Hogan Extends Order Blocking Utility Shutoffs in Maryland

    Utility providers are barred from shutting off service or charging late fees in Maryland until at least Sept. 1 under an extension of an executive order issued Friday by Gov. Larry Hogan.

    Hogan issued the original version of the order in March amid the first wave of layoffs and business shutdowns from the coronavirus pandemic.

    The order, which has been extended before, applies to companies that provide gas, electric, water, phone and internet service.

    Sept. 1 is when the COVID-19 state of emergency declared by Hogan is set to expire, although Hogan could also extend that measure.

    A previous order issued by Hogan, which remains in effect, also temporarily prohibits evictions of tenants “suffering substantial loss of income due to COVID-19.”

    However, some advocates have called for stronger eviction protections, arguing the requirement that tenants demonstrate a “substantial loss” of income is a loophole that some landlords will exploit and may be too onerous for tenants to have to prove in court.

    About 292,000 households in Maryland are at risk of being evicted because they’re unable to pay rent, according to estimates from an accounting firm cited by Maryland Matters.

    Last week, a federal moratorium on evictions ended, and the first set of eviction cases in Maryland courts is expected in August.

    A bipartisan committee of Maryland lawmakers have recommended Hogan’s order be extended and called for a host of measures to avert a housing crisis in the state.

    The Hogan administration has committed $30 million in new funding to help prevent Marylanders affected by the coronavirus pandemic from facing eviction.

    As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Jack Moore. Click here for the WTOP News website.