The D.C. City Council took some preliminary votes last week before it enacted an emergency bill granting landlords a rent increase to cover the rising cost of fuel oil they must buy to provide heat for tenants. The first rent increase is expected no earlier than January.
David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) proposed language he said would make certain that landlords would be able to obtain only one rent increase to cover fuel costs. Some who opposed Clarke's proposal contended the move was procecurally unnecessary.
Clarke's proposal was approved by a roll-call vote of 8 to 5. Supporting Clarke were Hilda Mason (Statehood-at Large), John L. Ray (D-At Large), Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8), Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3), William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5), John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2) and Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6). Opposed were chairman Arrington L. Dixon (D-At Large), Willie J. Hardy (D-Ward 7,) Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large) and Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large).
Mason proposed an amendment that would have prohibited landlords from collecting higher rents from any tenants who may qualify for federal aid under pending congressional legislation until the tenant actually receives the federal money.
Mason and Rolark were the only council members who voted for Mason's amendment. Mason and Rolark also were the only council members who later voted against passage of the rent-increase bill.
Earlier in the meeting, the council voted to set a limit of 15 percent on the interest that lenders can charge on mortgages and most other loans in the city. Before the bill was passed on a voice vote, Kane proposed an amendment that would have eliminated the 15-percent limit and would have permitted lenders to charge whatever rate was agreed upon between a lender and a borrower. In a roll-call on her proposal, only Kane and Dixon voted for eliminating the ceiling.