Proposed rent control bills receive mixed reaction from DC residents

There’s a new effort to stabilize rents in D.C. and focus on setting limits when it comes to what landlords can charge.

The bills would enforce a number of requirements, including limiting certain increases in rent control buildings, expand rent control for properties that are at least 15 years old and close other petition processes.

D.C. Council member Trayon White, one of the sponsors, said the Rent Stabilization Program Reform and Expansion Act would provide much needed protection for renters, while also enforcing guidelines for building owners to ensure fair and equitable access to housing.

“It is also important to support the efforts of housing providers without jeopardizing the livelihood and stability of low-income, primarily Black and Latino, residents,” White said.

The second bill introduced, the Hardship Petition Reform Amendment Act, would require landlords to get approval before increasing rent when it comes to affordable housing and hardship petition increases, capping those increases at 5% a year.

D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman stressed the need for affordable housing, saying, “We need in our city for there to be rental housing that is safe, affordable and provides good opportunities for schools and access to healthy food.”

Dean Hunter, CEO of Small Multifamily and Rental Owners Association, said the proposed bills would decrease the availability of affordable housing, devastate small landlords and make way for gentrification.

“These are the wrong policies being considered for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time. The owners of these buildings are not massive national chains, but instead are small investors, small businesses, individuals and families,” Hunter said.

Amanda Krober is a resident in the District and disagrees. She said as affordable housing dwindles, more residents just can’t live in the city.

“Studies show that rent control works. It helps to preserve existing affordable units and promote stable, diverse neighborhoods,” Krober said.

The public hearing will continue Nov. 16.

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Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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