Monday, December 14, 2009

County Releases Tenant Survey Results (Updated)

Following is a county press release summarizing its survey of tenants. The full results are not yet up on the county's website.

Update: You can see the survey results here.

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2009


Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s Tenant Work Group today released the results of the first-ever survey of County tenants, a survey that highlighted concerns about rent increases and affordability.

There are approximately 80,000 rental units in the County, amounting to 25 percent of the County’s households.

The survey also showed that 80 percent of tenants surveyed felt comfortable about communicating concerns with their landlords; 20 percent feared retaliation.

The survey was conducted by the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement of Salisbury University in conjunction with the County Tenant Work Group, established last year by Leggett to analyze problems faced by County renters and make recommendations for possible actions and changes. That report, along with recommendations, is due in late January.

The Work Group includes tenant representatives, as well as landlord representation and participants from the County Council, the County Executive’s office, and the County Department of Housing & Community Affairs.

Among the findings of the “Montgomery County Rental Satisfaction Survey” were:

Nearly 20 percent of tenants reported average rent increases of eight percent or more. Another 52 percent said their rents increased in the four to seven percent range.

Forty-three percent of respondents did not expect that they could continue to afford to pay rent five years from now in their current rental.

Over 82 percent said that current rent affordability was their first or second most important concern, followed by safety/crime at 77 percent, and long-term rent affordability at 75 percent.

Over 80 percent of tenants felt comfortable in approaching their landlord or property manager with concerns. Seventy-one percent believed them to be responsive.

Twenty percent said they had not raised concerns with their landlord for fear of retaliation.

Nearly half (46.8 percent) of renters paid between $1000- $1500 a month. Twenty percent paid less than $1000 and ten percent paid $2000 a month or more.

Nearly 58 percent were satisfied with their rental unit, 38 percent dissatisfied.
Sixty-three percent felt safe in their building, 30 percent did not.

By a 60-40 margin or more, the majority of tenants were unaware of resources for tenants offered by the County Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Of the 12 percent who had contacted the County Office of Landlord/Tenant Affairs, only 45 percent were satisfied with the result.

Thirteen percent of respondents felt they had been discriminated against, in some manner, by a landlord at some point in their rental history.

“The fact is, for too long, renters in the County have relied on the kindness of landlords to keep rents fair and predictable and quality of life in buildings at a reasonable level,” said Matt Losak, a renter and Chair of the Tenants Work Group.

“This survey shows that many tenants are subject to rent increases that go well beyond the ‘voluntary’ County guidelines. While the majority of renters feel they have good communication with their landlords, others are concerned about retaliation for speaking up for promised living conditions. We need rental housing laws that ensure tenants more long term security and more balance in the tenant-landlord relationship.”

“I’m pleased at the useful information in this survey,” said County Executive Leggett. “Clearly many renters have very real concerns about their ability – short-term or long-term—to be able to afford to live in Montgomery County. That’s something we have to work on. I appreciate the work of my Tenant Work Group in commissioning this survey and look forward to receiving their policy recommendations after the New Year.”

Attached find the actual questions and results.

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Contact: Matt Losak, Tenant Work Group, 301-442-4332
Patrick Lacefield, Director of Public Information, 240-777-6507