by Barbara Cline
Kris Laurenti has lived and worked in Washington, DC, her entire adult life. But like many of the District’s 100,000-plus seniors, she wondered how she would be able to “age in place” in an increasingly unaffordable city.
Fortunately, Laurenti found her answer – and she hopes her story will make DC more affordable for you.
Meet Kris Laurenti
Laurenti, a licensed clinical social worker, is the special assistant to the senior deputy director of the Community Health Administration/DC Department of Health. In 2001, she moved her ailing mother into her rent-controlled apartment. For the next seven and a half years she served as her mother’s caretaker with help from Ward 3’s Iona Senior Services.
This past spring, through a link on Iona’s website, Laurenti found my Forest Hills Connection column on 2015 rent increases under rent control. In DC, rent-controlled apartments like hers, which were built before 1976, must limit their annual rent increases to the federal government’s annual inflation index for urban areas (CPI-W) plus 2%.
But seniors like Laurenti, age 62 or older, are eligible for an even lower annual rent increase. The “elderly provision” of DC’s rent control law gives Laurenti the right to register for a permanently-reduced annual rent increase based on CPI-W alone. She registered her eligibility with the free RAD Form 6 from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (202-442-9505).
The result? Her rent this year went up by the 2015 CPI-W’s 1.5% increase instead of by CPI-W plus 2% (3.5%). This means Laurenti pays $22 less per month in rent. Her total savings for this year will be $264. Doesn’t sound like much? To the contrary – this is just the start of HUGE savings.
Let’s see what happens to Laurenti’s rent payments, using the actual rent increases from 2010 through 2015. Here, we assume she starts with a $1,500 monthly rent in 2009. In her rent-controlled building, her neighbors will see their rents go up for the next six years by CPI-W plus 2%. Laurenti’s rent will increase by CPI-W alone.
By 2015, Laurenti’s neighbors will pay $1,879 per month in rent. Laurenti will pay $1,672. Her total rent payment savings in those six years? More than $8,000.
You might be eligible for reduced annual rent increases
There are about 79,000 remaining DC rent-controlled units, with 50,000 located in Wards 1, 2, 3 and 8. (Data from A Rent Control Report for the District of Columbia, 2011 (page 13), from NeighborhoodInfo DC.) Housing advocates estimate that 10%, or 7,900 of these rent-controlled units, may be occupied by seniors like Laurenti who are eligible but unaware that they have the legal right to apply for a reduced annual rent increase.
You are eligible if:
- You live in rent-controlled unit in a building built before 1976.
- You signed the lease.
- Your annual rent increase notice is RAD Form 8, from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
- You meet one of the eligibility requirements:
o Age 62 or older
o OR are disabled (any age)
NOTE: There are no income requirements for either group.
File RAD Form 6 at least two months before your next rent increase to receive the reduced rent increase for that year. Be sure to register all signers on the lease as soon as they became eligible whether by age (62 or older) or disability (any age). Once your eligibility is registered, no other paperwork is needed to receive future reduced rent increases.
Registration help is available
If you and/or your caretaker need help with the registration process, contact the Office of the Tenant Advocate (ota.dc.gov, 202-719-6560) to schedule a meeting with an OTA caseworker. The OTA is located at the Reeves Center, 2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 300 North (Metro: U Street on the Green Line).
Schedule an OTA workshop for your organization
There are many renter rights available to DC renters, whether they are living in an apartment (rent-controlled or not), a condo, co-op or room(s) in a house. Contact OTA’s Delores.Anderson@dc.gov to schedule a workshop for your organization.