Rents are up 15% in DC. Average rent for 1 BR apt is $2400. Average rent for 2 BR is $3,200. The average cost of renting studio apartments rose 23% in a year.”

Like the man said, “the rent is too damned high”

The numbers vary slightly by source. Here are the latest from Zumper.com for the most common rental sizes:

Median rents are up 16% overall in DC. Average rent for 1 BR apt is $2,364, a +$318 Year-Over-Year Change.

Rent Control In DC

Rent control applies to any unit that does not have an exemption.  The most common exemptions from rent control are for buildings built after 1975; units owned by a “small landlord” — defined as an owner of four or fewer rental units in the District; and units subject to a government subsidy.

When a unit is subject to rent control laws, rent increases can still occur if:

  • If the property/unit is registered through RAD,
  • The landlord provides a 30-day written notice,
  • Any previous increase was at least 1 year prior,
  • The unit & building comply with all applicable housing regulations,
  • Increasing the rent does not violate any terms of the lease.

Other Provisions Under Rent Control Law

The Rental Housing Commission uses data from the Consumer Price Index to determine how much rent can increase each year. Typically, that percentage is around 2% to 5% but never more than 10%. That said, if landlords are not getting a return rate of at least 12%, they can ask the RAD for the ability to raise the rent by a greater percentage than that set forth by the Commission. Furthermore, if you make improvements that increase the property’s value, it is possible to ask for special permission to raise rent and help recoup the cost. Although not guaranteed, it is worth looking into.

  • Rent Increase Information – You should contact the Rental Housing Commission at (202) 442-8949 to determine how much you can raise the rent.
  • Hardship Petitions for Landlords – To plead your case to raise the rent further, contact the Rental Accommodation Division at (202) 442-9505.
  • Capital Improvements – Made some great improvements? See if you can recoup the cost by contacting the Rental Accommodation Division at (202) 442-9505.

Another important aspect of the law addresses increases for vacant units. Therefore, when a unit becomes vacant, the landlord may increase the advertised rent. However, this is capped at no more than 10% over the previous tenant’s rental rate. Furthermore, owners can also choose to raise the rate to match a comparable unit. That said, this method of increase is limited to 30%. Either way, owners may not increase the rent more than once in a 12-month period.  —BMG

The 2022 Numbers For DC Rent Control

The 2022 CPI-W will be 4.2% – an increase of 3.2% over the 1.0% CPI for rent control year 2021 (which ends April 30, 2022). The new CPI will apply to standard rent increases that become effective during rent control year 2022 (May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023).

The following will apply in rent control year 2022:

a. If a rent-controlled unit is occupied by an elderly tenant or a tenant with a disability, the maximum standard rent increase will be 4.2% (CPI-W).1 To qualify for this lower rent increase cap, the tenant must have registered his or her elderly or disability status with the Rent Administrator.

b. For all other rent-controlled (non-elderly/without disability) units, the maximum standard rent increase will be 6.2% (CPI-W + 2%).

c. Elderly tenants and tenants with a disability who are registered with the Rent Administrator as lower income are also exempt from rent surcharges due to housing provider petitions that have been approved by the government. To qualify, household income cannot exceed $77,400 for a family of four, plus or minus $7,740 for each additional or fewer person in the household.


1During rent control years in which the SS COLA increase is lower than the CPI-W, the SS COLA is the maximum annual rent adjustment for elderly tenants and tenants with a disability. In rent control year 2022, the SS COLA increase is 5.9%. Therefore, as described herein, the lower CPI-W increase of 4.2% is the maximum increase for elderly tenants and tenants with a disability.

D.C. Law 21-239. Elderly Tenant and Tenant with a Disability Protection Amendment Act of 2016

https://code.dccouncil.us/us/dc/council/laws/21-239

Filenet is an online and remote system that gives customers access to thousands of filings with DHCD’s Housing Regulation Administration. These filings represent required documents submitted to the agency on behalf of housing providers and tenants in support of the agency’s administration of the Rental Housing Act. By using Filenet, residents and businesses can obtain copies of these documents online without a trip to DHCD.

Search Rent Control Records Online

Filenet is an online and remote system that gives customers access to thousands of filings with DHCD’s Housing Regulation Administration. These filings represent required documents submitted to the agency on behalf of housing providers and tenants in support of the agency’s administration of the Rental Housing Act. By using Filenet, residents and businesses can obtain copies of these documents online without a trip to DHCD.

Click here to search rent control records online

Instructions for using the portal and how to search

This information is provided as topical only. Please don’t call us about rent and rent control issues. We do not handle rental transactions and are not permitted to provide advice. Instead, contact the government agencies cited in this post.