Over 90,000 families and individuals in the District of Columbia depend on rent control to prevent unaffordable rent increases. Make your voice heard and help us strengthen rent control laws that protect tenants and preserve affordable housing.
WHY RENT CONTROL MATTERS
Washington, DC boasts the nation’s strongest laws to protect tenants and keep rents affordable. Rent control allows for predictable and transparent rent increases so both owners and renters know what to expect. These laws help people stay in their homes and neighborhoods, and rent control is one of DC’s most important programs for keeping housing affordable.
Unfortunately, weaknesses and loopholes in rent control laws are putting residents at risk.
Landlords are allowed to petition the DC government for large rent increases to finance building improvements and rehabilitation or because they are making an insufficient profit. These petitions have been widely abused, and many are approved despite containing inaccurate financial information or violating other regulations. The 2% extra that most tenants pay now is already slowly eroding the affordability of rent controlled apartments.
Some landlords are even encouraging tenants to sign voluntary agreements to raise rents on unoccupied units, losing affordable homes across DC. As a result, many tenants face displacement and unaffordable rent increases, including people on Social Security. These loopholes pit the needs of current tenants against future ones, allowing landlords to exploit tenants’ fears.
Rent control laws should continue to preserve affordable apartments, even after vacancies. We need common-sense reforms that protect affordable housing.
· Landlords’ guaranteed rate of return should be decreased from the current level of 12%.
· Auditing for rent increase petitions must be strengthened. Buildings with petitions should be inspected to ensure that they comply with the housing code before going into effect.
· Tenants should get a chance to challenge rent increases before they go into effect.
· Seniors and people with disabilities should be exempted from all landlord petitions, and people relying on Social Security should never have a rent increase larger than Social Security's COLA increase.
· All voluntary agreements should apply equally and should not allow landlords to threaten current tenants and harm future tenants. The DC government should be able to disapprove of agreements that don’t comply with the spirit of the rent control law.
· Currently, landlords can get extraordinary increases from 10-30% after a vacancy. This should be eliminated or reduced.
· Rent control increases should be limited to the Consumer Price Index for all tenants.