Councilmember Allen introduces bill adding a fee any time multi-unit buildings are downsized

Bill also adds penalties for evicting tenants under false premise

Today, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen introduces the Housing Conversion and Eviction Clarification Amendment Act of 2018, a bill that would disincentivize developers from downsizing multi-unit buildings to protect the total number of units in the market and add a protection for tenants evicted by homeowners under the guise of using the rented space for themselves, but then renting the same space again within one year.

“Our city is grappling with an affordable housing challenge. We need to take steps to disincentivize developers from taking away from the District’s important rental market,” said Councilmember Charles Allen. The bill would impose a fee on any project that seeks to combine multiple units of housing into fewer units – similar to a fee collected anytime rental housing is turned into a condominium. Both fees would be directed toward the city’s Housing Production Trust Fund, which is responsible for helping fund projects that include affordable housing units. “We have to change the incentives in the market. DC needs affordable housing – a key part of that solution is simply having more housing as we continue to grow.”

The goal of the bill is to disincentivize smaller buildings, such as four- or six-unit buildings, from being downsized into one large home.

The bill also adds penalties and enforcement anytime a homeowner evicts a renter under the intent claiming that space for their own use. Under current law, a homeowner cannot rent out that unit for 12 months, but there is no penalty in place to prevent someone from evicting a tenant under that premise and then renting it to a new tenant following the eviction.

“In talking with lawyers who represent tenants, right now they have no enforcement mechanism to call on if a tenant is wrongly evicted from their rental unit. This gives tenants an opportunity to fight back if they’ve lost their housing under a false premise,” said Councilmember Allen.

Councilmembers Anita Bonds (At-Large), Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5), and Trayon White (Ward 8) have signed on as co-introducers. The bill was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Mary Cheh (Ward 3), David Grosso (At-Large), and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Legal Counsel for the Elderly of AARP support the bill as well.

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