PRESS RELEASE: Councilmember Anita Bonds Introduces Legislation to Protect Renters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2015
Contact: Josh Brown
jcbrown@dccouncil.us
(202) 724-8065

Councilmember Bonds Introduces Legislation to Protect Renters

Legislation would hold increases on tenants’ rent while a waiver is under review

WASHINGTON, DC – Committee on Housing and Community Development Chair Anita Bonds today introduced the Rent Control Hardship Petition Limitation Amendment Act of 2015, a bill aimed at protecting renters against abuse by some housing providers using the hardship petition process.

Approximately 66% of the rental housing stock in the District is regulated under rent control legislation. For units subject to rent control, annual rent increases are limited to a maximum of 10% for most tenants, and 5% for seniors or individuals with disabilities.

Currently, housing providers can apply and significantly raise rents by more than the standard 5% or 10% increases, in order to achieve a 12% rate of return on the housing provider’s investment in the building under the hardship petition process. Over the last five years, close to one hundred hardship petitions were filed allowing housing providers to significantly raise the rent on thousands of District residents.

Hardship petitions are rarely decided within 90 days and as a result, after that time allotment, housing providers can then immediately begin collecting increased rent based only upon what the housing provider claims is needed, resulting in some cases where the rent increases 50% to 100%. The bill would limit the conditional increase to 5% of the existing rent while the Rent Administrator is reviewing a housing provider’s application.

“These rent increases place a significant burden on low-income renters, greatly increasing the likelihood of displacement and homelessness” explained Councilmember Bonds.

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