City Council member Arrington Dixon (D-four) introduced emergency legislation yesterday to allow landlords automatic and immediate rent increases ranging from 2 per cent to 10 per cent.
Dixon asked for a Council vote Tuesday on the bill, which would tie the amount of increase to the landlord's utility costs.
Nadine Winter (D-six), who chairs the Councils housing committee, said she would oppose Dixon's bill. Winter already has introduced a bill that contains a similar schedule for rent increases but was not proposed as emergency legislation.
Bills passed as emergency legislation and signed by Mayor Walter Washington take effect immediately for 90 days rather than awaiting a layover period for congressional review.
Dixon said he introduced the emergency bill because landlords had not been allowed to raise automatically in more than 18 months, although their expenses increased sharply.
"I don't understand how we can declare an emergency," Winter said. "If landlords need to increase rents to cover increasing utility bills, they can file a hardship petition for rent increases with the city's rent control commission," she said.
Winter said she fears that some tenants could face their third rent increase in less than year if Dixon's bill passes.
She said that a court order last August allowed landlords to pass through some costs to tenants and that later some landlords filed hardship petition for with the rent commission and received approval for these would result from Dixon's bill, she said.
If the bill is approved by the Council and signed by the mayor, landlords could start collecting increased rents after giving tenants a 30-day notice.
Dixon's bill duplicated a recommendation made to the Council in March by the rent control commission. Approximately 150,000 apartment units in the city would affected if the Council voted for the bill that allows increases of:
Two per cent for apartments where landlords provide no utilities or heat.
Seven per cent of landlords providing only heat and hot water.
Eight per cent where rent covers heat, hot water and electricity but not air conditioning.
Nine per cent where rent covers heat, hot water, cooking fuel but not air conditioning
Ten per cent if the rent covers all utilities, including air conditioning.
Under Dixon's bill, no landlord could raise rents if he has been granted a rent increased by the rent commission with the last six months.