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County Board members on May 22 approved revisions to the guidelines that developers either can or must follow – depending on the specific circumstance – if they are renovating residential properties and displacing tenants in the process.

The revisions cede power to the county manager and staff to take actions that previously had been the domain of the County Board, and will provide many tenants with more notice and, in some cases, higher relocation payments if they find themselves displaced.

The tenant-relocation guidelines, in place in one form or another since 1979, are mandatory for property owners whose renovation or razing of rental properties requires County Board approval, and are “strongly encouraged” but not required for by-right development.

Under the revisions adopted unanimously on May 22, the guidelines now call for 120-day notice for all tenants to vacate. Previously that was the case for renters with leases, but those with month-to-month tenancy were not required to receive more than a 30-day notice.

The revised guidelines call for property owners to follow the federal Uniform Relocation Act formula for payments to those displaced. Depending on the size of a unit, payments currently range from $700 to $1,500, about in line with the previous county guidelines. In rare cases where the former county guidelines are higher, the tenant will receive the larger amount.

The revisions won the support of the county government’s Tenant-Landlord Commission. “This version of the guidelines is clearer and accurately defines the expectations of the county and the commission,” said Kendon Krause, who chairs the commission.

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