Press Releases and Candidate Statements

3/1/2018

Current Council Chair’s Effort to Undermine Tenants’ Rights Leads Us in the Wrong Direction

“It’s March 1, which for many residents means that rent is due. For those struggling to pay DC’s rising
rents, it’s a painful reminder of how hard it is to continue to live in DC.

Unfortunately, at a time when we should be working to help more residents stay in their homes, the
current Chair of the Council is working to help real estate interests, by leading an effort to weaken DC’s
strong tenant protections. He is driving a vote for his proposal next Tuesday. It would lead DC in the
wrong direction and I urge him and the Council to strengthen tenant rights, not diminish them.

The Chair’s proposal would take away a family’s right to make the first offer to buy a single­family home or condo they are renting, when the owner decides to sell. Instead of getting the chance to stay, tenants would simply be pushed out. I side with the at­risk families and advocates who wrote in January that “this proposal represents a significant and unnecessary rollback of tenants’ rights ...that is being undertaken without sufficient appreciation for its potential impact on the District’s supply of affordable housing.” The impact will be especially hard on families with two or more children and multi­generation families, given the disappearing supply of low­cost apartments with multiple bedrooms.

This move to undermine the law known as Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) is especially unfortunate because tenant advocates and representatives from the DC Association of Realtors had been working on a more narrow set of reforms to address concerns raised by realtors. Chairman Mendelson upended this progress by introducing and pushing a proposal that is far more harmful to tenants.

When the Chair announced at a hearing his desire to remove renters of single­family homes from DC’s tenant protection law known as TOPA, the real estate interests in the room cheered. The families who will be hurt by his legislation did not. It is unfortunate that Mendelson is using his leadership of the DC Council to fight for moneyed interests already profiting on DC’s gentrification, instead of standing up for families and renters.

Make no mistake, the Chair’s scheduled vote on Tuesday will continue to chip away at tenants’ rights by slowly dismantling TOPA, adding to our affordable housing problems. Our affordable housing crisis did not arrive overnight and it will take time to fix.

I am running for Chair to be a different kind of leader. Rather than weaken tenant protections, I will strengthen them by improving rent control, pushing the mayor to preserve DC’s shrinking stock of affordable housing, and doubling DC’s housing investments.” ­ - Ed Lazere

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