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Ask The Apartment Experts: What Is Rent Control?

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Ask The Apartment Experts: What Is Rent Control?

What is Rent Control?

Rent control is a term that technically applies to all rental housing in DC, but apartments built before 1975 are subject to controls, while those built after that year are exempt. The ‘controls’ that apply to the rental housing built before 1975 limit the amount a landlord can increase your rent year-over-year.


How do I qualify for a rent control apartment?

Rent controlled apartments are available to anyone regardless of income. There are no extra steps for you to take during the application process to qualify. At the time of lease signing, there may be a couple of extra documents/disclosures required.


How does DC rent control work?

The defining characteristic of rent control is that annual increases in your rent may not exceed an allowable increase set by the city government. Considering market rents in the District can increase between 10%-20% depending on demand, having a cap on your rent increase is ideal.

The actual increase is often MUCH less than you would receive at a market rate apartment building. The annual adjustment follows the Consumer Price Index {CPI} plus somewhere between 2%-10% of your rent. The combination of CPI + the % increase can never exceed 10% total.

EXAMPLE: if in 2016 your rent was $1000 upon your anniversary/lease renewal, your rent could have a maximum increase of $25 (because the CPI was .5% and the city allowed an additional 2% increase).

Most people tend to stay in rent control apartments for a looooong time. {see: Monica and Rachel’s apartment on Friends}

The compromise to living in these apartment units is that they are old. That usually means these apartment buildings are not going to have a ton of the amenities you might see in newer, luxury buildings. Expect that your apartment will probably be pretty basic {think: window air conditioner units and no garbage disposals or dishwashers}.

If budget is a concern and you can find a rent control apartment with a long-term prior tenant, you could potentially find a one bedroom for less than $1000. Significantly under market rents like this come available further and fewer between, but deals are still available if you are patient, persistent and willing to spend some time searching.


Where do I find rent control apartments?

What’s the best place to find a rent control deal? We definitely like to highlight our favorites. Check out this article to find a few.

Otherwise, the next best method is good old-fashioned shoe leather. Get out and walk the streets of neighborhoods that interest you. Adams Morgan, Cleveland Park, Van Ness and Glover Park all have a substantial inventory of rent control units.

For more information about affordable apartments read our Guide To Washington, DC Affordable Housing Options.


Equal Housing Opportunity Rental providers will not refuse to rent a rental unit to a person because the person will provide the rental payment, in whole or in part, through a voucher for rental housing assistance provided by the District or federal government.

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About The Author


Not one to settle for status quo, Holli has spent her 20 year career shaking up the multifamily industry. From creating unheard of building amenities to designing lounge-like leasing centers, to major Pinterest fails in the kitchen, she is ever experimenting. It’s no surprise that she created a new way to match apartment renters with their perfect home. Holli is a featured speaker and session facilitator at regional and national industry conferences. When she’s not brainstorming the next marketing campaign, you can find Holli testing the limits of bottomless brunch or climbing the Peloton Leaderboard!

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