DC Small Landlords Demand Tax Credits for Rent Control

A trade association representing Washington, D.C., small landlords demanded that the District of Columbia government compensate landlords with tax credits for providing rent-controlled housing at a hearing at the D.C. Council hearing held on Monday. Dean Hunter, CEO of the Small Multifamily Owners Association (SMOA), testified that owners of D.C. rental property subject to rent control should be compensated like other affordable housing providers.

“Rent control is an affordable housing program. It is an affordable housing program mandated on small landlords without any compensation from the government,” Hunter testified.

“All other affordable housing programs provide some compensation, some incentive for the housing provider. If a developer wants to build an affordable project, they can take advantage of favorable financing, bonus density, and even joint venture opportunities. Yet, small landlords are forced to participate in rent control and get nothing in return," continued Hunter.

Hunter testified that while the majority of rental housing is provided by small landlords, the District’s laws and policies are designed for large national chains. "Rent control is the perfect example,” said Hunter. "Two-thirds of the District's apartment buildings subject to rent control average 20 units or less. These are small landlords, family investments, not national corporations," he said.

Hunter's testimony came at a hearing at the D.C. Council on rent control and Certificates of Assurance. An obscure provision in the District's rent control law that allows owners of rental housing built after 1985 to obtain a certificate of assurance from the government providing that if the property is later subject to rent control, the owner will be compensated with tax credits up to the market rental rate. The Council is considering eliminating the provision in order to expand rent control to more apartment buildings.

“Certificates of Assurance were put into the law to prevent inhibiting the development of new rental housing stock. They wanted to assure housing providers they would not be subject to rent control without compensation. Eliminating them will have a chilling effect on the construction of new rental housing and will exacerbate our affordable housing crisis,” Hunter told At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, Chair of the Committee on Housing.

“Rent control is the only affordable housing program where the government has no skin in the game. The government’s only financial investment in rent control is the regulation of rent control,” Hunter testified at the hearing.

"This is a social justice issue; it is a matter of equity. Most of these landlords are small business owners and minorities. Small landlords are barely making it and the government keeps taking," said Hunter. Hunter admits they face an uphill battle and said the priority now is getting more funding for rental assistance to help those harmed by the pandemic. "We have only begun to fight," he said.   

Source: Small Multifamily Owners Association

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Categories: Real Estate Investments

Tags: DC Multifamily, Dean Hunter, Rent Control, Small Multifamily Owners, SMOA