An ad hoc tenants group attempting to overturn part of the District's new rent control law got a step closer yesterday to getting a referendum on the November ballot.

The group, calling itself the Emergency Committee to Save Rental Housing, wants to block portions of the law that would loosen rent controls on some single-family homes and on buildings that are 80 percent vacant, as well as other provisions that are less stringent on landlords than previous law.

The D.C. Board of Elections has determined that the group submitted the apparent signatures of 18,097 registered voters in the District, more than the 14,000 needed to get a referendum on the ballot, board spokesman Joe Baxter said yesterday.

The tenants group submitted more than 28,000 signatures, but about 10,000 of those named were not registered voters or the handwriting was too difficult to read.

The board will do a random sample next week to verify that the signatures are those of the registered voters listed. If the signatures are confirmed, opponents of the referendum, primarily landlords, could challenge the petition before the board or in court.

To get a referendum on a ballot in the District, a petition must be signed by 5 percent of the registered voters in the city, including at least 5 percent of the voters in at least five of the city's eight wards.