A committee of the D.C. City Council has approved a new rent control bill that would allow landlords to increase rents by no more than 10 percent annually and would make the city's rent control office, now independent, a part of the District's housing department.
The five-member housing committee voted unanimously late Thursday to tie the increases to the area's Consumer Price Index (CPI). But those increases would be limited to 10 percent if the index exceeded that figure. In 1979, the CPI for the area was 10.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The full council will consider the legislation next month, after the Nov. 4 election.
The proposed bill would scrap the current system that calculates increases on the basis of how much rental income a landlord spends for operating expenses. Under that system, most tenants received increases ranging from 5 to 7 percent this year.
But landlords and their representatives have criticized the system on the grounds that it is too complicated and that it allows increases too small for some landlords to pay their bills.
The new bill also calls for the Rental Accommodations Office, now an independent city agency, to be made a part of the city's housing department.
The bill would also abolish the nine-member Rent Control Commission composed of three landlords, three tenants and three nonaligned members and replace it with three lawyers who would be city employes. The commission hears appeals from landlords and tenants who challenge decisions made by hearing examiners.
Most of the bill approved yesterday by the committee was written by Council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) who introduced it in June with the sponsorship of six other council members. But the Council, with six of its 13 members facing election, delayed action on the politically charged bill.
The bill also includes a provision to subsidize the rents of low-income tenants. The provision has been included in every rent control bill for the last three years but the program has never been funded.