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former Chairman Timothy L. Jenkins at the January 22 hearing and
We... bave tens of thousands of registration forms in our office but we do
The Committee is determined not to allow repetition of the admin-
the proposed act with an eye to making it as administratively feasible !!! and self-enforcing as possible. The following provisions, while serving
multiple purposes, are intended to lighten the administrative load of the Office and the Commission: (1) the revamped administrative struc
ture, as embodied in these separate agencies; (2) the automatic increase oft of up to five percent for landlords whose rate of return is less than
right percent ; (3) the substantial increase in the specificity of data to afie hensed in consideration of increases: (+) and the exemption of small
two units or less) rental accommodations where landlords occupy one of the units which will significantly decrease the number of units movered by the rent stabilization provision.
5. It is the intent of the Committee that the Rental Accommodations Rotfice make general compliance with the act a priority goal and funcIndtion. To this end, it is expected that the office will systematically check
registration forms, eviction notices, and other statements filed with it; institute field checks to measure compliance in all parts of the city; receive and process complaints; mount citywide educational campaigns; and institute such other enforcement measures and programs necessary to assure broad compliance with the rent accommodation act.
6. The continuing housing shortage and decline in new housing stock in the District of Columbia require specific incentives to increase and
improve the housing supply. Specific new incentives are provided as pid to follows in the proposed bill: (i) All new construction for which the
initial certificate occupancy was issued after February 2, 1973, is exempt. (2) All units which have been boarded and vacant for two pears are exempt for the duration of the act, provided they are returned to the market and are in compliance with the housing regulation, The 1970 Census reported 16,000 abandoned, unoccupied units in the City. (3) Compliance with the Housing Regulation is made a mandatory prerequisite to any rent increases above base rent. This strengthened provision can be a significant incentive to improvement of the housing stock if adequately enforced. The Committee intends to monitor such enforcement both by the Rental Accommodations Office and the Housing Inspection Division
Ill. FIXASOLIL LUPACT STATEMENT
The financial implications of the proposed act may be summaried as follows: 1. Workloud and Budget of the Rent decommodations Office and Rent
Accommodations Commission. The anticipated workload and builget requirements of the Office and Commission are reflected in the Council's fiscal year 1976 budget submission to the Mayor (a total of 669.600 dollars for the implementation of the Rent Accommodations Ict) and the additional General Fund credits established in the proposed act and explained elsewhere in this Report.
The proposed funding provided to implement the proposed act reflects the strony conviction of the Committee that the success of any rent stabilization program affecting 190,000 units is dependent on adequate funding specifically allocated to that program. Testimony presented at both the January 22 alipril 9 hearings, and the experience of the past year confirm this position. During the past nine months the administration of rent control has been significantly handicapped by the lack of adequate resources. While the Committee anticipates that the nature of the workload will change from concentration on individual cases to a more general compliance program, the Committee does not expect any reduction in the workload as compared to the previously unmanageable load of the current commission. The Committee anticipates that the combined budget request and General Fund credits will enable the Ofice and Commission to handle petitions expeditiously and assure broad compliance with the act. 2. Anticipated Revenues
The anticipated revenues resulting from the proposed act will total approximately $2380,000 ($2 animal registration fee for each of the 190,000 rental units in the city). 3. Impact on other agencies
The inability of the Housing Rent Commission to process large numbers of hardship petitions within the 90 day limit has impacted significantly on the workload of the Office of the Corporation Counsel (Environment and Consumer Protection Section) and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Currently a total of approximately 100 petitions have been returned by the Housing Rent Commission. Numerous landlords whose petitions were returned have exercised their right to take such petitions to Superior Court. The result is a major increase in workload for the Court and the Corporation Counsel, which is involved in defense of the Rent Control Regulation in each of these cases. A special Task Force, including five attorneys and administrative support, has been established by the Corporation Counsel to handle the load. While it is impossible to assess the dollar cost to the Court and the Office of the Corporation Counsel, the impact on staff use is clearly considerable.
Us already indicated, the proposed act is structureel to substantially dininish the complexity of the administrative procedures and reduce the time necessary for tenants and landlords to receive remedies under this provision. It is anticipated that with adequate funding, the Office
cool the comunission will be able to handle the caseload, and the inPrised demands currently on the Court and the Corporation Counsel
will be greatly reduced or eliminated.
Following is a section-by-section analysis of the proposed Bill.
Subsection 101(a) sets up a nine-member Commission, known as the atli Rental Accommodations Commission which will succeed the present wts Housing Rent Commission. Three members of the Commission will be
landlords representing landlord interests. Three members will be tenants representing tenant interests. The remaining three members will be neither landlords nor tenants and will represent the public interest
. All members of the Commission will be appointed, within 30 days of the effective date of the act, to the Commission by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council. All members shall be District residents.
The proposed bill as introduced into Council would have established i sven-member Commission, with three of those members being public members, two being landlord members and two being tenant members. Some members of the public, including the past and the present Chairman of the Housing Rent Commission, suggested that a balance was needed and proposed a nine-member Commission with three public, tiree tenant, and three landlord members.
The Council agrees that equal representation is, preferable to any over or under representation by and of the three segments. It, therefore
, strongly supports the three-three-three formula. Subxection 101(b) provides two year terms for the Commissioners. The Mayor will Hill vacancies and will have the authority to remove members in the event that they cease to be qualified or miss more than thirty percent of the regularly scheduled meetings within any six month period. The Council wished to make it possible to remove members from the Commission in cases of relocation of members outside the District, long-term illnesses, and the like. The added provision resulted from communications the Committee received from the Executive Branch.
Subsection 101(c) authorizes compensation to Commission members at $50 per day, but not to exceed $5,200 per year for any members
. No U.S. or District employee receives compensation. The $5,200 limit per member was arrived at after considering the statement within the budget request of the Housing Rent Commission that the Housing Rent Commission expected to meet twice a week. Since the
new Commission will not be reviewing commission-initiated appeals, it is unlikely that the new Commission will need to meet more than twice a week.
Subsection 101(d) establishes the quorum requirement for the lawful transaction of business at five. At least two public, one tenant, one landlord must be present along with another member in order to transact business.
The Council believes that a quorum should constitute a majority of the membership and that their rationale for the proportionate breakdown as outlined in subsection 101(a) should be applicable in the quorum requirements.
Subsection 101(e) establishes two offices within the Commission: the Chairman and Vice-Chairman. Both officers shall be selected from among its public members. The Council intended that public members should preside orer sessions of the Commission. This was to increase the effectiveness of the arbitration process by reducing the possibility of the natural bias which may ensue under landlord or tenant members presiding.
SECTION 102---DUTIES OF COMMISSION
Subscrtion 102(a) outlines the Commission's responsibilities and duties. Basically the Commission will establish the rules for administering the rent stabilization program. Additionally, it will review appeals from the Rent Administrator. The provision has caused some concern among the public, for the Commission is no longer involved in the initial decision of cases. The new Commission will be a policy making and appeal agency. While some members of the public sup: ported transferring to the new Commission the authority now vested in the Housing Rent Commission, other members of the public wanted the appellate function to be vested with the courts alone.
The Council supports a compromise position which divides administrative and quasi-judicial functions between the Rent Administrator and the Commission. It is the conviction of the Council that such a division of powers represents optimum regulatory procedure which is standard in most regulatory agencies, including the D.C. Commission on Human Rights and rent commission in neighboring jurisdictions. It should be noted that the Commission's appeal and review functions will provide it with first hand information for its rule making and policy determination role.
Subsection 102(b) requires the Commission to submit to the Council every six months a report on trends, including tax, operating and maintenance cost within the District and to recommend any changes in the formula for computing the rent ceiling.
The Council felt that its responsibility for oversight would be facilitated and it may expeditiously initiate action to amend the legislation should such be deemed appropriate because of some drastic and unforeseen economic shifts.
Subsection 102(c) authorizes the Commission and explicitly the Rent Administrator, to hold hearings, adıninister oaths, and subpoena whatever data or witnesses the Commission deems advisable. It also empowers the Superior Court to enforce subpoenas and punish persons for failure to comply.
The Council felt that the timely procurement and certitication of information was imperative to the expeditious processing of petitions filed by landlord and tenant.
Subarrtion 1024d) authorizes each entity of the District government net to supply assistance and information directly to the chairman of the
, while not intending to canse excessive burdens to other giye agencies
, did wish to have the Commission function as effectively as at the possible without bureaucratic liaison agents. ble to
SECTION 103-RENT.IL ACCOMMODATIONS OFFICE
Subxection 10.3(a) establishes a new agency of the District of Columbia Government within the exceutive oflice of the Mayor. It also creates the post of Rent Atlministrator. The Aclministrator will be the principal executive officer of the new agency and will be appointed by the Javor. The Council felt that the Mayor would not be able to effectively implement his strong support for rent control and the new legislation if the agency roomained as an independent entity.
Subsection 103(b) requires that the Rent Administrator be a resident of the District and that he receive compensation at a rate no less than GS-15 under the General Schedule under section 5332 of Title 5 of the United States Code.
The Council felt that it was mandatory to have a high level administrator in order to expeditionsly facilitate the administrative procedures of the new legislation. The recent cout decision on Regulation it2 underscored the necessity to expeditiously provide remedies for putitioners to the Commission.
SEXTIOX 101-DUTIES OF THE RENT ADMINISTRATOR
drez its a
Subsertion 104(a) directs the Rent Administrator to caury out the Rent Stabilization Program accouling to the rules and procedures established by the Commission.
Subsection 10%(b) antborizes the Rent Administrator to hire legal Counsel and other employees or consultants its necessary within budget ng DP matraints, and specifically delineates the anthority to do so under the
The Council wanted to provide adequately for the implementation
of car of the major functions of the Rent Administrator-assurance ield of compliance by landlords and tenants with the rent stabilization ting provisions through spot checks and other investigations. This would challow sufficient flexibility in the staff allocations.
TITLE II-REXT STABILIZATION PROGRAM
Suhxertion 201(a) defines the Council of the District of Colunibia
Nuhsection 201(6) defines Mayor of the District of Columbia for