in which penalties and fees added to their monthly rent make it difficult, if not impossible, to ever get back to even with their landlord.
The Maryland Multi-Housing Association, which is self-described as "a group of rental housing providers, suppliers, and professionals dedicated to promoting and advancing the needs of the rental housing industry" and the Maryland Building Industry Association testified against the bill, which was voted down by the House Committee. The Maryland Building Industry Association testified that the bill (which would simply push back late fees for a few weeks for seniors, disabled individuals and those who are in need of federal assistance) was "totally unfair to landlords." Tenants who want to avoid automatically imposed late fees because their disability payment arrives in the middle of the month are disregarded by an industry concerned about the imposition of penalties (i.e., profits) over people. The video of the House Committee hearing is below.