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October 26, 2022

Legislation to Reduce Barriers Related to Housing Costs and Access

“With the passage of these two bills, we can strengthen our resolve that housing is a right, not a privilege."

For Immediate Release
October 26, 2022
Contact: Chantal Fuller, Communications Director
(202) 355-8431
cfuller@dccouncil.gov

                                       Councilmember Christina Henderson Introduces Legislation to Reduce Barriers Related to Housing Costs and Access

Washington, DC- Today, Councilmember Christina Henderson introduced two bills to reduce barriers related to housing costs and access experienced by many District tenants: the Fairness in Renting Clarification Amendment Act of 2022 and the Community Land Trusts’ Opportunity to Purchase Amendment Act of 2022.

The Fairness in Rental Clarification Amendment Act of 2022 prevents landlords from charging exorbitant fees associated with processing applications for rental housing. The law currently prohibits landlords from charging application fees over $50 but says nothing about charges associated with the landlord or their employees processing an application. Second, it raises the notice period for rent increases from 30 days to 60 days. Third, it prohibits landlords from charging new or departing tenants with fees associated with “turning over” units. Landlords are required to keep units in good repair, and the costs associated with meeting that obligation should not be passed off to new tenants.

“The District’s rental market is competitive and costly. Tenants deserve a reasonable amount of time to seek new housing accommodations should their rent increase to a price that is not affordable for them. Residents deserve the time to make choices that enable them to remain District residents,” noted Councilmember Henderson. “It is important that residents have clarity about the actual costs of housing by requiring transparency regarding fees and insight into the long-term costs of housing that will enable residents to make appropriate housing choices.”

The Community Land Trusts’ Opportunity to Purchase Amendment Act of 2022 aims to increase homeownership by incorporating community land trusts (CLTs) into the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) structure, granting registered community land trusts with an automatic third right of refusal to purchase multifamily housing. It would also provide registered CLTs with the second right of refusal for properties on the tax sale list before they are available to private buyers. Homeownership is an expensive endeavor generally, but especially costly in the District. Ownership in a multifamily building remains the least costly means to homeownership in the District. The median price for a condominium in the District was $480,000 in 2020, up from $455,000 in 2019, while the median price for a single-family home in the District increased at a sharper rate to $755,000 in 2020, up from $659,120 in 2019.

“While the District has many affordable housing preservation tools, the strongest tools at our disposal are those that harness the power of community. TOPA, which became law in 1980, is widely recognized throughout the United States as a powerful means of maintaining affordability and strengthening communities. By placing CLTs in the TOPA structure and allowing CLTs advance opportunity to purchase tax sale properties, the District can help preserve affordability for sizable homes that can serve larger families at a price that is affordable to them. This bill aims to build on our record of empowering residents to live and thrive in their communities,” said Councilmember Henderson. “With the passage of these two bills, we can strengthen our resolve that housing is a right, not a privilege."

The Fairness in Renting Clarification Amendment Act of 2022 was co-introduced by Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Brianne K. Nadeau, Mary M. Cheh, and Robert C. White, Jr.

The Community Land Trusts’ Opportunity to Purchase Amendment Act of 2022 was co-introduced by Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Brianne K. Nadeau, Mary M. Cheh, Janeese Lewis-George, and Robert C. White, Jr.

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