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D.C. Attorney General Racine sues Van Ness landlord for rent concessions

Rent increases have caught tenants off guard at this rent-controlled apartment building

Photo via Google Street View

In a new lawsuit, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine alleges that one real estate company in Washington, D.C., is engaging in “unlawful trade practices,” known as rent concessions. Washington City Paper reports that Chicago-based real estate company Equity Residential has been advertising lower prices for their rent-controlled apartments in the 3003 Van Ness Apartments community than what the company considers their true prices.

One example given by Washington City Paper is that a one-bedroom rental was advertised for $1,800 per month and later raised to $2,400 per month after the first year with a $600 discount. Typically, for most properties in D.C., rent control restricts raises in prices to 3.1 percent of the existing rent plus a measure of inflation, known as Consumer Price Index. In the example given by Washington City Paper, a more typical year-over-year rent increase from $1,800 would be no more than $1,856.

Equity Residential owns and manages the 600-unit building through affiliate Smith Company Holdings. It also oversees over 300 properties across the nation.

In order to prevent issues like this from occurring further, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced a bill in September 2016 that would regulate rent concessions and restrict the circumstances in which a discount is offered on a rent-controlled unit. This bill has not yet gone through committee.

D.C. Sues Landlord of Rent-Controlled Building in Northwest for Offering Problematic Discounts [Washington City Paper]

D.C. Lawmakers Aim to Curb Arbitrary Rent Discounts [Washington City Paper]

Rental Housing Commission announces the CPI and SS COLA for “rent control year 2017” [Office of the Tenant Advocate]