D.C. attorney general: Rent-controlled apartments operators misrepresent rates to consumers

By Mark Iandolo | Dec 19, 2017

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced a lawsuit Dec. 13 against the owners and managers of 3003 Van Ness Apartments, a rent-controlled property, alleging misrepresenting rental rates to consumers.

Smith Properties Holdings Van Ness LP and Equity Residential Management LLC operate the complex. According to Racine, the companies use rent concessions to mislead consumers into signing leases without providing all material terms. In doing so, the companies would make misrepresentations about the true rental rates for rent-controlled apartments, and they failed to warn consumers how much the rent could go up in coming years.

Because of the alleged conduct of the defendants, consumers at the complex ultimately face rent increases that are much higher than the normal rate allowed by the district.

“Landlords should clearly inform consumers up front about the base rent from which subsequent increases will be calculated – but, we allege in this case, the defendants misled them,” Racine said. “Ensuring that residents of all income levels can continue to call the district home is a top priority for my office, and we will continue to use all the tools available to us—including consumer protection law—to preserve access to affordable and safe housing.”

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