The Apartment and Office Building Association, in a renewed attack on the District's rent control system, charged this week that the D.C. government is falling increasingly further behind in considering landlord's requests for rent increases.

AOBA, the largest local association of landlords, aimed its criticism at the way the D.C. Rental Accommodations Office handles what are know as "hardship" petitions. These are requests by landlords for permission ot charge their tenants more rent. Such rent boosts may be allowed when landlords fail to earn adequate rates of return on their buildings.

In a new port, the landlords association asserted that 355 petitions for rent increases were still awaiting action as of Aug. 31, including 232 that had been pending for more than 90 days. The Rental current D.C. regulations, decisions on hardship petitions are required within 90 days. Under current D.C. regulations, decisions on hardship petitions are required within 90 days. The Rental Accommodations Office has long had difficulty in complying with this time limit.

AOBA also contended that the backlog of hardship requests awaiting review has been growing by an average of 27 petitions a month. It warned that the number of pending requests for rent rises could climb to 679 by next Aug. 31 if the trend continues.

AOBA's assertions were disputed by Albert M. Williams Jr., the Rental Accommodations Office's deputy administrator. They're not accurate," he said. According to the agency's own records, Williams added, only about 40 pettions submitted by landlords had been pending for more than 90 days as of Sept. 15.

D.C. Author Matthew S. Watson, whose agency is also examining the Rental Accommodations Office's backlong, said that his preliminary findings differ from those made public by AOBA. The audit study, however, is not yet complete, Watson added.

Landlords have repeatedly criticized the slow pace at which the city has acted on hardship petitions. They argue that the delays have the effect of deprivating them of their right to earn an adequate income.

Both landlords' and tenants' groups have been lobbying heavily in recent months, as the D.C. City Council considers extending the current rent control program.