Conflicts or misunderstandings can sometimes occur in a landlord-tenant relationship. The Division of Landlord-Tenant Affairs has the authority to investigate concerns raised by either a tenant or a landlord. Staff works with both parties to help resolve a complaint through a combination of mediation and conflict resolution. Most landlord-tenant complaints filed concern security deposit refunds, defective tenancy issues (repairs and violations of the lease), entry into a rental unit, illegal rent increases and notices to vacate.
COLTA Administrative Hearings
If a complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of either party, it is referred to the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs (COLTA) for an administrative hearing. COLTA is a separate administrative body, established by the City in 1980. During the hearing, testimony from the tenant, the landlord, and others is considered by a three-member panel. A decision in the form of a written Opinion and Order is issued within 30 days following the hearing. The Order is enforceable in a court of law and may be appealed to the Circuit Court of Montgomery County.
COLTA also processes petitions filed by landlords seeking to increase their rents above the annual allowance established by the City. An Administrative Decision approving or denying the requested rent increase is issued following a detailed review of the financial documentation included in the petition. A COLTA hearing would be scheduled if the tenants or the landlord filed substantive objections to the decision.