Faced with complaints from tenants of apartment buildings undergoing renovation, the Arlington County Board has devised a set of guidelines to help owners minimize the inconvenience to renters.
The guidelines, which were unanimously approved by the board at their meeting Saturday, are voluntary.
But they might improve communication between landlords and tenants and encourage more landlords to rehabilitate apartments without displacing tenants, said County Board member Albert C. Eisenberg.
"This should be seen as helpful to both parties," added board member Ellen M. Bozman.
The rules will be included in information packets given to developers and landlords applying for building permits.
The guidelines suggest that landlords give at least 30 days' notice to tenants of general rehabilitation plans and advance notice of work to be done inside a particular unit.
Landlords are encouraged to coordinate work to be done inside a unit to reduce the disruption to tenants.
Also, landlords are asked to consider reducing rents or offering temporary relocation to tenants whose apartments are undergoing major work.
Development of the guidelines was prompted by complaints from tenants of the Colonies of Arlington apartments.
The landlord, Gates, Hudson & Associates, began renovation of 395 of the complex's 824 units last fall.
County officials have praised the landlord's effort to renovate the apartments while allowing renters to remain.
Other major renovations projects, such as Lee Gardens, have involved the displacement of thousands of tenants.
But a county report said that "poor planning" at the Colonies of Arlington meant that tenants had to rely on space heaters and live with holes in their walls for weeks while awaiting the installation of a new heating and air-conditioning system.
In other action, the County Board voted unanimously to advertise the 1988 real estate tax rate at no higher than the present 92 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
The board can lower the rate when it meets to set the real estate tax rate March 19, and there is sentiment among board members for a tax rate cut in light of increased assessments mailed to homeowners last week.
The assessments went up an average of 16 percent on single-family houses, meaning that if the rate stays the same as last year, most bills will go up.
"I will be working hard to try to offset that 16 percent increase," Bozman said.
County Board Chairman John G. Milliken said the tax question needs "This should be seen as helpful to both parties."
-- Ellen M. Bozman
to "be kept in context" and pointed out that Arlington has one of the lowest real estate tax rates in the region.
The rate in Alexandria is almost 46 percent higher; the rate in Fairfax is about 44 percent higher.
Also, the board voted 4 to 1, with Milliken dissenting, to deny the request of the nonprofit Close-Up Foundation for an exemption to the county's hotel tax.
The tax, levied on hotel rooms, will cost the foundation about $100,000 a year.
The foundation sponsors programs to bring students and teachers to the Washington area to observe the federal government in action. Program participants are housed in hotels in Arlington.
Foundation officials said other educational institutions, such as Marymount University, are exempt from real estate property taxes and argued that the hotels serve as Close-Up's "campus."
A majority of the board said that if other universities used hotel rooms for programs in the same manner as Close-Up, they too would be subject to the hotel tax.