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(PUBLIC LAW 327—77TH CONGRESS)
(CHAPTER 553—1ST SESSION)

(H. R. 5890)

AN ACT To regulate rents in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. PURPOSES, TIME LIMIT.-(a) It is hereby found that the national emergency and the national-defense program (1) have aggravated the congested situation with regard to housing accommodations existing at the seat of government; (2) have led or will lead to profiteering and other speculative and manipulative practices by some owners of housing accommodations; (3) have rendered or will render ineffective the normal operations of a free market in housing accommodations; and (4) are making it increasingly difficult for persons whose duties or obligations require them to live or work in the District of Columbia to obtain such accommodations. Whereupon it is the purpose of this Act and the policy of the Congress during the existing emergency to prevent undue rent increases and any other practices relating to housing accommodations in the District of Columbia which may tend to increase the cost of living or otherwise impede the national-defense program.

(b) The provisions of this Act, and all regulations, orders, and requirements thereunder, shall terminate on December 31, 1945; except that as to offenses committed, or rights or liabilities incurred, prior to such expiration date, the provisions of this Act and such regulations, orders, and requirements, shall be treated as still remaining in force for the purpose of sustaining any proper suit, action, or prosecution with respect to any such right, liability, or offense.

SEC. 2. MAXIMUM RENT CEILINGS AND MINIMUM SERVICE STANDARDS.-(1) On and after the thirtieth day following the enactment of this Act, subject to such adjustments as may be made pursuant to sections 3 and 4, maximum-rent ceilings and minimum-service standards for housing accommodations excluding hotels, in the District of Columbia shall be the following:

(a) For housing accommodations rented on January 1, 1941, the rent and service to which the landlord and tenant were entitled on that date.

(b) For housing accommodations not rented on January 1, 1941, but which had been rented within the year ending on that date, the rent and service to which the landlord and tenant were last entitled within such year.

(c) For housing accommodations not rented on January 1, 1941, nor within the year ending on that date, the rent and service generally prevailing for comparable housing accommodations as determined by the Administrator.

(2) On and after the thirtieth day following the enactment of this Act, the landlord or other person in charge of and conducting any hotel in the District of Columbia shall post in a conspicuous place in each room thereof used for living or dwelling purposes, a card or sign plainly stating the rental rate per day of such room, and a copy of such rates for each room shall be filed with the Administrator. Subject to such adjustment as the Administrator may determine to be necessary in order that said rates shall conform to the standard set forth in this section and to such adjustment as may be made pursuant to sections 3 and 4, said rates when posted and filed with the Administrator, shall constitute the maximum-rent ceiling for the housing accommodations specified : Provided, That the transient rates so posted shall not exceed the established or standard rate charged by the landlord as of January 1, 1941, except that after written notice by the landlord to the Administrator such landlord may make such addition or deduction to or from such rate as will compensate for (1) a substantial change since January 1, 1941, in maintenance or operating costs or expenses, or (2) a substantial capital improvement or alteration made since January 1, 1941, and such addition or deduction shall be subject to review by the Administrator, and he may by order adjust such maximum-rent ceiling to provide the rental rate generally prevailing for comparable housing accommodations as determined by the Administrator. Posted rates shall conform to the following:

(a) In the case of apartment units, the rental rate shall be that which the landlord was entitled to receive on January 1, 1941, except in those instances where it is shown that a special rate less than the established or standard rate charged by the landlord as of January 1, 1941, was being charged, a rate may be posted at such established or standard rate: Provided, That the rate being charged the current occupant shall not be increased.

(b) Where apartment units are changed from furnished to unfurnished, or vice versa, the rate shall be that charged by the landlord for comparable housing accommodations on January 1, 1941: Provided, That no such change may be made without the consent of the current occupant, if there be one.

(c) Where housing accommodations are changed from permanent to transient use, the rate shall not exceed that posted for comparable accommodations.

(d) In the case of a hotel not in operation January 1, 1941, the rental rates posted shall be the rates generally prevailing for comparable housing accommodations.

(e) For the purposes of this section, the term "hotel" means an establishment operating under a hotel license and having in excess of fifty rooms used predominately for transient occupancy, that is, for living quarters for nonresidents upon a short-time basis.

Sec. 3. GENERAL ADJUSTMENT OF MAXIMUM RENT CEILINGS.—Whenever in the judgment of the Administrator a general increase or decrease since January 1, 1941, in taxes or other maintenance or operating costs or expenses has occurred or is about to occur in such manner and amount as substantially to affect the maintenance and operation of housing accommodations generally or of any particular class of housing accommodations, he may by regulation or order increase or decrease the maximum-rent ceiling or minimum-service standard, or

both, for such accommodations or class thereof in such manner or amount as will in his judgment compensate, in whole or in part, for such general increase or decrease. Thereupon such adjusted ceiling or standard shall be the maximum-rent ceiling or minimum-service standard for the housing accommodations subject thereto.

Sec. 4. PETITION FOR ADJUSTMENT.-(a) Any landlord or tenant may petition the Administrator to adjust the maximum-rent ceiling applicable to his housing accommodations on the ground that such maximum-rent ceiling is, due to peculiar circumstances affecting such housing accommodations, substantially higher or lower than the rent generally prevailing for comparable housing accommodations; whereupon the Administrator may by order adjust such maximum-rent ceiling to provide the rent generally prevailing for comparable housing accommodations as determined by the Administrator.

(b) Any landlord may petition the Administrator to adjust the maximum-rent ceiling or mínimum-service standard, or both, applicable to his housing accommodations to compensate for (1) a substantial rise, since January 1, 1941, in taxes or other maintenance or operating costs or expenses, or (2) a substantial capital improvement or alteration made since January 1, 1941; whereupon the Administrator may by order adjust such maximum-rent ceiling or minimum-service standard in such manner or amount as he deems proper to compensate therefor, in whole or in part, if he finds such adjustment necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this Act: Provided, That no such adjusted maximum-rent ceiling or minimum-service standard shall permit the receipt of rent in excess of the rent generally prevailing for comparable housing accommodations as determined by the Administrator.

(c) Any tenant may petition the Administrator on the ground that the service supplied to him is less than the service established by the minimum-service standard for his housing accommodations, but in the case of a hotel, is less than the established or standard service supplied as of January 1, 1941; whereupon the Administrator may order that the service be maintained at such minimum-service standard, or that the maximum-rent ceiling be decreased to compensate for a reduction in service, as he deems necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this Act.

(d) Any landlord may petition the Administrator for permission to reduce the service supplied by him in connection with any housing accommodations; whereupon the Administrator, if he determines that the reduction of such services is to be made in good faith for valid business reasons and is not inconsistent with carrying out the purposes of this Act, may, by order, reduce the minimum-service standard applicable to such housing accommodations and adjust the maximum-rent ceiling downward in such amount as he deems proper to compensate therefor.

(e) Any tenant may petition the Administrator to adjust the maximum-rent ceiling applicable to his housing accommodations on the ground that such maximum-rent ceiling permits the receipt of an unduly high rent; whereupon the Administrator may by order adjust such maximum-rent ceiling in such manner or amount as shall, in his judgment, effectuate the purposes of this Act and provide a fair and reasonable rent for such housing accommodations.

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(f) A petition made pursuant to this section shall be subject to the provisions of sections 8 and 9 of this Act. Any adjusted maximumrent ceiling or minimum-service standard ordered pursuant to this section shall be the maximum-rent ceiling or minimum-service standard for the housing accommodations subject thereto; except that in the event that the adjustment order is stayed or set aside by the court in accordance with section 9 of this Act, the maximum-rent ceiling and minimum-service standard theretofore applicable to such housing accommodations under this Act shall remain in full force and effect.

SEC. 5. PROHIBITIONS.—(a) It shall be unlawful, regardless of any agreement, lease, or other obligation heretofore or hereafter entered into, for any person to demand or receive any rent in excess of the maximum-rent ceiling, or refuse to supply any service required by the minimum-service standard, or otherwise to do or omit to do any act in violation of any provision of this Act or of any regulation, order, or other requirement thereunder, or to offer or agree to do any of the foregoing. Nothing herein shall be construed to require the refund of any rent paid or payable for the use or occupancy of hous-, ing accommodations prior to the 30th day following the enactment of this Act.

(b) No action or proceeding to recover possession of housing accommodations shall be maintainable by any landlord against any tenant, notwithstanding that the tenant has no lease or that his lease has expired, so long as the tenant continues to pay the rent to which the landlord is entitled, unless

(1) The tenant is (a) violating an obligation of his tenancy (other than an obligation to pay rent higher than rent permitted under this Act or any regulation or order thereunder applicable to the housing accommodations involved or an obligation to surrender possession of such accommodations) or (b) is committing a nuisance or using the housing accommodations for an immoral or illegal purpose or for other than living or dwelling purposes, or

(2) The landlord seeks in good faith to recover possession of the property for his immediate and personal use and occupancy as a dwelling, or

(3) The landlord has in good faith contracted in writing to sell the property for immediate and personal use and occupancy as a dwelling by the purchaser and that the contract of sale contains a representation by the purchaser that the property is being purchased by him for such immediate and personal use and occupancy, or

(4) The landlord seeks in good faith to recover possession for the immediate purpose of substantially altering, remodeling, or demolishing the property and replacing it with new construction, the plans for which altered, remodeled, or new construction having been filed with and approved by the Commissioners of the

District of Columbia. (c) It shall be unlawful for any person to remove, or attempt to remove, from any housing accommodations the tenant or occupant thereof or to refuse to renew lease or agreement for the use of such accommodations because such tenant or occupant has taken or purposes to take action authorized or required by this Act or any regulation, order, or requirement thereunder.

Sec. 6. ADMINISTRATOR.-There is hereby created in and for the District of Columbia the office of Administrator of Rent Control. The Administrator shall be appointed by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia and shall be a bona fide resident of the District of Colum

a bia for not less than three years prior to his appointment. He shall devote his full time to the Office of Administrator and shall receive a salary at the rate of $7,500 per annum. The Administrator shall establish offices, acquire supplies and equipment, and employ such personnel, subject to approval by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, and in accordance with the Classification Act of 1923, as amended, without regard to race or creed, as may be necessary in the performance of his functions under this Act. The Administrator shall submit a semiannual report to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia for transmittal to the Congress of the United States.

Sec. 7. OBTAINING INFORMATION.-(a) The Administrator may make euch studies and investigations, and obtain or require the furnishing of such information under oath or affirmation or otherwise, as he deems necessary or proper to assist him in prescribing any regulation or order under this Act, or in the administration and enforcement of this Act, and regulations and orders thereunder. For such purposes the Administrator may administer oaths and affirmations, may require by subpena or otherwise the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documents at any designated place, may require persons to permit the inspection and copying of documents, and the inspection of housing accommodations and may, by regulation or order, require the making and keeping of records and other documents. No person shall be excused from complying with any requirement under this section because of his privilege against selfincrimination,

but the immunity provisions of the Compulsory Testimony Act of February 11, 1893 (U. S. C., 1934 edition, title 49, sec. 46), shall apply with respect to any individual who specífically claims such privilege. In the event of contumacy or refusal to obey any such subpena or requirement under this section, the Administrator may make application to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for an order requiring obedience thereto. Thereupon the court, with or without notice and hearing, as it in its discretion may decide, shall make such order as is proper and may punish as a contempt any failure to comply with such order.

(b) The Administrator shall have authority to promulgate, issue, amend, or rescind rules and regulations, subject to approval by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, and to issue such orders as may be deemed necessary or proper to carry out the purposes and provisions of this Act or to prevent the circumvention or evasion thereof. The Administrator may require a license as a condition of engaging in any rental transaction involving the subletting of any housing accommodations or the renting of housing accommodations in a rooming or boarding house, or in a hotel. For the purposes of this Act the term “rooming or boarding house” means a house in which living quarters are rented by the householder to more than two persons. No fee shall be charged for the issuance to any person of any such license and no such license shall contain any provision not prescribed by this Act or which could not be prescribed by regulation, order, or requirement thereunder.

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