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Fort Chaplin Park Associates v. District of Columbia Rental Housing Com'n

November 10, 1994

FORT CHAPLIN PARK ASSOCIATES, PETITIONER
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RENTAL HOUSING COMMISSION, RESPONDENT, AND FORT CHAPLIN TENANTS ASSOCIATION, INTERVENOR



Appeal from the Final Decision of the Commissioner, Rental Housing Commission of the District of Columbia

Before Wagner, Chief Judge, *fn1 Sullivan, Associate Judge, and Kern, Senior Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sullivan

SULLIVAN, Associate Judge: Fort Chaplin Park Associates (housing provider) seeks review of the Decision and Order of the District of Columbia Rental Housing Commission (the Commission) which dismissed the housing provider's capital improvement petition pursuant to D.C. Code § 45-2520 (1990). The Petitioner contends that the Commission erred by reversing the Decision and Order dated April 27, 1990, of a Rental Accommodations and Conversion Division (RACD) hearing examiner (the examiner), which found that the proposed capital improvements would protect or enhance the health, safety, and security of the tenants and the habitability of the housing accommodation. We agree. Accordingly, we reverse the Commission's order reversing the hearing examiner and dismissing the housing provider's capital improvement petition.

I.

Factual and Procedural Background

Fort Chaplin Park (Fort Chaplin) is a multi-building rental housing accommodation consisting of 549 residential units. *fn2 The complex is owned by Fort Chaplin Park Associates and managed by the Charles E. Smith Management Company. On June 28, 1989, the housing provider filed a capital improvement petition (the petition) with RACD and sought a rent increase to cover the costs of proposed capital improvements *fn3 to the rental units. The proposed improvements included:

(1) Kitchens: the removal of existing features in each kitchen, which were generally 25 years old, and the installation in lieu thereof of new cabinetry and counters, new appliances, upgrade of electrical services, new flooring;

(2) Bathroom: the removal of existing wall-mounted sinks, medicine cabinets, and light fixtures, which were generally 25 years old, and replacement thereof with new cultured marble vanity tops with integrated sink bowl, addition of vanities, installation of new medicine cabinets, upgrade of electrical lighting, replacement of plumbing fixtures;

(3) General: the installation of mini blinds on each window throughout the apartment; and

(4) Smoke Detectors and Emergency Lights: the installation of smoke detectors and emergency battery lights in common areas of housing accommodation. *fn4

The total cost of the proposed improvements was $2,793,348.97. The proposed increase to the tenants' rent ceilings was $71 per month.

Hearing Examiner's Decision and Order

The examiner held a hearing on the petition and granted the housing provider's petition in its entirety for the proposed capital improvements, along with a $69 per month rent increase. *fn5 The examiner found that the proposed improvements would protect or enhance the health, safety, and security of the tenants, and the habitability of the housing accommodation. In support of his ruling, the examiner found that the "the proposed improvements will add, in all apartments, features which do not currently exist. In addition, the ...


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