March 6

Rent Control Housing Clearinghouse Amendment Act of 2015

This week Councilmember Anita Bonds introduced legislation, the Rent Control Housing Clearinghouse Amendment Act of 2015, to the DC Council, which would establish an online database of every single rental unit subject to the Washington, DC Rental Housing Act, and therefore rent control. It should be noted that while Councilmember Bonds’ press release refers to the legislation applying to affordable housing, theĀ actual text of the bill applies to every unit subject to rent control, which is a very different standard than just “affordable housing.”

The creation of a database of every single rent control unit in Washington, DC would be a monumental task. The bill calls for the database to maintain tremendously detailed information on each unit, such as Basic Business License number, RAD registration number, Certificate of Occupancy number, housing inspection dates, administrative orders, and historic rent information. Perhaps most importantly, there is no information provided on who would be checking for compliance, or what penalties would apply for failing to comply. At this point, the Rent Control Housing Clearinghouse Amendment Act of 2015 seems more political than realistic.

February 13

Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act: TOPA “Sale” Definition re-analyzed

The Washington City Paper has explored a new Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act case that is again exploring the definition of a TOPA sale. If you follow TOPA case law, you know that throughout the years the definition of “sale” has been hotly litigated and the statute defining “sale” has been amended. A new case argues that when shares of an entity owner are transferred, and the entity owns a portfolio of properties, it does not constitute a sale for purposes of TOPA. The City Paper’s analysis may overstate the application of this effort, but it nonetheless shows that there remain new creative ways to avoid arduous compliance with TOPA. The article can be found here.

January 10

Washington, DC rents down

A recent study of Washington, DC rents indicates that “Year-over-year average rent growth among mid-quality, three-star apartments declined during the third quarter for the first time in 2014, while average rents in higher quality four- and five-star apartments have been dropping since the second quarter of 2013.” The study’s theory is that the glut of new units, combined with recession, led to landlords competing for tenants in the most expensive units. While renters downsizing to cheaper buildings kept demand for mid-priced units high for a while, the continuation of the construction boom may be decreasing demand for those units, too. An article explaining the study can be found here.

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