Proposed D.C. Council Legislation Would Bar Landlords From Sharply Raising Rents

The bills seek to end landlords' ability to offer rent discounts and then calculate increases based on the original price, rather than on what a tenant was actually paying.
October 10, 2018, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Tenants of rent-controlled units in Washington D.C. may get a reprieve from a misleading practice if the D.C. Council passes a set of new bills. Jon Steingart writes, "Councilmember Anita Bonds (D-At Large) introduced a pair of bills that would update how rent increases are determined under the city's rent control law. They target a practice called rent concessions some landlords use to offer discounts on rent, then they calculate rent increases on the non-discounted amount."

"Bonds' legislation," Steingart goes on, "would clarify that a rent adjustment should be based on the amount a tenant actually pays, rather than some higher amount a landlord says it could charge."

Bonds drew from a January decision by the city's Rental Housing Commission that rent increases should be based on "the amount actually demanded, received, or charged" by landlords. Under the new rules, landlords could still give tenants rent discounts. But adjustments would be calculated based on the discounted amount.

Given the council's legislative environment and schedule, Steingart writes that the legislation likely "faces uphill odds" of becoming law.

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Published on Monday, October 8, 2018 in Greater Greater Washington
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