Voluntary Rent Controls—Now There’s a Concept!

City Council Updates Voluntary Rent Guidelines

Resolution works as a policy statement from the city governing the rents of current tenants.

By Drew Hansen

Alexandria City Council approved a resolution Tuesday establishing the city’s voluntary rent guidelines at an increase of not more than 5 percent in situations where a tenant pays utilities and not more than 7 percent where a landlord pays utilities.

The guidelines were the recommendation of the city’s Landlord-Tenant Relations Board, which analyzed rent data, market forecasts and vacancy surveys.

The resolution works as a policy statement from the city governing the rents of current tenants, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley said. Virginia does not allow rent control and he doesn’t think it ever will.

The rent increase guidelines are largely followed by landlords in the city, officials said. The resolution has been annually revised for about 30 years.

“It is an historic practice in this city,” Donley said. “We actually reduced them a bit this year. It was 5.5 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively, last year and we brought them down a bit this year in hopes Alexandria will remain affordable for existing renters.”

The guidelines don’t cover units coming on the market or units being built.

Donley said the city is seeing a “very vibrant” rental market. Councilman Frank Fannon said about half the city is made up of renters.

“These guidelines offer some hope that existing tenants don’t receive tremendous increases,” Donley said.

Melodie Seau, division chief with the city’s Office of Housing, said her office received just 14 complaints in fiscal year 2012 of rent increases exceeding the guidelines. Seau said the city received more than 30 complaints the year prior.

The new guidelines will be sent to 102 landlords in the city who own medium- to large-sized apartments, Seau said.

 

Source: West End Alexandria Patch